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, 1 February 2019.


TOP STORY – NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

National Minimum Wage Act already tangling up CCMA

In an interview with Chris Barron, the director of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), Cameron Morajane, says that a lack of consultation with the statutory body has led to flawed minimum wage legislation, which will hinder its implementation.  He commented:  "We have the experience.  We could have given practical examples of what will or won't work.  We should have been brought in when it was being debated at Nedlac.  We should have been asked for our view at the time of engagement.  Not at the bill stage."  The National Minimum Wage Act was implemented on 1 January and already the CCMA, which Morajane says is understaffed and underfunded, is under pressure.  Between 1 January and 28 January, 824 minimum wage cases were brought to the CCMA, with the employees stating they were not getting the minimum wage the government had promised them.  Morajane says this figure reflects only those who were paid on the 15th of the month and saw that their employers had not adjusted their pay to the R20 minimum hourly rate, which is now compulsory.  Once wage earners are joined by those who are retrenched because of the minimum wage, Morajane expects a "flood" of cases.  On weaknesses in the legislation, he indicated:  "We need a synchronised system between the CCMA and department of labour around exemptions and the cases we do, and we must exempt minimum wage outcomes and awards from being subjected to protracted legal processes such as reviews."

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


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Nine killed, including two cops, in KZN cash-in-transit heist on Friday

News24 reports that nine people were killed, including two police officers, in a cash-in-transit heist in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), on Friday night.  Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidu said on Saturday:  "During a brazen attack on a cash-in-transit vehicle last night two of our police officers lost their lives, seven suspects were killed and a woman was wounded."  The police's special task force (STF) and crime intelligence (CI) units were following up on intelligence regarding a planned attack on a money van when a group of heavily armed people attacked the vehicle with explosives at around 19:00 on the Hlabisa road.  The police responded quickly, but there was a shootout between them and the robbers.  "Seven suspects, a member from CI and the STF member were killed during the skirmish.  A female member who was shot in the leg is currently receiving medical treatment," Naidu advised.  Four AK-47 assault rifles have been recovered.

Read Jenni Evans’ report on this story in full at News24


MINING LABOUR

Higher metal prices open up options for Implats in implementing restructuring plans

BusinessLive reports that improved prices for the metals Impala Platinum (Implats) produces has given it flexibility in how it pursues its restructuring, a process to which the board has an unswerving commitment according to CEO Nico Muller.  While the platinum price has remained depressed, the strong surges in sister metals palladium and rhodium have given the SA industry some respite.  There is also some hope that in the next year or two the platinum price will stage a recover.  The work Implats has done with its mines so far combined with an improved average PGM price has given the company rare flexibility in how to fulfill its restructuring strategy, Muller said.  Last August, Implats outlined a R2.7bn, two-year restructuring process at its unprofitable Rustenburg operations, entailing the removal of up to 13,000 jobs and the closure or sale of five of its 11 mines to save the jobs of 27,000 people.  Most of those jobs would go with assets earmarked for new owners.  While the lives of shafts 1 and 9 are short and unlikely to attract interest, meaning they will be closed soon, the longer-life 12 and 14 shafts, which could be operated as a combined unit, are now becoming more attractive.  Muller commented:  “We have increased flexibility and optionality to the extent that as different options present themselves, with an increased value proposition to our shareholders and stakeholders, we will consider them and possibly implement them.  It’s not our intention to make strategic decisions that deviate from our objectives because of short-term variations in market or operating performances.”  Meantime, talks between Implats and neighbour Sibanye-Stillwater to extend the life of 1 shaft by mining into Sibanye’s resources have stalled.

Read Allan Seccombe’ report in the above regard in full at BusinessLive

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Mines will bleed jobs if Eskom gets its 15% increase (interview with MCSA chief economist), at Moneyweb
  • Opinion: Communities affected by mining still getting a raw deal, at BusinessLive
  • Ramaphosa, Mantashe need to hit right notes at Mining Indaba to rekindle interest in SA mining, at Miningmx


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Amcu members seen at EFF manifesto launch in Soshanguve on Saturday

BusinessLive reports that dozens of Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) members on Saturday joined the EFF for its manifesto launch in Soshanguve.  This could be the strongest indication yet that the 250,000 member strong union is leaning towards throwing its support behind the EFF ahead of the national polls in May this year.  Amcu members arrived at the stadium in their green attire, but were encouraged to change into the EFF’s signature red t-shirts.  Amcu has been searching for a political home for years, with its president Joseph Mathunjwa indicating in January that they would “leverage their power” in an election by throwing their support behind a party which would best represent their interests.  In its 2014 election manifesto, the EFF supported Amcu’s call for a R12,500 monthly minimum wage in the mining sector.  SA’s high unemployment rate has seen political parties scrambling for policy interventions to unlock capacity in labour absorptive sectors of the economy.  The ANC promised at its manifesto launch in Durban recently that it would create 275,000 jobs annually.

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

EFF manifesto: corrupt government employees will forfeit pension funds, savings

EWN reports that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has pledged to pass legislation that would make all public representatives and civil servants forfeit their pension funds and savings if they were found guilty of corruption.  This was outlined in the party’s election manifesto launched in Soshanguve on Saturday.  Allegations of wide-scale corruption involving public servants and private companies have been exposed throughout last year, including the Zondo commission into state capture and the VBS Bank scandal.  The red berets are talking tough on corruption through their manifesto by promising to also introduce a minimum sentence of 20 years for all public representatives and servants convicted of corruption.  The party also said it would protect whistle-blowers and the independence of Chapter 9 institutions, such as the Public Protector and the Auditor-General, in the fight against corruption.  Other legislative instruments the EFF wants to use to tackle corruption include reducing and eventually banning the use of consultants by government, introducing legislation preventing all public representatives and public servants from doing business with government, and establishing “state administration courts” to deal with corruption.

Read Thapelo Lekabe’s report on this story in full at EWN


PRICES / TARIFFS

Numsa calls on Nersa to stop IPP project at Eskom and to reject any tariff increase

Business Report writes that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has demanded that the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) that were signed with the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) be set aside on the grounds that the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) authorised the agreements without proper public consultation.  This was one of the proposals the union made on Friday to Nersa, which is hearing submissions on Eskom’s request for a 45% tariff increase over three years.  Numsa rejected any request for a tariff increase, saying:  “It is not in the interests of the working class majority and the poor for Eskom to be granted an increase.  If energy prices go up, it will mean the costs of all basic goods, food, transportation, etc., will also go up and this will worsen conditions for the poor and the working class.  This will also affect small and medium firms negatively as the high cost of Energy will impact negatively on the bottom line, resulting massive job losses.”  The union said IPPs were costly and were part of the reason that Eskom was hugely in debt.  Furthermore, IPPs would result in the loss of at least 100,000 jobs because of the closure of coal plants in Mpumalanga.  Numsa also rejected that “Eskom should be broken up and privatised in order for its problems to be solved.”

Read the original of this report in full at Business Report. Read Numsa’s press statement in this regard at Politicsweb

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Strong opposition voiced to proposed electricity tariff hike, at BusinessLive


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

Unions warn SABC not to use skills audit as a means to retrench employees

The Sunday Independent reports that unions have warned the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) not to use the skills audit process as a means to retrench workers after the public broadcaster abandoned its plans to invoke Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.  It had been envisaged that 981 employees might be retrenched across all units and operations.  Communication Workers Union (CWU) general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said:  “We welcome the SABC’s decision to halt retrenchments and embark on a skills audit.  We are also cautious that it should not be used as another method to retrench workers.  Skills audit must be used to access how best you implement or come about with a turnaround strategy.”  Tshabalala added:  “We are also saying government should bail out the SABC, there is no other way.”  Broadcast, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers’ Union (Bemawu) spokesperson Hannes du Buisson also supported the move for a skills audit, and welcomed the broadcaster’s decision to halt retrenchments.  “We do not believe that the SABC is overstaffed and we are confident that the skills audit and the structure review process will bring clarity in respect of that,” said Du Buisson

Read Mary Jane Mphahlele’s report on this story in full at Independent News


RETIREMENT AND OTHER EMPLOYEE FUNDS

PIC board quits en masse, with possible knock-on effects for Edcon rescue

Business Times reports that under the weight of scrutiny for alleged wrongdoing and impropriety, the entire board of the Public Investment Corp (PIC), Africa's largest pension manager, sent out a letter of resignation late on Friday.  The development throws the manager of more than R2-trillion of assets into a deeper crisis.  The corporation manages the assets of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF).  Since the start of 2019, the PIC has been the subject of an inquiry into some of its investment decisions, highlighted by its investment into technology company Ayo Technology.  Eyebrows were also raised by the institution's support of the now collapsed VBS Mutual Bank that benefited some senior PIC employees.  The board "took a view that things have reached a stage where every decision the board takes may run the risk of having the lowest respect in the eyes of the public", board chairperson and deputy finance minister Mondli Gungubele said on Friday.  He added:  "It is our view that next week the minister must have appointed a new board, call it interim, whatever you call it.  That is the wish of the board."  This turmoil comes at a time when the corporation faces some pressing investment decisions in the coming weeks, none as urgent as over the rescue of retailer Edcon.  The owner of Edgars, which is currently closing stores and reducing floor space, is trying to secure R3bn in funding, with the PIC being central to those talks.  Edcon employs close to 140,000 permanent and contract employees.

Read the report on this story by Asha Speckman, Mudiwa Gavaza, Ntando Thukwana & Penelope Mashego in full at BL Premium (paywall access only). Read too, Finance minister to name interim PIC board this week, says spokesman, at Moneyweb. And also, Edcon makes headway in securing R3bn in funds to keep it going, at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • PIC inquiry: R4.3bn Ayo deal approved in record three weeks, at Moneyweb


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Cash-strapped SABC ordered to pay damages of R990,000 to ex-employee over false racism allegation

News24 reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has been ordered by the Gauteng High Court to pay R990,000 in damages to its former sports commentator Pieter van den Berg, who was falsely accused of racism.  Trade union Solidarity, which represented Van den Berg, described the judgment as a "huge victory", as their client was a "respected broadcaster of integrity" who had lost his job simply because a colleague leveled false accusations against him.  A technical controller made the accusations against Van den Berg after he asked the controller to "do his work correctly" following the broadcast of a Super Rugby game in May 2016.  The head of labour law services at Solidarity, Anton van der Bijl, said the trade union had gone to the high court to sue the national broadcaster on behalf of its member for loss of income.  "There was about another year left on Mr Van den Berg's contract and, as such, he has suffered a huge loss of income," Van der Bijl said.  He added that racism should not be looked for where it did not exist.  A SABC spokesperson said they were currently studying the judgment and would only comment after that.

Read Pelane Phakgadi’s report on this story in full at News24. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News

Suspension of senior Unisa employee lifted after colleagues protest

News24 reports that a senior University of South Africa (Unisa) staffer has had his suspension lifted after a group of his colleagues protested outside the institution's main campus in Pretoria on Friday.  Unisa spokesperson Martin Ramotshela confirmed that the suspension had been withdrawn, but said the investigation would still continue.  He added that operations would resume on Monday, and gave an assurance that the situation would be "restored to normality".  The protests by the members of the registrations division left students with no one to assist them.  But, Ramotshela noted that registrations had closed on Thursday and claimed that there were no major disruptions in respect of registrations.  The protest came just a week after a student protest at the same institution, which prompted the university to extended its registration deadline for undergraduate programmes to the end of January

This short report by Pelane Phakgadi is at News24

KZN prisons boss Mnikelwa Nxele takes his suspension to high court

Sunday Tribune reports that KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Correctional Services Commissioner Mnikelwa Nxele last week approached the Durban High Court in a bid to have his suspension lifted.  This was days after he was fingered by Angelo Agrizzi, the former chief operations officer of Bosasa, for being on the take.  Agrizzi alleged at the Zondo inquiry into state capture that Nxele received monthly bribes of R57,500, a claim he said he intended to challenge.  Nxele was suspended the week before last for allegedly not following due processes when a manager was fired in 2014.  The manager was reinstated by the bargaining council in 2017 and resumed his duties last year.  Nxele is adamant that his suspension cannot be justified and has also questioned the timing of his suspension, which happened to coincide with the allegations that he received bribes from Bosasa.  Correctional Service’s spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo stressed that Nxele’s suspension had nothing to do with him being implicated in the state capture commission of inquiry.

Read Lungani Zungu’s report on this story in full at Sunday Tribune


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT TO WORK

KwaDukuza commuters left in lurch due to shortage of trains

Daily News reports that a shortage of trains has left commuters from KwaDukuza, north of Durban, in the lurch.  They faced a similar struggle in October when train services to Durban were cancelled because of maintenance problems.  A spokesperson for the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), Zama Nomnganga, conceded there was a shortage of trains to KwaDukuza.  “There should be five trains, but we are only providing four because of breakdowns,” he indicated.  He added that ageing infrastructure and cable theft delayed trains.  To avoid accidents, trains had to be authorised manually and not in the control room.  “We are trying to get trains to run on time so that people get to work and school on time,” he said.  He also urged the public to report suspicious behaviour around railway lines and stations to the authorities.

Read Thobeka Ngema’s report on this story in full at Daily News


OTHER MISCELLANEOUS NEWS HEADLINES

  • Dire economic conditions in construction sector set to worsen, at Business Report
  • Decent outlook for KZN farmers for 2019 season, at Business Report
  • Eskom secures R15bn loan from consortium of local and international banks, at Fin24
  • Let the guessing games begin as Absa seeks new CEO, at BL Premium (paywall access only)
  • Meet Patience, SA's most caring nurse, at TimesLIVE
  • Correctional Services jobs scam warning, at The Mercury

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page