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 July 2019.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Three construction workers killed in trench collapse in Cape Town on Monday

TimesLIVE reports that emergency services worked into the night on Monday to recover the bodies of three construction workers who died after a trench collapsed on them in Cape Town.  The three men were buried under sand when an excavated area along a construction site caved in next to Sandown Road in Table View just after 5pm.  Cape Town fire and rescue service spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said emergency services were called to the scene and that upon arrival it was found that three persons were trapped in a trench as a result of the walls having caved in.  Sections of the road were closed off to traffic.  Carelse indicated further:  "Fire services, metro and other agencies worked tirelessly throughout the night to recover the bodies.  The bodies of three adult males were eventually recovered and the scene was handed over to SAPS."

Read the original of the above report at TimesLIVE

Armed robbers accost guard, hold up patients on Tuesday at Durban's Westville Hospital

TimesLIVE reports that four armed robbers held up patients at Durban's Life Westville Hospital on Tuesday.  Police provincial spokesperson Col Thembeka Mbele said the assailants accosted and threatened a security guard outside the hospital at about 5am before entering the building.  "The suspects then entered the hospital building where they removed two TVs from the wall and robbed patients of their cellphones and cash," Mbele reported.  No shots were fired and a case of robbery was opened at the Westville police station for investigation.

Read the original of the report by Orrin Singh at TimesLIVE

Fire rips through top floor of Stanger sweet factory on Saturday, no injuries reported

Daily News reports that it was business as usual for Stanger Sweet Wholesalers after a fire ripped through the upper floor of its whiolesale building on Saturday.  Several videos recorded on cellphones captured the scene as the fire engulfed the upper floors of the building situated on Mahatma Gandhi Street in KwaDukuza.  In one of the videos a wall is seen collapsing.  A manager at the store said he was not sure what caused the fire, but it had affected the upper floor warehouse where they stored their goods, mainly bales of chips.  Sipho Mkhize the municipal spokesperson stated:  "At this stage, we are not privileged with information on the cause of the fire."

Read the original of the report by Zainul Dawood at Daily News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Pinetown Magistrate’s Court a health hazard, say staff, at The Mercury


MINING LABOUR

Platinum producers enter wage talks with the advantages of both cash and stockpiles

Bloomberg writes that when the world’s biggest platinum miners sit down to hammer out a wage deal with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) this week, they will hold two potentially winning cards in reserve, namely the cash and metal stockpiles to endure a strike.  Those buffers may prove crucial as Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Sibanye Gold meet with Amcu on successive days from 9 July.  Amcu led SA’s longest-ever platinum mining strike in 2014.  Analyst Ben Davis commented that Amplats had the balance sheet to withstand a strike, plus its key operation was more mechanised, while Implats and Sibanye “are certainly the more exposed, but have the most to lose from large wage increases for the sustainability of their businesses.”  Sibanye, Amplats and Implats all declined to comment on the size of their stockpiles of platinum-group metals.  Jana Marais, spokesperson for Amplats, said:  “We don’t believe there is an appetite for a prolonged strike in the current economic climate.  Nevertheless, we have measures in place to ensure we will be able to meet our obligations to our customers.”  While Amcu has said its demand of a pay increase of as much as 48% was justified as higher palladium and rhodium prices have boosted company earnings, producers have warned that such a settlement would lead to job losses and mine closures.

Read the full original of Felix Njini’s report in the above regard at BusinessLive

Joseph Mathunjwa risks losing Amcu amid questions of identity and direction

Miningmx writes that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) seems to have reached a plateau after its five-month strike in Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold mines effectively accomplished nothing beyond the impoverishment of its members.  The coming platinum wage talks will show if it remains a force to be reckoned with or one that is about to hit a dead end.  Platinum, which does not bargain collectively as an industry but on a company-by-company basis, has been Amcu’s beachhead and some experts maintain that in platinum, despite its dismal gold strike, Amcu is not vulnerable.  Nonetheless, Amcu faces many of the issues that have hit other mining unions, including lay-offs.  According to the Minerals Council SA, the number of workers employed in the platinum mines fell from close to 200,000 in 2012 to under 170,000 last year.  “Amcu is at the crossroads and was riding the Marikana wave until now.  They now need to reposition themselves as a mainstream trade union.  They will have to approach the platinum negotiations in a mature way because what is needed for their members is a sustainable platinum industry,” Gideon du Plessis, general secretary of Solidarity, which represents mostly skilled workers, commented.  Faced with regulatory threats of de-registration because of the union’s failure to hold timely national congresses and other alleged infractions, Mathunjwa is in a corner and there are signs that Amcu may be reaching a plateau of sorts.  While overall the numbers are little changed, they do suggest that Amcu is no longer really growing its ranks.  The author comments that in such a situation, “it is not easy to read how Mathunjwa might respond.  But no one can get a crowd worked up quite like him.”

Read the full original of the above informative article by Ed Stoddard at Miningmx

Other general posting(s) relating to mining


GOVERNMENT WAGE BILL

State forging ahead with plans to cut public sector wage bill

BL Premium reports that the government is forging ahead with plans to trim the unsustainable public sector wage bill, a stance likely to put it on a collision course with its labour allies.  The public servants’ salary bill, which is almost R600bn and represents about 35% of projected annual spending of about R1.67-trillion, is one of the biggest threats to SA’s finances.  In a written reply to parliamentary questions, public service and administration minister Senzo Mchunu said on Monday his department and the Treasury had identified numerous human resources-related areas where they could reduce the wage bill.  These included granting early retirement without penalty for employees, and cutting performance bonuses.  The Treasury has estimated that early retirement could cost about R16bn over the next two years, of which a portion would be funded from the contingency reserve and the balance by the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF).  Finance minister Tito Mboweni wants to cut the bill by R37bn over the next three years via early retirements and natural attrition, with no additional funds allocated for salaries.  The government’s determination to slim down has sparked speculation there will be wholesale retrenchments that will cause tension with labour.

Read the full original of Bekezela Phakathi’s report in the above regard at BusinessLive (paywall access only)

Progress being made in reducing public sector wage bill

The Star reports that according to Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu, government has put measures in place to manage the public sector wage bill.  “The Department of Public Service and Administration and National Treasury monitor the public service wage expenditure to identify new and further areas for potential savings,” he indicated in a written parliamentary response to the IFP’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa, who had enquired whether the department had made any progress in reducing the public wage bill.  The public sector wage bill has continued to grow unabated over the years and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has said that government wanted it reduced by R27 billion over the next three years.  Early retirement without penalties has been identified as one of the measures to reduce the bill along with limits on overtime and bonus payments.  Human resources-related areas aimed to reduce the wage bill have been jointly identified between Mchunu’s department and the National Treasury.  The minister named the granting of early retirement without penalties and said:  “The provision for applications for early retirement, where National Treasury provides funding support to departments, is limited to the period April 1, 2019 to September 30, 2019.  An assessment will therefore be conducted to determine whether a further need for financial support for early retirement is required by departments.”  Mchunu advised that a strategy to decrease the percentage of a department’s allocated remuneration budget for the payment of performance rewards had been developed together with the National Treasury whereby departments may not utilise more than 1.5% of their annual remuneration budget for the payment of such rewards.

Read the full original of Mayibongwe Maqhina’s report in the above regard on page 7 of The Star of 9 July 2019


SOEs IN CRISIS

SABC confident turnaround strategy will save the public broadcaster

EWN reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is confident that its turnaround strategy will save the organisation.  This was indicated after Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams cast doubt on the strategy when she appeared before the parliamentary portfolio committee responsible for her department.  The strategy is one of the factors that were considered by the National Treasury when deciding on funding options for the public broadcaster.  SABC spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu said:  “We’re quite confident ... our management developed a quite robust strategic roadmap and turnaround strategy which had clearly outlined its plans.  And for us, we believe that our turnaround strategy has worked for the organisation thus as we’ve been able to realise some big saves.”  On Sunday, it was reported that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni had declined to approve a government guarantee for the SABC, which is in desperate need of R3.2 billion for its operational costs.

Read the original of the above report by Kgomotso Modise at EWN

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Eskom chair Jabu Mabuza (seemingly with time on his hands) joins MultiChoice board, at Fin24
  • Communications minister 'deliberately misled' Parly about SABC bailout, charges DA's Van Damme, at Fin24


EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT FUNDS

Matjila tells Mpati inquiry he would welcome workers on PIC board

Business Report writes that former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) CEO Dan Matjila has indicated that he would welcome the representation of workers on the asset manager’s board just as long as processes were followed.  He was responding to questions posed during his testimony at the Mpati Commission of Inquiry into alleged impropriety at the PIC.  The commission noted that last month labour federation Cosatu, during its testimony, had called for a 50/50 percent employer and worker representation on the board.  At the time, the organisation’s parliamentary co-ordinator, Matthew Parks had lamented that despite continuous efforts by Cosatu for the status quo to change, the PIC Act of 2004 only made it possible for the employer to determine who was represented on the board.  "I don't have a problem with that as long as the process is in line with the requirements of the PIC.... The position is that whoever sits on the board is able to drive the mandate of the PIC," Matjila said.  He also made it clear that the board was solely responsible for governance at the PIC and they, the board of trustees within the Government Employee Pension Fund (GEPF), crafted the mandate for the asset manager.

Read the full original of Noni Mokati’s report in the above regard at Business Report

Afrisam's collapse caused serious tensions between PIC and GEPF, Mpati inquiry hears

Business Report writes that former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) CEO Dr Daniel Matjila has told of how the collapse of cement company Afrisam, "created serious tensions between the PIC and GEPF (Government Employees Pension Fund)."  According to Matjila, the PIC concluded a BEEE transaction 11 years ago when it spent R6 billion, as means of acquiring a 85% stake in the company that was owned by Holcim and the Aveng group at the time.  He, however, told the Mpati Commission of Inquiry into impropriety at the PIC that the global economic crisis in 2008 resulted in a significant erosion of the value of the PIC’s investment in Afrisam.  By the end of 2010, the valuation on the original investment had dropped to R1.2 billion.  "In response to this negative situation, the PIC Board instituted a process of restructuring of the AfriSam balance sheet to save it from total collapse, which would, without doubt, have resulted in job loses measured in thousands."  Matjila said when the restructuring was concluded in 2013, up to 2,000 jobs were saved.  He also said upon his arrival as an executive, Elias Masilela had been instrumental in reducing the tensions, by improving communication channels between the PIC and GEPF.  Matjila also delved into the controversial acquisition of Independent Media by the Sekunjalo Group.

Read the full original of Noni Mokati’s report in the above regard at Business Report

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Cosatu notes desperate attempt of former PIC CEO, Dr. Dan Matjila, to blame his resignation on Cosatu, at SA Labour News (press statement)


HEALTH CARE / NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

Nurses 'burnt out' at clinic that turned away pregnant woman, says Human Rights Commission

TimesLIVE reports that the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says no action has been taken against officials who allegedly turned away a heavily pregnant woman who ended up giving birth outside a clinic in Pretoria.  Gauteng manager at the commission, Buang Jones, indicated on Monday that the Stanza Bopape Community Health Centre in Mamelodi was not up to standard.  "There is no proper ventilation, the clinic does not have a quality assurance manager.  The manager of the facility was conveniently not present," said Jones after visiting the clinic on Monday.  He indicated that there were many challenges "as the maternity ward is too small.  No filing system.  Staff shortage.  Maternity ward only has eight beds.  Only two midwives and a student nurse.  No administrative support, [they] only have one computer."  Bopape went on to remark that some nurses were burnt out, while there was no doctor at the facility and patients were not assessed prior to treatment.  Elina Maseko was on her way to hospital on 30 June when the car she was travelling in ran out of petrol close to the clinic.  She was allegedly turned away without being examined and told to go to Mamelodi Hospital.  Maseko then gave birth outside the clinic with the assistance of a relative.  She is recovering well and the baby is healthy.  The commission as well as the Gauteng health department launched investigations into the incident.

Read the full original of Kgaugelo Masweneng’s report in the above regard at TimesLIVE. Read too, Tshwane District Hospital cleared of wrongdoing in homeless man's death, at Independent News

Shortage of nursing staff makes NHI impossible, says AfriForum

AfriForum said on Tuesday that the critical and increasing shortage of nursing staff in SA was a fatal weak point in putting the envisaged National Health Insurance (NHI) into practice.  The civil rights organisation noted recent reports that various problems – especially the retirement of older nursing staff – were threatening the occupation.  Dr Eugene Brink, health spokesperson at AfriForum, commented that even though the issue surrounding nursing staff was an acute problem that would worsen even more, there were also other drawbacks in the health system that were nipping the NHI in the bud.  “The NHI plan is harmful and will simply just not work – the shortage of nursing staff is only one symptom thereof.  A lot of nursing staff and doctors are emigrating or leaving the occupation due to the overall precarious conditions in the public health sector and the sword of NHI that hangs over the private sector,” he said.  Brink went on to comment:  “The ANC government is dreaming if they think they can institute the NHI plan in an environment in which your resources are becoming more scarce.  They will need to do away with the administrative obstacles and red tape to give training via the private sector some momentum and then give some much-needed attention to the other aspects in the system that are driving staff away.”

Read AfriForum’s press statement on this matter at Politicsweb


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND PRESS STATEMENTS

  • Philippi East community assured police station commander post will be filled, at EWN
  • Cape Town train fire on Monday night damages two coaches, at News24
  • SAOU: Smeerveldtog – “Die waarheid sal seevier”, at SA Labour News (press statement)
  • Cosatu North West intervenes on the non-payment of security personnel contracted to the provincial administration, at SA Labour News (press statement)
  • DBSA and YES to partner in community hub development, at SA Labour News (press statement)
  • Untu calls on all its members to support protest action on 26 July 2019 over provision of a safe and reliable passenger rail service, at SA Labour News (press statement)

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page