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, 9 April 2019.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Durban bus driver shot multiple times in alleged taxi conflict

Daily News reports that an alleged route dispute between mini-bus and bus associations in the Newlands West area in Durban claimed the life of a bus driver on Monday night.  The driver, Sarvesh Gopichand, 23, had passengers on board when a gunman stepped onto the roadway near Jackcastle Avenue in Newlands West and began shooting at the bus.  The 23-year-old driver collapsed on the bus bonnet from gunshot wounds.  Apparently his conductor steered the bus and pulled the handbrake switch saving the bus from colliding into nearby homes.  Netcare 911 spokesperson Shawn Herbst said the bullets struck the driver in the chest and he died at the scene.  Violence between operators of the two modes of transport has escalated since October 2018.  In March 2019, four buses were petrol bombed, on separate occasions, in Newlands West.  The eThekwini Transport Authority (ETA) said the conflict was about the competition for passengers between taxis and privately owned / unsubsidised bus operators.

Read Zainul Dawood’s full report on this story at Daily News

Mpumalanga MEC welcomes life sentence for man who killed traffic officer

TimesLIVE reports that Mpumalanga community safety, security and liaison MEC Pat Ngomane on Monday said a life sentence imposed on a man who shot dead an on-duty traffic officer would serve as a deterrent to those who intimidated and assaulted traffic officers.  The Pretoria High Court sitting in Delmas sentenced Lesotho national Alexander Mohoebi for the murder of traffic officer Bongani Nkumba in Standerton on 5 August 2016.  On that day Nkumba had observed a vehicle which had stopped in a non-stopping area and, on approaching the driver, requested him to produce his driving licence.  He informed the driver, Mohoebi, that he was going to issue him with a fine and also take him for alcohol testing.  Nkumba then asked the suspect to come with him to his vehicle so that he could write out a fine.  Mohoebi requested the traffic officer's permission to go to his vehicle to collect his phone.  Witnesses said that they then heard several gunshots and they saw Mohoebi running back to his Jeep and drive away at high speed.  Mohoebi was arrested at the Maseru border post.  Prosecutor Eric van der Merwe informed the court that, although Mohoebi had pleaded guilty to murder, he had not shown any remorse for his actions.

Read the full original of Ernest Mabuza’s report on this story at TimesLIVE

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Kenilworth petrol station staff tell of horror shooting attack, at Cape Times
  • Imatu calls for municipal worker safety in Matlosana, at Imatu News (press statement)


MINING LABOUR

Female Harmony Gold mineworker dies in 'fall of ground' incident

Fin24 reports that a 38-year-old mineworker died on Monday at Harmony Gold’s Doornkop mine, outside Johannesburg.  She was certified dead at the scene after having been fatally injured in a fall of ground incident on Monday morning.  The company advised that an investigation into the accident was currently underway.  Police have opened an inquest docket for investigation.  Management expressed their deepest condolences to the deceased employee’s family, friends and colleagues.

Read the original of Sesona Ngqakamba’s short report on this story at News24. Read Harmony’s short press statement at Harmony news

Amcu on ropes as Sibanye-Stillwater pursues ruling declaring gold strike unprotected

BL Premium reports that Sibanye-Stillwater will be asking the Labour Court to declare a protracted wage strike at its gold mines unprotected after claiming a major victory in a union membership verification process.  The precious metals producer said on Monday that it would approach the court to declare a stoppage by about 14,000 members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at its three gold mines unprotected after the independent verification process confirmed that Amcu was in the minority at its gold mines.  The union, however, challenged the verification process as "flawed", saying:  "Amcu late today (Monday) learned with shock and disappointment that Sibanye has made the highly unethical move to announce the flawed findings of a process, before such findings have been finalised."  If the court rules the strike unprotected, Sibanye will extend a wage deal signed with three other unions in November to the striking workers.  Amcu said there was a dispute resolution meeting on Tuesday morning and that it would attend the meeting and issue a further statement with greater detail after the outcome had been announced.  Success in the Labour Court for Sibanye would mean an end to the strike, leaving the workers out of pocket after forfeiting four-and-a-half months of wages.

Read the full original of this report by Allan Seccombe at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read Sibanye’s press statement in the above regard at Moneyweb. Read Amcu’s press statement in reply to Sibanye at Amcu News

Sibanye says gold production has plummeted due to prolonged Amcu strike

BusinessLive reports that precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater said on Tuesday its first-quarter gold production in SA would fall by nearly two-thirds because of a protracted wage strike.  On Monday, the company had said that it would be asking the Labour Court to declare a stoppage by about 14,000 members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at its three gold mines unprotected.  This came after SA’s largest gold producer claimed a victory when an independent verification process confirmed that Amcu was in the minority at its gold mines.  The union, however, claimed the verification process was “flawed”.  The company indicated on Tuesday that production from its SA gold operations in the first quarter of 2019 was expected to be about 104,000oz, or just 36% of what had been produced a year before.  “Unit operating and all in sustaining costs will be negatively impacted by the reduced production levels,” it reported.

Read the original of Nick Hedley’s short report on the above at BusinessLive

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • NUM demands immediate arrests of perpetrators of violence at Sibanye-Stillwater operations by the newly launched crime combating unit, at NUM News (press statement)


PROTESTS / MARCHES

Shoprite in Mbombela sacks 36 for protesting over dismissal of colleagues for ‘accepting tips’

SowetanLive reports that at least 36 Shoprite Checkers workers in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, have been fired after they protested against the dismissal of four of their colleagues for "accepting tips from customers".  The group staged a protest at the supermarket last Friday after learning of the fate of their colleagues a few days before.  David Tefo of the SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) indicated that workers had embarked on an illegal strike to prevent Shoprite from enforcing disciplinary proceedings against their four colleagues.  The employer failed to serve them with letters nor were they subjected to fair disciplinary processes and procedures, Tefo claimed.  A till packer commented that they were perplexed by the wholesale giant's decision to fire them, saying:  "We were confused because we were acting within our rights.  Our colleagues were fired because they accepted tips from customers.  It's not like they stole money."  Shoprite confirmed that the employees were dismissed for partaking in an unlawful work stoppage, but only after repeated requests to return to work and address grievances through available internal channels.  Shoprite said internal appeal procedures were available.

Read the full original of the report by Tankiso Makhetha on this story at SowetanLive


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Solidarity slams Mthethwa over Jan van Riebeeck remarks

Pretoria News reports that trade union Solidarity says that comments by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa that Dutch navigator Jan van Riebeeck killed Solomon Mahlangu is a disappointing electioneering rhetoric keeping the country torn asunder.  Mthethwa spoke on Saturday at the 40th commemoration of the execution of Solomon “Kalushi" Mahlangu, an operative of the ANC’s military wing, uMkhonto weSizwe.  The minister stated that the arrival of “that convicted criminal called Jan van Riebeeck” in the country on 6 April 1652, signalled the start of events which eventually led to Mahlangu’s execution.  Mahlangu was arrested and convicted for murder and subsequently hanged in 1979.  Connie Mulder, head of the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), said he was disappointed that the minister and the ruling ANC had chosen to go the populist route in gearing up for the upcoming general elections on 8 May.  This was particularly sad as President Cyril Ramaphosa had just days prior indicated a willingness to build bridges with white counterparts.  Mulder stated further:  “Basically what Mthethwa is saying is that white people are a mistake which echoes sentiments similar to former president Jacob Zuma in 2015 which is massively worrying.  We thought he was a reasonable man, but choosing to alienate a whole section of a country makes it difficult for all of us to engage.”  Mthethwa was entitled to his opinion, but it should not border on hate speech,” Mulder noted.

Read the full original of Goitsemang Tl.Habye’s report in the above regard at Pretoria News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Saftu calls for a coordinated protest in Alexandra and all other working class townships, at Saftu News (press statement)


RESIGNATIONS

Rustenburg municipal manager quits over ‘continuous sexist attacks’

The Citizen reports that outgoing Rustenburg Local Municipality manager Nqobile Sithole says she quit her job because she had to defend herself against continuous sexist attacks which affected her ability to do her work.  She related that she had been told Rustenburg could not be led by a “Zulu girl” and that she must return to KwaZulu-Natal.  Sithole resigned last week, after barely two years into her five-year term at the municipality.  Her month’s notice will commence at the beginning of next month.  Sithole, who holds a Masters in Business Administration from Wits University, said she had wanted to leave in November last year, but was asked to stay on by executive mayor Mopho Khunou.  Sithole commented further:  “I do not question my capability, commitment and passion to deliver this world-class city.  However, the activities of the past few months and the constant attack on my office and what I stand for has had a negative impact, not only on my efforts but the efforts of the team I lead.”  Municipal spokesperson David Magae said the council had accepted Sithole’s resignation at a special sitting on Friday.  He would not say if the municipality was aware of the attacks on her, only that her tribalism claim could not be substantiated.

Read the full original of Sipho Mabena’s report on this story at The Citizen


BASIC EDUCATION

Teacher absenteeism remains a concern for Minister Angie Motshekga

ANA reports that Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Monday said the trend of teacher absenteeism from classrooms across the country was marginally growing and remained a cause for concern.  Motshekga made the remarks upon releasing a report on the findings of the 2017 School Monitoring Survey (SMS).  The survey found that the national average for teacher absence on an average day was 10%, with wide variations noted within primary and secondary schools, as well as across provinces and quintiles.  "We note with apprehension that the 2017 survey found no discernable change in the rate of teacher absence, since 2011.  The survey recorded an increase in the national aggregate absence (from 8% to 10%) on an average day," Motshekga indicated.  She added:  "This is deeply troubling.  We must do more to support our teachers.  There’s a need to drill deeper into the statistics to understand this leave of absence phenomenon.”  The 2017 SMS revealed, however, that the national absence rate in SA "is roughly in line with international norms and that the small change compared to what was measured in 2011 should not be interpreted as evidence of a systematic or substantial increase in teacher absence."

Read the full original of the report by Jonsayi Maromo on this story at Independent News

Unions point to contributing factors leading to high levels of teacher absenteeism

The Citizen reports that although teacher unions don’t condone the shocking figures of absenteeism among their members, they say there are a number of contributing factors that lead to absences.  These needed to be addressed in order to ensure 10% of classrooms were not left without teachers daily.  Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga released the findings of the 2017 School Monitoring Survey (SMS) on Monday and pointed out that the trend of teacher absenteeism from classrooms throughout SA grew marginally, remaining a cause for concern.  SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said that, although the union did not support or condone absenteeism, certain contributors like violence and depression could not be evaded.  “There is violence in schools that [teachers] need to deal with and they are helpless because they lack support from government.  There is also a high level of sickness among teachers who experience depression,” Maluleke pointed out.  National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) general secretary Basil Manuel said it was important to contextualise and understand the sub-optimal conditions teachers worked in.  “We do acknowledge there are some who are those who take advantage, but there are those who have valid reasons,” noted Manuel.

Read the full original of Chisom Jenniffer Okoye’s report in the above regard at The Citizen. Read too, Teacher absenteeism rises, on page 9 of Sowetan of 9 April 2019

Durban principal accused of forcing teachers to undress in his office before touching and kissing them

GroundUp reports that teaching and learning was stopped on Monday at a primary school in a suburb of Durban by protesting leaders of the Simunye branch of the SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu).  They demanded that the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education should suspend and investigate the school principal for allegedly sexually abusing female teachers.  It was alleged that he summoned female teachers to his office, forcing them to undress before touching and kissing them. Karabo Ramatholo of the Simunye branch said:  "We only found out about the matter last Wednesday when one of the victimised teachers forwarded us an audio clip describing everything that the principal is doing to them."  On Thursday, the Sadtu members demanded a meeting with the female staff at the school.  While they were meeting the teachers, the principal told them he was diabetic and had to go out to get something to eat.  He has not returned to the school, Ramatholo stated.  The teachers told them the abuse has been going on for several years.  Anonymous reports were made to the district but nothing happened.  A district official who went to the school to address the protesters, said the MEC for Education, Mthandeni Dlungwana, had been notified and would visit the school on Tuesday.

Read the full original of Musa Binda’s report on this story at GroundUp

KZN education MEC to visit school after principal allegedly threatened to kill staff

Daily News reports that the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) MEC for education, Mthandeni Dlungwana, was scheduled to visit a primary school in Durban on Tuesday morning following allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation levelled against the principal.  “These are serious allegations and we need to get to the bottom of this issue," said Dlungwana ahead of the visit to the primary school situated in Umbilo.  Allegations have surfaced that the principal allegedly sexually harassed members of his staff and threatened to kill them if they reported his conduct to anyone.  "It is our duty to protect our employees and if we find these allegations to be true, we are definitely going to take drastic actions,” the MEC indicated.  The MEC was expected to "dig deep" into the issues at the school.

Read the original of Jolene Marriah-Maharaj’s short report on this story at Daily News


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT TO AND FROM WORK

Prasa pays massive compensation bill for injuries as a result of open coach doors

The Star reports that the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) has paid out a total of R103 million since March last year in compensation to people injured as a result of open coach doors in moving trains.  This was revealed by Transport Minister Blade Nzimande in a written response to a parliamentary question from the DA’s Manny de Freitas.  Nzimande said five fatalities and 138 injuries had been reported since March last year.  He indicated that R103,018,772 had been paid out in compensation to the victims during that period.  The minister added that Prasa had not reneged on its legal duty to ensure that doors were closed.  “When the driver picks up their train at the staging yard, he or she ensures that the doors are tested and functional.  We make sure that the doors that are malfunctioning are repaired before the train leaves the staging yard,” he said.  Nzimande stated that passengers had a tendency to block the doors and cause them to malfunction.

Read this report by Mayibonwe Maqhina from The Star at Security.co.za

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Ramaphosa visits Prasa on Tuesday about rail improvements, at News24


OTHER REPORTS

Thirty-two top cops have criminal records

News24 reports that a parliamentary reply has revealed that thirty-two members of the police's top management have criminal records, but the police have declined to reveal their identities as disclosure would constitute an unreasonable violation of the privacy.  The reply, signed by national police commissioner Lieutenant General Khehla Sitole and Police Minister Bheki Cele, reads:  "To date, a total of 32 members of the senior management service of SAPS (SA Police Service) have criminal records against their names.  The head of the SAPS does not have a criminal conviction against his name."  Three members have been convicted of offences related to contravention of the Arms and Ammunition Act and the Firearms Control Act; 19 have contravened traffic-related legislation, including one officer who also contravened liquor legislation; and three members committed offences related to internal security legislation.  Seven members committed common law-related offences, namely fraud, public violence, contempt of court, malicious damage to property and assault.  In reply to a further question, it was indicated that 4,174 police officers have criminal records.  The vast majority of offences were traffic related.

Read the full original of this report by Jan Gerber at News24


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND PRESS STATEMENTS

  • Opinion: The tragedy of youth unemployment, at Politicsweb
  • SA lost 83,000 companies in the financial & business services sector in 10 years, at Moneyweb
  • Cosatu North West angered by the relocation of the SABC regional office to Gauteng, at Cosatu News (press statement)
  • Nehawu on the decision by the Department of Water and Sanitation to outsource construction of dams, at Cosatu News (press statement)
  • Parliament’s Social Development Committee says Carletonville crèche teacher should be placed on National Child Protection Register once convicted, at Parliament News (press statement)

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page