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
Tuesday, 5 February 2019.


TOP READ

Unemployed youth spend over R900 a month looking for a job

Lauren Graham and Leila Patel, researchers at the University of Johannesburg, write that young South Africans spend on average R938 a month looking for work.  This astronomical cost includes transport at R558 and an additional R380 for internet access, printing, application fees, agent’s fees and even money for bribes.  For the country’s almost 10 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 unemployment sits at 50%.  The data on the cost of looking for work was collected by the Siyakha Youth Assets for Employability Study.  The ongoing study was launched in 2013 to assess whether government programmes designed to help young people was actually making a difference in their efforts to find work.  The study survey involved a sample of 1,986 young people who participated in eight of these programmes at 48 training sites across the country.  The study participants were predominantly African, women and from poor backgrounds.  The average age of the participants when they completed their training programmes was 23.5 years.  A key reason that those surveyed gave for not looking for work was the cost of doing so.  This was because apartheid era spatial planning, in which townships were established far away from economic hubs, continued to affect the ability of people to look for work in a cost effective way.  Also, the study found that 51% of young people lived in households that were classified as severely food insecure.  This meant that households had to make difficult decisions between funding the costs of seeking work and affording basic necessities.

Read this article in full at The Conversation

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Opinion: New ways are needed to teach and test young people in the skills of the future, at BusinessLive


MINING LABOUR

Mineral Resources Department commemorates three years since the Lily Mine accident

ANA reports that the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) on Tuesday noted the third anniversary of an accident at Lily Mine in Mpumalanga that trapped three workers whose bodies have still not been recovered.  Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyirenda, and Yvonne Mnisi were trapped underground when the lamp-room container in which they were working collapsed into the mine.  It remains underground.  “The department supports all efforts to ensure the new owners are able to resume operations and find the container, so their families and loved ones can have closure,” the DMR said in a statement.

This short report is at The Citizen. Read too, SA minerals department supports efforts to resume Lily Mine operations, at Business Report. The DMR’s short press statement is at Polity

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Call made for better connection with mining communities, stable regulation, at Mining Weekly
  • Mantashe: Government appealing Xolobeni ruling to prevent 'chaos' in mine licensing, at Fin24

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • EFF says in election manifesto to nationalise all mines by 2023, at Mining Weekly
  • Mantashe calls for mining investment amid renewed regulatory certainty, at Mining Weekly


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Wage strike at RCL Foods’ Millbake operation looms

The Citizen reports that a National Trade Union Congress delegation is due to meet with RCL Foods on Wednesday in a final bid to avert a bread and flour strike.  Workers in the group’s Millbake operation, which forms part of the sugar and milling division, are demanding a R9,000 basic salary, a bonus, medical aid, a R400 danger allowance and a R900 housing allowance.  Union general secretary Sophonia Machaba said the strike would affect the production and distribution of Sunbake bread, flour and maize meal.  “There is a meeting this Wednesday to discuss the outstanding demands.  Once we get an offer on the outstanding demands, we will take them to our members for a mandate.  We are also going to discuss and sign picketing rules with the employer,” Machaba said.  If, after consultations on Friday, the offer is rejected, a 48-hour strike notice will apparently be served on RCL Foods to pave the way for a full-blown strike.  Stephen Heath of RCL Foods said their offer was for a salary hike ranging between 12.5% for the lowest grade and 8% for the highest grade and a R150 travel allowance.  He indicated that currently workers earned between R4,490 and R6,742 a month depending on their grade.

Read the original of this report by Sipho Mabena on page 4 of The Citizen of 5 February 2019


UNION NEWS

Samwu union leaders in Limpopo flee homes after suspected VBS killings

City Press reports that fearing for their lives, union bosses have allegedly gone into hiding following the recent murder of Roland Mani, deputy secretary of the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) in Limpopo.  His death came a few days after the fatal shooting of the union’s former Limpopo chairperson, Timson Tshililo.  Mani and Tshililo were employed by the Vhembe District Municipality, which is one of the municipalities that broke the law by depositing millions of public funds into the now-defunct VBS Mutual Bank.  The recent killings came just two months after Thabang Maupa – an ANC Ward 5 councillor in the Fetakgomo Tubatse Local Municipality and a fierce critic of the VBS looters – was gunned down.  His killers are still at large.  Labour federation Cosatu, along with Samwu, believe the killings are linked to the latter’s tough stance against municipal officials implicated in the looting of VBS.  “We have heard that some of our shop stewards are not even sleeping at their homes any more, for fear of being attacked by these criminals,” said Samwu’s national spokesperson, Papikie Mohale.  Mohale, who could not confirm the number of officials on the run, said Samwu provincial secretary Patrick Aphane’s house was fired on by unknown assailants in December.  No one was injured in the incident.  Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said a motive for the killings had not yet been established.  A task team has been established to investigate the murders.

Read Lucas Ledwaba’s report on this story in full at City Press


ESKOM

Industry, labour warn Nersa of Eskom death spiral should its tariff application be granted

BusinessLive reports that Eskom, which is facing a net loss of R20bn in the current financial year and is burdened by R419bn debt, says it needs multi-year increases well in excess of inflation to return to sustainability.  Industry and labour bodies on Monday told the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) that granting that wish would harm the economy and accelerate the company's own “death spiral” as paying customers deserted the grid.  Business Unity SA (Busa), the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), AgriSA, the SA Local Government Association, Sibanye-Stillwater and Solidarity were among those that presented at the hearings.  Outa also opposed last-minute changes by Eskom to its tariff application, from 15% annually for the next three years to 17.1%, 15.4% and 15.5%, respectively.  Busa’s Martin Kingston called on Nersa to suspend the tariff application review process and approve inflation-linked tariff increases until the electricity supply industry had been restructured.  Sibanye-Stillwater’s Jevon Martin called for five years of CPI-linked increases while Eskom implemented its turnaround strategy.  AgriSA’s Requier Wait warned that the drought-stricken agricultural sector would be hard hit by higher electricity tariffs.  Solidarity’s Marius Croucamp warned of the negative effects that a significant hike in electricity tariffs would have on the local steel industry, which he said was operating on a marginal basis and was cost sensitive.  Plants had closed and jobs been lost.  The industry could not survive on local demand alone but had to rely on the very competitive export market.  Profit margins were very low.

Read Linda Ensor’s report in the above regard in full at BusinessLive

Unbundling Eskom won't solve its debt woes, says Cosatu

Reuters and Business Report write that trade union federation Cosatu said on Tuesday that it opposed a proposal to split up state-owned Eskom into three different entities, noting that it would not solve the struggling power utility's governance and debt problems.  "We don't support unbundling as the only option to turn around Eskom," Cosatu deputy general secretary Solly Phetoe said at a news conference.  The proposal to split Eskom into three separate firms was made by a task team appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa at a meeting with members of the ruling African National Congress, Phetoe indicated.  Eskom is expected to post a R20.1 billion loss for the financial year to March, up from the R15bn forecast at its mid-year results.  Eskom chief financial officer Calib Cassim advised that, while the utility managed to curb operational costs, its overall expenses widened during the period.  Higher plant maintenance costs and the increased use of diesel had added to the expenses.

Read the original of this short at Independent News. Read too, Expect some tough announcements on Eskom soon, says Rob Davies, at Engineering News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Eskom is Anglo’s biggest threat, warns CEO Mark Cutifani, at BusinessLive


REMUNERATION / SALARY ADMINISTRATION

Gauteng health portfolio committee to assess impact caused by late payment of intern doctors

News24 reports that Gauteng's Portfolio Committee of Health has welcomed Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa's intervention after her department failed to pay medical interns on time.  It was reported last week that several Gauteng medical interns and community service doctors had not received their January salaries on 28 January, as expected.  But the committee said in a statement on Monday that it understood that most of the interns had since been paid and the rest would be paid by Thursday.  Following the MEC's intervention, 1,337 community service doctors were apparently paid.  The committee said it would assess the impact of the payment delay, as far as health service delivery and the safety of patients were concerned.  This came after committee chairperson Nompi Nhlapo met with Ramokgopa to get clarity on the matter.  DA spokesperson of the executive council for health in Gauteng, Jack Bloom, said he was "appalled" at the delay.

Read Pelane Phakgadi’s report in this regard in full at News24

SA Medical Association tells medical interns not to go to work until salaries paid

EWN reports that the SA Medical Association (Sama) has called on all medical interns and community service doctors who have not yet received their January salaries to not report to work until they have been paid.  The Gauteng Health Department last week failed to pay the salaries of some new employees due to a delay in processing their details.  Sama’s Dr Rhulani Ngwenya said that according to their agreement with the Gauteng health department, doctors who had not been paid would be allowed to go on special leave until they received their salaries.  But an intern at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg said that management at the facility has denied this.  “The hospitals are now rejecting us and are now saying that they have not received any official communication from the department and that they will be rejecting the special leave and they will be taking that from the annual leave.”  The Gauteng health department said that payments would be processed during the course of this week and the last group of workers would be paid by Thursday.

Read the original of Kgomotso Modise’s report on this story at EWN


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE / LIVING WAGE

Minimum wage exemptions will leave workers worse off than under existing sectoral determinations

BusinessLive reports that according to the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group, the exemptions provided for in regulations under the National Minimum Wage Act mean that workers in some sectors will, in effect, be earning poverty wages.  The group's programme co-ordinator, Mervyn Abrahams, said with the regulations as published seeing exemption thresholds taking 10% off the hourly rate for workers, “the wages of many of the most vulnerable workers will be set even lower than the current sectoral determinations.”  He added:  “We had been promised that the national minimum wage would come in at a higher level than the sectoral determinations, as this rate is already considered by many workers as a poverty wage.  The introduction of the national minimum wage regulations will mean that many workers will be even worse off than they were before.”  The group said this meant the national minimum wage at the exemption rate of 10% meant general workers would be remunerated at R18 an hour instead of R20, farm workers at R16.20 an hour instead of R18 and domestic workers at R13.50 an hour instead of R15, which would substantially compromise household affordability.

Read Linda Ensor’s report in the above regard in full at BusinessLive


RETIREMENT AND OTHER EMPLOYEE FUNDS

PIC board remains in place, for now

BusinessLive reports that the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) board of nonexecutive directors, who resigned en masse last week, will remain in place for now.  The board members said on Tuesday they were committed to remaining until finance minister Tito Mboweni appointed a new board.  On Friday, the entire PIC board of nonexecutive directors wrote to Mboweni and asked to be relieved of their duties.  This followed numerous controversies that included allegations of corruption against four of the directors, including deputy finance minister and chair Mondli Gungubele.  Mboweni accepted the board’s request.  Nine directors, excluding acting CEO Matshepo More, had signed the letter.  By law, the finance minister appoints the board of the asset manager that oversees about R2-trillion in the pensions of public servants held in the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) and other statutory institutions, making the PIC the single largest investor in Africa and on the JSE.  The PIC is currently the subject of an inquiry, led by retired judge Lex Mpati, into the asset manager’s governance.

Read this report by Genevieve Quintal in full at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • The search is on for a new PIC board, at Fin24
  • Board walkout at PIC threatens potential investment deals, including Edcon bailout, at Moneyweb


NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

Private hospitals warn draft NHI legislation threatens up to 132,000 jobs

BusinessLive reports that according to SA’s private hospital groups, National Health Insurance (NHI), which the government is pushing as the solution to the country’s health crisis, could lead to the loss of up to 132,000 jobs.  NHI is the government’s policy for introducing universal health coverage and aims to ensure everyone has access to healthcare that is free at the point of service.  The Hospital Association of SA (Hasa), which represents the private hospital sector, was among the industry groups that presented their views on the risks to the economy at last week’s Business Unity SA (Busa) meeting.  Hasa commissioned economics consultancy Econex to analyse the potential effect of the NHI Bill and the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill, which were released for public comment last June.  It provided two scenarios to illustrate the economy-wide effect of two different policy paths.  Under scenario one, the state would not purchase any private hospital services under NHI and 99,600 jobs would be lost in the private sector and R31bn shed from SA’s GDP.  Scenario two added in the effect of price regulation, with prices capped at 23% lower than they are at present.  Under this scenario, 132,000 jobs would be lost.

Read Tamar Kahn’s report on this story in full at BusinessLive


JOBS-FOR-PALS

Cape Town Speaker declines to act against JP Smith in ‘jobs-for-pals’ top cop hiring

Cape Argus reports that City of Cape Town Speaker Dirk Smit has decided not to act against JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, over the alleged irregular appointment of Robbie Robberts, the director of policing and enforcement services.  Even though an investigation into the matter found the appointment irregular and recommended an investigation into Smith’s conduct, the Speaker said:  There was no transgression by JP Smith and the appointment was not irregular.  I am still busy accumulating all the information, but to be honest, there was no new information that was mentioned in the report since we knew about this matter.  Anyone who has more information must please come forward.”  In an interview on Monday, Smith maintained his innocence saying he had nothing to do with the hiring process of Robberts and that he was not involved in any HR-related processes.  The confidential investigation report on allegations of “nepotism and abuse of power” showed email correspondence between Smith, Robberts and safety and security director Richard Bosman in relation to Robberts’ offer, even before the position was created.  The report recommended that the council’s speaker should institute an investigation into the conduct of Smith in the “irregular” appointment of Robberts and that disciplinary proceedings be instituted against Bosman.

Read the report by Marvin Charles on the above story in full at Cape Argus


OTHER MISCELLANEOUS NEWS HEADLINES

  • Edcon continues ‘downsizing’ stores as it awaits R3bn lifeline, at Moneyweb
  • Three soft skills employers in South Africa are looking for, at BusinessTech
  • College closed as Rustenburg clamps down on unregistered tertiary institutions, at The Citizen

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page