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, 30 January 2019.


NUM calls for strike at Eskom during election week

Bloomberg reports that workers at Eskom will strike during the week of scheduled elections in South Africa to protest the possible sale of shares and planned job cuts at the embattled state-owned power utility.  This is according to the Highveld regional branch of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).  Bizzah Malekutu waga Motubatse, the region’s deputy chairman, said in an e-mail statement:  “The truth of the matter is that this unbundling is nothing but privatization.  This decision will lead to massive retrenchments at Eskom.”  The region’s special council “resolved on marching to Luthuli House (the headquarters of the ruling African National Congress) and embarking on a full-blown strike on the week of the national and provincial elections.”  SA will hold national and provincial elections in May, though a date has yet to be announced.  Earlier this week, Business Day reported that the ANC agreed that selling shares in Eskom was an option to rescue the debt-laden utility, citing a resolution adopted by the party’s executive that met the preceding weekend.

Read Paul Burkhardt’s report on this story in full at Fin24. Read too, SA’s mining companies want restructuring of Eskom, at Moneyweb. And also, Rumours of Eskom privatisation announcement at Sona, at Business Report


Operations resume at BlueRock’s Kareevlei mine following accident

Mining Weekly reports that operations have resumed at BlueRock Diamonds’ Kareevlei diamond mine, in Kimberley, in the Northern Cape province.  This followed a temporary suspension of operations from 22 January, after the Department of Mineral Resources imposed a Section 54 notice.  The Section 54 notice was in relation to the code of practice relating to the operation of trackless mining machines and resulted from an accident that had occurred involving an external contractor.  BlueRock confirmed that the individual involved in the accident was expected to make a full recovery.  The company does not expect the production pause to impact on its output guidance for the full year.

The original of this short is at Mining Weekly

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • MCSA’s Langenhoven warns of tipping point for mining if electricity tariffs increase by 15% a year, at Mining Weekly


Man who shot Limpopo farmworker thinking he was a bushpig sentenced to six years

News24 reports that a man from Pretoria who shot and killed a farmworker whom he thought was a bushpig, was sentenced on Tuesday in the Modimolle Regional Court to six years in prison.  Magistrate Peter Manthata noted that Stefan Hepburn, 40, did not show remorse for killing Jan Railo.  Railo, 23, was shot and killed on a farm in Tuinplaas in Limpopo by Hepburn during an alleged hunting incident, it was reported at the time.  Hepburn and his wife were apparently hunting bushpigs on a friend's farm on a Saturday night when Hepburn fired shots in the direction from where he heard movement.  Railo died on the scene after sustaining a wound to the face.  The aftermath of the killing of Railo was a "sad case", Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Desiree van der Walt told News24 in 2017 because, without one of its breadwinners, the family was in desperate need of support.

Read the original of this report at News24


Cosatu turned a blind eye to veteran unionist Cedric Gina when he was at his most vulnerable

Theto Mahlakoana writes that trade union federation Cosatu should hang its head in shame at its neglect of the late renowned veteran unionist Cedric Gina.  She says that it is unfathomable how the organisation, which characterises itself as a champion of workers, expects to be trusted by current and prospective members when it failed its most prominent leader when he was at his most vulnerable.  Gina was a former president of SA’s biggest union, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), and later the founding general secretary of the Liberated Metalworkers Union of SA (Limusa).  At the time of his death Gina had been admitted to Addington Hospital in Durban, but apparently there was no attempt by Cosatu or any of its affiliates to provide resources to assist Gina.  A few weeks before he was admitted to hospital in December, he was kicked out of Limusa during what was described by his allies as a hostile takeover by a faction opposed to his leadership style.  It was immediately after the central committee meeting that voted him out that he collapsed, with his health deteriorating thereafter.  Yet, only the deputy general secretary of Limusa, Mawonga Madolo, paid him a visit in hospital.  As Limusa general secretary, Gina had been an employee of the union.  But after he was kicked out, he found himself jobless at the age of 47, with his comrades nowhere to be seen nor his years of work towards the labour movement acknowledged.  It was only at the news of his death that Cosatu’s memory of his contribution was refreshed.  “Gina deserved better, and so do the workers who continue to fight for worker rights”, says Mahlakoana.

Read this article in full at BL Premium (paywall access only)


Unisa study shows that long period of unemployment lessens chance of finding work

SABC News reports that a new study conducted by the University of South Africa (Unisa) reveals that being unemployed for a long of period time lessens the chance of finding work because of job scarcity.  Another finding was that it is difficult for those who were unemployed for a long time to retain their jobs once they become employed.  The research was published recently in the South African Science Journal.  Well-known labour analyst Terry Bell observed that it was hard for a person who has been unemployed for a long time to find work because they often become demoralised.  He commented:  “There are many people who have been unemployed for years and they just give up, they give up hope of ever being employed.  This leads to all sorts of social problems, this leads to alcoholism, this leads to the use of drugs to escape, an absolute desolate life.”  Bell said job seekers faced difficulty because there was a shortage of jobs and there was likely to be an even greater shortage as time went on because of automation.  The study advised those without jobs to engage in training activities in order to enhance their skills to remain relevant and to increase their chances of getting employment.

Read Lebo Tshangela’s report in the above regard in full at SABC News


BMF demands that Ramos be replaced at Absa with a black CEO

ANA reports that the Black Management Forum (BMF) on Tuesday demanded that Absa Bank should replace the outgoing chief executive Maria Ramos with a black executive.  This came after Absa announced that Ramos would be retiring at the end of February when she turns 60.  René van Wyk, a non-executive director since February 2017, will take over as interim chief executive with effect from 1 March.  Andile Nomlala, BMF president, said that Absa's executive and management team should reflect the necessary diversity and demographics of the environment in which it operated by appointing a black chief executive.  "A clear demand from the BMF is that that replacement must be a black South African. It's not at the exclusion of not having a white chief executive, but we demand that as we move towards a transformed society, a gender sensitive society and an inclusive society, it must be reflective of South African demographics," Nomlala said.  The BMF has mulled court action against state-owned arms manufacturer, Denel, over its appointment of a white chief executive, Daniel du Toit.

Read this report on full at Business Report

Robert McBride goes to court in fight to get his appointment as IPID boss renewed

News24 reports that Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) boss Robert McBride is taking his fight to keep his job to court.  McBride has filed an urgent application in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria asking the court to declare Police Minister Bheki Cele's decision not to renew his appointment as IPID executive director "unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid".  McBride's term at IPID comes to an end on 28 February this year.  In a curt letter last week, Cele informed McBride that he had forwarded his decision not to renew McBride's contract to Parliament for consideration.  But in his affidavit filed at the High Court on Tuesday, McBride claimed that the decision was not one that the minister was empowered to take.  He said the decision must be taken by the National Assembly's Portfolio Committee on Police, being the parliamentary committee responsible for appointing the executive.  "By purporting to exercise this power, the minister has undermined the independence of IPID,” McBride argued.

Read Jeanette Chabalala’s report on this story in full at News24. Read too, McBride takes Cele to court over work contract, at The Citizen


Inefficiencies at Gauteng health department will see new junior doctors paid a month late, says DA

ANA reports that the Democratic Alliance (DA) indicated on Wednesday that payment of salaries to junior doctors doing their internships and community service in Gauteng hospitals will be delayed for a month due to inefficiency at the provincial health department.  The party cited a notice sent to new doctors at Charlotte Maxeke hospital that their January salaries would not be paid at month end “due to the late creation of posts at Central Office”.  The notice indicated that the posts had only been created on 22 January.  “Unfortunately, it was not enough time for e-government to process them before the salary run on 28 January 2019 therefore, your salaries will be paid on/before 28 February 2019,” the notice advised.  DA shadow MEC for health in Gauteng Jack Bloom said:  “I am appalled that junior doctors will suffer because of the inefficiency of the Gauteng health department.  It is totally unacceptable that they will have to wait a month to be paid.”  

Read the report on this story in full at The Citizen

Union to hold SABC accountable if employees negatively impacted by late salary payment

Independent News reports that a trade union has vowed to take steps against the cash-strapped SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) should employees be negatively affected because of the public broadcaster’s late salary payments.  This was indicated after the SABC failed to pay its employees on time on Tuesday morning, due to a technical “glitch” with its banks.  Aubrey Tshabalala of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) said that should employees be negatively affected by the late payments, it would consider taking action.  “If workers have a negative impact on their bank accounts, for instance when debit orders (are rejected) you are charged an extra fee, we will hold the employer accountable.  This will also be for other costs that employees might incur.”  Tshabalala added:  “We will have to get a letter from the SABC to speak to the creditors of the workers.  These are the things we will consider if need be.  We are looking closely at the proceedings of the day.”

Read the original of this report by Mary Jane Mphahlele & Bongani Hans at IOL News


Is clothing retailer Edcon too big to let fail?

Bloomberg writes that a scramble to help Edcon Holdings keep afloat suggests that, like Eskom and SA Airways, the retailer might be seen as too big to let fail.  Edcon has about 30,000 employees, a supply chain that includes 750 companies and floor space that accounts for a 10th of the occupancy in SA’s biggest shopping malls, the most of any company.  A collapse could exacerbate an unemployment crisis and cause income from commercial property rentals to slide.  Edcon is in talks with lenders and landlords to get more cash and to reduce rentals as it struggles with a debt burden that’s a legacy of the way its 2007 takeover by Boston-based Bain Capital was financed.  “If Edcon were to fail, it would be a big challenge for South Africa and it’s in everyone’s interests to get a deal signed,” said property analyst Wynand Smit.  Among potential rescuers is the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which oversees the pensions of government workers.  But, some have questioned whether helping a struggling retailer whose troubles are due to a private equity deal, sets a dangerous precedent that could incentivise reckless levels of indebtedness among private and listed retailers.  Rising costs have already resulted in SA mining companies cutting tens of thousands of jobs and so “a move to help Edcon would leave the question of what about other struggling companies?” Smit observed.

Read Janice Kew’s informative report on this story in full at Bloomberg


Mayor Mashaba meets Hawks boss over 'rampant corruption' uncovered in Joburg

ANA reports that Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said on Wednesday he had met the head of the Hawks (Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation) the previous day to bring a number of serious criminal matters in the city to his attention.  In the meeting with General Godfrey Lebeya, Mashaba expressed his concern over what he called the failure of the criminal justice system to ensure that "rampant corruption uncovered in the city of Johannesburg results in criminal convictions".  He also met with General Shadrack Sibiya, head of the city’s Group Forensic and Investigation Services (GFIS) mandated with uncovering corruption fraud and theft.  Mashaba said in a statement:  "Since its inception in late 2016, the GFIS unit has completed over 100 forensic investigations with serious criminal findings.  Yet, despite the city’s efforts in exposing and ending this rot, criminal cases opened by the city are not resulting in prosecutions."  Noting the investigations to date into over 4,000 cases totalling R24 billion, Mashaba said:  "The extent of the looting that has been uncovered in the city was beyond what I could ever have imagined."  Mashaba indicated that Lebeya undertook during a "constructive engagement" to ensure a better working relationship between the Hawks and the city.  

Read this report in full at Independent News. Read too, Mashaba meets with Hawks over corruption in the City of Johannesburg, at News24

Bosasa boss 'used mandatory prayer meetings to manipulate staff'

ANA reports that former Bosasa chief financial officer Andries van Tonder on Tuesday described Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson as manipulative and someone who used people for his own ends.  Van Tonder took the stand at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture after former COO Angelo Agrizzi's explosive testimony that lasted nine days.  Van Tonder said Watson used the early morning mandatory prayer meetings as a tool to control his staff.  "He used those sessions as a tool to determine loyalty to him ... he insisted that everyone pray out loud saying he needed to hear where we were at.  I stopped attending the prayer meetings, which led to a deterioration of the relationship between us," Van Tonder stated.  He said he felt used by Watson after an investigation into Bosasa's financial affairs by the SA Revenue Services (Sars) cleared Bosasa in 2015.  "I was involved in that investigation for Bosasa ... misrepresentations were made to Sars and we were cleared.  After conclusion of [the] investigation, our relationship deteriorated further ... my take was that he didn't need me anymore as he had won the Sars case."  Watson allegedly began with his attempts to get rid of Van Tonder in 2017, by taking away the powers of a CFO from him.  Van Tonder was no longer allowed to access company financial information or to contact banks or auditors.

Read the report on this story in full at Independent News. Read too, Bosasa bosses made a pact ‘not to rat on each other’, at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • PIC says acting CEO, two board members implicated in new graft allegations, at Engineering News


Football players’ union calls for preferential tax for footballers

BusinessLive reports that the SA Football Players Union (Safpu) wants the government to review tax for footballers as one of the ways of addressing the serious financial challenges players face after they retire.  The harsh realities of life after football came to the fore after the recent death of Bafana Bafana star Phil “Chippa” Masinga.  This prompted the SA Football Association (Safa) to convene a meeting with interested parties on Tuesday.  The meeting included representatives from the Gauteng provincial government‚ Safpu‚ the SA Football Coaches Association and the SA Masters and Legends Football Association.  The argument put forward was that footballers and sports stars should not be taxed at the same rate as other professionals because of the short time span of their careers.  Also discussed were ideas for creating business and coaching opportunities for former players‚ retirement and pension funds‚ a SA football hall of fame and skills-sharing programmes.  “How is it that a banker‚ a teacher or any other professional is taxed the same as a footballer on the same salary, but they don’t have the same lifespan?” asked Safa president Danny Jordaan.  A working group was formed to meet the sport and education departments and the Treasury.

Read Mahlatse Mphahlele’s report on this story in full at BusinessLive


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page