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 roundup of weekend news, see
summaries of our selection of South African
labour-related stories that appeared since
Friday, 27 September 2019.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Fire ripped through KZN textile factory in Mooi River on Friday, no-one injured

TimesLIVE reports that a fire ripped through a textile factory in Mooi River in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) midlands on Friday.  Samantha Barnard of Jovial Private Security indicated:  “No injuries or casualties have been reported.  We still don't know how the fire started, we will have to wait for the fire department to conclude their investigations.”

Read the original of the above report by Orrin Singh and view some photos at TimesLIVE


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Sasbo to appeal judgment blocking banking sector strike

Sowetan reports that finance union Sasbo says it will appeal a judgment by the Labour Court, which on Thursday interdicted the union from engaging in protest action on Friday against retrenchments in the banking sector.  Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker ruled that Sasbo and Cosatu had failed to comply with provisions of Section 77(1) of the Labour Relations Act, which governs protests to promote and defend the socioeconomic rights of workers.  Speaking after the judgment, Sasbo general secretary Joe Kokela said:  “[The protest action] is not cancelled, it is suspended.  We are not going to sit down as Sasbo and Cosatu to watch our workers exploited by capitalism.”  Cosatu deputy general secretary Solly Phetoe remarked:  “We are going to mobilise our members against the exploitation, against the continuation of retrenchments in the bank sector, but also in the manufacturing, in the mining and in the agricultural sectors.  We will ask our legal team to get the reasons [for the judgment], and immediately they must appeal.”  He said Cosatu was going back to Nedlac to resubmit a notice about its grievances on the economic crisis in SA.  In her order, Rabkin-Naicker indicated that any person who took part in the intended protest action would not enjoy the protection afforded by the Labour Relations Act.

Read the full original of the above report by Ernest Mabuza on page 4 of Sowetan of 27 September 2019. Read too, Bank strike war far from over, at Independent News. And also, Huge relief for banks, at The Citizen. As well as, Unions ‘have violated section 77 and had not engaged in negotiations before strike’, at Business Report

Strike by petrol attendants will ruin us, say taxi bosses

The Citizen reports that the taxi industry has weighed in on the pending nationwide strike by petrol attendants, auto-components and vehicle dealerships workers and has called on the employer and union negotiators to find each other to avoid a strike that will devastate the taxi industry and the economy.  The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) said the motor industry and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) must try to resolve their differences around the current wage dispute to prevent the looming industrial action.  Santaco’s spokesperson, Thabiso Molelekwa, said the industry was already hard hit by regular fuel increases and would struggle to cope with a strike by petrol attendants in particular.  According to Molelekwa, such a strike would affect 60 million commuters.  The pending strike is due to the breakdown of negotiations between Numsa and employers at the Motor Industries Bargaining Council, over shift allowances and bargaining rights.  The dispute was unsuccessfully mediated by the CCMA.  The motor sector employs more than 300,000 people, working as component makers, petrol attendants and in car dealerships.  Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim accused the employers of being “arrogant” in the talks and commented:  They remain inflexible.  It seems we are headed for a strike.”

Read the full original of the above report by Eric Naki on page 3 of The Citizen of 27 September 2019


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Private security guards, employers turn to mediation in bid to avoid wage strike

Fin24 reports that private security guards and their employers are heading for two days of mediation in October following weeks of deadlocked wage talks.  While employers, represented by the SA National Security Employers' Association, are offering a 1.1% increase to salaries, unions are demanding that the salaries of security officers be lifted to R7,500 for the lowest grade and up to R8,500 for the highest grade.  The minimum wages for security guards currently range from R3,900 to R5,558 per month in urban areas.  Democratised Transport Logistics and Allied Workers Union (Detawu) general secretary Vusi Ntshangase indicated that in terms of the sector's protocol agreement, the parties were obliged to consider compulsory mediation, which will sit on 1 and 2 October.  If the mediation process fails to produce an agreement, a dispute will be registered at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).  Should the CCMA fail to break the deadlock, the sector will see its first strike in years.  The private security industry in SA is a large employer, with more than half a million security offers.

Read the full original of the above report by Khulekani Magubane at Fin24


MINING LABOUR

We saw that the Marikana job cuts were coming, laments Amcu

City Press reports that according to Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa, the union knew there would be a bloodbath of jobs if Sibanye-Stillwater’s acquisition of Lonmin’s Marikana operations was approved by the Competition Commission.  Sibanye announced last week it would cut 5,270 jobs – 3,904 employees and 1,366 contractors – at its Marikana operations.  “We saw it coming.  That is why we opposed the sale.  We fought it and the government did not support us.  These retrenchments are well orchestrated to destroy Amcu and its leadership.  They never expected me to come back from the elections as president,” Mathunjwa said, while accusing the company of having planned the cuts in advance.  He also said the government was complicit:  “It’s exploitation and they have the backing of the government.  No one can doubt it’s a neoliberal government.”  Mathunjwa said that under Ben Magara, Lonmin’s chief executive, the same operations had turned the corner and had even posted more than R1.1 billion in operating profit before the sale earlier this year.  Sibanye plans to shut three shafts and an open-cast operation.  “These shafts and operations are lossmaking and have reached the end of their economic reserve lives.  Pending the outcome of the 189 (consultation) process, it is proposed that these shafts will initially be placed on care and maintenance,” Sibanya said.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lesetja Malope at City Press. Read too, Sibanye’s Marikana restructuring good in the long run, say market commentators, at Mining Weekly

Sanco wants government intervention to halt Sibanye-Stillwater’s looming Marikana job cuts

ANA reports that the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) in the North West province on Thursday called for government intervention to avert job losses in the mining sector.  This followed a statement by Sibanye-Stillwater that at least 5,270 jobs were at risk at its Marikana operations.  Sanco’s Paul Sebegoe noted that intervention programmes previously adopted by the ministry of mineral resources and key industry players had given communities hope that implementation of social labour plans and community development would be accelerated.  "The change of ownership from Lonmin to Sibanye-Stillwater must not move goalposts and forever defer the commitment made towards beneficiation, sustainable community development, enterprise and skills development, local procurement, social investment initiatives and greater community involvement in determining and rolling out priority projects that will benefit mining and labour sending communities," Sebegoe said.  He went on to indicate:  "The platinum belt is a nodal point for growth and economic stability in the province.  A slump of mining operations without a plan to mitigate against job losses will impact negatively on the socioeconomic conditions as well as increase crime levels in the area."

Read the original of the above report at Mining Weekly


SOEs IN CRISIS

It's 'in no one's interest' for pilots to strike, says SAA

TimesLIVE reports that South African Airways (SAA) has committed to resolving internal grievances that saw its pilots threatening last week to go on strike.  The pilots threatened the industrial action if critical and technical issues were not attended to.  The commitment from the national carrier came after the SAA Pilots Association (Saapa) publicly expressed concern at the competency of the leadership team to turn the embattled airline around.  “We are disappointed that this has been placed in the public domain while we continue to engage meaningfully with Saapa on a number of issues.  We are in the middle of the negotiation process and we would prefer to see that the process runs its natural course before any statements are made by the parties,” said SAA spokesperson, Tlali Tlali.  But, he acknowledged that the courier was faced with numerous challenges, including revenue stimulation and network optimisation.  The public was assured it was in "‘no one’s interest"’ to embark on industrial action as all stakeholders were committed to the airline’s course of action and contingency plans to turn the carrier around.  SAA indicated would continue engaging Saapa, other unions and all employees in sharing progress being made and mechanisms being developed to address the many challenges.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nonkululeko Njilo at TimesLIVE

Eskom unions still in the dark about government’s plans for restructuring of the power utility

BL Premium reports that the two largest trade unions at Eskom say they have yet to be called into talks with the government and Eskom to discuss the company’s future.  The co-operation of the unions — the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) — is essential to the success of any restructuring project.  The restructuring proposal is to split Eskom into three stand-alone parts: generation, which includes the power plants; transmission, which is the national electricity grid; and distribution, which are the poles and wires.  However, both unions recently turned down a request for a meeting with the Eskom chief restructuring office headed by Freeman Nomvalo, on the grounds that the government has already set up a committee in Nedlac for the negotiations.  The Nedlac committee has never met.  Numsa is not represented in Nedlac and intends to approach the statutory body to be represented on the six-a-side team.  The government, which is racing against time to produce a credible road map of the restructuring and refinancing plan for Eskom in time for the tabling of the medium-term budget policy statement at the end of October, last met the trade unions before the election.  Both the NUM and Numsa held meetings over the weekend to formulate their ideas on Eskom’s restructuring.  The NUM held a national executive committee meeting, which discussed Eskom, and Numsa held a workshop with shop stewards.  The unions’ stance, articulated on Friday, did not differ much from their earlier blanket rejection of the restructuring proposal.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Carol Paton at BusinessLive (paywall access only)

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Why South Africa needs to fix its troubled public broadcaster, at The Citizen


MERGERS / TAKEOVERS

Clover and Milco could appeal Competition Tribunal’s merger conditions

BusinessLive reports that dairy products producer Clover Industries indicated on Thursday that it might appeal against the conditions set by the Competition Tribunal on its merger with the Milco consortium.  On Wednesday, the tribunal approved the takeover of Clover by Milco, which is led by the Tel Aviv-based Central Bottling Company (CBC), following a recommendation by the Competition Commission that the R4.8bn transaction be given the nod subject to conditions.  The deal will result in the delisting of Clover.  The conditions relate to employment, procurement of juice concentrate from local processors, and an information sharing protocol.  Clover said in a statement that together with Milco it could appeal against the tribunal’s decision as the competition authority had diverted from the conditions the merging parties had proposed.  It said the companies were assessing the impact of the “deviation” by the tribunal from the proposed conditions “and reserve their right to appeal the conditions in due course, but any such appeal will have no impact on the implementation of the Clover scheme”.  During public hearings on the merger, the General Industries Workers’ Union (Giwusa) and Inqubelaphambili Trade Union (ITU) had said the tribunal should block the deal as it would result in the loss of jobs.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Siseko Njobeni at BusinessLive. Read too, Clover to delist from JSE on Wednesday ahead of Milco merger, on page 18 of The Sunday Independent of 29 September 2019


SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / TRAINING

Skills gap in ICT sector requires holistic intervention, report exhorts

Engineering News reports that the skills gap in SA’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector is considerable and is widening as a result of digital transformation.  Greater intervention is required according to the tenth edition of the ‘Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) – Information Technology Professionals South Africa (ITPSA) ICT Skills Survey’ report, released on Thursday.  The report examines the acquisition of skills, the challenges of closing the skills gap and the trends affecting skills development in the local ICT environment.  It notes that SA companies largely follow an evolutionary path for digital adaptation; therefore, companies will require skills which are already familiar, such as developers, database administrators and user interface signers.  But, new skills will still need to be added, associated with emerging technologies such as big data and the Internet of Things (IoT).  The report indicates that, from an employer’s perspective, there is slowing demand for existing skills; however, the ongoing pressure from the introduction of new and innovative technologies continues to ensure that the skills gap is not closing.  ITPSA production consultant Adrian Schofield indicated that the report showed a definite digital skills gap in the country’s ICT sector.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Engineering News


RETIREMENT FUNDS / PENSION INVESTMENTS

Labour in Nedlac throws weight behind proposal of prescribed retirement fund assets

Engineering News reports that Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali has come out in support of government's prescribed retirement fund assets proposal.  In his view, trustees of worker pension funds are currently being stymied from investing in assets that would be in the long-term interests of the country and of workers.  Speaking as the convenor of the labour constituency at the 24th summit of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) on Thursday, Ntshalintshali noted that the prescribed-asset instrument had been deployed in the 1950s to support the development of several state-owned companies (SOCs).  “We know that in the absence of prescribed assets, trustees of our funds find it difficult to invest where the returns are low, even if it is for a good cause,” Ntshalintshali explained, adding that trade unions were prepared to support the reintroduction of the mechanism.  He also argued that the bail-out of SOCs should be separated from the investment case.

Read the full original of the above report at Engineering News


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Public Works corruption is still bleeding department dry, says De Lille

The Citizen reports that ahead of a report in November by Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, has uncovered more disturbing corruption revelations within her department.  Admitting that the department’s register of over 30,000 pieces of land and more than 81,000 buildings contained significant problems, De Lille has called for its overhaul, as well as intensified action against corrupt officials.  In July, she announced that all tenders issued by her department would be fully open for public scrutiny in a bid to root out corruption related to leases.  She also directed that lifestyle audits be conducted on the department’s senior staff, for finalisation by June 2020.  The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has meantime conducted 2,325 probes in the department, half of which were reported to be finalised in July.  It has been tasked with recouping some R403 million in looted money, and is still investigating 2,162 building leases that have raised red flags.  In July, the Public Service Commission was also reported to be finalising its report into irregular appointments within the department, with Phase One revealing that 11 out of 37 senior management members had been irregularly appointed.  Phase Two dealt with the appointment of 677 staff members at levels below senior management, of which 94 were so far found to have been irregularly appointed.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at The Citizen


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND PRESS STATEMENTS

  • Ramaphosa appoints economic advisory council, at Moneyweb
  • South Africa’s business rescue system ‘slowly maturing’, says Fasken partner, at Engineering News
  • March by public servants on Friday against femicide and gender-based violence, at TimesLIVE
  • Diesel, 95 octane petrol and paraffin will cost more from Wednesday, at TimesLIVE

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page