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
Wednesday, 19 December 2018.


TOP STORY – SAVING JOBS

Unions call on PIC to save Edcon and avoid a jobs bloodbath

The Star reports that trade unions have called on the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to rescue SA’s largest non-food retail group Edcon from its financial woes to avoid a jobs bloodbath.  A report emerged at the weekend detailing how the retail giant was on the brink of collapse.  Cosatu parliamentary co-ordinator Matthew Parks on Tuesday warned that the massive job losses would not only affect Edcon.  He observed:  “We want no job losses.  We are saying there is space to make a plan.  This is not just job losses at Edcon but also to factories that supply them.  We support the engagements between the management and stakeholders to find a way out of this crisis.  We think the PIC can and it should.  This must obviously be done in a sustainable way.”  A report by the Sunday Times stated that Edcon had sent a letter to its 31 biggest landlords asking for a two-year 41% “rent holiday” in exchange for a 5% stake in the business in a bid to stave off liquidation and the loss of up to 140,000 jobs.  The retailer operates 1,350 stores, which include CNA, Edgars and Jet.  Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said:  “I think we don’t have an option but to find a way of rescuing the company.  The government must work with the management and unions to avoid job losses.”  On Monday, Edcon CE Grant Pattison said the group was not collapsing as suggested by the report, but was engaged in talks to prevent job losses.

Read more of Mary-Jane Mphahlele’s report on this story at SA Labour News.   Read too, Sactwu concerned about Edcon’s financial woes, at SABC News

Communications Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams working on plan to rescue ailing SABC

EWN reports that Communications and Telecommunications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams says she will continue to meet with the National Treasury and other entities in order to formulate a plan to rescue the ailing SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).  However, she will not be making any pronouncements on issues facing the public broadcaster until a plan for its future has been finalised.  Speaking on Tuesday, Ndabeni-Abrahams said she needed to consult more widely than with just the board and staff on how to resolve the SABC’s problems.  Her comments came amid turmoil at the broadcaster, with dire warnings that it will run out of money by March.  It has asked the government to sign off on a R3 billion debt guarantee to allow it to keep head above water, as it embarks on a process of mass retrenchments aimed at cutting costs.  Ndabeni-Abrahams has reiterated that she is opposed to any action that would lead to unemployment, but underlined the need to deal with the realities of the situation.  Meantime, the SABC’s board is in disarray following the resignation of four board members earlier this month after reported clashes with the new minister.

Read Lindsay Dentlinger’s full report on this story at EWN


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Field ranger killed in musth elephant attack at Madikwe Game Reserve

News24 reports that a field ranger at Leopard Rock Lodge in the North West was killed when a musth elephant attacked him on Friday.  Mark Lautenbach, who was a manager and guide at the Madikwe Game Reserve, where the lodge is located, suffered extensive injuries after he tried to redirect the elephant into the bush after it broke down a fence and entered the lodging area.  A musth elephant describes a periodic condition in bull elephants, characterised by highly aggressive behaviour and accompanied by a large rise in reproductive hormones.  The animal was put down after the incident.  North West MEC for Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development, Desbo Mohono, noted that Lautenbach had been a highly committed and trained ranger with years of experience in the field and described his death as a "loss to the wildlife sector".

Read Sesona Ngqakamba’s short report on this story at News24. Read the North West MEC’s statement of condolences at SA Govt News

KZN cops on the hunt for hijackers who shot and robbed off-duty officer in Mariannhill

TimesLive writes that an off-duty policeman is lucky to be alive after he was shot three times in a hijacking in Mariannhill, west of Durban, on Monday.  The officer had apparently been sitting in a car when he was accosted by three armed men.  Police spokesperson Col Thembeka Mbele said the men fired shots at the policeman, wounding him in the upper arm.  "The men also robbed him of his service pistol and fled the scene in his vehicle.  The injured member was taken to the hospital for medical attention.  His car was recovered later in the Zwelibomvu area of KwaNdengezi,” Mbele indicated.  The men are being sought by police on charges of hijacking, attempted murder and robbery.  No arrests have been made yet.

Read the original report on this story by Jeff Wicks at TimesLive

‘Leisure sickness’ a risk for workaholics and over- achievers who go on holiday

eNCA writes that if you are a workaholic, over-achiever or a perfectionist, you might be at risk of suffering from a modern-day phenomenon known as "leisure sickness".  This medical condition strikes as soon as you go on a long-awaited holiday and signs include flu-like symptoms and migraines.  Almost two million South Africans are said to be prone to this illness.  Pharma Dynamics spokesperson Nicole Jennings points out that one incident of sickness during leave doesn't mean a diagnosis, but if a person finds themselves consistently falling ill while resting, they could be at risk.

Watch an interview with Nicole Jennings on this topic at eNCA


MINING LABOUR

Amcu slams Sibanye-Stillwater for interdict application to halt strike at gold operations

ANA reports that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Wednesday accused Sibanye-Stillwater of trying to interdict its protected strike, saying the company had tried underhand tactics to discredit the labour action from the outset.  On Tuesday, Sibanye filed an application at the Labour Court in Johannesburg for an interdict to prevent members of Amcu from continuing with their wage strike.  Almost 15,000 workers affiliated to Amcu have been on a protected wage strike since 21 November at Sibanye's local gold operations.  Sibanye currently employs approximately 32,200 people at its SA gold operations, with Amcu representing about 43% of employees in the bargaining unit.  In court, Amcu accused Sibanye's management of recruiting members for rival unions in a bid to diminish the union's bargaining power.  According to Sibanye, Amcu no longer represents the majority of workers at its gold operations as the three other unions concerned, namely the NUM, Solidarity and Uasa, now have a collective 49% representation in the bargaining unit.  But, Amcu’s lawyers questioned the authenticity of the audit results presented by Sibanye and opposed the application based on the manner management and the auditing firm they used conducted the membership audit.  Judgment has been reserved and the strike will continue.

Read the full original report on this story at Mining Weekly

Sibanye-Stillwater share price plunges 4% amid ongoing Amcu wage strike

ANA reports that on Tuesday following a public holiday and with the ongoing strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations in SA entering a fourth week, the precious metals producer’s share price declined 4.3%.  The strike, which began on 21 November on the part of almost 15,000 Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) members, has seen a slump in production.  It has also been marked by violence and intimidation.  Three people died and several were assaulted at the company’s Beatrix, Kloof, and Driefontein mines.  Sibanye currently employs approximately 32,200 people at its SA gold operations, with Amcu representing approximately 43% of employees in the bargaining unit.  Amcu members embarked on a strike three weeks ago demanding R1,000 increases in monthly wages every year for the next three years.  Three other unions representing 49% of the workforce, namely the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and Uasa, have signed a three-year wage agreement with Sibanye covering the period July 2018 to June 2021.  The agreement provides for increases to the basic wages of so-called category 4-8 surface and underground employees of R700 per month in the first year, R700 in the second year, and R825 in the third year.

Read the full report on this story at The Citizen

Gold Fields and NUM sign formal agreement ending South Deep job cuts strike

Mining Weekly reports that the 45-day strike at Gold Fields’ South Deep mine over job cuts has officially ended with the signing of a formal settlement agreement between the gold producer and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).  Employees have been returning to work since last Thursday, when the union called off the strike, but the formal agreement was only signed on Tuesday.  In terms thereof, the retrenchments of 1,082 employees will go ahead, with most of them having already been processed.  The NUM branch at South Deep started its strike action on 2 November to protest the retrenchments, necessitated by financial losses of about R100-million a month.  To alleviate the financial burden of employees who were on the ‘no-work no-pay’ strike, South Deep has agreed to deduct the lost earnings over four months and to pay all non-management employees an ex-gratia payment of 20% of basic pay should they have returned to work by 15 December.  They can also earn back part of their lost earnings if monthly gold production targets were exceeded in January and February, the company said.  NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu confirmed that the strike had ended.

Read the original report on this story in full at Mining Weekly. Read too, Lengthy strike over Gold Fields job cuts ends, at Fin24. Read Gold Fields’ press statement in this regard at Moneyweb


MARIKANA DEATHS / FARLAM COMMISSION REPORT

Six years later, Marikana widows still awaiting state payouts

The Citizen reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa has been asked to intervene after it emerged that a number of families of persons who were killed in the 2012 Marikana “massacre” would spend another Christmas without the compensation they were promised.  Lobby group Forensics for Justice said this week that it was shocked and appalled that more than six years after the Marikana incident the survivors, who were awarded settlements of R365,000 or R465,000 depending on their cases, had not yet been paid.  The Khulumani Support Group has written to Ramaphosa requesting an urgent engagement with him.  They intend to represent the widows of the miners who were killed during the wage protest that culminated in police opening fire on over 200 miners, injuring dozens and killing 34.  The group called on government to fast-track the repayments as a matter of urgency.  They have had no response to their formal request to the presidency.  In a similar letter to the state attorney’s office, Forensics for Justice warned that a failure to make the payouts soon, in light of the fact that many beneficiaries had already been told that the payments had been processed, would cause tension in the impoverished mining community of Marikana.

Read Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni’s full report on this story at The Citizen


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Numsa and Comair to meet at CCMA on Thursday in bid to avert wage strike

TimesLIve reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) will meet Comair management at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on Thursday in a bid to avert a looming wage strike.  The parties have deadlocked in negotiations over salaries, with the trade union demanding a salary increase of 12%, a guaranteed 13th cheque, a travelling allowance, extra shop stewards and a number of other improvements in conditions.  Comair operates and manages British Airways and Kulula in SA.  It has 2,206 South African employees, 373 of whom are Numsa members.  Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola accused the airline of refusing to pay workers "equal pay for work of equal value" and stated:  "There is a significant gap between the salaries of white workers and African workers who do the same work."  Comair has advised passengers that it was implementing contingency measures and was working around the clock to break the deadlock.

Read the full original report by Nico Gous at TimesLive


UNION NEWS / STRUCTURES / ORGANISATIONAL REPORTS

Unions need to be stronger

In its Tuesday editorial, Business Day noted that SA’s “strong unions” are often cited as one of the reasons why the country battles with an unemployment rate that reached 27.5% in the third quarter, and that argument holds some merit.  Labour laws give unions significant power in the workplace, and bargaining councils and the extension of agreements to non-members are often blamed for the lack of job creation.  South Africans are also used to lengthy and violent strikes.  But is our problem really that unions are too strong?  An argument could be made that our unions are, in fact, not strong enough.  Many unions have poor track records when it comes to providing strong, democratic leadership where everyone from the general secretary to the shop steward are held accountable, where transparency of union affairs are a nonnegotiable, and where members’ interests are at the heart of the union’s activities.  Strong unions can be a powerful force for good, not only guarding workers’ rights but also bringing about positive change in society by organising and campaigning to strengthen democracy and good governance, and campaign for human rights.

Read this editorial in full at BusinessLive

Saftu sends condolences to family of veteran unionist Zamile Booi

EWN reports that the SA Federation of Trade Union (Saftu) has expressed its condolences to the family of Zamile Booi, a member of the federation’s coordinating committee in the Free State.  Booi died in a car accident on Monday in the North West.  Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi described Booi as a principled and passionate supporter of the workers’ struggle and said his life would stand as an example to inspire others to follow the revolutionary path that he paved.  Booi left the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union to join the National Transport Movement (NTM).  He later left NTM after he was allegedly purged by one of the union’s leader in order to to join the Democratised Transport Logistics and Allied Workers’ Union.

Read Robinson Nqola’s short report in this regard at EWN. Read Saftu’s press statement in this regard at Saftu News


HIGHER EDUCATION / QUALIFICATIONS

Nehawu slams IMF representative for questioning SA's free higher education policies

ANA reports that the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) said on Tuesday it was concerned by the "official queries" made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the policies of free higher education in the country.  This came after there were reports that Montfort Mlachila, IMF senior resident and representative in SA, queried the country's move to offer free tertiary education, saying instead that more money should be spent on primary and secondary education.  "Spending a lot more money at the tertiary level through free tertiary education is missing the crucial issues.  A lot of the students who do get to tertiary education and get it for free can definitely afford it, even if they can’t afford it immediately they can in future by getting jobs," Mlachila was quoted as saying.  At the beginning of this year, South African government introduced fee-free tertiary education for all students from homes whose income was less than R350,000 per annum.  Zola Saphetha, Nehawu general secretary, argued that the IMF was actually advocating that government must merely spend on basic education, which was another way of saying that it must keep university education elite and predominantly white.  He also said that the IMF “has no expertise to make comments on education and other social services.”

Read the full original report on this story at Business Report. Read Nehawu’s press statement in this regard at Politicsweb. Read too, IMF official queries SA free tertiary education, at City Press


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Seven Rustenburg municipal employees axed for tender fraud

ANA reports that the Rustenburg municipality in North West has dismissed seven employees in connection with the irregular awarding of tenders.  Spokesperson David Magae indicated on Tuesday:  “The employees were appointed members of the Bid Evaluation Committee (BEC) which is central to supply chain management processes, more specifically the appointment of service providers and ensuring compliance with the applicable legislation and relevant policies when awarding a contract."  He went on to state that the municipality instituted an independent forensic investigation into how contracts were awarded to service providers and if the applicable processes and policies were adhered to.

Read Molaole Montsho’s full report in this regard at IOL News


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT TO WORK

Golden Arrow bus fares to increase by 9.5%

EWN reports that Golden Arrow bus fares are set to go up as of 31 December 2018.  They will be hiked by 9.5%, partly due to fuel price increases.  Spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyers said that, in addition to the sky-rocketing cost of fuel, nationally determined wages for workers increased by 9%.  But, she added that some passengers would be spared, albeit temporarily.  “Passengers can postpone paying the increased fares until 13 January 2019 in the case of 10-ride gold card packages, which are valid for 14 days bought on Sunday, 30 December 2018,” she advised.

Read Kaylynn Palm’s short original report at EWN. See too, Golden Arrow to hike fares on New Year's Eve, at Cape Argus


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES

  • Nurse, who always put patients first, dies after being shot in the head in robbery at home, at News24
  • 'Porn-cop', who once sent graphic videos to detectives, to head Hawks in North West, at News24
  • Fashion workers in Cambodia urge H&M to deliver a living wage, at BusinessLive

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page