news shutterstockIn our afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Thursday, 2 May 2019.


MINING LABOUR

Amcu 'positive' after meeting with labour department over threat of deregistration

TimesLIVE reports that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) indicated on Tuesday that it was positive after its meeting with the registrar of labour relations where they "made it clear" that they were in "total compliance" with the union’s constitution.  The meeting between the union and senior officials of the department of labour took place at Laboria House in Pretoria on Tuesday.  Last week, the labour department indicated in a notice published in the Government Gazette that Amcu "has ceased to function in terms of its constitution" and "is not a genuine trade union".  Amcu was given 60 days to make submission to the registrar as to why it should not be deregistered.  The union said its representatives had indicated to the labour department at the meeting its compliance in respect of an upcoming national congress in September later this year.  Both parties agreed to have regular interactions to ensure that there was a "common understanding of the constitutional imperatives".

Read the full original of the report by Iavan Pijoos on the above at TimesLIVE. Read Amcu’s press statement on the meeting at Polity

Sibanye-Stillwater ordered to temporarily shut platinum mine after miners trapped

Bloomberg reports that Sibanye-Stillwater has been ordered to shut down the shaft at its Rustenburg platinum mine where 1,800 workers were trapped for as long as 10 hours on Tuesday due to an accident with an underground transport system.  The Department of Mineral Resources issued a so-called Section 54 notice, barring the company from resuming operations at Thembelani shaft until a government mines inspector was satisfied that it was safe to do so, James Wellsted, spokesman for Sibanye, indicated.  “We will not be producing today (Thursday) and depending on our engagement with the department, hopefully we will resume very soon,” Wellsted stated, adding that while there had not been “significant damage” to the shaft’s underground hoist system, Sibanye had to get an independent expert to also certify that it was safe to restart operations.

Read the original of Felix Njini’s report on the above at Fin24. Read too, Minister in plea for safety vigilance after miners trapped, at Business Report

Action needed to help mineworkers affected by state capture, says Gwede Mantashe

Mining Weekly reports that mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe has called for urgent action to resolve the problems facing victims of state capture, particularly at the Optimum and Koornfontein coal mines.  Speaking at the official ceremony to hand over 50% shareholding held by mining company Exxaro to former employees of Arnot coal mine, Mantashe said the miners, like the workers at Optimum and Koornfontein, were all victims of state capture.  “As we celebrate [the transfer of shares], we should also be working hard to resolve the problems facing other victims of state capture in Optimum and Koornfontein.  Those are not victims of anybody else; they are victims of state capture and corruption.  They are victims of collaboration between Eskom and the Guptas.  Our commitment should be to work together to come up with a permanent solution for Optimum and Koornfontein,” the minister exhorted.  He described the transfer of the shares to former Arnot employees as “revolutionary”.  “We chose [to do the handover] on May Day to highlight the significance of giving workers ownership.  It is revolutionary.  It has never happened in SA.”  Mantashe went on to opine:  “If workers own an entity, we believe they will be able to take care of that entity.  We must empower workers.  We are hoping this experiment will be a success.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at BusinessLive


PROTESTS / MARCHES

On Thursday morning, eThekwini municipal workers again shut down Durban CBD

Daily News reports that municipal workers in several key functions shut down parts of the Durban city centre on Thursday as their anger over salary hikes given to Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) veterans showed no signs of abating.  Roads leading to the city hall were blocked by municipal trucks from the water and sanitation department and the solid waste and electricity units in a repeat of Tuesday's protest.  Workers reportedly abandoned their trucks on main arterial roads leading to the city.  Motorists in the city centre were faced with massive gridlocks as hundreds of city workers converged on city hall.  Meantime, the eThekwini Municipality said it was reviewing the salaries of MK Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) members and called on striking workers to abandon their protest.  The veterans, who were hired as general assistants in the water department last year, started earning R9,000 month, but were due to be bumped up to R20,000 from this month.  This angered other workers in the department who were not given the same increases.  “In view of the current situation, the city has decided to halt the process of engaging 55 employees pertaining to task grade 10.  This is to allow a thorough review of this process and to conduct an analysis of the impact of this decision to be concluded within 30 days,” said city manager Sipho Nzuza.  He was due to address employees at the city hall on Thursday.

Read the full original of the report on the above at Daily News

Waste-pickers march on Thursday against Pikitup and City of Johannesburg

TimesLIVE reports that frustrated waste-collectors were scheduled to march against Pikitup and the City of Johannesburg on Thursday to demand clarity on their futures.  Eva Mokoena of the African Reclaimers Organisation (ARO) indicated that they started negotiating with the city in 2017 to "recognise the work performed by the reclaimers" and submitted a draft of demands to the city in October 2018.  "It is what we wanted, because they were telling us about integration.  We asked them how do they want integration to work on our side?  They told us that they would talk to private companies and come back to us," Mokoena said.  But, she reported that progress had "faltered" and had left them frustrated.  In March, the city's environment department and Pikitup said in a statement that 1,200 informal waste-pickers had been registered as part of an ongoing process.  The city explained that the objectives of the registration process were to recognise waste-pickers currently in the system for integration into the government's solid waste management system, provide assistance with protective clothing and tools of the trade, as well as the identification of waste-pickers who could be considered for training opportunities.

Read the full original of the report by Iavan Pijoos on this story at TimesLIVE. Read too, 'Please see us as workers': Waste collectors march for recognition, at TimesLIVE


UNION NEWS

Bitter infighting rocks Fawu following suspension of general secretary

Independent News reports that the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) has been shaken by infighting following the suspension of its general secretary, Katishi Masemola, over the writing off of R19.2million in one of the union’s investment companies.  The second-largest affiliate of the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) suspended Masemola after its national executive committee (NEC) meeting earlier this month.  However, Masemola has fought back, telling Fawu president Atwell Nazo that his suspension was unconstitutional and unlawful.  According to Masemola, there was an explicit NEC decision taken in February that he should remain in office and continue doing his work as normal.  Nazo earlier notified Fawu members and structures that Masemola had been suspended pending investigation.  Nazo has since warned Masemola that his defiance and disregard of his suspension were viewed in a serious light and had the potential to have further charges added.  Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has intervened and called for unity within Fawu.  He said the destabilisation of Fawu was the destabilisation of Saftu and warned that disunity in the union would have a profound impact on the federation’s cohesion and unity.  Fawu has been rocked by leadership squabbles since it abandoned Cosatu in 2016.

Read the full original of Loyiso Sidimba’s report on the Fawu infighting at Independent News


ESKOM CRISIS

Business blames intransigence of unions on Eskom salaries and unbundling for weak economy

BusinessLive reports that as SA’s growth outlook threatens to stutter once again in 2019, business has called labour to task for its alleged role in holding the economy back.  Business Leadership SA (BLSA) CEO Bonang Mohale said on Workers Day in an interview:  “Our social compact says for the sake of being globally competitive, you will forgo increases above inflation.  The single biggest risk to the economy is Eskom.  Had the unions compromised, they would not have taken salary increases or bonuses and Eskom would not have escalated load shedding from stage one to stage four.”  SA saw the return of load-shedding in November, with the most severe power cuts the country has seen.  In 2018, Eskom employees got a 7.5% wage increase, after fraught negotiations between the power utility’s board — which initially opposed any increase — and the unions.  “Labour has been allowed to run amok.  We all need to identify what we’re willing to give up to stabilise the economy and labour hasn’t done that,” BLSA COO Busisiwe Mavuso opined, while rejecting that unbundling amounted to privatisation.  But union federation Cosatu hit back at business for using labour as a scapegoat.  Spokesperson Sizwe Pamla indicated that they were “not opposed to the idea” of unbundling Eskom, but when they sought clarity, the government could not explain how it would be carried out.

Read the full original of Sunita Menon’s report on the above at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Ramaphosa assures that unions will be part of solution for Eskom going forward, at EWN


LABOUR MARKET

SA women have benefitted more than men in post-apartheid job market

Bloomberg reports that South African women have benefited more than men from changes in the labour market and education opportunities since the end of apartheid.  This has been shown by a study published by the United Nations University.  Jacqueline Mosomi, a researcher at the University of Cape Town (UCT), explained in the study that the changes reflected the unraveling of the racist societal structure put in place during decades of institutional segregation that began in 1948 and limited the ability of women to travel to and live in cities.  They also demonstrated the positive impact of minimum wages and affirmative action laws that promoted both racial and gender diversity in the workplace.  While in 1993, a year before the end of apartheid, women in low-paying jobs such as domestic work or unskilled farm labour were paid 21% less than men in equivalent positions, the wage gap narrowed to 7% in 2014.  Across the workforce, the proportion of women with tertiary education doubled to 20% in 2015 from 10% in 1993, compared with a more modest rise to 15% from 11% for men.  “The post-apartheid government has been successful in improving the human-capital characteristics of women.  This has led to an increasing number of women in high-skilled occupations,” Mosomi observed.

Read the full original of Antony Sguazzin’s report in the above regard at Fin24


SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / TRAINING

Nursing Council and health and higher education departments must align to resolve nursing training crisis, says Solidarity

ANA reports that trade union Solidarity’s Occupational Guild for Nursing on Thursday said it was vitally important that the Department of Health, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the SA Nursing Council (SANC) all get aligned with each other to resolve the current training crisis.  Noting that SA was experiencing critical problems with the training of nurses, Hennie Bierman, head of Solidarity’s Occupational Guilds, observed:  “The SANC’s ineffectiveness has a negative impact on the finalisation of regulations on nursing training and the accreditation of new training institutions for nursing training, practice, and programmes, as well as the reaccreditation of existing institutions and programmes offering nurses’ training.”  He went on to note that the main problem was that accreditation of all nursing courses and the approval of private training institutions had been dragging on since 2014, which could be ascribed to a lack of communication between the SANC and the DHET.  Bierman said even fewer nurses were being trained, putting extra pressure on the existing nurses in the profession.  Given that 60% of the country’s nursing training was done by private training institutions, accreditation of those institutions could prevent shortages of nursing staff in the future.

Read the full original of the report on the above at The Citizen. Read Solidarity’s press statement on this matter at Polity

Lack of skilled artisans hurting job creation and economic growth

The Citizen writes that while SA’s unemployment rate of 27.1% in the fourth quarter of 2018 reflected a figure of 6.14 million jobless people, lack of skilled artisans has been singled out by experts as a major barrier to job creation and economic growth.  Notwithstanding youth unemployment above 50%, the country faces a challenge of lack of growth in the artisan economy, Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the third quarter indicates.  Deepening the dilemma of government and business in finding required qualified artisans is the fact that few young people take up training in the 13 key critical areas of the artisan economy, compared to many who prefer going to university after high school.  Artisan skills currently needed to grow the economy include bricklaying, plumbing, boilermaking, carpentry, welding, mechanical engineering and fitting and turning.  According to the National Development Plan (NDP), SA has to produce 30,000 qualified artisans a year to meet labour demand if poverty and inequality are to be drastically reduced by 2030.  It is against this background that the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has invested billions into further development of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges to produce the much-needed artisans.

Read the full original of Brian Sokutu’s report in the above regard at The Citizen


RETIREMENT AND OTHER EMPLOYEE FUNDS

Guards set to down tools over missing provident fund money

SowetanLive reports that Reshebile Aviation and Protection Services is scrambling to keep 400 security guards from downing tools after the company failed to pay their provident funds following a determination made by the Pension Fund Adjudicator (PFA).  About 40 of the 400 employees lodged complaints with the PFA after their pension funds could not be accounted for.  Reshebile had been deducting R300 a month from the workers' salaries, which went to the Senpef Provident Fund, administered by WSM Employee Benefit Administrators.  In November, the PFA ordered that Reshebile should submit all outstanding contribution schedules in order to facilitate the calculation of the employees’ outstanding withdrawal benefits within three weeks of the determination.  It further instructed the company to calculate the complainants' outstanding contributions, together with late payment interest owed by the company, within a week of receiving the contribution schedules.  Shadrack Dladla, managing director of Reshebile, said the pension fund issues would be addressed in a meeting that was scheduled to be held on Thursday.  He accepted that that the payments were presently in arrears because of “some financial difficulties with clients failing to pay the company.”

Read the full original of Tankiso Makhetha’s report on this issue at SowetanLive


PAY DISCRIMINATION

Outcry over racial divide in pay at Mulbarton Primary School

The Star writes that alleged racism in Gauteng schools has reared its ugly head again with accusations that white and Indian staff at Joburg's Mulbarton Primary School were paid up to twice as much as their black colleagues, regardless of qualifications or experience.  Official documents from the school for staff paid by the school governing body (SGB) revealed that a white groundsman received at least R5,000 more than his black colleagues, including roughly R1,000 more than a Grade 7 teacher with tertiary qualifications.  Several SGB members charged that black teachers were discriminated against by senior Indian staff, including the principal Lawrence Kistadoo, in favour of Indian and white employees.  According to a March report by law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, an Indian teacher on the governing body once publicly stated that black teachers were not preferred as “they will compromise the standards and culture of the school”, which the SGB members said proved the low regard that black workers were apparently held under.  Speaking on behalf of the school, Gauteng Department of Education spokesperson Steve Mabona acknowledged that black staff used to receive less pay than their Indian and white colleagues, but said this had been remedied since December.  With regard to the Indian teacher and SGB member who allegedly made racist remarks against black educators, Mabona said the teacher’s comments had been falsely reported.

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

Traffic officers want RTMC to grant them same pay as new appointees

SowetanLive reports that eighteen traffic officers have hauled their employer to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for unfair discrimination after it hired new officers and paid them higher salaries.  The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) is accused of appointing about 50 new officers and offering them senior positions at a scale higher than that applicable to those already at the corporation.  Now the 18 officers are demanding the same salaries as the new appointees, claiming they were unfairly denied opportunities to apply for the new posts.  The matter will be heard next week.  The employees, in a complaint filed with the CCMA, allege that about 50 people were appointed by the RTMC on 15 June 2015 for inspector traffic officer positions on a higher salary scale than that of traffic officers - and that positions as advertised were similar to the ones they occupy.  RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane said he was aware of the case, but it was untrue that traffic officers at the corporation were overlooked for the positions.  The unfair discrimination complaint was first lodged with the CCMA in 2015 but for almost three years was delayed because of disputes over jurisdiction.  However, the labour court ordered last year that the CCMA has jurisdiction on the matter.

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


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT TO AND FROM WORK

Cape Town train arsonist suspect to undergo 30 days of psychiatric assessment

TimesLIVE reports that the alleged train arsonist who made a confession in court last week appeared quietly in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Thursday.  Having assessed Thobela Xoseni's mental state, the district surgeon recommended that he be referred for 30 days' psychiatric observation.  Xoseni said nothing during the proceedings, in stark comparison to his outbursts a week earlier when he declared: "I burnt the trains."  He will be kept in the hospital wing at Pollsmoor Prison in Tokai until his next court appearance on 3 June.  The 30-year-old from Khayelitsha is accused of setting alight two trains at Cape Town station on Easter Sunday, causing damage estimated at R33m.

Read the original of Sumin Woo’s short report on the above at TimesLIVE

 


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