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 Monday morning roundup, see
summaries of our selection of South African
labour-related stories that have recently appeared.


TOP STORY – NATIONAL MINUMUM WAGE

Unions give enactment from 1 January of national minimum wage a cautious thumbs-up

The Sunday Independent reports that the enactment of the national minimum wage bill has been welcomed by workers and trade unions, but some economists have questioned the timing.  President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday that millions of South Africans would be eligible to earn a minimum of R20 an hour or R3,500 a month.  The bill was signed on 23 November last year and came into effect on 1 January 2019.  Labour federation Cosatu said this would offer a solid foundation for workers and was “part of addressing issues of economic growth with regard to income distribution and unemployment.”  Fellow federation Fedusa said the announcement came at a time when workers were struggling to make ends meet and commented that at least this would force every employer to pay the required R20 an hour.  However, economist Chris Hart was not convinced about the timing of the announcement, saying it was a strategy for the ANC to score votes in the May elections.  “I don't have a problem with the minimum wage if we have policies to end poverty.  The problem is, we need to create more jobs at the moment.  The unemployment rate is the biggest issue,” said Hart.

Read the original in full of this report by Manyane Manyane at IOL News. Read too, SA launches minimum wage ahead of election, at EWN

Threshold for exemptions from national minimum wage criticised by both labour and businesses

City Press reports that a large part of the SA economy will be exempted from the new national minimum wage (NMW), which came into effect last week.  Final regulations on exemption from the NMW were released quietly on 19 December, cutting the wage floor from the much publicised R20 an hour to R18 an hour for qualifying companies.  The threshold for qualifying for exemption was set too low, according to organised labour.  At the same time, organised business criticised the limited nature of the exemption as being “completely random” and useless to employers who still could not afford to pay workers R18 an hour.  There will be no further exemption from the NMW other than the 10% drop from R20 to R18.  A NMW of R18 leads to a monthly wage of R3,096 instead of R3,440, based on a 40-hour week.  The regulations create a series of tests companies can use to qualify for exemption from the NMW, based on profitability and solvency.  City Press calculations indicate that large parts of the manufacturing and construction industries will qualify for exemption.  Separate tests for households and nonprofit organisations will allow them to pay a lower NMW to domestic workers and nonprofit workers.  The normal NMW for domestic workers of R15 can be lowered to R13.50 if a household is exempted.  The system also allows for farm workers to be paid R16.20 an hour instead of the normal R18 in that sector.  Despite evidently covering a large part of the economy, the NMW exemption rules are nowhere near what organised business wanted.  Business Unity SA’s Kaizer Moyane said the exemption was “arbitrary” and failed to take into account real affordability.  Meantime, Cosatu will monitor the scale of exemptions this year and take the issue up again when the new NMW commission deliberates on the first year of the wage floor.

Read more of this City Press report by Dewald van Rensburg at SA Labour News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Farmers warn they may have to fire workers over minimum wage, on page 6 of The Star of 2 January 2019
  • Fawu warns against minimum wage scare tactics by farm owners, at DFA

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

SA paramedics now carry guns to protect themselves and their patients

Independent News reports that South African paramedics started carrying guns in December to protect their own lives as they try to save others’ lives.  Earlier in the month, the president of the SA Emergency Personnel Union (Saepu), Mpho Mpogeng, called on all the union’s 7,000 members to arm themselves over the festive season following a spate of more than 30 attacks on members in the past six months.  Mpogeng told Independent Media on 28 December 2018:  “Our position is very clear … We are treating fire with fire.  We don’t have to be apologetic when dealing with crime because crime will remain crime.”  He said the union had tried to hold talks with the national and provincial departments of health as well as the police but nothing had come of its efforts.  “It’s happening, our paramedics are arming themselves and going out on duty.  This is our only option, we are on our own,” Mpogeng claimed.  The union’s call, though, has been condemned by several quarters of society.  The national director of emergency medical services and disaster management at the health department, Raveen Naidoo, asked the union to retract its call - which it has refused to do.  Gun Free SA expressed its shock at Saepu’s call.  The National Department of Health said while it understood the concerns of workers, it could not condone their arming themselves.

Read the original in full of this report by Sameer Naik, Shanice Naidoo & Duncan Guy at IOL News

Sanef takes Julius Malema and EFF to Equality Court over hate speech against journalists

BusinessLive reports that the SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has lodged a complaint at the Equality Court against the EFF and its leader Julius Malema in a bid to halt threats to and harassment of journalists.  “We did not take this decision to institute legal action against the EFF lightly.  We believe in the South African way of resolving disputes around a table, but Sanef has been unsuccessful in seeking a meeting with Mr Malema and other EFF leaders about the remarks which we view as blatant hate speech,” Sanef said in a statement in December.  Sanef had wanted to meet the red berets in November, but secretary-general Godrich Gardee said the party’s schedule was “very tight and fully booked with prearranged meetings and activities up until the elections date”.  Sanef has asked the court to interdict Malema and the EFF from intimidating, harassing, threatening or assaulting any journalist and publishing personal information about any journalist.

Read Nonkululeko Njilo’s full report on this story at BusinessLive. Read Sanef’s press statement in this regard at Politicsweb

Deadly Bank of Lisbon building could be demolished due to serious structural damage

The Star reports that a downtown Johannesburg building, which housed government departments and which was engulfed by a fire that killed three firefighters on 5 September, might be demolished by mid-2019.  Workers from Jet Demolition have been seen outside the Bank of Lisbon building.  Gauteng government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said the building was badly damaged, but would not confirm whether or not it would be demolished.  “The building sustained quite serious structural damage.  We are still busy looking at a number of options.  Once we arrive at a point of deciding what happens, we will notify the public,” Masebe said.  Jet Demolition said:  “Unfortunately we are not at liberty to discuss any details of the project at this stage.”  But, workers on site said they had been deployed to start preparations for the demolition of the building.  They said planning for the demolition could take up to four months and expected that it would take place in the middle of next year.  The building, which before the fire was found to be only 21% compliant with the health and safety standards, housed three government departments - Human Settlements, Health, and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Read Sibongile Mashaba’s full report on this story at The Star

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • A day in the life of a paramedic, at Sunday Tribune
  • KZN paramedic stabbed as he reports for work, at TimesLive
  • Two more attacks on JMPD emergency workers, at The Star
  • West Rand clinics robbed because of unpaid security, claims DA, at IOL News
  • Limpopo farm worker dies after being kicked by giraffe, at IOL News
  • On-duty Gauteng traffic police officer dies after being hit by bus, at IOL News

MINING LABOUR

Wage strike by Amcu Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold mines remains unresolved

The Sunday Times reports that members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) remain on strike at Sibanye-Stillwater's SA gold mines while a process to verify the membership of four unions at the producer is still underway.  On Thursday, Amcu and Sibanye embarked on a process at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), but the dispute remains unresolved.  Joseph Mathunjwa, president of Amcu, said last week that talks at the CCMA were adjourned due to a disagreement over the interpretation of a judgment in late December relating to the strike.  At that time, Sibanye had sought to have the wage strike by Amcu declared unprotected and illegal after it said that 51% of unionised workers - represented by the National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and Uasa - had accepted the wage offer, enabling the company to extend the offer to all workers.  But on 21 December the Labour Court ruled in favour of Amcu and ordered the CCMA to facilitate a union membership verification process and report back to the court by 7 January 2019.  According to Mathunjwa, the CCMA commissioner has written to the judge to clarify certain sections of the judgment.  The strike by almost 15,000 Amcu workers has "affected the gold operations to varying extents", said Sibanye’s James Wellsted, with an update to be released "in due course".

Read the original report by Ntando Thukwana in full at SA Labour News. Read too, Amcu strike at Sibanye-Stillwater legal, labour court rules, at Mining Weekly

Amcu in Competition Appeal Court move to block Sibanye’s acquisition of Lonmin

Mining Weekly reports that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has moved to block the acquisition of struggling platinum miner Lonmin by gold and platinum producer Sibanye-Stillwater by appealing the transaction’s regulatory approval.  Amcu, which is the largest union at Lonmin, has filed an appeal with the Competition Appeal Court to overturn the Competition Tribunal’s 21 November decision clearing the all-share acquisition.  Sibanye-Stillwater said on Wednesday that it remained committed to the Lonmin deal and that it would request an “urgent hearing” from the Competition Appeals Court.  While the companies have argued that the combination of Sibanye-Stillwater and Lonmin through the £285-million all-share deal will create a larger and more resilient company, Amcu is contesting the potential 10,000-plus job losses at Lonmin.  The Competition Tribunal last month imposed a six-month moratorium on job cuts.

Read the original report on this story at Mining Weekly. Read a joint Sibanye/Lonmin statement on this matter at Moneyweb

Sibanye’s Lonmin takeover deal faces delay due to Amcu’s opposition

BusinessLive reports that the final date for the conclusion of the Sibanye-Stillwater all-share takeover of Lonmin could be tested by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s (Amcu’s) late appeal against the Competition Tribunal's approval of the transaction.  Sibanye and Lonmin set the end of February as the date by which the deal would be concluded.  But, Amcu, which not only fiercely opposes the transaction but is also involved in a protracted and violent strike at Sibanye's gold mines, has filed an appeal against the tribunal's highly conditional approval of the deal.  Amcu is concerned about the scale of job losses it feels will arise from the merged companies.  "Sibanye-Stillwater and Lonmin intend to request an urgent hearing date from the competition appeal court in relation to Amcu’s appeal," the two companies jointly indicated.  The lateness of the appeal means the matter will only be heard in January, the month in which both companies intended to conduct their shareholder votes.  Lonmin's board has remained steadfast in its endorsement of the deal, with senior executives pointing out that it simply did not have the financial resources to sustainably run the business.  The tribunal imposed a six-month moratorium on any job cuts in the merged entity.

Read Allan Seccombe’s full report on this story at BusinessLive

Lily Mine business rescue practitioner remains in place despite communication and trust breakdown

City Press reports that the business rescue practitioner of Lily Mine, Rob Devereux, has been retained in his position, but is now working with another expert.  Siyakhula Sonke Corporation (SSC), the new controlling shareholders of Vantage Goldfields SA, had given Devereux an ultimatum to resign or face being pushed out through a court application following dissatisfaction by the Barbrook creditors’ committee and SSC.  Devereux said he appointed business rescue practitioner Daniel Terblanche to work with him because SSC chief executive Fred Arendse would not work with him any longer.  Barbrook’s chairperson, Dwaine Koch, said that they were in favour of Devereux being retained because he possessed knowledge about the business rescue process of mines.  He advised that the creditors’ committee had suspended its liquidation application because of Terblanche’s pending appointment.  According to Koch, Terblanche has a good reputation.  The committee had expressed doubt that SSC had received R190 million from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and demanded proof.  The IDC has confirmed granting the loan.  The Lily and Barbrook mines were shut down and placed under business rescue in 2016 after an entrance to the Lily Mine collapsed and buried three workers underground.  A total R310 million is needed to reopen the mines.

Read Sizwe Sama Yende’s full report on this story at City Press

Postings on mining charter / transformation

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • AngloGold said to be considering ditching SA and listing in London or Toronto, at BusinessLive
  • De Beers targets Venetia starting a year early, at BusinessLive
  • Sibanye-Stillwater excluded from NYSE gold index as PGM influence grows, at Miningmx

APPOINTMENTS / RECRUITMENT / PROMOTIONS

BMF demands reasons from Gordhan for appointment of a white male as CEO of Denel

City Press reports that the Black Management Forum (BMF) has threatened legal action to have the recent appointment of Denel group chief executive Daniel du Toit set aside.  Lawyers representing the BMF have sent a letter of demand to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan requesting further information related to the appointment – failing which, they say, they will approach the courts.  Du Toit was appointed last month with the approval of Cabinet and is set to start his new job this month.  According to the letter, the BMF has expressed a number of concerns regarding the appointment, including a lack of gender parity at Denel.  The letter details the information required and gives Gordhan Thursday as the deadline to respond or face legal action.  BMF spokesperson Philippe Bakahoukoutela said their main objective in the matter was for the government to provide justifiable reasons for appointing a white male to run a state-owned enterprise (SOE) when there were capable black professionals who could do the job.  Bakahoukoutela confirmed that, should the matter go to court, the BMF would seek to have the appointment set aside.

Read the original in full of this report by Lesetja Malope at City Press

Tshwane mayor distances himself from appointment of 'unqualified' acting city manager

News24 reports that Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga has distanced himself from the appointment of Previn Govender as acting city manager.  Msimanga said on Friday that it was the prerogative of city manager Moeketsi Mosola to name someone to act in his place while he was away, although he would have queried the appointment with the City's council if it had not been in recess when the decision was made.  A report will apparently be tabled to council soon.  Last week the ANC caucus in Tshwane said it was "dismayed, disappointed and horrified that the corrupt DA-led administration has … appointed a fake, unqualified and incompetent chief of emergency Previn Govender to be the acting city manager while the embattled Dr Moeketsi Mosola is on leave".  The ANC's Lesego Makhubela stated:  "Govender has misrepresented his emergency and fire qualifications and the institution in the United Kingdom has indicated to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) that Govender's qualifications as outlined in his CV are fake."

Read the original in full of this report by Pelane Phakgadi at News24

Health department to spend R2bn to fill over 15,000 posts

TimesLive reported in December that the Department of Health (DOH) will spend R2bn to fill more than 15,000 posts for health workers across SA’s public health facilities in a move that will provide much-needed employment and help alleviate the staff shortages that have plagued the sector.  The new jobs include 9,797 newly qualified health professionals — such as community-service dentists, nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals — who will be embarking on internships or community-service posts.  In September, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that as part of an economic stimulus and recovery plan, the government would reprioritise R50bn of its budget to create jobs and revive the economy.  The public health-care system has been beset by staff and infrastructure shortages, including a shortage of 47,000 nurses.  The new jobs were announced by health minister Aaron Motsoaledi in December.  Of the more than 15,000 posts — which will be filled from January — 5,300 will be clinical and support health workers across the nine provinces, including specialists.  The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), although welcoming the decision to fill the positions, said 5,300 posts were not enough to ensure that the sector performed at its best.  It added that the pace of filling the positions was too slow.

Read Penelope Mashego’s report on this story in full at TimesLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Aveng Group appoints Sean Flanagan as new Chief Executive, at Business Report
  • Employability: It's about so much more than academic skills, at IOL News
  • Survey shows 86% of top SA executives would move abroad, at Fin24

ESKOM STAFFING

Eskom reduces number of top executives from 21 to nine

ANA reports that Eskom group CEO Phakamani Hadebe announced on 23 December 2018 that the process to rationalise the power utility’s top executive structure had been completed, with the number of top executives reduced from 21 to nine.  He indicated:  "Following an extensive consultation with its executive management that started on 7 November 2018 and approval of a new executive structure by the board, Eskom today [Sunday] announced that the process has now been concluded, setting a new course for the organisation to be cost-effective, efficient, and sustainable … We have managed to reduce the number of F-band [executive] positions from a total of 21 to nine by way of regrading or combining roles.”  The new structure has reduced the number of direct reports for the group CEO to 10 in the short-term, which will drop to eight when IT and procurement were "relinked back to" the chief financial officer (CFO) in the foreseeable future.  In addition, all senior general manager roles, "which were a person to holder roles", have been eliminated.

Read the original in full of this report at IOL News. Read too, Cash-strapped Eskom axes some of its top earners, at The Mercury

Eskom said to be planning to extend job cuts beyond top tier of management

Bloomberg reports that according to a person familiar with cash-strapped Eskom’s plans, the power utility will extend its strategy of trimming top executive positions to include lower ranking managers and finally the general workforce.  The state-owned company last month reduced its highest executive structure to nine positions from 21 by regrading and combining roles.  The next phase was said by the source to encompass cutting a 600-strong layer of managers - known as E-band employees - by at least 70%.  The latest notice on job cuts "is only limited to executive level," Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said in a text message.  He did not comment on cuts for other managers or staff.  President Cyril Ramaphosa on 14 December appointed a panel to advise the government on how to resolve the power producer’s operational, structural and financial challenges.  A World Bank study in 2016 found that South African utilities paid workers more than double the norm in 35 other countries on the continent, and that Eskom was potentially 66% overstaffed.

Read the original in full of this report by Loni Prinsloo & Paul Burkhardt at Fin24

NUM welcomes removal of Eskom general manager in Free State, but is shocked at her promotion

ANA reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Free State region on Thursday welcomed the removal or transfer of Eskom general manager in the province, Lindi Mthombeni.  The union has been pleading with the power utility for months to remove Mthombeni, saying that workers had lost trust in her and alleging that she never delivered as the general manager.  "We are shocked that she is now acting on a higher position within Eskom, while she did not help us in Free State when she was still the general manager.  We hope Eskom group CEO Phakamani Hadebe will monitor her fully based on our grievances," Isaac Mtshotwana, NUM deputy regional secretary said in a statement.  No comment has been received from Eskom about the position now occupied by Mthombeni or the division she was promoted to.

Read the original of a short report at Engineering News

EXECUTIVE PAY

Eight MTN Group executives get R117m in shares

Moneyweb reports that eight MTN Group executives have netted over 1.3 million shares in the telecommunications giant, valued at R116.857 million at the market price (R87.79) when they were issued at the end of December.  The shares, issued under the group’s 2015 performance share plan (PSP), will vest in December 2021.  Group president and CEO Rob Shuter received over 400,000 shares, valued at R38.3 million at the December market price.  Group COO and group CFO, Jens Schulte-Bockum and Ralph Mupita, received around 200,000 shares, valued at R18 million and R17 million respectively.  The group also awarded shares to five other executives who are named prescribed officers.  Apart from the shares awarded to the eight executives, employees at all managerial levels (junior through to senior/executive) are eligible to be awarded shares.  As at end-December 2017, there were in excess of 16 million shares issued under the PSP plan still outstanding.  The group noted in its 2017 integrated report that zero conditions had been achieved for the awards made in 2015 (deferred to June 2016 and 2017).  At the end of 2017, the executives and prescribed officers were awarded nearly 750,000 shares under the plan, significantly fewer than in December 2018.

Read the original of this report by Hilton Tarrantin full at Moneyweb

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

OTHER NEWS HEADLINES

  • National strategy on red tape reduction in the pipeline to be ready by the end of 2019, at BusinessLive
  • Survey shows spike in financial stress among SA professionals, at Fin24
  • Building and construction industry nightmare continues, at Business Report
  • Big-hearted couple give their Diepsloot domestic worker a fully furnished home, at IOL News
  • Zwelinzima Vavi denies his tweets about Islamic shop owners are xenophobic, at The Citizen

 


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