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
Thursday, 17 January 2019.


TOP READ

Tragic data shows capital fleeing from SA along with millions of jobs

Well-known economist Mike Schüssler writes that South Africa attracts far less fixed investment as a percentage of GDP than any other emerging market.  According to data from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) for 2017, SA was the third biggest exporter of capital as a percentage of GDP in the world.  Foreign direct investment (FDI) is an investment made by a firm or individual located in one country into business interests in another.  FDI is a vital part of overall fixed investment (investments into actual land, buildings, machines and inventory).  It is a long-term investment and a good indicator of confidence in a developing country.  SA is the lone emerging market economy in the world’s largest net exporters of FDI.  Of 157 countries analysed, only 22 are net exporters of fixed direct investment.  Only four are emerging markets.  The lack of foreign fixed investment translates into real job losses and impoverishes real people by the millions.  Using the average emerging market as a measure (average is taken as 12% of GDP as calculated), SA should have had R2.2 trillion in extra fixed investments by the end of 2017.  Measured as a percentage of SA’s total fixed investment stock of R11.2 trillion, this would imply about 20% more capital.  Schüssler reckons that, assuming that the capital and labour ratio stayed the same, this would have meant about 3.1 million more jobs.

Read Mike Schüssler’s report in full at Moneyweb


MINING LABOUR

Union membership verification at Sibanye’s gold operations suspended by Amcu

Mining Weekly reports that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Wednesday suspended the process of verifying union membership at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations.  It claimed the process was aimed at rendering the current strike action unprotected.  The CCMA verification process was ordered by the Labour Court.  Amcu explained that it had filed papers with the Labour Court to appeal what it noted was a factual error contained in the Labour Court judgment, which would have considerably limited the scope of the verification exercise.  The union argued that the judge erred by stating that the membership figures as at 22 November 2018 were common cause, whereas Amcu had disputed that in its court papers.  The significance of this error was that it might limit the scope of the verification process and, therefore, prejudice members’ constitutional right to strike, said Amcu.  At an earlier date Sibanye had applied to the Court to have its wage agreement with three other unions extended to Amcu’s on the basis that those unions represented the majority of employees at the miner’s gold operations.  Amcu, however, disputed the membership figures provided by Sibanye.

Read the full report on this story at Mining Weekly. Read Amcu’s press statement in this regard at Polity

Sibanye-Stillwater stares down Amcu in gold wage strike

BusinessLive reports that Sibanye-Stillwater has so far weathered the strike that commenced at its local gold mines on 21 November 2018 fairly well.  Sibanye’s planning for the labour action means its 2018 gold production is expected to be only slightly below the lower end of its guidance of 35,000kg.  The mines saved on labour costs due to the no-work, no-pay principle.  More importantly, revenues at Sibanye’s platinum group metals operations thrived thanks to higher prices.  Lenders too have agreed to retain the upper limit of the company’s revolving credit facilities until the end of the year on the same terms as before.  CEO Neal Froneman called this "a vote of confidence in the fundamental outlook for the group", which "provides sufficient financial flexibility".  Sibanye’s ability to weather the gold strike is said to stem from the fact that it is actually no longer an SA gold mining company as it has diversified out of gold and out of the country.  The striking union, the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (Amcu), resolved on Monday to increase pressure on the company by extending the strike to its platinum operations.  But, Sibanye said Amcu’s decision to extend the strike would not prompt a higher wage offer.  The company also says the wider strike won’t affect its acquisition of platinum miner Lonmin, but Amcu has at least delayed it with an appeal against the Competition Tribunal’s approval of the merger.

Read Lisa Steyn’s detailed report in full at BusinessLive

Labour federation Saftu supports Amcu’s Sibanye wage strike

Mining Weekly reports that the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) on Wednesday declared its support for the striking mineworkers employed at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations, as well as those who plan to undertake a secondary strike at the miner’s South African platinum operations, which is due to start next week.  Saftu called for unity among workers and an end to rivalry.  The federation also supported the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s (Amcu’s) appeal against the Competition Tribunal’s approval of Sibanye’s proposed takeover of Lonmin, which the union claims will put thousands of jobs at risk.  As part of the stringent conditions for the takeover, the tribunal levied a six-month moratorium on retrenchments, noting that the merger involved “massive public interest issues involving extensive job losses and impact in the platinum mining region of the North West”.  But Saftu expressed its concern about what would happen after those six months.

The original of this report is at Mining Weekly (scroll down). Read Saftu’s press statement in this regard at Polity

Government puts spanner in works with offer to nationalise Optimum Coal Mine

David McKay writes that the government put a spanner in the works on Thursday after it said its African Exploration & Mining Finance Corporation (AEMFC) was participating in a consortium that would effectively nationalise Optimum Coal Mine.  The bid heaps yet more confusion on the meandering, apparently haphazard and occluded process of retrieving Optimum Coal from bankruptcy.  It was thought a company known as Project Halo had submitted a successful bid for Optimum.  The emergence of AEMFC’s consortium, however suggests the destiny of Optimum is far from settled.  AEMFC’s CEO, Sizwe Madondo, said the “hotly contested” asset would be operated as a public private partnership (PPP).  In terms of this, the mine will be owned by AEMFC and run by an established privately owned mining operator.  The emergence of AEMFC, which owns the Vlakfontein coal mine, bears the hallmark of mineral resources minister, Gwede Mantashe, who previously attempted to persuade the private sector to help AEMFC take Optimum out of business rescue.  More recently, Mantashe discussed the possibility that Impala Platinum could ‘sell’ some of its unprofitable Rustenburg shafts to the AEMFC.

Read this report in full at Miningmx. Read too, Optimum, Koornfontein preliminary business rescue plan to be submitted for creditor approval next week, at Mining Weekly

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Platinum price fall worsening plight of job-intensive mines, at Mining Weekly
  • Xolobeni community survey to confirm whether mining can proceed, at Mining Weekly


PROTESTS / MARCHES / CAMPAIGNS

More protests against municipalities in 2018 than in the past 13 years

BusinessLive reports that there were more municipal protests in 2018 than any other year since 2005, but analysts are worried that there could be another spike this election year.  Municipal IQ‚ a specialised local government data and intelligence organisation‚ recorded 237 protests against municipalities across the country in 2018, beating the previous record of 191 protests in 2014.  MD Kevin Allan noted that 2014 had been a general election year and it remained to be seen whether 2019’s elections would spur even higher protests.  As one of its key findings‚ Municipal IQ suggested that the decline in the number of service delivery protests in Gauteng showed that “something was working” in the province.  Another finding was that there was a distinct correlation between economic recession‚ unemployment and service delivery protests.  Protests‚ measured by quarter, showed that an increase in service delivery protests correlated with economic retraction.  Furthermore‚ rising unemployment correlated with an increase in such protests.  Karen Heese, Municipal IQ economist, said that many of the protests recorded in 2018 “included the demand for municipalities to create employment opportunities‚ or reflected unhappiness with how these jobs were allocated”.

Read Matthew Savides’ report on this story in full at BusinessLive


JOB CREATION

Poultry industry could create 30,000 new jobs immediately in the right environment, says organisation

BusinessLive reports that according to the SA Poultry Association (Sapa), if the right support measures were put in place by the government, including curbing cheap chicken imports, the sector could immediately create 30,000 new jobs.  The sector employs about 130,000 people.  However, it has shed hundreds of jobs in recent years and has blamed this on an influx of cheap chicken imports, particularly from the EU and Brazil.  The local industry and unions argue that those countries sell chicken meat below cost and have called on the government to intervene.  But according to the EU and Brazilian producers, their farmers are simply more competitive than their counterparts in SA.  Izaak Breitenbach, newly appointed Sapa GM, said on Wednesday the biggest challenge facing the broiler industry at the end of 2018 was the impact that dumping has had on the sector.  He indicated:  “It is essential for both small and big farmers that the macroeconomic environment is managed successfully to grow the industry; and if that were to happen the industry could expand by 30% and create 30,000 new jobs virtually immediately.”

Read Bekezela Phakathi’s report on this story in full at BusinessLive. Read too, SA poultry industry wants hefty increase in tariffs to protect local industry, at BusinessLive


RESIGNATIONS / VACANCIES

With more than half the original exec team gone, Alexander Forbes turns attention to rebuilding confidence

BusinessLive reports that two more executives have resigned at Alexander Forbes (AF), bringing the number of those who have left since the unceremonious axing of CEO Andrew Darfoor in September to seven.  With more than half of the executive team displaced, the country’s largest pension funds administrator said it was working on restoring confidence in the company.  CEO Dawie de Villiers, a former Sanlam executive who was swiftly appointed to replace Darfoor, is due to present a reviewed strategy for the group in March.  The firm was halfway through the implementation of a turnaround programme, known as Ambition 2022, which included plans to expand on the continent and build its offering for retail clients, when Darfoor was axed.  AF on Wednesday confirmed the resignations of the head of the corporate and employee benefits division, Tony Powis, as well as the head of the retail business, Sugendhree Reddy.  “Seven executives is indeed a large number, but we’ve put in place an executive committee and the strategy that we’ll present in March will restore confidence in Alexander Forbes," said De Villiers.

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Why do SA’s CEOs overstay their welcome? at BusinessLive


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

Parliament’s labour committee begins process to correct error in national minimum wage law

BusinessLive reports that Parliament’s labour committee on Wednesday resolved to introduce an amendment bill to correct an error in the national minimum wage law that possibly leaves workers vulnerable to employers who intend to circumvent regulations.  But, the committee emphasised that the pending amendment did not mean the new law was suspended.  The law came into force on 1 January 2019.  However, the 1 May 2017 “retrospective” implementation of a section that states it is an “unfair labour practice for an employer to unilaterally alter wages, hours of work or other conditions of employment in connection with the implementation of the national minimum wage”, ended up being cross-referenced to the wrong clause in the Act.  This means workers whose benefits or working conditions have been changed unilaterally in reaction to the new minimum wage law may have to wait until parliament fixes the error before they can take action against offending employers.  Furthermore, because of this error in the legislation, it is implied that payment of the minimum wage rate applies retrospectively to 1 May 2017.

Read Bekezela Phakathi’s full report on this story at BusinessLive. Read too, Minimum wage law to be amended, at SowetanLive


BASIC EDUCATION

North West MEC holds off on report into Schweizer-Reneke school saga to allow procedure to be followed

TimesLIVE reports that North West education MEC Sello Lehari did not on Thursday release a preliminary report into the Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke saga as had been expected.  He was to have addressed a press briefing in Mahikeng, but it was postponed until further notice.  His spokesperson Freddy Sepeng indicated:  “There are some legal things that need to be dealt with first.  Solidarity had said the MEC did not follow procedure in his last pronouncement, so we are following procedure."  The much-anticipated report had been expected to reveal whether anyone was in the wrong following an uproar over a photo taken at the school showing black and white Grade R learners who had been seated separately.  The report would also have revealed what action, if any, should be taken in regard to the incident.  Elana Barkhuizen, a teacher from the school, was suspended last week in connection with the photo, which she was reported to have taken.  Earlier in the week, Solidarity announced it was taking legal action against Lehari, saying he had failed to follow proper procedure in Barkhuizen's suspension.

Read Naledi Shange’s full report on this story at TimesLIVE

Sadtu demands answers following suspension of Schweizer-Reneke teacher at centre of racism row

News24 reports that the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) in the North West is demanding answers from the provincial department on why a teacher, who allegedly captured and shared a controversial image taken at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke in the province, was suspended.  Action was taken against the teacher after an image surfaced on social media, showing a group of black children sitting at a separate table from their white classmates.  Sadtu provincial chairperson Mxolisi Bomvana said:  "What we have since discovered is that the teacher who allegedly separated the children according to their race is still working in the school.  We want answers why the teacher is still in school."  The union said it supported the swift reaction from North West Education MEC Sello Lehari, who is investigating what happened on Wednesday last week.  "We are calling for the investigations by the department to go deeper and the MEC must tell us why he suspended Barkhuizen,” said Bomvana.  Barkhuizen, with the support of trade union Solidarity, has threatened to take legal action following her suspension, which she termed unlawful.  On Wednesday, a source in the provincial department of education reportedly indicated that the school principal and the teacher who allegedly separated the children according to race would be suspended soon.

Read Ntwaagae Seleka’s report on this story in full at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • DA youth leader sowed racial division in Schweizer-Reneke furore, Solidarity charges, at News24
  • Lesufi: 'Solidarity must back off! Race politics at schools is over', at News24


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Transnet takes former executives to court over R1.3bn lost to corruption

BusinessLive writes that state-owned freight and rail company Transnet has lost about R1.3bn through dodgy dealings and malfeasance and is in the process of recovering that money through lawsuits against former officials such as Siyabonga Gama and Brian Molefe.  Transnet board chair Popo Molefe said on Thursday that civil action was proceeding and papers had been served on those responsible.  The Transnet board, which was appointed in 2018, has taken action against the malfeasance in the parastatal, dismissing Gama as CEO, suspending senior executives and issuing summonses to recover the money lost.  This includes Gama, its other former CEO, Brian Molefe, and former CFO and Gupta ally Anoj Singh.  Gama’s employment contract with Transnet was terminated in September 2018.  He tried to fight his axing in the Labour Court but lost.  Tau Morwe has been acting as group CEO since November.  Popo Molefe said the disciplinary proceedings against suspended officials were expected to get under way next week.

Read Genevieve Quintal’s report on this story in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Popo Molefe says new board found 'horror show' at Transnet, at Fin24

Agrizzi claims Bosasa used NUM boss to get catering contract at Gold Fields

ANA reports that Angelo Agrizzi, the former marketing co-coordinator of Bosasa Facilities Management, on Wednesday spilled the beans about the inner workings and political links of the controversial company.  He told the commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture that he worked as a "right-hand man" for Bosasa's controversial chief executive, Gavin Watson, after joining Bosasa in 1999 while it was still Dyambu Holdings.  Among his claims, Agrizzi said Watson had used his political ties to win a lucrative catering contract for his company at Gold Fields in a shady manner.  Agrizzi said that Watson had first offered him a lucrative job with attractive perks after meeting him for the first time, and he immediately resigned from Dyambu's competitor, Molope Foods.  At the time, Agrizzi said he was busy finalising a contract between Molope, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Gold Fields for the provision of catering services at the mine's hostels.  He went on to join Dyambu and helped Dyambu to steal the contract he was negotiating for Molope by persuading Gold Fields management to sign the contact with Dyambu.  Agrizzi said that he was present in meetings at Dyambu's offices where Watson allegedly paid money to the late Jackson Mafika at Kloof gold mine to secure support for the company.  Mafika was ANC chief whip at the Westonaria Municipality and the head of NUM in the area.  Agrizzi resigned from Bosasa in 2016.

Read this report in full at Mining Weekly

Former Bosasa COO says chemical union head took groceries as bribe to secure Sasol contract

BusinessLive reports that the state-capture inquiry heard on Wednesday that facilities management company Bosasa gave a former union boss grocery parcels amounting to R15‚000 a month for him pressuring petrochemical giant Sasol to give the company a contract.  Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi testified that he went to a meeting with Simon Mofokeng, general secretary of the Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu), at the behest of Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson to “sort out Sasol”.  Mofokeng allegedly gave Bosasa inside information on amending their pricing structure in 1999, in order to get a certain contract.  Agrizzi said it was usual practice for Bosasa — now called African Global Operations but then named Dyambu — to put pressure on the union to create a work stoppage in an effort to force management to award tenders to the company.  He stated that after Mofokeng gave them inside information‚ they successfully won the contract.  Agrizzi said that after this‚ he was made to sign off on gifts for Mofokeng, which included meat parcels‚ groceries and soft drinks.  Mofokeng was sacked from Ceppwawu in 2017.

Read Qaanitah Hunter’s report on this story in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Agrizzi testifies on Bosasa’s cash vault for bribes, at BusinessLive

 


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