news shutterstockIn our afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Thursday, 14 February 2019.


MINING LABOUR

Sibanye-Stillwater launches process that could see more than 6,600 job cuts at its gold mines

BusinessLive reports that precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater has launched a formal process to restructure a number of its unprofitable gold mines, with the potential loss of up to 6,670 jobs.  Sibanye has been hit by a three-month strike at its gold operations.  However, the restructuring of the shafts was not directly related to the strike called by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on 21 November to demand a wage increase of R1,000 a month, said company spokesperson James Wellsted.  “We’ve been talking to the unions at monthly ‘future forum’ meetings about this matter, so it’s not new and not directly as a result of the strike.  The strike has meant that we’ve not had the unions coming forward to suggest ways to resolve the problems the way they did at Beatrix a few years ago,” Wellsted indicated.  The affected shafts are Beatrix 1 in the Free State and numbers 2, 6, 7 and 8 at Driefontein.  There are 5,870 employees at the mines and a further 800 contractors.  Sibanye was talking to unions at those mines, Wellsted advised.  “Our best attempts to address the ongoing losses at these operations have … been unsuccessful and sustaining these losses may threaten the viability of our other operations,” said CEO Neal Froneman.  

Read the original report by Allan Seccombe on this story in full at BusinessLive. Read Sibanye’s regulatory statement at Moneyweb

Gupta’s ailing Shiva Uranium resumes staff retrenchments

The Star reports that another Gupta-owned company, Shiva Uranium, has resumed retrenching its workforce amid attempts to rescue the ailing mining firm.  Shiva’s business rescue practitioners, Chris Monyela and Juanito Damons, announced that operations in Hartebeestfontein, North West, had been placed under care and maintenance and the process of retrenching employees had started.  They said an agreement to retrench employees had been signed.  At Shiva Coal in Brakfontein, Mpumalanga, there is ongoing production, with overheads being taken care of by the mining contractor.  National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Matlosana regional secretary Masibulele Naki confirmed on Wednesday that the process of retrenching the remaining workforce had started, with the employees of Shiva Uranium undergoing medical examinations that would confirm whether they were employable in the industry and elsewhere.  According to Naki, workers should be paid not only retrenchment packages but the salaries Shiva Uranium stopped paying them last year.  He said before the initial round of retrenchments, Shiva Uranium had had a workforce of around 600.  The retrenchments come as the legal battle over Shiva Uranium heads back to court after two business rescue practitioners lost their North Gauteng High Court bid to be recognised (further details of this aspect of the story in full report).  

Read more of this report in The Star by Loyiso Sidimba at SA Labour News

Pay workers at Gupta’s Gloria mine or else Mpumalanga will be rendered ungovernable, Cosatu warns

Sowetan reports that Cosatu’s Mpumalanga provincial chairperson, Live Monini, told marchers on Wednesday that the union federation was ready to render the province ungovernable if employees of the Gupta-linked Gloria mine were not paid their salaries.  He told the protestors in eMalahleni:  Let’s not punish workers as we deal with state capture, because there are employees who have not been paid for over four months in this Gupta mine.”  Monini said further that the unbundling of Eskom would most likely to lead to job losses.  Refilwe Mtsweni, Mpumalanga premier, and senior officials at the labour department, received a memorandum from the Cosatu marchers.  Mtsweni said she would make sure that Cosatu’s demands were met.  Meanwhile, 22 persons believed to be cable thieves are still trapped underground at the Gloria mine.  A court order instructing the mine to resume rescue operations to find the trapped men was issued on Wednesday.

A short report by Mandla Khosa appeared on page 2 of Sowetan of 14 February 2019

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • The men who make a living from an old Vlakfontein gold mine dump, at GroundUp
  • Community consent requirement will end mining, MPs told by mines director-general, at BusinessLive


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Dis-Chem’s Christmas sales hit by ongoing wage strike

BusinessLive reports that Dis-Chem’s Christmas sales were hurt by a strike, the pharmacy chain warned in a trading update on Thursday morning.  The company now expects earnings for its financial year to end-February to be about 20% higher, which is below its earlier target.  CEO Ivan Saltzman said:  “The current ongoing industrial action heavily impacted December trade and continues to affect the group.  Since the labour unrest is still ongoing, the full quantum of the impact is still unknown, but to date loss of income and additional costs directly linked to the industrial action have amounted to approximately R50m”  Excluding new stores, Dis-Chem’s retail revenue declined by 2.5% in December.  Including new stores, it grew its Christmas sales by 6.2%, “which was well below our expectations”.  The company explained further as follows:  “Although contingency plans were in place to ensure minimal disruption at our retail stores, we experienced lost opportunity sales in December primarily due to stock supply challenges.”

Read the original of Robert Laing’s report on this story in full at BusinessLive


COSATU JOBS MARCH

Widespread Cosatu protests on Wednesday targeted job security and Eskom unbundling

BusinessLive reports that thousands of Cosatu-affiliated workers demonstrated in eight cities across the country on Wednesday, disrupting schooling and bringing traffic to a standstill.  The workers downed tools, protesting for job security and a moratorium on retrenchments.  They also took aim at government’s plans to unbundle Eskom, saying workers would oppose the decision, which was taken without consultation with organised labour.  In its memorandum, the trade union federation called for an immediate stop to what it described as the “privatisation of Eskom through renewable energy and closure of coal mines”.  It has been opposing the independent power producers (IPP) programme for the production of renewable energy since its inception.  The memo also highlighted moves that should be considered when the finance minister presents his budget next week.  “We need interventions that place the creation of decent jobs at the centre of the economic policy instead of relegating them to ‘trickle down’ effect.”  Cosatu will also protest outside parliament when the budget statement is presented next Thursday.

Read the original of Theto Mahlakoana’s report on the protests in full at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Cosatu calls for government, Eskom to suspend IPP contract, at EWN


UNEMPLOYMENT / JOB CREATION

SA’s unemployment moderated in the 2018 fourth quarter, but that’s no cause for celebration

Financial Mail reports that SA’s sky-high unemployment rate moderated to 27.1% between the two final quarters of 2018, thanks mainly to a surge in formal sector employment over the festive season.  However, the outcome is still worse than a year ago when the unemployment rate was 26.7% and, given the weak trends in investment and growth, joblessness is likely to keep rising.  Stats SA’s "Quarterly Labour Force Survey" (QLFS) for the fourth quarter of 2018 was released this week.  The economy created 149,000 jobs quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter.  Of these, 92,000 were created by the formal sector, following two consecutive quarters of contraction.  These gains were driven mainly by finance and business services (173,000 jobs), mining (32,000) and manufacturing (29,000).  Formal sector employment in all other industries declined.  Looking at annual rather than quarterly changes in employment, the latest numbers are dire.  Though the economy created 358,000 new jobs over the past year, 259,000 more people also became unemployed and roughly 300,000 more people became too disillusioned to look for work.  Equally frightening was that the percentage of people aged 15-24 who were not in employment, education or training as it climbed over the past year from 29.7% to 31.1%.

Read the original of Claire Bisseker’s on this matter in full at BusinessLive

Cyril’s target of 270,000 new jobs annually ‘inadequate’, up to 400,000 needed

The Citizen reports that according to a labour expert, close to 400,000 jobs must be created per year, with both the government and the private sector playing active roles in the process, or the country will face many more strikes.  Innovative Staffing Solutions managing director Arnoux Mare said strikes such as Wednesday’s national mass action by trade union federation Cosatu could not be avoided unless unemployment was reduced.  Such strikes inconvenienced both the public and private sectors, devastated the economy and affected investment prospects.  Instead of helping to end unemployment, strikes worsened it, because employers were put under duress due to loss of profits.  This would, in turn, would result in many employers considering retrenchments.  Mare said President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise to create more than 270,000 jobs a year was not enough to make a dent in the unemployment rate.  “The country needs to create between 350,000 and 400,000 jobs per year in order to keep the nation at work.  The private sector, especially entrepreneurs, are the biggest creators of jobs and they must look at how to do more to solve joblessness in the country.”  Labour lawyer and partner at Hogan Lovells SA, Osborne Molatudi, said the Cosatu strike was a clear political statement to the government that it had to do something about unemployment.  Presently, 6.1-million people are without jobs in SA, while there are 2.9-million discouraged job seekers.

Read more of Eric Naki’s report in The Citizen in this regard at SA Labour News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Why is South Africa’s unemployment rate so high? at GroundUp


ESKOM CRISIS

Hiring of foreign engineers to investigate Eskom crisis slammed

ANA reports that the Infrastructure Research Development Centre (IRDC) said on Thursday it opposed the government's decision to bring in external engineers to investigate the crisis at state utility Eskom's power stations.  Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday told Parliament that a panel of experts would be roped in to investigate what had caused seven generating units to collapse at the weekend.  Engineers from Italian energy company Enel were apparently on their way to SA to help sort out Eskom's maintenance issues.  Gordhan stated that the power utility had suffered a brain drain due to instability and as experienced employees were pushed out.  IRDC executive director Bongani Mankewu said financing decisions needed to be taken to curb the current dire situation at Eskom, which the government planned to split into three separate entities in a bid to improve its balance sheet and contain runaway costs.  "Foreign engineers will not assist in this regard, this will lead to misleading the investment options for the country.  Foreign engineers fiddling with our information is not helping Eskom and South Africans, not at all," Mankewu opined.

Read the original of this report by Siphelele Dludla in full at Independent News

NUM tells Ramaphosa to disband Eskom board to save the power utility

SowetanLive reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Thursday that the government should retain the current structure of Eskom and simply change its management to rescue the company from total collapse.  The NUM, which is the majority union at the state-owned power utility, indicated that it had never been consulted by government on the unbundling of Eskom, a move which it believed would not save the company.  NUM president Joseph Montisetse said the government should simply disband the current board and change the management as they had failed to prevent load-shedding.  “We are not managing Eskom.  Eskom has management and a board.  We are saying the president must disband this board.  The only alternative is the status quo.  The unbundling is something that cannot solve anything.  You have to solve the management of Eskom by putting credible and effective board and effective management,” Montisetse stated.  In his state of the nation address last week, President Ramaphosa announced that Eskom would be split into entities – generation, transmission and distribution under Eskom Holdings – a move that angered trade unions.  NUM also rejected government’s move to bring international engineers in to help identify the problems at Eskom.

Read the original of Penwell Dlamini’s report on this story in full at SowetanLive


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Fawu enters the fray to oppose takeover of Clover by Israeli-led consortium

BusinessLive reports that the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) on Wednesday threw its weight behind a pro-Palestinian lobby group fighting an Israeli-led consortium's proposed bid to buy Clover.  Palestine solidarity organisation BDS South Africa (BDS) is fiercely opposed to MilCo’s plans to buy the dairy and beverages maker and has threatened a boycott of Clover products.  BDS’s outrage has prompted the consortium's local partner Brimstone to review its participation in the transaction, which will culminate in Clover’s delisting from the JSE.  In a statement on Wednesday supporting the pro-Palestinian group, Fawu cited the Israeli origins of the consortium’s lead partner, Central Bottling Company (CBC).  The union said that additionally it was concerned about food sovereignty and job losses.  “As with most, if not all mergers and acquisitions, Fawu is concerned about job losses as these transnational companies seem to believe in a cost-cutting business model which often includes outsourcing merchandising and other so-called non-core functions that will most likely lead to job losses,” Fawu stated.

Read the original report by Siseko Njobeni on this story in full at BusinessLive. Read Fawu’s press statement at Fawu News


RETIREMENT AND OTHER EMPLOYEE FUNDS

Court orders security company to pay R2.3m to provident fund but ex-employees still don’t know how they will get their money

GroundUp reports that the Western Cape High Court has granted an order compelling the owner of a Sea Point security company to pay outstanding provident fund contributions of at least R2.3m.  The company, Proexec Security Network, and its owner, Geoffrey Levy, failed to consistently pay contributions to the Private Sector Security Provident Fund for several years.  Judge Andre le Grange ruled as follows on Wednesday:  "There is no doubt that the fund has made out a case for the relief sought.  The owner shall pay and provide all outstanding schedules which Levy has indicated they have difficulty getting.  Those must be delivered, if possible, in 30 days."  Until about September 2017, Proexec employed more than 200 guards at buildings in the Sea Point area.  In 2018, the fund brought an application to ask the court to compel Levy to pay outstanding contributions as well as interest on the late payments.  Throughout the proceedings, Levy's wife, Natasha, pleaded that the company and her family could not pay the outstanding monies.  The judge explained the order to Levy as follows:  “The order means they (the ex-employees) are entitled to say the court has ordered that you should pay the amount.  It is then for them to decide whether or not to act on it.  You won’t go to jail like in the past for not paying.  So when you do get funds or start a new job or new business then they can come and collect.”  But, ex-employee Fikile Vakele said he was not 100% happy with the ruling because “We don’t know how we are going to get our money.”  He said that next week, a criminal case would be opened against Levy.

Read the original of Barbara Maregele’s report on this story in full at GroundUp


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

San Souci teacher faces disciplinary hearing on Thursday over slapping of pupil

Cape Times reports that the Sans Souci Girls High School teacher seen in a video smacking a pupil after an altercation was due to appear for a formal disciplinary hearing on Wednesday.  The pupil was also expected to appear after both were suspended following the incident.  The pair made news last week when the video went viral, showing an altercation that led to the pupil shoving the teacher, and the teacher retaliating by slapping her.  After the incident, the duo laid counter-charges of assault against each other.  Chief executive of the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAOU), Chris Klopper, said they would be assisting the teacher in the process.  “She is our member and we will do what we need to do, as we would with any other member.  We have to give her what is due to her.  We have appointed an astute senior counsel, as well as an external lawyer to deal with the matter.”  He said the union believed both the teacher and the pupil could have acted differently in the situation.

Read the original of Yolisa Tswanya’s report on this story in full at Cape Times


OTHER REPORTS

Cosatu hopes signing of Competition Amendment Bill will open up the economy and lower prices

BusinessLive reports that labour federation Cosatu on Wednesday welcomed the imminent signing into law of the Competition Amendment Bill, saying it would, among other things, promote investment and lead to a reduction in prices in the SA economy.  The aim of the bill, which was adopted by parliament late in 2018, includes giving the competition authorities and the government more power to tackle high levels of economic concentration.  It is also meant to tackle the limited transformation of the economy and the abuse of market power by dominant firms.  “Cosatu strongly supports this progressive, anti-monopoly legislation as it will help open up the economy, ensure greater competition, lower prices and spur badly needed economic growth.  Workers are tired of being exploited by monopolies and seeing their meagre wages being squeezed dry by ridiculous prices,” said Tony Ehrenreich, Cosatu’s deputy parliamentary office co-ordinator.  Opposition parties objected to various proposals in the bill, including criticism that it gave too much power to the economic development minister.

Read the original of Bekezela Phakathi’s report on this story in full at BusinessLive


OTHER MISCELLANEOUS NEWS HEADLINES

  • PIC failing to provide leadership for corporate sector and could have been a catalyst for SA’s economic development, at BusinessLive
  • Are shared workspaces a fad or the future? at BusinessLive
  • Cape Town cops arrested for robbery, demanding payment from murder accused's suspect's mom, at News24
  • Bogus Hawks officer tried to extort R200K from man implicated in state capture inquiry, at Independent News

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page