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, 23 January 2019.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Unsafe conditions and poor air circulation at Civitas building blamed for death of health department employee

Pretoria News reports that the unsafe working conditions and lack of air circulation inside the national Department of Health’s Civitas headquarters in Pretoria are believed to have caused the untimely death of a 59-year-old general worker.  Caroline Nkosi collapsed while at work on 12 November after she experienced breathing difficulties.  She was admitted to hospital, where her condition worsened until she died last week.  Nkosi had been working in the building since 2001.  The sad news about her death broke on Tuesday during a protest by her colleagues at the main entrance of the building.  Demonstrators vowed not to resume work there until Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi had addressed their complaints regarding the unsafe building.  They blamed the minister for Nkosi’s death, claiming it was caused by the dusty conditions at work.  Her bereaved family from Mamelodi East too believe the conditions adversely affected her health.  The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) pointed out that the unsafe conditions at the building had been confirmed by a report compiled by the Department of Labour following an inspection on 29 November 2018.  It is apparently stated in the report that the inspection established “that there is a presence of black dust in every office we have inspected, both in the south tower and north tower”.

Read Rapula Moatshe’s report on this story in full at Pretoria News. Read too, State employees refuse to work in ‘unhealthy office’, on page 9 of Sowetan of 23 January 2019


MINING LABOUR

Mineworker killed in fall-of-ground incident at Harmony's Phakisa mine

Mining Weekly reports that a mineworker at Harmony Gold’s Phakisa's gold mine, in Welkom, was killed in a fall-of-ground incident on Tuesday.  An investigation into the accident is under way.  "Management wish to express their deepest condolences to the deceased employee’s family, friends and colleagues," Harmony said in a statement on Tuesday.

The original of this short report is at Mining Weekly. Harmony’s short press statement is at Moneyweb

Sibanye-Stillwater considering Amcu memorandum presented to Minerals Council

Mining Weekly reported on Tuesday that Sibanye-Stillwater was considering the memorandum of demands submitted to the Minerals Council SA (MCSA) by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) earlier that day.  Amcu marched to the MCSA (previously called the Chamber of Mines) to submit the memorandum, amid a continuing wage strike by its members at Sibanye’s gold operations.  The strike is now in its tenth week.  Reuters also reported on Tuesday that Amcu threatened to extend Monday’s one-day secondary strike at Sibanye’s platinum operations if its gold demands were not met.  Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman commented:  “We have engaged extensively with Amcu regarding wage increases at the gold operations since July 2018.  Since the strike started, we have had a number of engagements setting out the company’s position and, at all times, we have responded promptly to their written requests.  Our position remains consistent and we urge Amcu to use the recognised platforms for further engagement on ways to end this damaging strike.”

The original of this short report is at Mining Weekly. Read the Reuters report referred to above at Moneyweb

Gold Fields strenuously denies report of merger with AngloGold

Reuters reports that Gold Fields said on Tuesday that rumours it was looking to merge with rival bullion firm AngloGold Ashanti were “absolutely false”.  It was referring to a Bloomberg report.  “This article is factually incorrect and we completely disassociate ourselves with this statement,” Gold Fields stated.  AngloGold, Africa’s biggest gold miner, declined to comment on speculation it was looking at a tie-up.

A short report by Tanisha Heiberg is at Moneyweb. The statement issued by Gold Fields is at Moneyweb

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Opinion: Xolobeni digs in its heels against miners’ habitual profiteering, at BusinessLive


PRICES / TARIFFS

Consumer inflation eased to 4.5% in December on record fuel price cuts

BusinessLive reports that consumer inflation eased to 4.5%, the mid-point of the SA Reserve Bank’s 3% to 6% target range, in December 2018, aided by a steep petrol price decrease that month.  November had seen a rate of 5.2%.  After being hard hit by fuel price increases for much of 2018, motorists welcomed a record fuel price drop of R1.84/l for petrol and R1.45/I for diesel in December.  Inflation in January is also likely to show inflation moderating as more fuel cuts take hold.  Inflation, as measured by the annual change in the consumer price index (CPI), is the key measure used by the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee to set interest rates.  The Bank lowered its inflation forecasts last week, but noted that risks to the inflation outlook remained moderately to the upside, citing administered prices, rising domestic food prices, changing investor sentiment towards emerging markets, a moderation in global growth, and volatile international oil prices.  Nedbank economist Busisiwe Radebe said inflation would likely remain relatively contained in 2019 on the back of softer food and fuel prices.  Even if the trend lifts towards the middle of the year, inflation is expected to remain around the mid-point of the target range.

Read Sunita Menon’s report on this matter in full at BusinessLive


OUTSOURCING / TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT

Services outsourcing still the norm at universities despite student protests

City Press reports that most South African universities are still outsourcing their cleaning, gardening, security and catering services despite calls and protests by students since 2015 to end the exploitative practice.  A September parliamentary report reveals that “all universities” were contacted by Minister of Higher Education and Training Naledi Pandor to advise whether they were insourcing or outsourcing their services.  No responses” were received from UKZN, Rhodes University, Wits, Fort Hare, Free State and CPUT.  According to the report, only the University of Cape Town, Nelson Mandela University and University of Pretoria indicated that they were insourcing all services, while the University of Venda said that it was only outsourcing student catering.  According to a CPUT spokesperson, they were was insourcing all staff except caterers.  Tensions ran high at Wits the week before last as workers protested against allegations of continued outsourcing.  But this was disputed by Nehawu’s Wits branch secretary, who said the issue concerned 35 relief workers who were not among those insourced and that Wits agreed last week to absorb the workers.  A Wits spokesperson said the university committed to and has completed the in-sourcing of all workers who met the qualifying criteria that was agreed to.  This report goes on to indicate responses received by City Press from several other universities.  The newspaper got no word from 24 of the country’s tertiary institutions.

Read Msindisi Fengu’s report on this matter in full at City Press


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS

Communication Workers Union calls for inquorate SABC board to be disbanded

BusinessLive reports that the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has called for the dissolution of the inquorate board of the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).  It said the board had failed to provide the strategic direction required to turn the troubled public broadcaster around.  The broke SABC sank into a deeper crisis in December following the resignation of four non-executive directors, which has left the board without the quorum required to make decisions.  Their resignations came in the wake of a scathing letter to the board by communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams in which she accused the non-executive directors of not acting in the best interest of the SABC as they pressed on with staff retrenchments.  This week, the SABC confirmed that the planned retrenchments of about 1,000 permanent employees and 1,200 freelancers would be suspended until further notice.  The CWU’s Aubrey Tshabalala said on Tuesday the union had long called for the retrenchment process to be halted and for the SABC to embark on a comprehensive skills audit.  “We made a strong proposal to the former and current minister [of communications] that a comprehensive turnaround strategy must be implemented to avoid retrenchments … but the SABC continued to be arrogant,” said Tshabalala.

Read Bekezela Phakathi’s report on this story in full at BusinessLive


RETIREMENT AND OTHER EMPLOYEE FUNDS

Eskom pension fund's chief executive resigns for 'personal reasons'

TimesLIVE reports that Nopasika Lila, chief executive and principal officer of the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund (EPPF), has resigned.  "Lila has indicated that after thorough introspection she took a personal decision to move on," EPPF board of trustees chair Mantuka Maisela indicated on Tuesday.  Lila joined the fund in December 2010 as chief financial officer and became EPPF chief executive and principal officer on 1 April last year.  Her last day at the office will be 31 March 2019.  "Lila has served the organisation and our members with professionalism and diligence,” said Maisela.  According to the EPPF’s website, Lila is an independent nonexecutive director of enX Group and Nampak.  She previously worked, among other organisations, at Old Mutual and the Public Investment Corporation.

Read Nico Gous’ report in this regard in full at TimesLIVE


SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Court lets Rhodes lecturer off sexual harassment hook because wrong disciplinary policy was followed

TimesLIVE reports that a Rhodes University lecturer accused of sexual harassment was given a reprieve, just 20 days before his contract with the university ended.  He had been brought before a disciplinary hearing in July last year and found guilty of sexual harassment, but he took the decision to the high court in Grahamstown to have it declared “unlawful and void” on technical grounds.  The lecturer submitted to the court that the university had “failed to ensure a prompt resolution and conclusion of the disciplinary action” and as the parties involved in the hearing had resolved the matter between them in an informal manner, any action taken against him was tantamount to ‘double jeopardy’.  Moreover, his disciplinary hearing was dealt with under a new harassment policy even though the old policy, although under review, was still in force.  The judge found that the university’s disciplinary code and the “old harassment policy” formed part of the lecturer’s employment contract and that the institution’s failure to adhere to the two documents amounted to a breach of an enforceable contract.  The judge was not persuaded that the breach was not material and declared the disciplinary hearing against the lecturer unlawful and void.  The ruling was made on 11 December, while the lecturer’s employment contract with Rhodes ended on 31 December.

Read Philani Nombembe’s report on this story in full at TimesLIVE


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Schweizer-Reneke teacher’s application to set aside suspension to be heard on Thursday

Trade union Solidarity’ advised on Wednesday that its urgent application to set aside with immediate effect the suspension of Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke teacher Elana Barkhuizen will be heard in the Johannesburg Labour Court on Thursday.  According to Solidarity Chief Executive Dr Dirk Hermann, the trade union will argue that the suspension was unlawful and that Barkhuizen was a victim of political opportunism.  North West education MEC Sello Lehari has apparently indicated that he would oppose the court application.  The school’s governing body will not oppose the application and indicated that it would abide by the ruling.  According to Anton van der Bijl, Solidarity’s head of Labour Law Services, Barkhuizen’s suspension was not within the ambit of labour law.  "Lehari acted way outside his powers by publically announcing her suspension as his decision,” Van der Bijl said.

Read Solidarity’s press statement at SA Labour News

Fedusa finds it ‘strange’ that top PIC executive was suspended on eve of testimony to inquiry

Fin24 reports that according to Dennis George, general secretary of the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa), the board of state asset manager the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) should be disbanded.  He was speaking on Tuesday against the backdrop of the commencement of proceedings on Monday of a commission of inquiry into the PIC.  The PIC manages assets worth over R2trn on behalf of the Government Employee Pension Fund (GEPF) and other state-run funds.  On Tuesday, the commission heard that the PIC’s head of listed investments, Fidelis Madavo, had been suspended following a probe into the corporation's controversial R4.3bn investment in AYO Technology Solutions.  George commented:  "From Fedusa’s side we find it very strange that Madavo was suspended on the eve that he was supposed to make a submission to the commission.  The commission looks at more than the allegations against him."  George also criticised the fact that government could have the deputy minister of finance appointed as the chair of the PIC.  According to an EWN report, Deputy Finance Minister and PIC chair Mondli Gungubele has said the board was ready to appear before the commission and share the report that lead to Madavo's suspension.

Read Khulekani Magubane’s report on this matter in full at Fin24. Read the EWN report referred to above here


BOSASA ALLEGATIONS

Sbu who? That wasn't our guy who met Agrizzi, says Popcru in response to Bosasa allegations

TimesLIVE reports that the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has rejected claims by former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi that a general secretary of the union, known as "Sbu", was promised R1m for his part in dodgy deals.  Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo reacted:  "We do not take these allegations lightly, but want to categorically state that since its inception, there has never been any Popcru office bearer by the name Sbu, nor Sibusiso or any other similar name.  We distance our union and its officials from such allegations and will not be defocused from continuing to expose the malpractices that have over the years entrenched themselves within the DCS (Department of Correctional Services) because we maintain that it has drastically deviated from its core mandate."  Mamabolo said the union was "equally" interested in getting clearer details around the person Agrizzi referred to in his testimony.  He added:  "To set the record straight, it was Popcru who at the time this meeting (involving Sbu) is purported to have taken place (2007) exposed the relationship between Bosasa, Phezulu Fencing and Sondolo IT.  They all had a similar address.”

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

SABC 8 outraged over allegation of Bosasa funding while they were suspended

News24 reports that the so-called SABC 8 has outright rejected claims that they benefited from a R100,000 donation by state capture-implicated Bosasa to cover their living expenses while suspended by Hlaudi Motsoeneng, COO at the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).  "The SABC 8 has learnt with dismay and disgust, the attempts to associate us with the Bosasa affair," the remaining journalists said in a statement.  This was in response to a report by Times Live on Tuesday stating that Bosasa allegedly donated R100,000 toward a crowd funding campaign to assist the SABC 8 journalists in 2016.  This reportedly emerged in an email in which a senior Bosasa official instructed other officials to make the payment.  At the time, the journalists had been suspended by the SABC with no pay for speaking out against censorship of protest footage.  "We have never had any dealings with Bosasa collectively or individually.  We do not know who the donors were in the crowd funding initiative; some identified themselves and some remained anonymous.  After the reinstatement of some of us, we decided to share some of the money with people who had causes similar to ours,” the SABC 8 stated.  Bosasa, now known as African Global, would not comment.

Read the original of this report in full at News24. Read the Times Live report referred to above here

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Officials continued to be paid Bosasa bribes after exiting service, on page 1 of The Star of 23 January 2019
  • Hlaudi Motsoeneng says it is no secret he received R1.1 million from Bosasa, at The Citizen


OTHER MISCELLANEOUS NEWS HEADLINES

  • PwC survey shows CEOs to be more cautious this year as uncertainty, pessimism prevail, at Engineering News
  • South African CEOs believe that AI will displace more jobs than it creates, at BusinessTech
  • ILO report on the future of work calls for people-centered approach, at BusinessLive
  • Metrorail line reopens following fatal Mountain View crash in Pretoria, at The Citizen
  • Man electrocuted on top of Cape Town train on Wednesday morning, at TimesLIVE

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page