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
Monday, 28 January 2019.


TOP READ

How affording unions a say over outsourced contracts became the gateway to corruption

Theto Mahlakoana writes that the hard-fought right of workers to be consulted on workplace services that affect their welfare, such as catering and company transport, has been hijacked by corruption and self-enrichment.  The commission of inquiry into state capture heard last week from former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi how union leaders were bribed to secure contracts worth millions of rand for Bosasa in the companies where their unions were organised.  The practice is all too common, current and former leaders told Business Day, indicating that it dated back to the 1980s when outsourcing was introduced for services such as catering and later for transport in local mines and other big industrial plants such as Sasol.  The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was among the organisations that fought to have a stake in the appointment of the service providers because they wanted to have a say in everything that affected workers, including the quality of food.  However, this virtue became the gateway for shop stewards to cut deals with competing companies.  In instances where employers awarded contracts to service providers other than the shop stewards’ preferred bidder, workers would be galvanised to strike, forcing employers to buckle under pressure.  Agrizzi mentioned the names of some of Cosatu’s oldest unions including the NUM, claiming that union officials had benefited from tenders that were irregularly awarded to Bosasa by private companies and government departments.  He also referred to Amcu.  The corruption is embedded, with branch leaders in mining unions on the gravy train, claimed a source.

Read more of this important BL Premium article by Theto Mahlakoana at SA Labour News


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

UNTU wants to launch protest action against Prasa, transport minister over attacks on members

Engineering News reports that the United National Transport Union (UNTU) is in the process of launching a Nedlac Section 77 process through its affiliated federation, the Federation of Trade Unions of SA (Fedusa).  The aim is to allow protest action to force the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and Transport Minister Dr Blade Nzimande to find solutions for the ongoing attacks against UNTU members employed by Prasa’s Metrorail business.  UNTU’s announcement in this regard followed another week of violent attacks on train crews, metro guards and protection services nationwide.  The Section 77 process refers to Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act, which relates to permission for protest action to promote or defend the socioeconomic interests of workers.  The latest spree of incidents included a Metrorail train driver being shot at when passing the end of the platform at Umbogintwini Station in KwaZulu-Natal, as well as a security officer being assaulted by a commuter on the same route.  Some of the most recent attacks include a train being petrol bombed and looted at Orient Hills, near Krugersdorp, and a Prasa security vehicle being shot at.

Read the original report in the above regard in full at Engineering News. Read UNTU’s press statement in this regard at SA Labour News

'My soul is broken': Man accuses colleagues at Mugg & Bean of stripping, mocking him

The Sunday Independent reports on the traumatic experience of a Mugg & Bean employee who was dragged into the bathroom, forcefully undressed and his private parts laid bare, all with the aim of “proving” his manhood and age.  Andrew Diale alleges that this was at the hands of three male colleagues at Mugg & Bean at Bracken City in Ekurhuleni recently.  Diale whose short stature has led to people making fun of him all his life, said he fell victim to colleagues who set out to prove that he was, in fact, the man he claimed he was.  He said he was left traumatised and has not been coping since the incident took place on 13 January.  “My soul is broken.  I feel humiliated but most of all this has made me doubt myself as a person, as a man.  No one has the right to do that to me.”  Franchise owner George Ferreira, said while he became aware of the incident after Diale reported it to him, he was not told the “whole story” and the severity of what had occurred in the changing room.  Ferreira said the men involved in have signed warnings.  Pressed on why he thought the warning was sufficient given what occurred, Ferreira said he would call all the employees concerned again into a meeting to get the full details of what had transpired.

Read the original report on the above story in full at The Sunday Independent

Suspect arrested for killing Eastern Cape policeman in deadly bakery shootout

News24 reports that after nearly a week on the run, a 24-year suspect has been arrested for his alleged involvement in the killing of an Eastern Cape police officer.  The suspect was arrested on Sunday at his parents' home in Algoa Park, Port Elizabeth, by the Hawks' serious organised crime investigation unit following a manhunt.  His arrest came a day after the funeral of Constable Dwane Kemp, 31, who died last Monday following a shootout between police and five armed robbers at a bakery.  The suspect is due to appear in court on Tuesday on charges of murder, attempted murder, business robbery, possession of a firearm without a licence and possession of ammunition without a licence.  The national head of the Hawks, Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya, hailed the arrest as a significant breakthrough in the fight against police killings.  During Kemp's funeral on Saturday, Police Minister Bheki Cele called on police officers to use the "tools" given to them responsibly and decisively when executing their duties and to do so within the ambit of the law.

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


MINING LABOUR

Struggling Lily and Barbrook mines could face liquidation

Business Report writes that Rob Devereux, business rescue practitioner of the Lily and Barbrook mines, is considering placing the mines under liquidation.  He charges that the new mine owners have failed to produce proof of the funds required to resume the operations.  Devereux has alleged that Flaming Silver Trading cannot prove its financial muscle three years after three Lily mineworkers were buried in a container when the mine entrance collapsed.  Black-owned Flaming Silver, a subsidiary of Siyakhula Sonke Empowerment Corporation (SSC), acquired the mines from Australia’s Vantage Goldfields, which had placed them business rescue - resulting in about 1,000 workers losing their jobs.  The Department of Mineral Resources apparently awarded Section 11 approval transferring the ownership of Lily to Flaming Silver from Vantage last month.  Devereux indicated:  “We have written to Vantage because we want confirmation that SSC has funding in place and Section 11 approval has been granted by the regulators.  We have neither seen the Section 11 approval nor funding, and we have asked for proof on numerous occasions.”  Fred Arendse, SSC chief executive, blamed Devereux for leading a campaign to undermine the company, saying allegations that Flaming Silver failed to prove it had acquired the funds were false.

Read Dineo Faku’s report on the above in full at Business Report. Read too, SSC’s Arendse alleges Barbrook, Lily mines of Vantage Goldfields ‘captured’ by the BRP, at Miningmx


UNION NEWS

Former Numsa president Cedric Gina passes away

EWN reports that prominent trade unionist and African National Congress (ANC) member Cedric Gina has passed away.  Gina died in a Durban hospital on Monday morning.  He rose through the ranks to become president of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).  In 2013, he resigned from Numsa as he was unhappy about the direction the union was taking following its expulsion from labour federation Cosatu.  Gina was then instrumental in forming a new metal workers union, the Liberated Metalworkers Union of South Africa (Limusa), which is a Cosatu affiliate.

The original of this short report is at EWN. See too, Former Numsa president Cedric Gina dies, at News24


BASIC CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT

Labour minister to review earnings threshold in Basic Conditions of Employment Act

ANA reports that the United National Transport Union (UNTU) said on Monday it had received word from Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant indicating that she was reviewing the current earnings threshold of R205,433.30 per year contained in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).  The union said it had asked Oliphant about the threshold, which has not been increased since July 2014, during a workshop in Pretoria on Sunday.  Steve Harris, general secretary of UNTU, said the union has been pushing for the BCEA threshold to be increased as all employees earning below it have the full protection of every section of the Act.  For, instance, a section of the Act makes it mandatory to afford payments for overtime work in respect of employees who earn less than the threshold of R205,433.30 per annum.  “UNTU is of the view that the increase is long overdue,” the union said in a statement.  Prior to 2014, the threshold was set at R193,805.

A short report is at The Citizen. Read UNTU’s press statement in this regard at SA Labour News


STATE-OWNED ENTERPRISES (SOEs)

Numsa slams ‘nefarious’ plans to privatise Eskom, other SOEs

ANA reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has accused the governing African National Congress (ANC) of pursuing what it called “nefarious” plans to privatise power utility Eskom and other cash-strapped state-owned enterprises (SOEs).  In a column published in City Press on Sunday, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said senior management at Eskom and the government had identified privatisation as a way of covering up “for their ineptitude and corruption” at the entity, which has been at the centre of allegations of corruption and state capture.  Numsa, which has launched a new political party to contest this year’s general elections, said Jim’s article “perfectly summarises our position on Eskom”.  The recent ANC lekgotla recommended that Eskom be restructured and broken into generation, transmission and distribution units.  The ANC has long shown its lack of appetite to privatise cash-strapped state firms, but has in recent years hinted it might not have an option but to invite at least partial private investment in some, including Eskom.  Jim said any such plans would lead to retrenchments.  “History has shown us that privatisation is not beneficial because it always leads to massive job cuts and because profit is the motive, it translates to higher costs for the consumer,” he stated.

Read this ANA report in full at The Citizen. Read Irvin Jim’s article in full at SA Labour News

Call by asset manager for Eskom to go business rescue route

Business Report writes that asset management firm Anchor Capital has called for power utility Eskom to enter a “negotiated” business rescue process and for there to be a partial listing of its business to ensure its financial sustainability.  Anchor’s Nolan Wapenaar said on Friday that a controlled default of Eskom on its debts was the most appropriate tool for restructuring the business.  “An Eskom default does not mean the lights go out and that it ceases to exist.  Instead, it is put under curatorship with a view towards restructuring its operations, payroll and balance sheet structures,” Wapenaar indicated.  He went on to say:  “Under such a business rescue scenario it would be essential to ensure that suppliers continue to be paid on time, while the business is being fixed.  This is a remarkably similar exercise to that which was undertaken for African Bank, just on a far grander scale.  We are advocating that Eskom undergoes a negotiated business rescue.”  The utility's financial and functional failures are widely seen as the biggest single risk to the SA economy.  It wants the regulator to allow it to hike tariffs by 15% a year over the next three years and has warned that its debt will reach R600-billion should it fail to implement its proposals.

Read Kabelo Khumalo’s report on the above story in full at Business Report


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Sanef appoints independent auditor to probe SABC8 crowdfunding donation allegation

ANA reports that the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) on Friday appointed an independent auditor to investigate an alleged R100,000 donation claimed to have been paid by Bosasa Operations to a campaign for the so-called SABC8.  The SABC8 were journalists who were suspended for speaking out against censorship of protest footage by the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).  It was reported last week that Bosasa - now known as African Global Operations -- appeared to have paid the money in 2016 towards a crowdfunding campaign to help the journalists with their legal fees.  The allegation emerged from the testimony of Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into allegations of state capture.  Even though Sanef on Wednesday denied any donation from Bosasa to the SABC8 and it could not find any evidence to support this in its our own investigation, it added on Friday that it felt it necessary to set out the facts and its position in greater detail.  "As such we have now called upon an Independent auditing firm (name to be released in due course) to conduct a full introspection of the account for purpose of transparency. We will publish the findings in full when completed," it said in a statement.

Read ANA’s original report in this regard in full at Independent News. Read Sanef’s press statement in this regard at Sanef News

Fate of Tshwane city boss rests in EFF’s hands

The Star writes that, with the Tshwane ANC having already declared that it wants embattled city manager Moeketsi Mosola to step down amid the GladAfrica tender scandal, the spotlight will shift to the EFF.  During the last council sitting, in November, a motion brought by mayor Solly Msimanga to suspend Mosola was deferred to the council’s meeting to be held on Thursday.  At the last sitting, both the EFF and ANC agreed that the matter should be deferred, without giving any reasons.  It will be seen this week if the EFF will follow in the footsteps of the ANC and support the motion to have Mosola suspended for a series of misdemeanours.  The draft Attorney-General’s (AG’s) report for the period July 2017 to June last year, to be presented to council on Thursday, has been leaked.  It has seemingly found that Tshwane’s controversial multibillion rand contract with GladAfrica was irregular.  It has furthermore found that Mosola awarded the tender without following due process.  Mosola has fought off efforts to suspend him.  He has denied any wrongdoing and successfully blocked the tabling of a Bowmans report into the tender award after obtaining a court interdict in the Labour Court.  Mosola has refused to be drawn into calls by the ANC for him to step down.

Read more of Rapula Moatshe’s report on this story at SA Labour News


OTHER LABOUR REPORTS

Ex SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng makes first payment of R300,000 to Solidarity

ANA reports that Solidarity advised on Monday that former SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng has made his first payment of R300,000 to the trade union.  The Labour Court in 2017 ruled that Motsoeneng was personally liable for the costs incurred in the lawsuit in which it found that the “so-called SABC 8 had been dismissed unlawfully”.  The journalists were fired after expressing their opposition to the corporation’s policy of refusing to air footage of violent protests.  Solidarity chief executive Dr Dirk Hermann said the R300,000 paid by Motsoeneng was only a part of what he owed.  “The final amount owing will be determined once the costs associated with the Constitutional Court ruling, which Motsoeneng also lost, have been paid and included in the final amount due,” Hermann said.  The union would be going ahead with legal processes to recover the rest of the money owed.  Hermann also indicated:  “Solidarity has decided to use the money received from Motsoeneng in litigation against tax abuse.  Although we will deposit Hlaudi’s money in a fund to counter further tax abuse, we will not name the fund after him.”

Read ANA’s report on this story in full at The Citizen. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News

Fired Gauteng teacher suffering from voice loss syndrome battles to regain her job

The Star writes that a Gauteng schoolteacher suffering a recurring voice loss syndrome has spoken out about her battle to regain her job.  Paula Gumbi, 47, indicated that she was fired due to her vocal-fold paralysis problem and after suffering a spinal cord injury in a car accident.  But, there is confusion about whether the primary school teacher was medically boarded without pay or was fired by the Department of Education due to ill-health.  Gumbi was declared fit to return to work by her neurosurgeon after she was "fired" in August 2017.  “I have been going to the department's office since.  I cannot seem to get help or get anyone to listen to me.  I have, for a long time, been asking the department to give me a post in an office or allow me to teach a higher grade because my voice still comes and goes at any time.  If then I cannot speak, I can write things down for the children to read, but I am not winning,” said Gumbi, a teacher with 25 years of experience.  Gauteng Education Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said Gumbi could be considered to return to work "if she requests permission from an executive authority, who in turn will need an independent assessment report (at her own cost), declaring her fit for work within the department.  Based on the assumption that permission is granted, normal recruitment processes will have to be followed by her.”  Gumbi was apparently made to sign a notice of intention for termination of her employment due to ill health in August 2017.

Read Sibongile Mashaba’s original report in the above regard in full at The Star

Police minister Bheki Cele warns lazy officers

SowetanLive reports that police minister Bheki Cele last week told the community of KaMhlushwa, in Mpumamanga, to call him directly if they were not being serviced by police.  Cele gave his cellphone numbers to community members after the opening of the KaMhlushwa police station, 27km southeast of Malalane.  He called on the community to work with the police to fight crime, but also vowed to fire police management if they failed the people.  Cele said his ministry was no longer interested in building bigger police stations far from the people.  "We better have small police stations closer to the community, where people can just walk to.  We cannot have people paying money to get to the police station," he stated.  National police commissioner General Khehla Sitole indicated:  "The statistics say one officer is responsible for 220 people, but here in the countryside we have a ratio of one policeman per 383 people, which we need to curb.  From this year we will be taking 5,000 new officers each year to beef up the force."  The new KaMhlushwa police station has 38 officers and eight detectives.  It is the first of the 12 new police stations that the minister said he was planning to open this year.

Read Mandla Khoza’s report in this regard in full at SowetanLive

 


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