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, 9 May 2019.


MINING LABOUR

AngloGold Ashanti mulls selling Mponeng mine in final exit from South Africa

Bloomberg reports that AngloGold Ashanti indicated on Thursday that it was reviewing options to sell its South African business – including Mponeng, its last underground mine in the country – as the gold producer focuses on assets that generate higher returns.  CEO Kelvin Dushnisky said in a statement:  “The investment to extend Mponeng’s life beyond eight years has very strong competition for capital and other scarce resources from a host of other projects in our portfolio, which at current planning assumptions are more attractive, generating higher returns and quicker payback periods.  We have therefore decided to review divestment options for our South African business."  The company said the process was at an early stage and might not ultimately result in any change to the ownership of its SA business.  The sale of Mponeng would be the final step in AngloGold’s withdrawal from SA after it sold and shut other mines in the country to stem losses.  While there would be challenges in getting the backing of the SA government and trade unions, the sale would improve the company’s valuation to investors, observed James Bell, a mining analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

Read the full original of Felix Njini’s report on this story at Moneyweb

Solidarity disappointed at possible sale of AngloGold Ashanti Mponeng mine

ANA reports that trade union Solidarity said on Thursday it was disappointed, though not surprised, by AngloGold Ashanti’s announcement that it would possibly sell Mponeng, its only remaining mine in SA, along with all its other mining assets.  “This announcement does not only prejudice job security, but would cause major uncertainty among employees, directly impacting employee morale,” Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said.  He noted that over the past few years AngloGold had already drastically scaled down its operations in SA.  Du Plessis expressed the hope that the process of possibly selling the mine would be a responsible one and that a condition of the deal would be that the new owner would take on all of the affected AngloGold workers on the same conditions of service and maintaining the same labour relations and safety standards.  AngloGold CEO Kelvin Dushnisky has apparently fully briefed trade unions about the decision and Solidarity said it would work closely with the company to ensure that South African mining expertise was not lost in the process.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Business Report. Read Solidarity’s press statement on this matter at SA Labour News

Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold costs topped R1m/kg during Amcu wage strike

BusinessLive writes that the true costs of the five-month strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold mines was laid bare in its March quarter numbers, which also underlined the necessity of the restructuring of its gold assets that Sibanye was undertaking.  The company has warned that up to 6,670 people could be affected in the process, the results of which would be released in coming weeks.  The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) called a wage strike on 21 November 2018, and ended it a few days short of a five months on 17 April, settling for little more than three other unions had agreed to in November.  But the damage done by bringing half the gold workforce out on strike was revealed in the first quarter’s numbers.  Gold output (excluding that from the 38%-held DRDGold) fell by 63% compared with the same quarter a year earlier.  The all-in sustaining costs for the quarter were an astonishing R1,002,350/kg compared with the R550,000/kg a year ago.  The received gold price for the quarter was R588,040/kg.  So the strike meant Sibanye was unable to realise the improved gold price, which averaged R507,719/kg a year ago.  The worst-affected mine, the Beatrix operation in the Free State, noted an all-in sustaining costs of R1.105m/kg for the quarter as underground output fell dramatically.  Sibanye noted, however, that its platinum group metals (PGMs) businesses in SA and the US had offset losses from the gold division.

Read the full original of Allan Seccombe’s report in the above regard at BusinessLive. See too, Sibanye-Stillwater ekes out pretax profit despite bruising strike-torn Q1, at Miningmx

As ownership battle delays resumption of mining, ex-workers join the Lily Mine battle

SowetanLive reports that former employees of the closed Lily Mine and other community members have been camping outside its gate demanding that the new owners reopen the mine and hire them.  The gold mine outside Barberton was owned by Vantage Goldfields when it was forced to shut and lay off over 1,300 employees after a crown pillar collapse on 5 February 2016.  The bodies of three employees, who were buried underground in the collapse, have never been recovered.  Subsequent to that, the mine went into business rescue.  Now a new owner, the Sikhula Sisonke Empowerment Corporation (SSC) group, claims it is being delayed from reopening the mine.  SCC's Fred Arendse accused Vantage Gold Fields of holding on to the mine's keys.  "As for us we were ready to start re-employing the miners and start working towards finding the bodies of the three miners who disappeared.  But Vantage hasn't given us the share certificate with its directors... and all the documents needed when something is being sold," Arendse claimed.  Black-owned SSC received funding from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and paid compensation to the families of the three miners who disappeared.  But Vantage CEO Michael McChesney said the company cancelled the agreement with the SSC group after Arendse allegedly failed to raise the required money.  Community members said they would not be leaving the Lily Mine gates.

Read the full original of Mandla Khoza’s report on the above story at SowetanLive

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • SA’s gold production shrank for an 18th straight month in March, at Fin24


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Workers at Uitenhage school construction site strike over training fund

GroundUp reports that workers at the R68-million Noninzi Luzipho Primary School construction site in KwaNobuhle township, Uitenhage, are on strike over a training fund.  About 40 workers employed by Alex Maintenance and Electrical Services downed tools earlier this week, saying that the strike would continue until their demands were met.  According to the workers, R600,000 had been put aside for training by the Coega Development Corporation (CDC), which has been contracted by the Eastern Cape Department of Education to build the school.  Apparently, the training was for bricklaying, electrical services, carpentry, machine usage and plumbing skills.  Instead, the workers claimed, the money had been used to top up their salaries from August last year, from R16 to R22 an hour.  Protest leader Ndyebo Sifuba said:  “After the project, we won’t get jobs, because we have had no training.  What we are saying is that all we want is training, and that is it.”  Another protestor said:  “We will stop the protest when we see training happening.”

Read the full original of Thamsanqa Mbovane’s report on the above at GroundUp

Elgin Valley farm workers picket for better pay

SABC News reports that members of the Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers’ Union (Csaawu) have embarked on a protected strike at the Oak Valley Farm in Elgin Valley, Western Cape.  The action follows a breakdown in wage talks, among other issues.  The farm produces grapes, apple, pears and commercial cut flowers.  The workers have been picketing outside the farm’s head office in Grabouw.  Csaawu Karel Swart indicated that the union wanted seasonal workers to be paid R250 per day instead of the minimum R18 daily wage.  Also, all seasonal workers must be given permanent employment.  “The second thing that workers put on the table is the compounds (hostels).  The union demands that we must convert these compounds into family units.  Our black people have nowhere to go.  Upgrade these compounds and convert the compounds into family units.  That is a case of human rights demands,” Swart indicated.

Read the original of the report on this story at SABC News

Strike turns Joburg’s Park Station into a pit of filth

The Citizen reports that a two-week-long strike by the cleaning staff employed by a private company has turned Park Station, Johannesburg’s thriving transport and business hub, into a pigsty.  The tiled floors are blemished with dark stains, uncollected rubbish is strewn all over, the escalators are not working and the public toilets are dirty.  According to a source, the striking workers are demanding that a company contracted by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to provide cleaning services should employ them on a permanent basis.  Calls to Prasa’s Nana Zenani and Sipho Sithole on Wednesday went unanswered, while SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) national spokesperson Papikie Mohale said the strike had not been sanctioned by the union.  The iconic Park Station – the largest railway station in Africa – serves as a major transport hub in Johannesburg and plays a pivotal role in the integration of transport modes by connecting inner-city services.

Read the full original of Brian Sokutu’s report on the strike at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Strike by Durban workers racked up damages worth R3.5m, at The Citizen


STAFFING / RECRUITMENT

South African corporates need to rethink the way they employ people, says Capitec

BusinessTech reports that Nathan Motjuwadi, HR executive at Capitec Bank, says that previous work experience and a lack of quality education continue to be barriers to entry for many of SA’s youth.  In a recent Twitter Q&A with SA’s youth, President Cyril Ramaphosa urged businesses to employ young people even if they don’t have work experience and, according to Motjuwadi, corporates need to rethink the way they employ and the way they view skills.  “While there are initiatives in place to close the gap between education and the needs of businesses, corporates need to do more.  Job creation cannot be amplified without looking at how we train individuals so they can succeed in skilled, high paying jobs,” he noted.  Indicating that Capitec’s philosophy was to seek individuals with potential and then to develop these candidates to become future managers and leaders from within its employee base, Motjuwadi said the bank employed university graduates in a permanent role within the organisation, allowing them to acquire skills and experience in all the business units of the bank before placing them in a position where they could excel.  This included the finance, marketing, risk, IT, science, business development and credit departments, as well as the human resources division.  The bank has seen employee retention improve by approximately 3% since the introduction of its graduate development programme.

Read the full original of the report on the above at BusinessTech


REMUNERATION

Take-home pay in March boosted by bonus payouts to high earners

Moneyweb reports that the average take-home pay of SA employees increased to the second highest point in seven years in March, the BankservAfrica Take-Home Pay Index showed.  It was, however, bonuses paid out to high earners during the month that contributed to the high increase in average take-home pay.  The average real take-home salary was recorded at R14,500 in March, while the average take-home pay without adjusting for inflation reached a new high of R15 812.  BankservAfrica’s Sheregan Naidoo said the increase was significant, but was hardly felt by the typical employee (defined as someone earning a take-home pay where 50% earned less and 50% earned more).  The typical take-home pay was just above R10,043 in March – the lowest recording since April 2018.  Accordingly, it was 1.3% less after adjusting for inflation on a year-on-year basis.  The disparity between the two averages could be attributed to the bonuses paid to high earners during March.  Salaries in March often include performance payments as companies who have their year-end in December reward senior and mid-level staff in that month based on the company’s performance.  Naidoo reported that there had been a 15% increase in people who banked more than R40,000 in March on a year-on-year basis, while those earning less than R12,000 but more than R6,000 on a monthly basis, dropped by 6%.

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


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS

SA Typographical Union sees planned Tiso Blackstar retrenchments as a “knee-jerk” reaction

ANA reports that the South African Typographical Union (Satu) on Thursday said it was “disappointed” by the process undertaken by Tiso Blackstar to cut jobs.  Earlier this week, striking staff at Tiso Blackstar were sent an email by managing director Andy Gill advising them of pending retrenchments and the closure of Sunday World “as a result of the economic headwinds facing the business in the form of lower advertising and circulation revenue.”  He wrote further:  “While it is unfortunate that this is likely to result in job losses, the sustainability of the division remains our most important objective.  The fact is that we are operating in a much-changed operating environment which our business has to adapt to if it is to remain profitable and relevant.”  Reacting to the notification, Satu said it was of the opinion that such drastic measures were hasty.  Edward de Klerk, Satu general secretary, said management at Tiso Blackstar was “now essentially culling staff” in what the union viewed as a “knee-jerk” reaction.  The union also revealed that management at Tiso Blackstar recently threatened to stop the deduction of the subscription fees paid by members.

Read the full original of the report on the above at The Citizen


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT TO AND FROM WORK

Cape Town minibus taxis revolt against City with blockade in Green Point

Cape Times reports that a group of Cape Town minibus taxi owners with vehicles operating in Green Point, Sea Point and Hout Bay downed tools in protest at the decision to impound their vehicles this week.  The city’s traffic service impounded 47 minibus taxis in Green Point on Monday following an illegal blockade outside the Gallows Hill driving licence testing centre by disgruntled taxi operators.  They were demanding operating permits.  On Monday, safety and security mayoral committee member JP Smith said: “This is the second illegal blockade in as many days and the City cannot tolerate such behaviour.”  Taxi owner Sabelo Nyama said:  “The City knows the matter because they were the ones who gave us permission to operate.  Now they changed that.  They only told us on Monday that the permission was suspended, without letting us know.  To release a taxi you must first pay R10,000.  The City doesn’t understand that we are serving people here.  Our commuters are now stranded, people do not have transport to go to work.”  Stranded commuters were forced to use metered taxis, causing a tense stand-off between minibus taxi owners and metered taxi drivers.

Read the full original of Bambongile Mbane’s report on the above story at Cape Times


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND PRESS STATEMENTS

  • Anti-slavery organisation in SA gets boost from UK grant, at TimesLIVE
  • SA’s manufacturing output up 1.2% y/y in March, at Moneyweb
  • Mfuleni police captain appears in court for firearm licence fraud, at Cape Argus

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page