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 roundup of weekend news, see
summaries of our selection of South African
labour-related stories that appeared since
Friday, 25 January 2019.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Police will fund education of slain PE policeman's children, Bheki Cele tells mourners

TimesLIVE reports that police minister Bheki Cele received thunderous applause from mourners after promising the widowed wife of slain Port Elizabeth flying squad member Dwane Kemp that the police would assist the family in any way possible, including funding their daughter and unborn son's education.  The state funeral for the 31-year-old was a moving tribute to newly married Kemp, who was described as a hero by several speakers including Cele, who said:  "This child (Jadyn) must go to school until she finds whatever degree she wants.  He (unborn son Coltyn) must do what he wants to do.  The SA police will be paying all the way through.  Everything must be done to soften the pain and burden this family has to carry.  It will be a long road but the SA police will walk this road with you."  Kemp was fatally shot last week while responding to an armed robbery at Port Elizabeth's Le Bon Bakery.  Four of the suspects were shot dead inside the bakery while a fifth suspect escaped and has yet to be arrested.

Read Tremaine van Aardt’s report on the above story in full at TimesLIVE

Suspected killer of Westenburg cop arrested in Limpopo

News24 reports that a 31-year-old man suspected of killing a policeman was arrested in Limpopo on Friday night.  The man is suspected of shooting dead Sergeant Pieter de Lange, 30, from Westenburg SAPS, who was killed by suspected drug dealers in November last year.  The suspect will appear in the Seshego Magistrate's Court on Monday.  A police spokesperson, Captain Matimba Maluleke, said that De Lange was gunned down during an encounter with suspected drug dealers, who were travelling in two vehicles at a notorious crime hotspot in Ladanna, Polokwane.  De Lange had been on duty doing observations with regard to drug dealings in the area when he was gunned down.  He died on the way to hospital.  The search for the other outstanding criminals was still ongoing," Maluleke indicated.

Read this report in full at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Deadly Bank of Lisbon in downtown Joburg marked for destruction, on page 2 of Saturday Star of 26 January 2019
  • Nehawu calls on Department of Health to comply with recommendations by inspection report at Civitas (press statement), at Polity
  • Department of Labour update on Imperial Logistics commission of inquiry: Two witnesses pinpoint possible causes of structural collapse (press statement), at SA Govt News


MINING LABOUR

Sibanye-Stillwater not shaken by Amcu's one-day secondary strike 'warning shot'

City Press reports that members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) embarked last week on a one-day secondary strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s platinum operations in Rustenburg.  This had been in support of ongoing industrial action at the company’s gold mines.  But according to Sibanye spokesperson James Wellsted, there had been no disruptions at the platinum operations on Tuesday, when the union marched to the Minerals Council SA (previously called the Chamber of Mines) to deliver a memorandum of grievances about Sibanye.  He claimed that there had been 72% attendance at the mines.  Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said the one-day secondary strike had served as a warning shot to Sibanye, but, if the gold strike was not resolved, “we will call a full-blown secondary strike.”  On Friday, Amcu appeared in court to appeal a labour court ruling, which had ordered CCMA membership verification to determine whether or not three other unions have majority membership at Sibanye’s gold mine.  If they do have such a majority, Sibanye will be entitled to extend the wage agreement reached with them to Amcu members.

Read Lesetja Malope’s short report on the above in full at City Press

Amcu’s appeal against Sibanye’s takeover of Lonmin set down for 2 April

BusinessLive reports that the appeal brought by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) against the Competition Tribunal’s conditional approval of Sibanye-Stillwater’s takeover of Lonmin has been set down for 2 April.  Amcu, which is engaged in a protracted strike at Sibanye’s local gold mines and threatening to spread it to the company’s platinum mines around Rustenburg, is fiercely opposed to the takeover, citing job losses as its primary concern.  While Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa has declined to link the gold strike to the Lonmin transaction, the two matters are widely regarded as related.  Amcu embarked on the gold strike on 21 November, the same day the tribunal conditionally approved the all-share takeover.  Drawing a firm line under the varied number of jobs that could be lost because of the merger, the tribunal imposed a moratorium on all job cuts for six months pending the outcome of a detailed study.  Lonmin and Sibanye have extended the stop date for the conclusion of the transaction to end-June from end-February to accommodate the appeal process.

Read Allan Seccombe’s report in this regard at BusinessLive. Read too, Competition Appeal Court to hold Sibanye, Lonmin merger hearing on 2 April, at Mining Weekly

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Editorial: Amcu platinum belt sympathy strike a strike SA can’t afford, at BusinessLive
  • NUM KZN is extremely angry with Somkhele Mine’s decision to retrench (press statement), at NUM News
  • Exxaro hands over houses, creches and a community hall in Tshikondeni (press statement), at Exxaro News
  • It’s do or die time for Lily and Barbrook mines, at Moneyweb


FARMING LABOUR

With 31,000 jobs lost since January last year, farmers seek R3bn in emergency drought relief

Business Times reports that organised agriculture is to ask the government for R3bn in emergency relief after a multi-year drought left five of SA's nine provinces critically parched and two others extremely vulnerable.  As many as 31,000 jobs have been lost in the affected areas since January last year, AgriSA said on Friday in a comprehensive survey of the sector.  Seven out of every 10 farmers were struggling financially and half indicated that they could be forced to retrench workers because of the drought, AgriSA indicated.  Agriculture accounts for only about 2% of the economy, but punches above its weight in terms of jobs and its role in food security.  A widespread drought that started in 2016 has hit maize producers, fruit growers and cattle farmers.  The Eastern Cape, Free State, Northern Cape, Western Cape and North West are classified "critical".  KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo are at risk if future rainfall disappoints.  The agriculture departments in the Northern Cape and Western Cape have provided some relief, but more was needed, said AgriSA.  The organisation is approaching the other provinces and the national government for help.  The plan is to secure money from the fiscus's contingency reserve.  Citadel economist Maarten Ackerman commented:  "The [job] absorption rate of agriculture is much higher than other sectors," and it was an especially important employer in rural communities.

Read TJ Strydom’s report in the above regard in full at BL Premium (paywall access only). Read too, A ‘colossal crisis’ for the farming sector, on page 18 of The Sunday Independent of 27 January 2018

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Karoo farmer turns to hiring himself out as a labourer as drought slashes his income, at News24


RECRUITMENT / APPOINTMENTS

Troubled rail agency Prasa to have a permanent CEO by April, says transport minister

BusinessLive reports that the troubled Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) is set to have a permanent CEO by April, transport minister Blade Nzimande has confirmed.  Prasa, which has previously been afflicted by tender irregularities and supply-chain management issues, currently has an interim CEO and board, which have been tasked with turning the organisation around.  The agency, which is responsible for delivering rail services, has over the years been engulfed in allegations of corruption and mismanagement.  In a written reply to a parliamentary question published last week, Nzimande said:  “The process being undertaken to identify a suitable group CEO will be through an open and transparent process of recruitment that would be undertaken through the recruitment policy of Prasa.  This process will be undertaken through the position being advertised and the board overseeing the recruitment and selection process.”  Nzimande has been on a drive to address the dysfunction at some of the entities that report to him, particularly Prasa and the cash-strapped Road Accident Fund (RAF).

Read Bekezela Phakathi’s report in the above regard in full at BusinessLive


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

Mildred Oliphant finally puts national minimum wage commission in place

BusinessLive reports that labour minister Mildred Oliphant has finally appointed the 13-member national minimum wage commission following a tussle over candidates that delayed the implementation of the law in 2018.  Oliphant will apparently publicly announce the members of the commission this week.  The new commission will be chaired by Professor Adriaan van der Walt, labour law academic at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.  He occupied the same position at the Employment Conditions Commission.  Other appointees will include Global Business Solutions CEO Jonathan Goldberg and Nedbank executive Kaizer Moyane, who were nominated by the business grouping at Nedlac.  Wits University’s dean of commerce, law and management, Professor Imraan Valodia, who chaired the expert panel that recommended the R20 rate, senior economist at Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies Neva Makgetla and associate professor of sociology at Wits Sarah Mosoetsa will be appointed as independent experts.  Cosatu deputy general secretary Solly Phetoe will also sit on the commission.  The National Minimum Wage Act establishes a commission that will, among other functions, review the national minimum wage and recommend its adjustment annually, and investigate and report on the effect of the regime.

Read Theto Mahlakoana’s report on this story in full at BusinessLive


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

Netcare plans to cut more than 500 staff members

Business Times reports that hospital group Netcare plans to retrench over 500 employees as it seeks to cut costs following a failed offshore expansion and amid a tough economic environment in SA.  Netcare’s Ramasela Mokonyama confirmed that notices had been issued to inform staff that the company would begin consultations on the "proposed structural review within its hospital division".  No nurses working in patient care have been included in the retrenchment process, which the company said was restricted to staff employed in other divisions.  Mokonyama indicated:  "516 Netcare employees received a letter informing them of the company's intention to review their conditions of employment, [but] the vast majority of employees will be consulted regarding proposed amendments to their current hours of work or current roles."  Kevin Halama of the Health & Other Services Personnel Trade Union of SA (Hospersa), reacted:  "Netcare has consistently raked in millions of rands in SA's heavily monopolised private hospital industry, where it is the market leader.  The group's intentions to retrench employees will leave many families without breadwinners in a country where unemployment has reached alarming levels, and this we cannot allow."  The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) called Netcare's proposal premature, saying it had not explored alternatives to saving jobs.

Read Penelope Mashego’s report on this story in full at BL Premium (paywall access only). Read Hospersa’s press statement in this regard at Hospersa News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Denosa strongly opposed to planned retrenchments at Netcare (press statement), at Denosa News
  • Numsa condemns Eskom’s plans to retrench workers (press statement), at Polity


BUSINESS RESCUE / COMPANY FINANCIAL STRESS

Business rescue at Basil Read sees significant reduction in staff complement, with just 17 left at HQ

Moneyweb reports that the rescue of listed group Basil Read’s construction business has run into “significant challenges”, including the withdrawal of R40 million in post-commencement financing, lower than expected revenue, and slow progress in the sale of non-core assets.  These challenges, together with others, might result in changes to the business rescue plan.  This was the message from the business practitioners (BRPs) in a third progress report in December.  Basil Read applied for voluntary business rescue for its construction business in June last year.  In August, creditors approved a business rescue plan.  The BRPs indicated that they have significantly reduced the company’s staff complement, which stood at 4,730 when it went into business rescue.  They did not quote numbers, other than to say that the headcount at Basil Read’s head office had been reduced from 98 to 17 and that all labour on onerous and cancelled contracts had been retrenched.  The BRPs stated that, while they still believed there was a reasonable prospect of rescuing the business, they might have to amend the business rescue plan.

Read Antoinette Slabbert’s report in the above regard in full at Moneyweb

CEO of SAA says banks have agreed in principle on R3.5bn lifeline

BL Premium reports that according to SA Airways (SAA) CEO Vuyani Jarana, commercial banks have in principle approved R3.5bn of the funding required to keep the national airline operating until April.  He was speaking on the sidelines of the India/SA Business Summit in New Delhi at the weekend.  Jarana said he saw “no reason why” the government and the banks would not continue to back the airline as it has been delivering on the targets it has set and added that they could appreciate that “we are executing under very difficult conditions.”  The airline, which received R5bn from the government in October, requires R21.7bn in funding to implement its turnaround plan by 2021.  In addition to the R3,5bn, it must raise a further R4bn in March as well as re-finance or pay back R9.2bn in maturing loans.  SAA sources said the banks approved in principle the funding totalling R3.5bn in January, but still have to get internal approvals for the credit lines from their respective risk committees.  That might yet prove an obstacle, as banks have been unwilling to lend to SAA since July 2017, with the exception of short-term bridging finance.

Read Jana Marais’ report on this story in full at BL Premium (paywall access only)


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Mhlathuze Water boss Makhanya finally axed over dodgy tenders - three years after original suspension

TimesLIVE reports that the chief executive of Mhlathuze Water, Sibusiso Makhanya, has been axed three years after he was suspended.  The newly appointed Mhlathuze Water board announced on Thursday that Makhanya’s contract has been terminated with immediate effect.  Makhanya was suspended by the previous board in 2015 after a forensic investigation made findings of impropriety and tender irregularities against him.  He was suspended by former board chair Dudu Myeni, but Makhanya successfully challenged his suspension in court, arguing that the board that suspended him was illegally constituted by the former water and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane.  At the time he was also embroiled in a fight with Mokonyane over her decision to incorporate Mhlathuze into Umgeni Water.  Mhlathuze Water chair Thabi Shange said that in addition to the findings of the forensic investigation, further allegations of misconduct relating to impropriety, maladministration and tender irregularities against Makhanya had been brought to the attention of the current board warranting his immediate dismissal.

Read Bongani Mthethwa’s full report on this story at TimesLIVE. Read too, Mhlathuze Water's suspended CEO gets the boot, at News24

'I hold no grudge', says Schweizer-Reneke teacher as court lifts unlawful suspension

News24 reports that the teacher who was suspended by the Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke for taking and distributing a picture of pupils seated by race, said she holds no grudges against the school and the North West education department after a judge ruled that her suspension had been unlawful.  An emotional Elana Barkhuizen addressed the media last week outside the Labour Court in Johannesburg accompanied by her lawyers and members of trade union Solidarity, following the ruling.  The judge found that Barkhuizen was not granted a hearing before she was suspended by the school governing body (SGB) and ordered both the department of education in the province and the SGB to permit Barkhuizen to return to work.  The teacher was employed by the SGB as a Grade R teacher in 2017.  Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann, who helped the teacher take the matter to court, welcomed the ruling.  He said he hoped the court victory would send a message to all in the country.  "South Africa has rules and we should all abide by the constitutional framework.  The judgment came down hard on the MEC.  He went far beyond his powers.  It is unfortunate that we had to come to court.  We call on the MEC to set aside the whole issue.  He should learn from this," said Hermann.  The SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) in North West said they would have to study the judgment before responding.

Read Ntwaagae Seleka’s full report in the above regard at News24


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Bail for three senior eThekwini employees arrested for EPWP recruitment fraud

Daily News reports that three senior eThekwini municipality staff members were arrested and released on bail on Thursday in connection with the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) recruitment process.  The Hawks (Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations) arrested six suspects in total for fraud and corruption activities at the eThekwini Municipality.  "It is alleged that officials at the Municipality and their runners conspired and misrepresented members of the public in 2017 that they had secured an EPWP tender at the municipality and promised them jobs.  Individuals were recruited and instructed to open bank accounts which were kept by the suspects," Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi explained.  All the so-called workers were paid once-off stipends after the money was deposited into their accounts.  The trio appeared on Thursday at the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court for fraud and money laundering and were granted bail.  They are expected to appear in court in February 2019.

Read Zainul Dawood’s report on this story in full at Daily News. Read too, eThekwini official, two bogus EPWP employees arrested for fraud, money laundering, at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Limpopo vehicle examiner busted for allegedly issuing illegal roadworthy certificate, at News24


OTHER MISCELLANEOUS NEWS HEADLINES

  • Numsa requests CCMA intervention in the plastic strike (press statement), at Polity
  • Eskom pushes 15% price rise, at SA Labour News
  • Western Cape MEC Albert Fritz creates internships for the blind and visually impaired (press statement), at SA Govt News
  • Limpopo pupil needed stitches after teacher attack, at SowetanLive
  • Ten Limpopo taxi drivers arrested after Hoedspruit shootout over routes, at EWN
  • Imatu: City of Tshwane refuses to pay pensioners post-retirement medical aid contributions (press statement), at Imatu News

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page