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, 11 April 2019.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Policy in pipeline to test health workers annually for TB

Sowetan reports that all doctors and nurses could soon be subjected to annual TB tests as health minister Aaron Motsoaledi ups the ante on the rampant infection.  Speaking at the University of Cape Town (UCT) last week, Motsoaledi said the long-awaited policy to protect health workers against TB could become a reality after the 8 May elections.  He indicated:  “We must have health workers tested, maybe once a year, because many of them are vulnerable to TB … We think that the time has come, and we believe that very soon we will be introducing that policy and health workers must be tested once a year.”  The policy, which has been in the pipeline for three years, will seek to address the fact that the TB infection rate of 21% among SA health workers is second only to China’s rate of 30%.  Motsoaledi also said the country would start screening every clinic patient in an effort to identify the 160,000 TB patients believed to be undiagnosed, untreated and infectious.  The health department has already started intensifying its TB contact-tracing programme, which Motsoaledi said must include health workers who were at high risk of infection.  The SA Medical Association (SAMA) welcomed Motsoaledi’s proposal in respect of testing, but suggested it should apply to everyone who worked in clinics and hospitals, including cleaners.  TB is the leading cause of death in SA and affects 60% of HIV-positive people.

Read more of this Sowetan report by Sipokazi Fokazi at SA Labour News

Western Cape road worker sent spinning high into the air after being hit by car

TimesLIVE reports that video footage showing a road worker being hit by a green Toyota Avanza in the Western Cape has gone viral across the world.  Two roadside workers, including the victim identified as Xolele Phindela, were in the middle of the road on the N2 near Grabouw in the Western Cape.  The green Avanza drove towards oncoming traffic and knocked into Phindela, flinging him into the air.  The video was captured by the dashboard camera in another driver’s car.  Phindela was taken to hospital and later discharged.

View the video at TimesLIVE

Hero staff to be honoured for rescuing drowning gym member from pool

News24 reports that two gym employees who saved a swimmer's life last week will be honoured for their heroic actions in a special ceremony.  Gareth Utton was swimming laps at Planet Fitness in Craighall Park, Johannesburg, on 3 April when he lost consciousness and slipped underwater.  Luckily for him, Karabo Thosago, a contract cleaner, who was nearby, jumped in within seconds to rescue him even though he is not a swimmer.  He was quickly joined by Brandon Murigagumbo, a member of the gym's maintenance team, and together with several others, they managed to get Utton out of the water.  He was taken to hospital and has made a full recovery.  The company's head of marketing, Marco Nel, said the pair would be rewarded for their deeds on Thursday morning with Planet Fitness Hero Awards, Planet Fitness Academy Scholarships, Puma hampers, USN hampers, lifeguard course vouchers and first aid course vouchers.  Thosago (23) earlier indicated that he wanted to become a lifeguard and hoped his actions would help him reach his goal.

Read Aletta Harrison’s report on the above and view a video of the incident at News24


MINING LABOUR

Unions should think twice about strikes before committing members to hardship, cautions Solidarity’s Gideon du Plessis

Gideon du Plessis, general secretary of Solidarity, writes that a consequence of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s (Amcu’s) four-month long strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold mines was that by the end of March the loss of income of the 14,000 striking union members averaged R56,400 per striking worker.  In other words, the workers are striking themselves into a position of hardship and penury as they will never get those lost wages back.  Du Plessis cautions that, with wage negotiations in the platinum mining sector about to start, all trade unions should take a lesson from Amcu’s poor judgement and make sure they are fully aware of the loss of income strikes bring.  Du Plessis points out that when employees embark on strike action, they forfeit their pay for the duration of the strike.  Striking workers can accept this loss if, within an acceptable period, the success of the strike compensates for the loss of income during the industrial action.  But if it’s going to take several years before a strike is compensated by the improved wages, then it’s better to accept the lower offer.  When a strike is being considered, trade unions and their members should first think about how long after the strike workers would be prepared to work to compensate for losses incurred during the strike.  The decision whether or not to strike should be based on that.  In Du Plessis’ view, Amcu’s Sibanye-Stillwater strike is illogical.

Read Gideon du Plessis’ article in full at Miningmx. Read too, There are no real winners in a strike, at Business Report

SAHRC mulling prospects for public inquiry into Sibanye mine disruptions

EWN reports that the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) visited Sibanye-Stillwater’s Driefontein operation on Wednesday and indicated that it still needed to determine if there was a need for a public inquiry into disruptions at the mine.  Fifteen-thousand workers affiliated to Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have been on strike at Sibanye’s gold mines for almost five months.  The union has refused to sign the agreement that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and Uasa entered into with the company last year.  The SAHRC’s Buang Jones said that their role was to assist in finding a solution to the strike.  Indicating that they were alerted by workers from different unions to the impact of the strike on their livelihoods, he added:  “There are issues.  There’s a rivalry between Amcu and NUM and there has been a verification process conducted which, according to Sibanye, shows that Amcu is no longer the majority union.”  Jones said that union bosses, police and mine management were given until the end of the month to make written submissions to the commission and then the decision on whether there would be public hearings would be made.  The deaths of nine miners during the strike also needed to be investigated.

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

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • UASA: Amcu’s declared minority at Sibanye-Stillwater may bring an end to prolonged strike, at Uasa News (press statement)

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • South Africa’s February mining output down 7.5% y/y, at Mining Weekly


FARMING LABOUR

Government planning to establish a hemp industry, says agriculture minister Senzeni Zokwana

BusinessLive reports that according to agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister Senzeni Zokwana, government is looking at ways of establishing a hemp industry to help diversify the agricultural sector and to create jobs.  Currently, it is illegal to cultivate hemp in SA.  Hemp production is only authorised for research purposes under special conditions granted by the director-general of the national Department of Health (DoH).  But, the Agricultural Research Council says hemp can be used to make more than 25,000 consumer products.  In a written reply to a parliamentary question, Zokwana indicated that to date the DoH had received and was considering 36 applications for commercial hemp cultivation.  He said his department was in talks with other relevant state entities with the aim of establishing a hemp industry.  The minister went on to say:  “The departments of health as well as justice & constitutional development have been requested to amend their respective legislation to facilitate commercial production of hemp and manufacturing of related products.  The department of agriculture and the department of health are also developing guidelines for regulating the cultivation and manufacturing of hemp and hemp products.  The two departments will make pronouncements once this process has been concluded.”

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


ECONOMIC POLICY / INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT

Western Cape clothing industry set to get major funding boost from the province

Cape Argus reports that the Western Cape garment and textile industry, once the backbone of job creation in the province, is set for a major boost with funding from the provincial government.  The provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism will allocate R132-million in funding to stimulate the industry and create new jobs.  MEC of Economic Opportunities, Beverley Schäfer, said:  “This region used to be well known for its clothing and textile production and we want to rebuild this industry and use the skills we already have, while developing new ones.”  According to Wesgro (the trade and investment promotion agency for the province), the manufacturing industry in the Western Cape accounts for about 15% of the province’s economy and employs about 10% of the province’s workforce.  Wesgro’s Cornelis van der Waal commented:  “It is crucial that market opportunities with economies of scale are developed.  In the Western Cape this includes the green revolution, electronics, specialised automotive components, health and beauty products and the agricultural sector.”  The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union said that too much importing could mean the end of the industry.

Read the full original of the report by Marvin Charles on this story at Cape Argus

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • What Nissan’s R3bn ‘milestone’ investment means for SA, at BusinessLive


BASIC EDUCATION

Teacher drawing a salary for five years while sitting at home goes to court to get his job back

SowetanLive reports that a Mpumalanga teacher who has raked in more than R1.5m in wages for sitting at home has taken the fight to get his job back to the Labour Court.  Ndifelani Ligege, a teacher at Umlambo Combined School in Amsterdam, had a fallout with the school's principal and the school governing body (SGB) after reporting a case of corruption relating payment of a "ghost" teacher.  After a lengthy stand-off, Ligege was expelled from work in December 2014 for poor performance.  He was reinstated by the education department in January 2015, but was not allowed to enter the school's premises by some of his former colleagues who were serving in the SGB.  He is now pinning his hopes on getting his job back through the Labour Court in Johannesburg.  Even though he has been receiving his monthly salary, including his 13th cheque, Ligege wants to return to class and do what he loves, something he has not done since December 2014.  "I want them to reinstate me, even though I have fears that my life is no longer safe," Ligege said on Wednesday.  He remarked:  "The department somehow doesn't mind paying my salary, including performance incentives even though I have not been working for five years."

Read the full original of Isaac Mahlangu’s report on this story at SowetanLive

Durban school principal suspended amid claims of bullying, sexual abuse of teachers

Daily News reports that the KwaZulu-Natal education department has suspended the principal of a Durban primary school, pending an investigation into allegations of sexual, physical and verbal abuse of teachers, four years after the teachers first complained.  On Tuesday, Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwana visited the school and met with 14 teachers who briefed him on matters at the school, including allegations of sexual harassment, financial mismanagement, assault and other issues.  “The first step is that we have suspended the principal.  We will do an investigation, but we have suspended him because the matter is very serious.  We have spoken to the teachers, and it was revealed that some of them have protection orders against him,” Dlungwana said.  The MEC indicated that they wanted to send a strong message to wrongdoers.  It is alleged that the teachers first made abuse claims about the principal in 2015, which only reached the office of the MEC via voicemail on Friday afternoon.  The SA Council of Educators (SACE) said the matter has been referred to them for investigation, while a police spokesperson confirmed that a case of sexual assault had been opened for investigation.  SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) Sadtu provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza commented:  “It is worrying that the department is only standing up now that the matter was addressed in the media.”  She confirmed that the principal was a Sadtu member and said they wanted to get his side of the story, adding that it was an embarrassment that their member had such allegations levelled against him.

Read the full original of Thobeka Ngema’s report on the above at Daily News

Limpopo ‘sex pest’ teacher beaten up by community members

HearaldLive reports that a Limpopo teacher accused of buying alcohol for a pupil and fondling her is recovering in hospital after he was attacked by members of the community.  Footage of the attack went viral on social media with the community of Namakgale in Phalaborwa accusing the teacher of abuse.  But, provincial department of education spokesperson Sam Makondo said that, unless the pupil provided a contrary statement, there was no basis to believe the teacher had attempted to have sex with her.  The teacher claimed he neither bought alcohol for the pupil nor attempted to have sex with her.  Speaking from his hospital bed on Tuesday, he said he had accompanied the pupil home to talk to her parents about her poor schoolwork.  Her parents were not home and when he was returning to the school with the pupil in his car he was stopped by occupants in unknown car.  Suddenly he was under attack without being given an opportunity to provide an explanation as to why he was in the company of the pupil.  The teacher said he was fortunate that a prominent person who was passing by came to his rescue and saved his life.  But, the pupil's mother rejected the teacher's version, saying:  "My daughter told me she screamed for help when the teacher was fondling her [and that's when he was stopped]."

Read the original of Frank Maponya’s report on this story at HeraldLive


DISPUTES

Discord at Joburg City Library as workers claim City has reneged on dispute settlement agreement

The Sunday Independent reports that employees of Johannesburg City Library are up in arms over what they claim is the failure by their employer to stick to an agreement reached with their union last year.  The staff members, who include librarians, assistants and general workers, allege the City of Johannesburg has breached a settlement agreement reached with the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu).  Disgruntled workers say they have not been paid for overtime worked since operating hours on Saturdays were extended in July 2017 from 9am-1pm to 9am-5pm.  They are also demanding the refunding of deductions taken from their salaries when they refused to work on Saturdays because the city was not calculating their overtime rates on scales that they were happy with.  Numerous other points of dispute have been alleged by the workers.  They have sent a letter to the City in which they accuse the employer of violating parts of the settlement agreement reached on 6 November 2018 with Imatu.  A strike and shut-down of public libraries in Johannesburg was averted at the time when that settlement was entered into.  But, since the breaches allegedly occurred before 13 March 2019, in terms of the settlement the union still has the right to rally its members to go on strike.  However, one staffer close to the matter indicated:  “No, we are not planning a strike.”

Read more of Sipho Mabaso’s The Sunday Independent report of 7 April 2019 at SA Labour News


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

EFF in North West ordered to pay 11 months’ pay for unfair dismissal of staffer

SowetanLive reports that the EFF in North West has been ordered to pay a former junior staff member 11 months’ salary totalling R102,300 for unfair dismissal.  The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) this week found that Maggie Klaas' dismissal had been procedurally and substantively unfair.  She was employed as an administrator by the party at the provincial legislature in Mmabatho.  In her testimony at the CCMA, Klaas said she was dismissed for allegedly "failing to greet her line manager, party's chief whip Bungus Ntsangani".  She was also dismissed for allegedly "failing to take orders to be transferred from the party's legislature office to the provincial office".  The CCMA commissioner found that the applicant was entitled to relief of compensation taking into consideration the circumstances and manner in which she had been dismissed.  EFF spokesperson Jerry Matebesi said they would appeal the matter.  Klaas has also accused Ntsangani of verbal abuse and physical assault, claiming that in November 2017 he assaulted her and threatened to cut off her clitoris.  The fight was apparently over Klaas' refusal to report to work early the following day.  Klaas opened a criminal case against Ntsangani.  Judgment on Ntsangani's assault case is due in July.

Read the full original of Boitumelo Tshehle’s report on this story at SowetanLive

Former ConCourt judge who allegedly offered money for CCMA complainant to ‘go away’ resigns from blind society

The Mercury reports that barely a month after he vowed to save the cash strapped KZN Blind and Deaf Society from closing its doors, former Constitutional Court (ConCourt) Justice Zak Yacoob has resigned.  Justice Yacoob, who chaired the society’s board, recently took over the day-to-day operations of the organisation after its director, Shamilla Surjoo, was dismissed following an internal disciplinary hearing.  Now the organisation has been left without leadership.  On Monday, Justice Yacoob confirmed he had resigned on Friday, but refused to divulge the reasons.  Last month, he was embroiled in a bitter public spat with Surjoo after her dismissal.  Justice Yacoob had accused her of not doing her job after it emerged that the society’s financial officer had allegedly stolen R12 million from the organisation over a six-year period.  The woman had reported directly to Surjoo.  Sowetan writes that after Surjoo lodged a CCMA unfair dismissal case, Yacoob reportedly offered money to persuade her to drop the matter.  When Yacoob allegedly asked Surjoo during a telephone call how much money she required to “go away”, Surjoo reportedly replied that she was a person of integrity and could not be bought.  Three days later Yacoob sent a letter of apology to Surjoo via her attorney.

Based on reports by Kailene Pillay at The Mercury and by Nivashni Nair on page 6 of Sowetan of 9 April 2019


OTHER REPORTS

City of Joburg hearing to hear claims JMPD chief Tembe incited junior officers to revolt against seniors

EWN reports that the City of Johannesburg will on Friday hear claims that Johannesburg Metro Police (JMPD) chief David Tembe incited junior officers to revolt against senior officers, and that the relationship between the chief and senior managers has completely broken down.  The managers, who include directors and superintendents, will formally present their grievances in a second hearing in two weeks presided over by Sandile July of Werksman's Attorneys.  In February, Tembe suspended two directors, Legolonko Lekota and Sipho Dlepu, alleging that they had organised a managers’ meeting to undermine his authority, cause disharmony and unrest.  But, the senior managers asserted that Tembe was the one inciting unrest.  Last week, Tembe suffered an embarrassing defeat when July found that his allegations of misconduct against the two senior officers were unfounded and that he had had no authority to suspend the pair.  A recommendation was made that the two should return to work.  A week later they remain in limbo.  Their colleagues will allege in Friday's hearing that Tembe has disregarded council approved structures and chains of command, has seconded his favourite staff to his office without following human resource procedures, and has terrorised senior managers.

Read the full original of Nthakoana Ngatane’s report on this matter at EWN


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND PRESS STATEMENTS

  • Operating hours extended at SA ports of entry for Easter holidays, at TimesLIVE
  • Rural areas deserve fair healthcare, says Rural Health Advocacy Project, at SowetanLive
  • Higher Education Deputy Minister to host Heritage Career Expo at Constitution Hill on 12 April 2019 in collaboration with Cathsseta, at SA Govt News (press statement)
  • Dube TradePort opens 2019 internship programme to KwaZulu-Natal graduates, at Polity (press statement)
  • DA says SANDF in desperate need of restructuring to re-prioritise spending and craft an exit mechanism for excess staff, at Politicsweb (press statement)
  • ADeC: Social wage of R2,000 per month for all unemployed, at Polity (press statement)

 


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