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, 16 January 2019.


MINING LABOUR

Project Halo denies impropriety in bid to acquire Optimum, Koornfontein mines, as workers march over unpaid salaries

Mining Weekly reports that consortium Project Halo on Tuesday rejected allegations of impropriety in the way it secured the bid to acquire Optimum Coal Mine, Koornfontein Mine, and Optimum Coal Terminal in Mpumalanga.  Last year, Project Halo won a bid to buy the assets for R3.6-billion from Tegeta Exploration and Resources, a mining company which is linked to the controversial Gupta family.  The mines have not been operating at full functionality as Tegeta was put on business rescue while litigation to stop business rescue practitioners from selling the assets proceeded.  Paul Buckley, director of Project Halo, said they won the bid to purchase the Gupta mines fair and square “based on our sound business proposal.”  Over 2,000 workers at the troubled Optimum and Koornfontein mines have not been paid their salaries for the past three months, laying the blame on the business rescue practitioners overseeing the operations.  They were due to march to the Union Buildings on Wednesday, demanding that government should assist in getting operations at the mines back to full functionality

Read the original report on this story in full at Mining Weekly. See too, Unpaid Optimum, Koornfontein mineworkers to march to Union Buildings on Wednesday, at Business Report

Sibanye-Stillwater undeterred by Amcu’s appeal against its takeover of Lonmin

Moneyweb reports that Sibanye-Stillwater will have to wait longer for the conclusion of its long overdue all-share takeover of Lonmin following an eleventh hour appeal filed by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) against the Competition Tribunal’s approval of the transaction.  Last November, Sibanye’s bid for Lonmin was approved by the Competition Tribunal, but the green light was fiercely contested by Amcu.  The union filed an appeal with the Competition Appeal Court against the Tribunal’s decision, arguing that thousands of jobs were on the line with the looming deal.  As part of the stringent conditions for the takeover, the Tribunal levied a six-month moratorium on retrenchments.  But, according to Sibanye, the 12,600 jobs that would be lost due to the necessary closure of old shafts were separate from the merger transaction, as a result of which 890 jobs could be affected.  Sibanye’s James Wellsted commented that “the union thinks all the job losses are linked to the takeover.”  With the initial 28 February longstop date fast approaching and Amcu’s appeal at the competition appeal court still in process, both Sibanye and Lonmin have agreed to extend the longstop offer to 30 June.

Read Arnold Segawa’s full report on this story at Moneyweb

Mathunjwa is fighting for Amcu’s future as reality of a new boss at Lonmin dawns

David McKay writes that the strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold mines, due to be extended to its platinum group metal mines in Rustenburg in a secondary strike, feels like an important moment for both the company, and the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (Amcu).  At the centre of the standoff is Lonmin, a company Sibanye intends taking over.  Lonmin is the heartland of Amcu president, Joseph Mathunjwa’s support base, a following he achieved in the events leading up to and following the Marikana tragedy in August 2012.  In the years following Marikana, Mathunjwa enjoyed a good, even indulgent relationship with Lonmin’s CEO, Ben Magara.  But in Sibanye, Mathunjwa has its CEO, Neal Froneman, as his opposite number.  Froneman is not known for indulging unions and he isn’t likely to be cornered in quite the same way as Magara at Lonmin.  That’s been evident in the two-month long Amcu strike at Sibanye’s gold mines where the union’s following is variable.  This appears to be the backdrop to the secondary strike called at the platinum mines.  Mathunjwa is testing how far he can push Sibanye.  But Froneman is keeping a poker face, saying the company can absorb the impact of the strike, at least for a while.

Read this article in full at Miningmx

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • SA faith communities back Xolobeni community's resistance against mining exploration, at Mining Weekly
  • Safcei pleads with Mantashe to cancel Xolobeni visit on Wednesday, at Fin24
  • Global mining’s biggest jobs are up for grabs, at Moneyweb

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Steep contraction by 5.6% for mining in November, at BusinessLive
  • Gold output in SA has longest losing streak since 2012, at Moneyweb
  • There’s still much uneven ground for mining to cover in 2019, at Business Report


PRICES / TARIFFS

Implementing proposed tariff hikes could be Eskom’s death knell, Cosatu warns

Business Report writes that Eskom’s proposal of a tariff increase of 15% for three years has been met with harsh criticism, with Cosatu warning the state-owned power utility that this could very well be its the death knell.  The labour federation said on Tuesday that if the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) approved the hikes, the mining industry was likely to move off the grid and set up electricity plants at the mines.  Cosatu went on to note:  “We have seen no solid and coherent plan to turn the utility around, or manage the escalating debt levels and eradicate corruption.  We are yet to see a forensic audit of its legendarily corrupt contracts.”  What Cosatu found even more upsetting was that the extra money would to be used to cover the massive R419 billion debt incurred by Eskom through years of corrupt and incompetent mismanagement.  The United Association of SA (Uasa) also slammed Eskom, describing the proposal as a slap in the face of already over-burdened workers.  It said:  “Workers are stretched to the limit and can barely make it through the month on their take-home pay.  How does Eskom imagine milking and holding South Africans to ransom for its poor leadership and corruption will improve anything?”  Eskom CE Phakamai Hadebe indicated that the company would reach a debt level of R600 billion should it fail to implement its proposals.

Read Sizwe Dlamini’s full report on this story at Business Report. Read Cosatu’s press statement in this regard at Cosatu News. Read Uasa’s press statement at Uasa News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Eskom explains its annual electricity tariff hike application, at Business Report
  • Eskom challenges being addressed, says Ramaphosa, at The Citizen


RESIGNATIONS / VACANCIES

Mass exodus of executives at Alexander Forbes Heats up with another departure

Business Report writes that the mass exodus of senior management at Alexander Forbes is heating up with the group expected on Wednesday to announce the departure of Tony Powis, chief executive of corporate and employee benefits.  The country’s largest pension fund administrator was also due to announce replacements for positions left vacant by the resignations of other executives.  The exit of Powis, who only joined the group in January 2018, follows the shock ouster of previous group chief executive Andrew Darfoor in September.  Darfoor’s ouster was quickly followed by the resignations of chief financial officer Naidene Ford-Hoon, group risk officer Vishnu Naicker, chief human resource officer Christian Schaub and chief executive at Alexander Forbes investments Leon Greyling.  Two knowledgeable sources claimed the executives were being purged because of their close proximity to the group’s previous turnaround strategy entitled “Ambition 2022”, which is now under question.  New CE Dawie de Villiers denied that the group had forced senior management who served under Darfoor to resign.  “There is negative sense of a clean out and of governance problems.  But I can assure that the company is in a great place.  It (resignations) was individual decisions by these people,” De Villiers stated.

Read Kabelo Khumalo’s full report on this story at Business Report


EXECUTIVE PAY

Shareholders finally find their voices on executive pay, particularly incentive schemes

Moneyweb writes that shareholders at an unprecedented number of JSE Top 40 companies have, in the past year, voted against executive remuneration policies and/or their implementation.  These were non-binding advisory votes tabled at annual general meetings.  Under JSE regulations (and King IV), the companies then had to engage dissenting shareholders in a formal manner and thereafter provide feedback to the market (via Sens).  The six companies, all in the top 20 largest by market capitalisation, have seen significant shareholder resistance to remuneration, particularly incentive schemes.  They are all very large companies, with diverse shareholder bases, where voting on pay cannot easily be lobbied for by activist investors.  The six companies concerned are Naspers, FirstRand Group, Sanlam, MTN Group, Absa Group and Shoprite Holdings.  This informative report details the concerns raised, the AGM voting and outcomes of consultations in respect of each of these cases.  

Read this report by Hilton Tarrant in full at Moneyweb


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE / LIVING WAGE

Parliament’s labour portfolio committee to fix technical glitch in national minimum wage legislation

EWN reports that Parliament’s labour portfolio committee has agreed to fix a technical glitch affecting the new National Minimum Wage Act by way of an amendment bill, while at the same time stressing that the new legislation was in full force and effect.  The committee held a special meeting on Wednesday to decide on how best to speedily fix an incorrect cross-reference in the legislation.  It relates to a section that makes it an unfair labour practice for an employer to unilaterally change a worker’s wages or other conditions of employment in connection with the implementation of the minimum wage.  The glitch was picked up late in 2018 and will now be corrected by an amendment bill that the labour committee will draft once it has the approval of the National Assembly.  The committee’s amendment bill will ensure that workers whose employers unilaterally changed their pay or working conditions ahead of the new law taking effect would be able to seek redress for an unfair labour practice.

Read Gaye Davis’ report on this story at EWN


BASIC EDUCATION

DA wants all teachers to be required to have a police clearance certificate

News24 reports that the Democratic Alliance (DA) has welcomed the decision by the SA Council for Educators (SACE) to make it a requirement for teachers applying for registration to produce a valid police clearance certificate.  But, it called for current teachers to also be subjected to a similar process.  On Tuesday, DA MP Sonja Boshoff said she hoped SACE's decision was not "just a paper exercise" and that the statutory body should not only focus on new teachers because "the current teachers in the system is where the problem lies".  Boshoff added:  "We have to get rid of these teachers that are using their positions to request favours from our learners whether it's a boy or girl learner.”  In a statement issued on Tuesday, SACE indicated that it took the decision on clearance certificates in March 2018 and that it has been effective since 1 January 2019.  Spokesperson Themba Ndhlovu said affected individuals were those who would be registering with council for the first time and that certificates should not be older than six months.

Read Jeanette Chabalala’s original report on this story in full at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • North West MEC Sello Lehari set to visit Schweizer-Reneke school on Wednesday, at TimesLIVE


SERVICE DELIVERY / ORGANISATIONAL PERFORMANCE

Nehawu concerned by calls to ban use of cellphones for home affairs front-desk staff

ANA reports that the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) on Tuesday said it was concerned by the remarks made by the parliamentary portfolio committee on home affairs about the use of cellphones by front desk staff during working hours.  Committee chairperson Hlomani Chauke on Monday urged the department to consider an outright ban on cellphone usage by frontline staff during working hours at all home affairs offices.  This was after the committee received numerous complaints from the public about delays at offices brought about by cellphone usage.  In a statement, Nehawu pointed out that the use of cellphones by front-desk staff had been the subject of discussions between labour and the employer in the bargaining chamber in order to ensure it was managed without infringing on the rights of workers.  The union said it did not condone the unnecessary use of personal cellphones during working hours, especially if it impeded service delivery, but found it unacceptable that the blame for delays in service delivery at home affairs was squarely put on the shoulders of its members and workers.  The union pointed out there were a number of unfilled vacant posts across the country and that staff were overworked.  The Public Servants Association (PSA) condemned as “misplaced and ill-informed” the remarks made by Chauke.

Read the original report on this story in full at The Citizen. Read Nehawu’s press statement in this regard at Nehawu News. Read too, Cellphone ban on front-desk staff at home affairs is misplaced, ill-informed, says PSA, at The Citizen


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Suspended Schweizer-Reneke teacher vows to fight to clear her name

Independent News reports that Elana Barkhuizen, the suspended teacher at the centre of the racism row that hit North West’s Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke last week, is determined to clear her name with the help of trade union Solidarity.  Barkhuizen said this during a joint media briefing in Centurion on Tuesday, adding that she didn’t understand why people were trying to ruin her life, but vowed to take them on.  Without going into the merits of the matter, Barkhuizen said:  “I am a good teacher.  I will not be told what my worth is by people who do not know me.  I will embark on this journey, I will take on these people with power and I shall win.”  The school made headlines last week after an image showing black and white pupils sitting at separate tables in a Grade R classroom circulated on various social media platforms, in what was seen as racial segregation.  Barkhuizen was suspended by the provincial department, but the union has since challenged her suspension.  Barkhuizen and Solidarity claim the suspension is unlawful as all the teacher did was to take the photograph.  “There is no way you can suspend a teacher because she took a picture.  A huge injustice has been done to Barkhuizen and her family and she deserves an apology,” said Solidarity’s CE Dr Dirk Hermann.

Read Virgilatte Gwangwa’s full report on this story at The Mercury. See too, Solidarity heads to court to fight Schweizer-Reneke teacher's suspension, at Cape Talk


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Head of Joburg’s anti-corruption unit fingered in jobs-for-pals scandal

SowetanLive reports that the head of the City of Johannesburg's anti-corruption unit, General Shadrack Sibiya, allegedly accepted iPhones, VIP tickets and Louis Vuitton bags in a jobs-for-pals scandal.  The allegations surfaced as a senior member in Sibiya's unit is facing suspension for allegedly soliciting bribes from a lawyer in exchange for giving her a job in one of the city's entities.  Adv. Nombulelo Mahanjana, the unit's director of legal and prosecutions, has until Wednesday to explain to the city why she should not be suspended following allegations that she solicited money from businessman Serge Cabonge, in return for giving his then live-in girlfriend a job.  Lawyer Zimasa Dangwana, who was allegedly irregularly appointed to become part of Johannesburg Property Company's legal team, has claimed that Sibiya facilitated her appointment - including taking her CV from Cabonge.  But, Sibiya refuted these claims on Tuesday.  When approached for comment, Cabonge said he paid Mahanjana and her colleague R10,000 after they purported to be recruitment agents who would ensure that Dangwana secured employment in the city.  However, Dangwana said Cabonge had given Sibiya expensive bags bought overseas, and that Mahanjana played no role in her appointment.  Nthatisi Modingoane, the city's spokesperson, denied that Sibiya played a role in Dangwana's appointment.

Read Tankiso Makhetha’s full report on this story at SowetanLive


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT TO WORK

Cosatu angered by R1.6bn annual subsidy for Gautrain

ANA reports that labour federation Cosatu in Gauteng said on Tuesday that it was dismayed by the news that the provincial department of transport would be subsidizing Gautrain operating expenses with R1.6-billion this year.  The Gautrain Management Agency 2017/18 annual report revealed on Monday that Gauteng taxpayers were paying R100 million a month, or R1.6-billion a year, to subsidise the running of the Gautrain as the number of passengers had dropped over the past two years.  The provincial grant was to help cover operating and maintenance expenses and the private sector portion of the capital costs until the number of passengers was sufficient for fares to meet the operating costs.  Cosatu Gauteng secretary Dumisani Dakile said this confirmed their standing argument and view that government did not care about safer public transport for the working-class, but prioritised transport for the elites.  Dakile said they had also observed that a number of roads passing through working-class communities were not in good condition.  One such road was the R511 or William Nicol Highway, which passes through the Diepsloot informal settlement.  Dakile indicated that Cosatu in Gauteng would be seeking an audience with Premier David Makhura and provincial MEC for transport Ismail Vadi to raise their concerns.

Read the report on this story in full at Engineering News. Read Cosatu’s press statement in this regard at Cosatu News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Cape Town rail security unit arrests scores for various crimes, at EWN


OTHER LABOUR REPORTS

Transport department has backlog of 324,000 driving licence cards due to labour dispute

TimesLIVE reports that the Department of Transport has a backlog of 324,000 driving licence cards that have yet been printed following delays caused by a labour dispute.  Transport minister Blade Nzimande indicated that between July and December 2018 more than a million card orders were received and more than 700,000 cards were printed.  The remaining 324,000 cards would be printed in the next three weeks.  Nzimande said he was monitoring a contingency plan to recover production time lost during the dispute with employees who were contracted to the Driving Licence Card Account (DLCA).  The affected employees resumed duties in December, pending the finalisation of the dispute at the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council (GPSSBC).  The dispute occurred during the annual production maintenance period when production machines were being serviced, the department indicated.  A directive has been issued to provincial and municipal traffic authorities to not penalise motorists who complied with the prescripts of the application and renewal of their driving licences but did not have them.

Read Nomahlubi Jordaan’s full report on this story at TimesLIVE


OTHER MISCELLANEOUS NEWS HEADLINES

  • Saftu voices support for Zimbabwe fuel price strike, condemns violence, at EWN
  • Here's how employers can combat workplace burnout, at Business Report
  • Koffiefontein farmer used his dad's firearms to shoot and kill neighbour and cop, at News24

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page