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, 14 May 2019.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Security increased on N1 near De Doorns after three trucks targeted in attacks and a driver killed

EWN reports that security been heightened on a stretch of the N1 in the De Doorns area in the Western Cape.  Three trucks have been targeted by criminals since Sunday.  Over the weekend, a truck driver was killed when his vehicle was pelted with a rock, causing him to lose control of the vehicle.  The truck, which was laden with clothing, was then looted.  Arrests have yet to be made.  Traffic chief Kenny Africa indicated:  “There is a thorough investigation currently by the South African Police Service.  The truck was empty 45 minutes after the incident happened.”  Meanwhile, police have opened a culpable homicide case.

The original of Shamiela Fisher’s short report on the above is at EWN

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Warder stabbed at Port Elizabeth prison, at News24


MINING LABOUR

Platinum producers brace for labour clash in early Ramaphosa test

Bloomberg writes that when the world’s biggest platinum producers sit down with labour unions this month to negotiate a new three-year wage deal, it could prove an early test of Cyril Ramaphosa’s new presidency.  An amicable outcome will bolster Ramaphosa, who is a former mine union leader and one-time platinum company investor, as he seeks to lure foreign investors.  However, the industry is bracing for a tough round of talks and, with the industry having reaped windfall profits, there are fears the unions will go on strike.  Some producers have accumulated cash to withstand a repeat of the prolonged and violent strike in 2014.  With preliminary wage talks likely to start this month, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and Uasa will be pitted against at least seven producers, including Anglo American Platinum and Sibanye Gold.  Some fear Amcu is gearing up for industrial action after the labour registrar threatened to deregister the union for failing to hold a regular congress and leadership elections.  Another platinum strike as in 2014 would hurt both the industry and the unions, according to analyst Peter Major.  “Don’t try to force our hand with a threat of a strike, because quite honestly we will take a strike.  We are not intimidated by those types of things,” Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman commented.

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

Former Lily Mine workers threaten to go underground to retrieve container containing bodies

SABC News reports that former employees of Lily Mine in Barberton, Mpumalanga, have threatened to go underground to retrieve a container in which three people were trapped and killed after the mine caved in three years ago as a result of a crown pillar collapse.  The angry workers have been camping at the mine for some ten days with the aim of getting the attention of mine management and government.  “No response (is what) we are getting from the government as a whole.  So we have resolved that the waiting is enough now, because it’s over three years.  We’ve been waiting and nothing is happening.  So we took this resolution as a collective resolution.  As I said we want to go down and do something aiming to retrieve the container ourselves because nobody is helping us up to this far,” said one of the former workers, Herry Mazibuko.

The original of this short report by Mthobisi Mkhaliphi is at SABC News

Bodies of two illegal miners dumped by the roadside in Benoni

The Star reports that the dead bodies of two men, suspected to be illegal miners, were found on Monday morning at the sides of two roads in Ekurhuleni in the vicinity of an abandoned mine shaft where illegal mining is known to take place.  The bodies had visible injuries on their upper body and their heads, which could have been caused by assaults or by falls.  Provincial police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele advised that one body was found on Main Reef Road near New Modder, Benoni, and another along the N12.  He said the motive of the incidents was unknown, while it was also not known whether or not the men were killed where the bodies were found.  The discovery is just another one of the many instances in which the bodies of illegal miners have been found not far from abandoned mine shafts.  In January last year, seven rotting bodies of illegal miners were found near a mine dump in Benoni.  A few months later in September, five decomposed bodies were found near an old mine in Boksburg.

Read the original of the report by Chulumanco Mahamba on this story at The Star

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • NUM and JB Marks Education Trust Fund lead Gauteng into the 4th Industrial Revolution, at NUM News (press statement)


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Farm workers at Oak Valley Estate in Grabouw strike for R250 per day

GroundUp reports that farm workers from Oak Valley Estate and supporters from Grabouw blocked the N2 highway near Sir Lowry’s Pass on Monday demanding a wage increase to R250 per day, an end to labour brokering, and the removal of single-sex hostels.  They have been on strike — organised by The Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (Csaawu) — since 6 May, with no agreement in sight.  “Farm workers can’t live on R162 a day.  The money that the workers bring home into the community is not enough for the community to survive with,” said Csaawu’s Karel Swart.  He indicated that the workers wanted the hostels demolished and replaced with family homes.  He also claimed that labour broking was making “white farm owners rich”, but “it keeps wages low”.  Oak Valley said that it fully complied with the National Minimum Wage Act for both permanent workers (average wage R273 a day) and seasonal workers (average wage R234 per day).  The company said it also provided free services such as transport to and from work, and rent-free housing on the farm.  Oak Valley indicated that it would not enter into negotiations with Csaawu until the union represented at least 50% of the farm’s workers.  It also pointed out that labour brokers were common in an industry where seasonal work was required.

Read the full original of Ashraf Hendricks’ GroundUp report at TimesLIVE

Strike by Legal Aid lawyers looms over lack of security at offices, enormous workloads and bullying

The Citizen reports that the wheels of justice could grind to a halt countrywide if a brewing national strike at Legal Aid SA is not averted.  Grievances relate to a lack of security at the public legal agency’s offices, debilitating workloads and bullying.  Following years of fruitless engagements with management, aggrieved workers – including lawyers and support staff – fired the first salvo last year when they obtained a strike certificate from the CCMA.  As part of the picketing rules agreed upon with the employer building up to a full-blown strike, workers were due on Tuesday to hold demonstrations at the agency’s Braamfontein offices.  On Monday the agency confirmed that chief executive officer Vidhu Vedalankar would accept a memorandum of grievances from the workers, with timeframes for a response.  Legal Aid SA provides legal services in criminal and civil matters for those earning between below R8,000, and receives funding from parliament.  The agency has 64 local offices, six provincial offices, and one national office.  According to a lawyer at the forefront of the action, 80% of accused in all cases before courts were defended by the agency, so no court would operate during the strike.

Read the full original of Sipho Mabena’s report on the looming strike at The Citizen

Protest by Legal Aid attorneys on Wednesday won’t affect court roll, for now

BusinessLive reports that according to disgruntled Legal Aid SA attorneys, constitutionally mandated to provide the poor with legal assistance, their planned protest action in Johannesburg on Wednesday will not affect cases on the court roll, for now.  Among other grievances, the lawyers are unhappy about their group life cover policy, what they claim are horrible working conditions and alleged intimidation, abuse and victimisation on the part of the state-owned law firm’s senior executives.  Other points pertain to the process being followed to appoint CEO Vidhu Vedalankar’s successor and the payment of subscription fees of about R2,500 per person per year to the Legal Practice Council, which the company has stopped.  Another grievance is the lack of security personnel at the body’s headquarters in Braamfontein, which has resulted in attorneys being verbally abused by clients.  Speaking on behalf of his more than 200 colleagues, attorney Michael Motaung said they had not ruled out embarking on a “full-blown strike” if their grievances were not addressed.  Legal Aid SA’s COO, Jerry Makokoane, said the organisation has had to face budget cuts in recent financial years, which have affected the organisation’s financial sustainability.  Consultation processes according to the law had been followed in reducing benefits due to financial constraints.

Read the full original of Luyolo Mkentane’s report on the above at BusinessLive


LABOUR MARKET / JOBS / UNEMPLOYMENT

Unemployment rate rises to 27.6% in first quarter of 2019

Fin24 reports that SA’s unemployment rate increased to 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019, Stats SA announced on Tuesday.  The jobless rate at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018 was 27.1%, meaning the rate increased by half a percentage point.  According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the first quarter, there were 16.3 million employed people and 6.2 million unemployed people between the ages of 15 and 64 years in the country.  All sectors barring manufacturing, trade and transport cut employment.  At 142,000, the construction industry cut the most jobs while financial services trimmed 94,000 positions.  Investec's Kamilla Kaplan noted as follows:  "The unemployment rate typically rises in the first quarter of the year as temporary employees hired in the service sector over the festive season are typically laid off."  SA’s high unemployment rate will be one of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s immediate task following his victory in last week’s national elections.

Read the full original of the above report on the unemployment rate at Fin24. Read too, South Africa's unemployment rate rises to 27.6% in first quarter, at Business Report. And also, SA unemployment rate hits highest level since 2017 at 27.6%, at EWN


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS

Sunday World to shut down, staff to be retrenched across the range of Tiso Blackstar publications

The Citizen reports that media conglomerate Tiso Blackstar has announced that its tabloid Sunday World publication will be closing down.  In addition, there will be retrenchments at a number of its publications, including Sowetan, Business Day, The Herald, and Daily Dispatch.  The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) has released a statement saying the organisation was “perturbed about the continued job losses in the media industry”.  Sanef said it saw the closure of Sunday World as an indication of “hard times for the local media industry” and that it was “concerned that declining numbers of media institutions, publications and the shrinking numbers of journalists will lead to fewer reporting, opinions and debate in the country”.  Sanef’s statement went on to add:  “We call on media owners to think creatively and responsibly about implementing new, sustainable business models, built on the integrity and trust our readers, viewers and listeners place in us to tell the country’s stories without fear or favour.”

Read the original of the report in the above regard in full at The Citizen. Read Sanef’s press statement at Sanef News


DISMISSALS

South African Nuclear Energy Corporation CEO axed

Engineering News reports that Phumzile Tshelane, CEO of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa), has been dismissed from his post and removed from the state-owned organisation’s board.  This was announced on Tuesday by Energy Minister Jeff Radebe in a short press release.  The decision was made because of serious charges brought against Tshelane, coupled with a resolution by the Necsa board.  It was also based on the recommendation of a disciplinary panel.  The dismissal took effect from 11 May.  The press release added that the Necsa board would commence advertising soon to start the recruitment process to fill the vacant board position.  The candidates would require the necessary expertise and skills to guide Necsa into the future and ensure its sustainability and growth.

The original of a short report on the above is at Engineering News


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Durban Mayor Zandile Gumede granted R50,000 bail in fraud, corruption and racketeering case

The Citizen reports that the mayor of the eThekwini Metro, Zandile Gumede, appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday morning on charges that included fraud, corruption and racketeering.  She had earlier handed herself over to the Hawks and was granted bail of R50,000.  The charges against Gumede relate to a dodgy R208 million tender within the Durban Solid Waste (DSW) department.  Gumede’s bail comes with strict restrictions.  Magistrate Dawn Somaroo emphasised the seriousness of the bail conditions and said:  “Due to intimidation and threats, investigations had to be brought forward.  These conditions are strict and any hint of these conditions directly or indirectly violated, you will be brought back to court to see if you violated conditions.”  Earlier this month, nine people were arrested – including DSW deputy head, Robert Abbu and the city’s supply chain manager, Sandile Ngcobo – for fraud relating to the same tender.  They have already appeared before the commercial crimes court.  The other accused in the matter were service providers.

Read the full original of the report on this story at The Citizen. Read too, Three more eThekwini officials to appear in court on corruption charges, at The Citizen

KZN call centre agent arrested for allowing her fingerprints to be used for passport application

Daily News reports that a 23-year-old Durban woman, who works as a call centre agent, was arrested for fraud in Pietermaritzburg on Friday.  The woman apparently accompanied a foreigner who was applying for a passport to the Pietermaritzburg home affairs offices “a while ago”.  She allowed her fingerprints to be used on the foreigner’s passport and was allegedly paid R1,000 for her “assistance”.  Cyril Mncwabe, home affairs manager in KwaZulu-Natal, said an employee of the department, who has since died, was involved in the fraud.  The agent later had problems when she went to do a transaction at a clothing store.  The ID photo under her particulars related to a different person and the store sent her to home affairs to rectify the problem.  “The department employee who assisted them in getting the passport would have been arrested too had she still been alive.  The foreign national will also be arrested if she is found,” Mncwabe indicated.  Last month, two home affairs employees from Richmond appeared in the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court for fraud.  They were arrested by the Hawks for irregularly issuing late registration birth certificates and other sensitive documents from their office.

Read the full original of Chris Ndaliso’s report in the above regard at Daily News


OTHER REPORTS

North West public warned against bogus labour inspectors issuing spot fines

ANA reports that the Department of Labour in the North West pointed out on Monday that labour inspectors did not issue spot fines.  Andile Makapela, North West chief director of provincial operations, advised:  "We wish to inform the public that under no circumstances will the labour inspectors issue on the spot fines for non-compliance."  He was reacting to reports that a vehicle with Gauteng registration numbers was moving around the province, with its occupants claiming to be labour inspectors.  The bogus inspectors were apparently targeting the business community in the province, with Klerksdorp being the most targeted area.  They demanded money for alleged for non-compliance with labour laws and issued fines that needed to be paid on the spot.  Makapela called upon any employer or company that might have come across these individuals to engage the North West provincial chief inspector or the local labour centre in their area for the matter to be investigated further so that the perpetrators could be brought to book.

Read the full original of the report on this scam at Independent News. Read the Department of Labour’s press statement on this matter at DOL News

Bogus health inspectors nabbed after trying to fleece Port Shepstone shop owner

Daily News reports that three persons who allegedly pretended to be employees from the Department of Health and who conducted a raid at a supermarket on the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) South Coast have been charged with fraud.  The suspects - two men and woman aged between 34 and 38 - are expected to appear in the Port Shepstone Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.  In addition to fraud charges, they also face charges of extortion.  Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said that on 10 May the three apparently misrepresented themselves as health department employees.  "They approached a supermarket on Nelson Mandela Drive in Port Shepstone and proceeded to check the expiry dates of various items.  They allegedly further requested the storekeeper make a cash payment to them.  The owner of the store then contacted the department to confirm the visit.  This resulted in the three suspects fleeing in their vehicle."  Upon their arrest, a vehicle with false registration plates, reflective jackets, fraudulent documents from the health department, identity cards as well as stamps were found in the suspects’ possession.  The hired vehicle they had used was fitted with fake health department signage.

Read the full original of the report on this story at Daily News


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES

  • Former Maties prof arrested after k-word outburst at restaurant, at Cape Times
  • Joburg’s waste-pickers help SA’s recycling rate rival some in Europe, at BusinessLive

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page