Today's Labour News

newsThis news aggregator site highlights South African labour news from a wide range of internet and print sources. Each posting has a synopsis of the source article, together with a link or reference to the original. Postings cover the range of labour related matters from industrial relations to generalist human resources.

news shutterstockIn our afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Tuesday, 18 December 2018.


Union encourages paramedics to carry firearms to protect themselves and patients

SowetanLive reports that a trade union representing about 7,000 paramedics has encouraged its members to carry guns for protection while on duty.  On Monday, the president of the SA Emergency Personnel's Union, Mpho Mpogeng, said they believed carrying firearms would keep union members safe following a spate of robberies and attacks on paramedics.  Mpogeng indicated that the union had received at least 30 complaints from emergency workers who had been attacked while on duty in different provinces in the past six months.  "We are not saying that workers must go out there and shoot people randomly.  We are saying they must carry licensed firearms to protect themselves and patients," Mpogeng stated.  He went on to say:  "It's really bad.  People call for an ambulance and when workers get there they are robbed.  We believe carrying guns is our only option."  Chairperson for the union in Port Elizabeth, Zinhle Ngqadu, said:  "I think it's right for us to carry guns because the department is not doing anything to protect us.  We go out there to save lives but we are not protected."

Read Zoë Mahopo’s full report on this story at SowetanLive


Factions in Samwu again at odds

Mail & Guardian reports that SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) insiders say that a forensic audit report said to have found evidence of corruption at the top of the embattled union is being suppressed by Samwu’s leaders.  The Cosatu affiliate, with about 150,000 members, has been weakened by factionalisation and persistent allegations of financial mismanagement on the part of its leaders.  It has also been plagued by purges of officials who have come up against its president, Pule Molalenyane.  Union sources have accused Molalenyane of withholding the findings of an E&Y report commissioned in 2016 to investigate how millions of rands in membership fees went missing.  But Molalenyane said this claim was merely an effort to deflect attention away from a corrupt faction in Samwu.  The report was commissioned by the union after an internal battle over R178-million that was allegedly stolen from union coffers under its previous leadership.  The report is expected to be tabled before the union’s central executive committee in January 2019, though general secretary Simon Mathe had previously said it would be made public in May this year.  Meantime, Cosatu seems hopeful that the union is stabilising.  The federation’s Sizwe Pamla said Samwu’s financial position had improved significantly and it had recently been paying its subscription fees to the federation.  Cosatu has not yet seen the E&Y report.

Read Sarah Smit’s full report on this story at Mail & Guardian


Solidarity requests IEC to remove BLF from list of parties for 2019 general elections

The Citizen reports that trade union Solidarity has reported Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), asking for the organisation to be removed from the list of parties intending to contest next year’s general elections.  Solidarity deputy chief executive Werner Human said the IEC had indicated that it would investigate the matter, but that the union would take further legal action depending on the response of the IEC to its request.  Mngxitama said at a BLF event that five white people must be killed for every black person killed in taxi violence.  Human said Solidarity had submitted a letter to the IEC on Thursday formally requesting that the commission eliminate the BLF as a political party to prevent them from participating in next year’s election.  The IEC said it would afford the BLF an opportunity to explain its statements and to offer clarity on the matter.  However, the IEC sent the party a letter warning them to refrain from further hate speech.  Human maintained there was no doubt about Mngxitama’s intention and what he wanted to convey with his message.

Read Eric Naki’s full report on this story at The Citizen. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News

New socialist workers’ party to challenge ruling alliance

The Citizen reports that a socialist party that claims it is aiming to seize power on behalf of the working class in a similar fashion to the former Soviet Union’s October Revolution is to be launched in SA.  Preparations are under way to launch the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) in time to possibly contest next year’s general elections.  Some see it as a potential challenge to the ruling ANC, SA Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) alliance.  The first pre-launch conference was held on the weekend.  Behind the new party are senior members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).  Spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi stressed that this did not mean the party was a Numsa party, but that it was a party of the working class and the workers.  She said the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) had confirmed the party’s registration a few weeks ago.  Meanwhile, the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) last week announced its plan for rolling mass action in 2019 that would focus on what it termed the “human calamity” in the form of poverty and unemployment.  The countrywide action would include demonstrations outside parliament on budget day in February.  The action would culminate in a total shutdown strike on 26 and 27 March and a year-long celebration of May Day, starting from 1 May.

Read Eric Naki’s full report on this story at The Citizen


Nugent commission recommends new Sars boss should recruit former employees

EWN reports that the Nugent commission of inquiry has recommended that the new SA Revenue Services (Sars) commissioner should recruit former employees who were forced out of the organisation and should consider reparations for their losses.  It has further recommended that a full performance review be conducted of the executive committee appointed by fired commissioner Tom Moyane.  President Cyril Ramaphosa released the report on Friday and processes are now underway to appoint a new permanent head of the revenue service.  The commission found that within a year of Moyane’s arrival, the executive committee had been purged of all preexisting management experience and skills.  It also found the institutional memory at a senior level was almost entirely eradicated.  Evidence revealed that Moyane was bent on getting rid of senior employees and he set about finding whatever grounds to use to get rid of them.  The restructuring meant about 200 employees were displaced from their jobs and had to re-apply.  Some just left the organisation.  Since Moyane’s removal, many have volunteered to return to help rehabilitate Sars, which the commission recommended should be considered.

Read Barry Bateman’s report on this story at EWN


City of Joburg in dispute with in-sourced security guards who allege exploitation

The Star reports that, after parading in-sourced security guards at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, the City of Johannesburg is now being accused of exploitation.  The Association of Private Security Owners of SA said assertions made by Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba on the benefits of in-sourcing were proving to be contrary to what has transpired since 1,800 security personnel were hired in July.  “The current working conditions faced by the in-sourced employees are tantamount to exploitation practices which were levelled against the private security employers who rendered security services to the city,” union general secretary Moses Malada claimed.  He said that when the employees were appointed by the city, they were contracted to work for 16 days per month.  “They are now subjected to work for more than 22 days without being compensated for overtime, Sundays and holidays.  About 200 of the 1,800 in-sourced employees have not received their salaries since having commenced their duties in July,” Malada said.  Mayoral spokesperson Luyanda Mfeka said the city had resolved that the “payment of allowances be paid in January 2019”.  He denied that 200 employees had not been not paid salaries since July.  He also denied the claim that 3,000 workers had been left in limbo, saying that the city had always communicated that in-sourcing of persons would take a phased approach.

Read more of this report by Sibongile Mashaba at SA Labour News


Job cuts and closures at four financially-distressed SA companies in 2018

TimesLive profiles four SA companies that announced significant losses in 2018.  Two are still fighting to stay in business and save jobs, while the other two have surrendered.  Edcon, which owns Edgars, CNA and Jet, needs R2bn in emergency funding to continue operations and pay salaries.  It has offered a group of store landlords a 5% stake in the business in return for a 41% discount on rent.  Failure to raise the necessary funds would mean that "it is highly likely that Edcon will enter into a liquidation process".  That would result in around 140,000 lost jobs.  The SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) needs a R3bn cash injection just to pay staff salaries.  Speaking for the public broadcaster before the National Assembly, board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini said:  "We are in a dire situation and this SABC will collapse.  Come March 2019, it will collapse."  Ndalo Media, which owns Destiny and Elle magazines, will be shutting down at the end of January 2019.  Staff salaries were delayed for November and December, even as employees contended with trying to find other jobs.  Ndalo owes CTP Printers R13m and the matter is in court.  In August, Afro Worldview said 'goodnight' to its viewers for the last time.  The former Gupta-owned company, previously known as ANN7, rebranded itself as Afro Worldview after it was acquired by former government communications head Mzwanele Manyi.  After Multichoice ended its contract with the company, it was left without a broadcast platform.  Closure was then inevitable, leaving about 300 people without an income.

Read Ntokozo Miya’s full report in this regard at TimesLive


Pension funds industry can do more to lower fees, says new Alexander Forbes CEO

BusinessLive reports that the new CEO of Alexander Forbes, SA’s biggest pension funds administrator, says the industry can do more to lower fees and improve the lives of many struggling South Africans.  Dawie de Villiers, who was appointed in November, said there were many things the industry needed to “get right” to provide security to more people.  “I’m not saying ‘fees must fall’ is the only thing.  If you look at the type of solutions we can do on holistic institutional basis for individuals, it will mean low fees, it will mean more value for money and more benefits for members,” he stated.  De Villiers, who spent 25 years at Sanlam and headed the insurer’s employee benefits unit for five years, said the industry has not been transparent in the past and, if it could improve that, it would become easier for more people to save and keep their retirement savings invested.  The latest retirement savings surveys show that less than 10% of people who were members of retirement funds in SA were able to retire comfortably.  The national treasury has introduced a number of retirement reforms to reduce costs and improve fee disclosure, among other things.

Read Londiwe Buthelezi’s full report on this story at BusinessLive

Labour department assures that R2bn investment with PIC won’t affect UIF payouts

Saturday Star reports that the Department of Labour has emphasised that individuals who found themselves without work in the coming year could still secure claims from their Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) contributions.  This came amid an announcement by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant that R2-billion from the UIF would be allocated to the Project Development Partnership (PDP) Fund, which was established by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).  Oliphant on Friday launched the R2bn fund, saying the money would go towards aiding “small business start-ups” that created employment opportunities and contributed to growing the country’s economy.  With the unemployment rate sitting at 27.5% and retrenchments having hit some sectors this past year, UIF director of communications Makhosonke Buthelezi allayed any fears of contributions drying up in the future, saying the R2bn fund by the Labour Department was an investment and not a grant.  “If we were to find ourselves with a huge unemployment crisis we would still make money readily available from the interest accrued from the investment,” he indicated.  The PDP Fund is expected to create and support more than 10,000 jobs.

Read Noni Mokati’s full report on this story at IOL News. Read too, Refugees sue for UIF payouts, on page 5 of Saturday Star of 15 December 2018


'Extremely irresponsible' Intercape bus driver suspended

TimesLive reports that Intercape has suspended one of its bus drivers after a video of him driving recklessly went viral on social media at the weekend.  The coach was traveling from Cape Town to Durban.  "The driver admitted that he was wrong in his actions.  He was immediately suspended, pending a disciplinary hearing," the bus service said.  His suspension came after passenger Kiewiet Pretorius posted a video on Facebook showing the man driving recklessly and putting his passengers' lives at risk.  In the 13-second video, the bus is seen passing two trucks around a bend on solid double white lines.  A charge of reckless and negligent driving is expected to be opened in Durban.  The driver has been working for the bus service since August 2016.  "The management of Intercape can assure the public of Southern Africa that this is not the standard of service.  Zero tolerance will be enforced.  Intercape regrets and apologies for the unfortunate incident," a spokesperson for the company said.

Read Iavan Pijoos full report on this story and view the video clip at TimesLive


eThekwini official and two others arrested for payments to ‘ghost’ EPWP employees

Sunday Tribune reports that three men, including an eThekwini municipal official, who allegedly defrauded the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) by creating ghost employees, were arrested by the Hawks last week.  They appeared on charges of fraud in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday.  Andile Shangase, who works as a facilitator in the Safer Cities department, allegedly recruited various people and presented them to the municipality as legitimate EPWP workers.  He allegedly facilitated the opening of bank accounts under the individuals' names to receive EPWP salaries.  A report by the City Integrity and Investigations Unit (CIIU) revealed that the official kept the bank cards and pin codes of people and subsequently withdrew money from their accounts.  The State alleges the trio received in excess of R100,000 through payments made to accounts of ghost employees of the city’s EPWP programme.  They were granted bail and the case was postponed to February.  A Hawks spokesperson said another implicated city official was on the run and a warrant of arrest had been issued.  The CIIU report implicated at least three other officials and recommended disciplinary action against them.  The report found that more than R1.2million had been fraudulently paid to ghost employees in one month alone, with no duties performed.

Read Siphelele Buthelezi’s full report on this story at Sunday Tribune

My dismissal from Prasa was for uncovering looters and not a 350% inflated salary, says Letsoalo

ANA reports that Collins Letsoalo, former acting chief of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), said on Monday that his dismissal was due to "a web of corruption and looters" he had unearthed at the agency and not over an alleged massive salary increase.  At a media briefing, Letsoalo said that in his brief spell at Prasa he had unearthed what he termed "blame Lucky Montana and the previous board syndrome", which saw him quickly making enemies.  Montana was Letsoalo's predecessor and was blamed for many of Prasa's troubles.  Letsoalo said this "syndrome" - which included high absenteeism, collapse of the engineering function, lack of job or performance contracts and rampant sexual harassment - had engulfed the organisation from the board all the way to the tea lady.  Letsoalo was booted out of Prasa in February 2017 following allegations that he had irregularly awarded himself a 350% pay increase in October 2016 when he was seconded from the Department of Transport.  The increase took his salary from R1.3m a year to R5.9m.  Letsoalo denied allegations that he had increased his salary, and instead placed the blame on the agency's board.  On Sunday, the Sunday Times issued a retraction of its story "Pay it back, AG tells Prasa's 350% boss" and apologised to Letsoalo.  This came after Letsoalo took the paper to the press ombudsman for reporting in June that the Auditor-General had recommended that he should repay the money he awarded himself by allegedly hiking his salary 350%.  The ombudsman ruled in favour of Letsoalo.

Read the full report on this story at The Citizen


Police shoot dead armed cellphone thief, who turns out to be a cop

TimesLive reports that police in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni, shot dead a policeman who had allegedly attempted to rob a number of people of their cellphones in the early hours of Tuesday.  Police spokesperson Captain Mega Ndobe said Thokoza police were on patrol at 3.30am when they were stopped by people chasing a suspected cellphone thief.  The people claimed the man who was running away had pointed a gun at them and demanded their cellphones at Phola Park.  Police then also helped in the chase.  Seeing the police officers close behind him, the suspect took out his firearm and started shooting at them.  Police shot back.  Ndobe said the suspect was shot on the right leg and on the upper body.  When paramedics arrived, he was certified dead.  "During the investigation, police discovered that the suspect was a police officer serving in the rapid rail protection unit in Johannesburg," said Ndobe.  A case of attempted murder and robbery was opened.

Read Ernest Mabuza’s short original report at TimesLive


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