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, 31 January 2019.


TOP STORY – RETRENCHMENTS

Cosatu plans nationwide strike on 13 February over mass layoffs at state and private firms

Reuters reports that labour federation Cosatu announced on Wednesday it would stage a nationwide strike on 13 February over large-scale layoffs at ailing state-owned firms and at private companies.  The decision poses a major threat to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan to revive the economy by cutting the government’s wage bill and reforming state firms that are drowning in debt and plagued by corruption.  The protest will also come just months ahead of national elections.  Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla said threats of deeper job cuts at state-owned power utility Eskom and at public broadcaster the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), as well as other government plans to squeeze headcounts, had prompted the nationwide strike decision.  “We’ve deadlocked with the government and private sector on the issue of having a moratorium on retrenchments, and in that situation we had no option but to apply for this strike,” said Pamla.  Eskom has announced plans to shed around 7,000 staff over the next five years, while the SABC plans to lay off around 1,000 permanent employees.  Numerous mining firms also plan massive layoffs.

Read Mfuneko Toyana’s report on this story in full at Moneyweb

SABC abandons staff retrenchment plans

EWN reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has announced it would not be going ahead with plans to retrench employees.  The public broadcaster released a statement on Thursday afternoon saying it had decided not to renew the notice to invoke Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act, which permits companies to retrench employees and sets out the process as to how that must be done.  Last year, the broadcaster introduced extreme cost-cutting measures.  It also proposed the retrenchments of 981 permanent staffers and over 1,200 freelancers.

This short report by Winnie Theletsane is at EWN


MINING LABOUR

Eskom’s 15% annual tariff hike for three years could wipe out 150,000 mining jobs

Business Report writes that the Minerals Council SA (previously known as the Chamber of Mines) has warned that the industry could lose 150,000 jobs if the National Electricity Regulator of SA (Nersa) grants power utility Eskom the 15% tariff hike for each of the next three years it has applied for.  The council’s chief economist, Henk Langenhoven, said on Wednesday that the increase would signal a tipping point for the mining industry and the economy.  It would also hasten the demise of the gold mining industry, where 61,367 employees were working at marginal or loss-making mines.  “The proposed tariff increases will virtually eliminate the entire gold mining industry,” Langenhoven claimed.  The impact would similarly be severely felt in the platinum mining industry, where 37,900 jobs would be terminated, Langenhoven said.  “The impact on other commodities could bring the total mining employment job losses to as high as 150,000,” he estimated.  The Energy Intensive Users Group also slammed Eskom’s request, charging that its business model needed to be revisited.

Read Dineo Faku’s report on this story in full at Business Report

Amcu says Sibanye-Stillwater has made new court bid to halt gold strike

ANA reports that according to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater has filed another application at the Labour Court for an interdict preventing the union’s members from continuing with a wage strike at the gold operations.  Sibanye has apparently argued that Amcu no longer has the legal right to strike as it no longer represents the majority of gold mining workers.  Rival unions the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and Uasa, which the company says now collectively represent a majority of workers in the bargaining unit, have signed an applicable wage agreement with Sibanye.  In a statement, the union said its legal counsel had argued in court that the latest application by Sibanye was no different from an unsuccessful one filed in December.  "Sibanye-Stillwater needs to show how they concluded that the three unions now represent most of the workers at its gold operations.  Amcu has a right to be given the opportunity to present its version and present the numbers to the employer before an audit is conducted," Amcu maintained.  Judgment on the application had apparently been reserved

The original of this report is at Mining Weekly

Creditors, unions influenced business rescue practitioners to reopen bidding for Optimum Coal

Miningmx reports that the business rescue practitioners for Optimum Coal Mines have decided to reopen bidding to take the mines out of business rescue after receiving legal advice, and at the request of creditors and organised labour.  Business rescue practitioner (BRP) Kurt Knoop said the business rescue plan published in December had proposed Project Halo as the preferred bidder to purchase the mining assets.  But he indicated:  “That process has run its course.  That being said, the BRPs have received bids after the publication of the business rescue plan, and are evaluating whether these bids should be considered as viable alternatives in consultation with (among others) its legal team, the mines’ major creditors and organised labour.”  Bernard Swanepoel, a member of the Phakamani consortium which had bid for Optimum Coal Mines, confirmed the BRPs had asked the consortium to re-submit an offer.  Swanepoel is joined in Phakamani by Mandla Gantsho, the chairman of Impala Platinum, petrochemicals giant Sasol, and African Rising Capital.  “I was asked to resubmit a bid which I did on January 19.  They [the BRPs] seem much more interested in talking to me now than before,” he said.

Read David McKay’s report on this story in full at Miningmx

Mining industry must act to get rid of its bad reputation, Gwede Mantashe tells coal conference

BusinessLive reports that mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe has called on the mining industry to fight against a burgeoning negative perception of the sector.  In his keynote address at IHS Markit's 14th Southern African Coal Conference on Thursday morning Mantashe said:  “There is a very strong narrative against mining, and it’s growing.  Half the time mining is silent when everyone punches it.  The industry must take pride in itself and articulate a more positive narrative about itself.”  Mantashe said mining remained an important sector of the economy, with a 7% contribution to GDP.  It could contribute up to 10% in next five years, if managed properly.  It also accounted for 40% of SA’s foreign earnings and Mantashe believed this contribution could be increased.  SA’s coal mining sector is the fourth-largest employer in the mining industry and in 2018, coal was the biggest generator of revenue, ahead of gold and platinum group metals.  However, Mantashe warned that the attack on coal mining was particularly acute, saying:  “Coal producers wake up, you are under siege.”  He implored the sector to think about the future.

Read Lisa Steyn’s report in this regard in full at BusinessLive


UNION NEWS

Samwu’s Limpopo deputy provincial secretary gunned down, allegedly over VBS

ANA reports that another SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) official in Limpopo has been killed in the aftermath of the VBS Mutual Bank scandal, the union indicated on Thursday.  Deputy provincial secretary Roland Mani was shot in Thohoyandou this week.  Meanwhile, a few days before the murder there had been an assassination attempt on former Limpopo chairperson Timson Tshililo, who is recovering in hospital.  Both union leaders, employed at Vhembe district municipality, have been at the forefront of calling for the removal of Limpopo mayors who illegally invested municipal funds into the now defunct VBS Mutual Bank.  According to the union, the shootings were part of a retaliation campaign against its officials because of their stance on mayors and municipal managers guilty of illegally depositing public funds into VBS.  Mani’s killing was the fourth recent shooting targeting Samwu provincial officials.  Provincial secretary Patrick Aphane’s home was sprayed with bullets in November by two armed men who then sped off.  The first casualty was Thabang Maupa, a local councillor at Tubatse Municipality, who was shot and killed in his car late last year.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read too, Samwu unionist who spoke out against VBS corruption shot dead, at TimesLIVE. Read Samwu’s press statement on this matter at SA Labour News


RESIGNATIONS / VACANCIES

Alexander Forbes loses yet another executive, taking the tally to eight in recent months

Bloomberg reports that that Thabo Mashaba, chief empowerment and transformation officer at Alexander Forbes Group, has resigned, taking the number of top managers that have left SA’s largest retirement benefits administrator in recent months to eight.  Mashaba spent almost seven years at the firm and his departure will come into effect at the end of February.  The news comes as new CEO Dawie de Villiers reviews a strategy, known as Ambition 2022, spearheaded by previous CEO Andrew Darfoor.  Darfoor was ousted in September 2018 after the company’s second-largest shareholder, African Rainbow Capital Investments, raised concerns about the plan.  He had only spent some two years at the company’s helm.  Following Darfoor’s departure, CFO Naidene Ford-Hoon and Alexander Forbes Investments CEO Leon Greyling resigned.  The company has also lost Tony Powis, CEO of corporate and employee benefits, Sugendhree Reddy, head of retail financial services, Vishnu Naicker, group chief risk officer, and Christian Schaub, chief human resources officer.

Read Roxanne Henderson’s report on this story in full at BusinessLive


REMUNERATION / SALARY ADMINISTRATION

Payment of new Gauteng doctors’ January salaries 'by no later than Friday' after SAMA intervention

News24 reports that the SA Medical Association (SAMA) “took drastic steps” after it became aware of a communique circulating in some of the hospitals and provincial offices of the Gauteng health department regarding non-payment of newly appointed doctors.  "As a result, the Director-General of Health has made an undertaking that all the doctors affected by the circular will receive their payment by no later than Friday, February 1,” the association indicated in a statement.  SAMA said it went further to make contact with provincial heads of department “to ascertain as to whether payment will indeed be effected and received an affirmation in that regard that payment will be made timeously."  This followed reports on Wednesday that several Gauteng medical interns and community service doctors had not been paid their January salaries on 28 January.  Medical interns at various hospitals received WhatsApp messages and memos to the effect that salary payments would not be effected owing to logistical reasons.  ANA reported that payments could be delayed for up to a month.  SAMA's Eddie Ngwenya reportedly said that should the department fail to keep to its commitment, doctors would act.

Read this report in full at News24. Read SAMA’s statement on this matter at SAMA News


RETIREMENT AND OTHER EMPLOYEE FUNDS

Free State mayor’s house seized to pay for deducted pension contributions not paid to fund

Volksblad reports that on Tuesday the bailiff in Frankfort, Philip Maseko, took possession of the R5-million house that the bankrupt Mafube municipality had acquired for the use of the mayor Jabulani Sigasa.  Maseko advised that the house would be sold to recoup the pension fund monies of the employees of Mafube (Frandfort, Villiers and Cornelia) which were deducted from their salaries but never paid across to the fund.  The employees have been on strike since last year.  The bailiff had already seized between 15 and 20 of Mafube’s vehicles and they will come under the hammer in February and March.  Sigasa’s Mercedes-Benz has also been seized and the municipality has hired two luxury vehicles from Avis, one of which is for Sigasa’s use.  Possession has also been taken of 23 farms.  Municipal manager Majalefa Matlole acknowledged that the municipality had “challenges” and said that management was in the process of approaching the national and provincial governments for help.  He indicated that Mafube’s debt of R400-million had built up over a number of years.  The municipality is apparently delivering no services because the bailiff has removed all vehicles, computers, furniture and writing materials. (Loosely translated from Afrikaans)

The full original of this report in Afrikaans by Marietjie Gericke appeared in Volksblad of 30 January 2019

Nehawu welcomes probe following whistleblower’s allegations into PIC directors, acting CEO

ANA reports that the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) on Wednesday welcomed the decision by the board of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to investigate allegations of impropriety against its acting chief executive officer, Matshepo More, and two non-executive directors.  In a statement earlier on Wednesday, the PIC said its directors held a special board meeting on Tuesday evening after having received an e-mail from a whistleblower, who signed off as "James Noko", alleging impropriety.  "Following the recusal of the three affected board members, the board meeting was chaired by the deputy chairman, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi.  At the meeting, it was resolved to immediately conduct a forensic investigation into these allegations.  The board will engage the services of an experienced senior counsel to assist the board with the said investigation," the statement indicated.  Nehawu said in a statement that it would closely monitor this matter to ensure that workers’ pension funds are recouped.  The PIC manages the assets of the Government Employees pension Fund.

Read this report in full at Business Report

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • PIC bosses accused of using employee as scapegoat for Ayo investment, at BusinessLive


MEDICAL AID SCHEMES

Tshwane metro to appeal high court order over its obligation to pay post-retirement medical aid contributions

The Citizen reports that the Tshwane metro has been accused of ignoring a Pretoria High Court decision ordering it to pay post-retirement medical aid contributions in respect of its retired employees.  The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) last week expressed concern that the metro was refusing to pay employer (i.e. council) contributions, despite the court order.  The union labelled the refusal “a direct attack on the well-being of pensioners and the [elderly]”.  In December last year, the court confirmed the metro’s contractual obligation to continue contributing towards the monthly premiums of its pensioner members after retirement.  Imatu’s regional manager in Tshwane, Rudy de Bruyn, said:  “To date, the metro has refused to comply and we received notice last week that they have filed an application for leave to appeal the aforementioned judgment.  Despite slim margins for success, the metro is determined to delay the process and negate the contractual rights of pensioners.”  The original court case came after Imatu became aware that pensioners were no longer being afforded post-retirement medical aid contributions by the council.  The metro confirmed it had applied for leave to appeal.

Read Bennitt Bartl’s report on this story in full at The Citizen. Read Imatu’s press statement on this matter at Imatu News


OTHER MISCELLANEOUS NEWS HEADLINES

  • Businesses face big moral and socioeconomic issues, at BusinessLive
  • Gloria Matsala walks 10km daily to wait for work on the side of the road and earned R100 this month, at News24
  • Opinion: Sadtu can’t claim the success and disown the failures, BusinessLive
  • Opinion: Stop the unhealthy obsession with Sadtu, says Mugwena Maluleke, BusinessLive

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page