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, 7 March 2019.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Two construction workers killed as truck crashes into them during road works on R60 in Western Cape

News24 reports that two construction workers were killed when a truck crashed into a construction vehicle during road works in the Western Cape on Wednesday night.  The province's traffic chief Kenny Africa said:  "Late last night just before 12 o'clock between Ashton and Robertson, a truck plunged into a construction vehicle and also killed two road workers."  They were apparently hit by the truck while setting out signs.  The devastation at the scene on the R60 showed a truck upside down, and another on top of some of the equipment used for the road works.  The road was closed for a long period to enable emergency workers to attend to the tragedy, and for other services to clear the road.  It was reopened again on Thursday morning.

Read the original of Jenni Evans’ report on this story at News24

Sanef condemns EFF after Malema's tweet results in insults and rape threats against journalist

News24 reports that the EFF and its top leadership has come under fire after veteran journalist Karima Brown was verbally abused and received threatening messages after her cellphone number was published on Twitter.  This came after Brown mistakenly posted an editorial brief in an EFF media WhatsApp group after the party posted an invitation to an EFF ‘Breakfast With The Elderly’ function.  Brown responded:  "Keep an eye out for this.  Who are these elders.  Are they all male and how are they chosen.  Keep watching brief (sic)."  She later deleted the message.  EFF leader Julius Malema then tweeted a screenshot of the message, which included Brown's cellphone number, saying: "Karima Brown is sending moles to our breakfast with the elders tomorrow, she incidentally sends the message to the @EFFSouthAfrica media WhatsApp group and deleted it immediately."  This ignited a barrage of abusive responses from EFF members, accusing Brown of being a spy and calling her a whore and a bitch, among other insults and threats.  Since then, Brown has been the target of abusive messages and even rape threats.  The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) on Wednesday condemned what it termed "the systemic, abusive and cruel social media attack” levelled against Karima Brown by Malema and his supporters.  Sanef called on the EFF leadership to "stop with this vicious attack on the media and allow journalists to do their work without fear and intimidation".

Read the full original of Riaan Grobler’s detailed report on this story at News24. Read too, Sanef warns of rise in attacks on journalists, at EWN. Sanef’s press statement on this matter is at Sanef News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Primedia Broadcasting condemns 'vicious personal attacks' against Karima Brown, at News24


MINING LABOUR

Cosatu slams Mantashe over mine deaths, echoes call to amend mine health and safety act to allow for prosecution of bosses

Mining Weekly reports that trade union federation Cosatu has denounced Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe’s statement that bringing criminal charges against mining bosses for fatalities at mines would cripple the industry.  Following the release of mining sector fatalities for 2018, Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), called for an amendment to mining and safety legislation, saying: “We must amend mining and safety legislation to ensure that if any mining boss kills workers, they get arrested.  Simple as that."  Cosatu has echoed Amcu's views, claiming that Mantashe has downplayed the deaths of mine workers.  "We reiterate our call for the Mine Health and Safety Act to be amended to allow for the prosecution of mine bosses if workers are killed underground.  Mine owners must be held personally liable for lives lost underground.  This is the only way to end mine fatalities," Sizwe Pamla, Cosatu's spokesperson, stated.  Mantashe revealed that mining fatalities were down from 90 to 81 between 2017 and 2018 across all mine categories.

Read the full original of the report on the above at Mining Weekly

Share market shrugs off battle of wills between Sibanye and Amcu as gold strike nears four-month mark

Miningmx reports that shares in Sibanye-Stillwater are nearly 72% higher since the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) started its strike at the company’s local gold mines on 25 November.  In addition to discounting the impact of the strike, which amounts to a R20m per day in cash burn at the gold mines, investors also seem sanguine about a delay in Sibanye’s proposed takeover of Lonmin.  The reason is the improvement in the palladium price, as well as rhodium, that Sibanye produces in relatively high proportion to platinum at its US-based PGM producer, Stillwater.  There is also less concern regarding the chances of a secondary strike, if it is approved by the Labour Court, occurring at Sibanye’s local platinum operations.  The popular belief is that the strike has become personal between Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye-Stillwater, and Joseph Mathunjwa, president of Amcu.  That may be a factor, but cold economics will decide the ultimate outcome of the strike and there’s much less for Froneman to lose than Mathunjwa.  Why then is Amcu persisting in circumstances where the strike now seems major folly?  The author maintains that Mathunjwa has bet the farm.  “To back down now with platinum industry wage negotiations around the corner could end a reputation.”

Read the full original of David McKay’s interesting report on the above at Miningmx


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Strike at Tiso Blackstar could disrupt Zondo Commission because both housed in same building

Fin24 reports that the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture has been warned that its proceedings might be disrupted as from 14 March due to a planned strike by union members at media group Tiso Blackstar.  The commission proceedings take place in a building also occupied by Tiso.  Moeketse Lepheana, president of the Saftu-affiliated Information Communication and Technology Union (ICTU), indicated on Wednesday that a letter had been delivered to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and the Tiso management on behalf of the union.  The letter warned of possible severe disruption of the proceedings of the commission when a protected strike by ICTU starts on 14 March.  The grievances of employees relate, among other things, to the non-payment of bonuses.  According to Lepheana, all 30 Saftu-affiliated unions, as well as members of civil society, intend to come to the building and support the ICTU members in their strike.  He said a large number of people were expected.  Lepheana would like to see Zondo engage with the Tiso management to encourage the latter to come to an agreement with the union.   Zondo has been invited to meet with the union in this regard on 12 March.

Read the full original of Carin Smith’s report on the looming strike at Fin24

Dr Yusuf Dadoo Hospital in Krugersdorp gets interdict banning striking staff from disrupting services

Sowetan reports that nurses, doctors and other workers at Dr Yusuf Dadoo Hospital in Krugersdorp have been interdicted from disrupting operations at the facility, which had been shut down for the past three days.  Health workers at the hospital downed tools, leaving the facility deserted, amid calls for the provincial health department to resolve issues, including the reopening of the canteen.  On Wednesday, the hospital’s CEO Patrick Sefohlo confirmed that they had been granted an interdict by the South Gauteng High Court.  He said they would follow internal processes to deal with workers who had engaged in a the unprotected strike.  “The interdict prohibits striking employees to continue interrupting the normal operations of the hospital and to enter the facility unless they are coming to work.  We would also like to apologise to our community for the inconvenience caused by this unfortunate and unwarranted service disruption,” Sefohlo stated.  The interdict lists unions such as Denosa, Ynitu, Nehawu and Hospersa as respondents.  Workers have been complaining about the shortage of staff and resources, claiming that kitchen workers were forced to cook meals with one pot.  Hospersa’s Kevin Halama said the department’s move to approach the courts showed that it was unwilling to listen to workers.  He pointed out that the department was applying the ‘no work, no pay’ policy in respect of the period since the strike started and that employees would be willing to return to work only if that policy was reversed.

Read the full original of Zoë Mahopo’s report on the strike on page 8 of Sowetan of 7 March 2019


LABOUR MARKET / JOB CREATION

Jobs Fund bears fruit with 220,000 sustainable jobs created to date, MPs told

BusinessLive reports that the government's Jobs Fund is beginning to yield results and more than 220,000 sustainable jobs have been created to date, MPs heard on Tuesday.  Briefing members of the standing committee on appropriations, Najwah Allie-Edries, head of the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund, said that since 2011 the fund had facilitated the creation of about 168,000 permanent and nearly 53,000 short-term jobs.  The R9bn Jobs Fund was launched in 2011 to support initiatives that pilot innovative approaches to employment creation.  Allie-Edries said the fund was not intended to tackle the structural causes of low growth and unemployment, with many other government initiatives directed at those.  “Rather, the Jobs Fund is an opportunity to complement these efforts with a targeted programme of support for effective labour market interventions that promise job creation in the short to medium term, and will provide a knowledge base of successful job creation models that can be replicated by government and the private sector to achieve maximum impact over the long term.”  Allie-Edries indicated that a large proportion of job creation took place in the agriculture sector, followed by micro businesses, wholesale and retail trade, admin and support, and ICT.

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


REMUNERATION / SALARY ADMINISTRATION

Executive director received double salary payments of over R1.3m from both Joburg and Tshwane for four months

The Star reports that an executive director pocketed over R1.3 million in a suspected double salary payment scandal from the City of Johannesburg and the City of Tshwane for four months following an alleged “fraudulent and improper” appointment.  Internal documents - including pay slips - from both Joburg and Tshwane show that Cynthia Ramulifho, Joburg’s executive director of group corporate and shared services, received a total salary of R669,000 from Tshwane for four months after beginning her Joburg post in November last year.  Ramulifho is said to have not terminated her contract with Tshwane - where she was also an executive director - when she was appointed into her new position, an act which the City of Joburg, in an internal document, alleges was “fraudulent and improper”.  The City of Joburg is investigating the matter.  There has, however, been an uproar from senior Democratic Alliance (DA) leaders in Joburg who questioned “the shambles” involving Ramulifho’s appointment.  A senior source said an entry-level salary in Joburg for Ramulifho’s position was R183,000 a month and commented:  “This means that in the four months Cynthia has worked for us, she has received over R730,000.  Combined with the money she received from the City of Tshwane, the total amounted to more than R1.3m.  On Wednesday, Ramulifho was adamant that all the allegations against her would be cleared by the investigation.

Read the full original of Khaya Koko’s report on this story at The Star


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES

As Absa embarks on ‘realignment’, 827 jobs potentially at risk

Business Report writes that the Absa Group is restructuring its SA retail and business banking unit within months of reducing the division’s management team and rolling out a new strategy.  Finance labour union Sasbo was notified to begin consulting staff last week on the potential impact of the move, the union’s representative Philip Landman advised on Wednesday.  About 15 retail-banking executives exited their positions at the Johannesburg-based lender in June, after a similar process was followed to flatten the unit’s top structure.  Discussions between Sasbo, Absa and employees are still in their early stages, with 827 jobs potentially at risk, although 340 people might be employed through the process.  “At this point, we are trying to figure out if what the bank is saying has merit, and prove that the restructuring is actually unnecessary,” Landman stated.  Absa commented:  “It is only once the realignment is complete that the total number of people who have either been appointed to new roles or have left the organisation will be known with certainty.”

Read the full original of Roxanne Henderson’s report on this story at Business Report

Staff at construction company Khato Civils on strike over retrenchments

The Citizen reports that the employees in Polokwane and Hammanskraal of Midrand-based construction company Khato Civils have downed tools following management’s contentious move on Monday to retrench 92 employees.  The company is involved in a protracted payment squabble with the national department of water and sanitation over the multibillion-rand Giyani Water Project in Limpopo.  CEO Mongezi Mnyani indicated that the retrenchment programme came in after the company realised the Giyani water project had left them with deep scars.  One of the retrenched employees commented thus on Wednesday:  “We are sick and tired of this company’s management style.  We received letters of [their] intention to cut our salaries down to size in an effort to avoid retrenchments.  But that was not the case.  Instead we received retrenchment letters.  As if that was not enough, we receive the news that two of our managers were fired for formally lodging complaints about their salary cut.”  By noon on Wednesday, disgruntled workers had closed the gate to the company’s satellite office in Polokwane and were burning tyres on the road leading to it.  Mnyani confirmed that two operations managers had been fired and also that the company had retrenched almost 100 employees.

Read the full original of Alex Matlala’s report on this story at The Citizen


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT TO WORK

Golden Arrow offers R50,000 reward after passengers robbed at gunpoint

Cape Times reports that Golden Arrow Bus Service in Cape Town has offered a R50,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the three men who robbed passengers at gunpoint on a bus travelling from Claremont to Mitchells Plain.  Spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer said the incident took place just before 8pm on Tuesday and no injuries were reported.  She explained further:  “The three armed suspects, who pretended to be passengers, stole cellphones and other personal belongings from passengers and the driver.  The matter was immediately reported to the SAPS.  The issue of crime on board our buses is a complex one as we have over 1,000 buses on the roads doing multiple trips per day.  Golden Arrow has instituted covert measures and increased our own security patrols in certain areas, and we are also exploring other options.”  Disgruntled commuters took to social media calling for the company to send escorts to crime hotspots.  They identified the Claremont-Mitchells Plain route as notorious, saying they had not seen security patrols there since last year.

Read the full original of Okuhle Hlati’s report on this matter at Cape Times

M2 closure raises fears of job losses due to late-coming for work

SowetanLive report that an East Rand commuter, who has already had two written warnings in under a week, fears losing her job because of being late for work due to the peak-hour gridlock caused by the closure of parts of the M2 highway.  Ntombizodwa Gexe from Vosloorus in Ekurhuleni, who works at a retail store, said she took a taxi from her township every morning and connected at the Noord taxi rank to Sandton.  She indicated:  "I got my first written warning last week when I arrived at work 30 minutes late.  But sadly I got another on Tuesday because I got to work an hour late due to traffic."  Gexe said although she now leaves home an hour earlier, it still takes more than two hours to get to work.  "I now fear that any day I'm late again I will be suspended."  Gexe said it was also unsafe to leave home when it was still dark.  It has been only a week since the City of Joburg took the decision to shut down the M2 highway after engineers declared parts of the highway unsafe.  However, the resultant traffic madness has left motorists and taxi operators frustrated due to gridlock during peak hours.  Johannesburg Road Agency spokesperson Siyabonga Gebu said: "The repairing of the road is under way and unfortunately there's no turning back and no closed parts of the highway can be opened."

Read the full original of Promise Marupeng’s report on this story at SowetanLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • End taxi war or lose access to ranks, transport MEC Vadi warns, at SowetanLive


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND PRESS STATEMENTS

  • Dan Matjila spied on his PIC executives, says former IT boss, at BusinessLive
  • Only lower inflation rate would allow cut in interest rates, says SARB’s Kganyago, at BusinessLive
  • SA authorities finally closing in on possible fraud, theft involving Steinhoff directors, at Fin24
  • Robot workers can’t go on strike but they can go up in flames, at Moneyweb
  • Prasa appoints sixth CEO in three years, at GroundUp

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page