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, 15 January 2019.


Amcu to conduct secondary strike at Sibanye’s platinum mines from 22 January in support of ongoing gold strike

Mining Weekly reports that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Monday confirmed it would be embarking on secondary strike action at Sibanye-Stillwater’s platinum operations in SA from 22 January.  This will be in support of the strike at Sibanye’s gold operations, which has been ongoing since 22 November.  Amcu stated that it would continue its strike at the gold operations until its demand for a R1,000 increment for each of the the next three-year period was met.  The secondary strike will involve 12,500 Amcu members at the miner’s platinum operations, while the strike at the gold operations involves 15,000 members.  “[The strike] will mark one of the biggest examples of mass rolling strike action across different mineral commodities by a single union in South African history,” stated Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa.  Amcu’s gold strike is ongoing despite Sibanye having extended its wage agreement with three other trade unions to all employees.

Read the original report in this regard at Mining Weekly. Read too, Angry Amcu to extend gold strike to Sibanye’s platinum operations, at BusinessLive. Read Amcu’s press statement in this regard at Polity

Sibanye banks on US mines, high palladium price as Amcu strike at gold mines spreads

Mining Weekly reports that Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman on Tuesday responded to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s (Amcu’s) announcement of secondary strike action.  He said the company had been preparing its local platinum operations for such an outcome and had contingency plans in place.  Amcu on Monday indicated that it would embark on secondary strike action at Sibanye’s local platinum group metals (PGM) operations from 22 January, in support of the ongoing wage strike at the miner’s gold operations, which started on 22 November.  Sibanye currently employs about 17,400 people at its South African PGM operations, with Amcu representing about 56% of employees at the Kroondal operations and 71% of employees at the Rustenburg operations.  Froneman pointed out that the company’s PGMs operations in the US provided diversification and support in respect of the strike, especially with the exposure of those operations to a rampant palladium price.

Read this report in full at Mining Weekly. Read too, Sibanye-Stillwater braces for secondary Amcu strike at platinum mines, at Fin24. And also, Amcu raises stakes in secondary strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s platinum operations, at Miningmx

Sibanye, Lonmin extend merger longstop date to 30 June following appeal by Amcu

Mining Weekly reports that precious metals miner Sibanye-Stillwater and platinum group metals miner Lonmin have agreed to extend the longstop date for the transaction in which Sibanye will acquire all of Lonmin’s issued share capital.  The extension is from 28 February to 30 June.  This follows after the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on 19 December filed an appeal with the Competition Appeal Court against the Competition Tribunal’s decision to approve the transaction.  The companies reaffirmed their commitment to the transaction, pending finalisation of the appeal.  While the companies have argued that the combination of Sibanye and Lonmin would create a larger and more resilient company, Amcu is contesting the potential 10,000-plus job losses at Lonmin.

Read the original short report at Mining Weekly

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Op-Ed: Mining will not bring jobs to Xolobeni, at Daily Maverick
  • We have never invited Mantashe to Xolobeni, claims Amadiba Crisis Committee, at Mining Weekly


BMF to meet Denel over appointment of white Group CEO, before considering legal action

Fin24 reports that the Black Management Forum (BMF) will first meet with state-owned arms manufacturer Denel before considering legal action over its concerns that a white male, Daniel du Toit, was recently appointed group CEO.  "Through our lawyers, we requested that we be provided with all the pertinent information that was used and taken in consideration during the recruitment and selection process of the GCEO appointment of Denel.  Denel has since responded, thus requesting a meeting with the leadership of the BMF at a date still to be decided by both organisations," BMF’s Thabile Wonci indicated.  Monday was Du Toit’s first day on the job.  The Liberated Metalworkers Union of SA (Limusa), a Cosatu affiliate, last week criticised Du Toit’s appointment as "very irresponsible".  Denel has defended Du Toit's appointment, saying he was the most qualified candidate for the job and would be leading a diverse team that represented SA's demographics.

Read Tehillah Niselow’s original report on this story in full at Fin24. Read too, Denel defends appointment of white, male CEO, at BusinessLive. Read Denel’s press statement on this matter at Politicsweb


Government considers shortening internship periods for doctors to alleviate bottlenecks

TimesLIVE reports that shortening doctors’ internships from two years to one year is being mooted to alleviate the strain in the training of doctors.  Two-year internships help medical students translate their theoretical knowledge into practice under the supervision of experienced doctors after their studies.  SA Medical Association (Sama) chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee said there was currently a bottleneck, with too few internships to accommodate medical students graduating in SA and abroad, especially in Cuba.  Coetzee said co-operation between the private and public health-care sectors could help.  Trade union Solidarity welcomed the idea.  Solidarity Research Institute’s Morné Malan commented:  "These internships increasingly acquire the characteristics of obstacles for the profession rather than to create opportunities for the expansion of knowledge and the necessary preparation for the student’s career.  We see too often that these programmes are known for the poor management, limited leadership, inhuman working environments and enormous workloads."  According to Solidarity, the solution would be to accredit private institutions to offer internships.

Read Nico Gous’ report on this story in full at TimesLIVE


SANDF warrant officer arrested in alleged cash-for-jobs scam

News24 reports that a warrant officer in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) was due to appear in the Thaba Tshwane military court on Tuesday following his arrest for alleged involvement in a cash-for-jobs scam.  He was arrested on Friday after an investigation by the military police and defence intelligence following tip-offs from "defrauded victims" in and around Tshwane.  SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi indicated:  "It is alleged that the suspect had promised members of the community in Tshwane, where he lived, that their children must apply and would get work in the defence force [and took money from them].  When January came and intake started last week, they were not called up.  The community reported that he had promised to give them jobs and nothing happened."  It is unclear how many people were affected by the scam.  The possibility of further arrests has not been ruled out.

Read Tammy Petersen’s report on this story in full at News24. See too, Member of the SANDF arrested for allegedly running a jobs scam, at The Citizen


Success of national minimum wage threatened by exemption clause allowing only 10% reduction

Claire Bisseker writes that the new national minimum wage (NMW) of R20 an hour came into effect on 1 January and, though it’s too early to tell how well the exemption process is working, there are already allegations from business of bad faith.  Because of the risk to employment, the flexibility afforded by an efficient exemption process is critical.  All along, business’s understanding of the NMW Act was that firms that could not afford to pay R20 an hour would be fully exempt subject to an independent, objective analysis of their finances.  However, in the middle of 2018 the government inserted a clause into the draft regulations limiting the extent of the exemption to 10% of the minimum wage.  So, exempt firms would still have to pay workers R18 an hour, a saving of just R2 an hour.  In December 2018, Business Unity SA (Busa) met labour minister Mildred Oliphant and urged her to reconsider this clause, following assurances from senior departmental officials that it was an oversight and would be removed.  Oliphant promised to reconsider, but Busa was shocked to find the clause had been retained in the final regulations gazetted two weeks later.  The fear is that the 10% discount will dissuade marginal firms from bothering to apply for an exemption and result in widespread noncompliance, destroying the credibility and effectiveness of the NMW system.

Read this article in full at BusinessLive (paywall access only)


Smelters won’t survive 15% Eskom tariff hike and thousands of jobs will be at risk, ferroalloys industry warns

BusinessLive reports that as hearings into Eskom’s proposed tariff increase kicked off on Monday, the ferroalloy industry warned it would not survive a double-digit increase in electricity prices.  Eskom has applied for a 15% annual hike in the power price for the next three years.  The national energy regulator will take a decision after three weeks of public hearings.  “Should the 15% increase be affected then there will be little industry left to sell the electricity to and thousands of jobs linked to the ferroalloys industry will be at risk”, said Chabisi Motloung, chair of the Ferro Alloys Producers Association (Fapa).  The producers, represented by Fapa, are significant power users as they typically run smelting operations and account for 10% of Eskom’s power consumption and about a tenth of its revenue.  Fapa said 18,530 direct jobs and 129,000 indirect jobs were at stake.  “There is simply no more place for any further double-digit increases as industry has already gone through vigorous cost-cutting measures including retrenchments,” Motloung pointed out.

Read Lisa Steyn’s report on this story in full at BusinessLive


Forcing pension fund to invest in bankrupt SOEs could lead to court challenge

BL Premium reports that one of SA’s largest fixed-income lenders says any attempt by the government to force pension funds to invest in bankrupt state-owned companies (SOEs) is likely to spark a Constitutional Court (ConCourt) challenge.  In its election manifesto released at the weekend, the ANC said it would "investigate the introduction of prescribed assets on financial institutions’ funds to unlock resources for investments in social and economic development".  This could result in pension funds being forced to invest a portion of their funds in state projects.  Prescribing to pension funds, which are responsible for managing the savings of millions of workers, would be destructive and panic-inducing, said Andrew Canter, chief investment officer at Futuregrowth Asset Management.  Such a move, Canter said, would also amount to a violation of property rights and would probably end up in the ConCourt.  But, constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said it was not as clear-cut as that because any such challenge would have to prove that there was an arbitrary deprivation of property.  Leon Campher, CEO of the Association for Savings and Investment SA, opined that prescription would have a negative effect on the country’s credit rating.

Read Lisa Steyn’s original report on this story in full at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read too, Prescribed assets ‘won’t work’, warns industry, at Moneyweb


‘Opportunists’ used the picture to ‘spread hate’, says suspended Schweizer-Reneke teacher

The Citizen reports that at a press conference held by trade union Solidarity, suspended Schweizer-Reneke teacher Elana Barkhuizen was in tears as she read out a statement in Afrikaans.  Last week Barkhuizen shared a picture of a classroom at the North West school which caused outrage for seemingly depicting children divided along racial lines.  She was later summarily suspended.  Barkhuizen said she was a “good teacher”, and thanked people in her community both black and white who had shown her support.  She accused those who were responsible for the outrage surrounding the incident of being “opportunists” who had the aim of “spreading hate”, and said such people shouldn’t be allowed to spread doubt among teachers or cause them to question their profession.  At the press conference, Solidarity said it would serve court papers before the end of the week in an attempt to lift Barkhuizen’s suspension.  The union has also asked the Human Rights Commission to investigate North West education MEC Sello Lehari.  CEO Dirk Hermann Hermann called their legal challenge a “matter of utmost importance” in SA, adding that he saw it as an issue of building democracy.  Hermann noted that “official processes” would uncover the truth regarding what had happened at the school.

Read the original of the report on this story in full at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Another North West school, Hoërskool Stilfontein, rocked by allegations of racism, at TimesLIVE


Joburg metro cop arrested in Soweto for taking R10 bribe

TimesLive reports that a Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officer was arrested on Monday after he allegedly took a R10 bribe from a taxi driver in Soweto.  JMPD spokesperson chief superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the officer pulled the taxi over near Protea Glen in Soweto for driving without a number plate and a driver's licence.  "He was caught red-handed.  The internal affairs unit blocked the taxi driver and the taxi driver confirmed.  The taxi driver turned state witness against the officer and said he gave the corrupt officer a R10."  The officer was arrested and detained at the Protea Glen police station.  JMPD head David Tembe, who was "extremely angry" over the incident, said:  Gone are the days that officers will take bribe money or cold drink money."

Read Iavan Pijoos’ report on this story in full at TimesLive


PSA rejects call to ban cellphones at Department of Home Affairs front desks

EWN reports that the Public Servants Association of SA (PSA) has condemned a suggestion by Parliament's home affairs portfolio committee to ban cellphone use during working hours at the front desks at the Department of Home Affairs.  According to the committee, staff were not concentrating on their work because they were distracted by their phones and this left a bad impression, especially at ports of entry.  Committee chair Hlomane Chauke pointed out that the department had failed to heed a request last year to draft a policy which would give effect to a cellphone ban.  “It cannot be accepted that people will leave their duties and be busy with their private matters without even apologising.  If you look at the current video that is trending, they don’t even apologise [or] care.  And the members of the public are sitting there watching these officials busy with cellphones.”  Chauke was referring to an incident in Tongaat, KwaZulu-Natal, where a viral video on social media of two home affairs officials was taken showing them using their cellphones on duty while people waited in a queue.  But the PSA, as the majority union at the department, called on the committee to refrain from making reckless statements that provoked unnecessarily crippling shutdowns through strikes.  

Read the original of Lindsay Dentlinger’s report on this story at EWN


  • Eskom explains its annual electricity tariff hike application, at Business Report
  • Former SABMiller executive John Gavin Hudson takes the helm as Tongaat’s new CEO, at BusinessLive
  • Cape Town bus driver races to hospital after stray bullet strikes passenger, at News24


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page