news shutterstockIn our afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Wednesday, 30 October 2019.


TOP STORY - UNEMPLOYMENT

Low business confidence lies behind rising unemployment rate, say economic analysts

BusinessLive reports that SA’s unemployment rate climbed to its highest level since the global financial crisis, data from Statistics SA showed on Tuesday.  The rate increased to 29.1% during the third quarter of 2019, which was the highest since the first quarter of 2008.  The expanded unemployment rate, which includes discouraged job seekers, remained at 38.5%.   Wits School of Economics’ Lumkile Mondi said the government needed to implement sweeping reforms to reignite the economy, which was projected to grow 0.6% in 2019.  He went on to say:  “Reforms, reforms and more reforms.  We have a crisis of confidence in the SA economy.  We don’t think the state is taking the crisis very seriously.”  In September, the Bureau for Economic Research’s business confidence index (BCI) dropped to 21 index points in the third quarter from 28 in the previous quarter.  This was the lowest level since the 1998-1999 emerging-market debt crisis.  The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry BCI fell to 89.1 index points in August, its lowest level since April 1985.  Econometrix chief economist Azar Jammine described the 29.1% unemployment rate as a crisis, noting that the economy was growing faster than the rate at which formal sector jobs were being created.  Ian Cruickshanks of the Institute of Race Relations said business confidence was needed to address the unemployment crisis.  “We’ve got to do something to reinvent confidence and the private sector’s willingness to deploy capital in new endeavours to grow the economy,” he warned.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Luyolo Mkentane at BusinessLive

Job seekers’ prospects worsen as the army of unemployed swells to almost seven million

Business Report writes that the prospects of securing a job in SA have become even bleaker for semi-skilled and unskilled workers, as almost seven million people were out of employment in the three months to September.  The Quarterly Labour Force Survey released by Statistics SA on Tuesday showed that unemployment had increased to 29.1% in the third quarter.  The expanded unemployment rate increased to 38.5% due to at least 10.3 million people who were not working.  This data came almost a year after the government’s Jobs Summit and 14 months after the release of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic stimulus and recovery plan.  In commentary, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PxC) said that it was clear that neither endeavour had had a real positive impact on the country’s employment creation.  It commented as follows:  “The country’s 6.7 million unemployed and 2.8 million discouraged workers are left with few answers as to how the situation will be turned around.  The lack of required skills is a massive issue for the country.  Not surprisingly, the ease of finding skilled employees is ranked 98th out of 141 countries.  This helps explain the country’s inability to create jobs: a lack of aptly skilled workers.”  Investec economist Lara Hodes said weak economic growth was at the centre of rising unemployment.  Seifsa economist Marique Kruger said efforts aimed at easing unemployment were not bearing fruit and more time was needed for initiatives aimed at creating sustainable employment to become more effective.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Siphelele Dludla at Business Report

Three sectors that bucked the bleak unemployment trend

TimesLIVE reports that while SA's unemployment rate continued in the third quarter of 2019 to climb to the worst levels in more than a decade, three sectors saw positive growth.  On Tuesday, Statistics SA revealed that SA’s unemployment rate hit its highest level in 11 years in the last quarter, namely 29.1%.  According to Stats SA's Quarterly Labour Force Survey, 6.7-million people were unemployed in the three months to 30 September.  Statistician-general Risenga Maluleke said high declines in employment in the third quarter were recorded in the manufacturing sector, which shed 30,000 jobs, followed by construction at 24,000, trade at 21,000 and utilities at 18,000.  However, the formal sector, agriculture, and the private household sectors recorded increases in the number of people employed during the period.  Formal sector employment increased by 43,000, agriculture increased by 38,000 and private household employment increased by 35,000.  Added to that, employment also increased quarter-on-quarter in five of the 10 surveyed occupations.  The largest increase was observed in professional occupations, which were up by 122,000 jobs, followed by those in sales and services up by 89,000 and elementary up by 38,000.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Unathi Nkanjeni at TimesLIVE

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Opposition parties blame ANC for high unemployment rate, at EWN


MEDIUM-TERM BUDGET POLICY STATEMENT

Mboweni to introduce measures to cut government’s wage bill

Engineering News reports that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said during his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) speech in Parliament on Wednesday that to stabilise the country’s debt outlook and reduce spending, government planned to introduce measures to cut down on the public sector wage bill.  The wage bill accounted for 46% of tax revenue in 2019/20, mainly owing to the above-inflation increases in the average remuneration over the past decade.  The MTBPS indicated that salaries for civil servants grew by about 40% in real terms over the past decade.  Mboweni indicated that the National Treasury would hold discussions in the relevant bargaining structures and with other stakeholders to achieve a sustainable arrangement with regard to the wage bill.  He clarified that the number of employees in the public sector would not be reduced, but rather, the level of wages would be moderated.  According to the MTBPS, other options to be considered in reducing the wage bill included pegging cost-of-living adjustments at or below consumer price index inflation, halting automatic pay progression and reviewing occupation-specific dispensations for wages.  Mboweni also cited measures from the 2019 Budget, which included early retirement without penalisation; the national macro reorganisation of government; reducing performance bonuses; and freezing of salaries for members of the executive and parliamentarians.  He noted that early retirement savings were coming through slower than originally anticipated and so the early retirement programme would be reinvigorated.

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


ESKOM RESTRUCTURING

Cosatu wants guarantees that Eskom workers won’t be retrenched

Fin24 reports that the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has noted that the special paper on Eskom released by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan is silent on job security.  Cosatu's parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks on Tuesday issued a statement reacting to the paper, which is a roadmap for the future of Eskom, collaboratively developed by various government departments and academics.  It lays out proposals for turning around the power utility's dire financial position through cost-saving measures.  The plan also acknowledges the need for a just transition, which will ensure that communities and Eskom workers are not negatively impacted through the proposed unbundling process and as the power utility moves away from fossil fuels to alternative, cleaner energy sources.  Cosatu, however, said it regarded the paper as a "draft" and wanted to engage with government and other social partners within Nedlac about it.  Parks said the federation and its affiliate the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) would not be "bulldozed" into accepting a roadmap that did not address workers' concerns about their jobs, communities, energy affordability and security of supply.  "The paper’s silence about job security and a lack of a commitment not to retrench workers is extremely worrying and is condemned in the strongest possible terms by Cosatu and NUM," Parks said.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lameez Omarjee at Fin24


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

JMPD officers to undergo combat, self-defence training following cop’s wrestling incident with motorist

News24 reports that officers from the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) are to undergo combat and restraining techniques training to defend themselves from physical attacks.  This comes after video footage emerged showing a JMPD officer wrestling with a motorist.  In the clip, the armed officer is seen being overpowered by the motorist and falling to the ground, while onlookers recorded the incident on their cellphones.  On Tuesday, mayoral committee member for public safety, Michael Sun, said the City had noted the video clip with great concern, and had instructed his officers to investigate the incident further.  "JMPD officers go out to ensure the safety of residents and cannot be seen to compromise on this.  They will use the necessary force whenever required.  This is also another reminder to us that our JMPD officers will require further training in terms of close-quarter combat and restraining techniques going forward,” said Sun.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ntwaagae Seleka at News24


MINING LABOUR

Anglo American and Exxaro join forces to create new Limpopo job opportunities outside of mining

BL Premium reports that Anglo American has joined forces with Exxaro Resources to foster economic and job opportunities outside of mining in Limpopo.  One of the biggest risks identified by mining executives is community unrest around their operations as municipalities either buckle under corruption and incompetence or lack the skills to provide services to attract businesses, leading to unemployment and demands for jobs and benefits from mines.  Anglo, through Anglo American Platinum, owns the Mogalakwena open-cast operation, which is often in the news because of difficult relations with its neighbouring communities.  Coal miner Exxaro has joined Anglo, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and World Vision International along with the Limpopo government to push the creation of employment opportunities outside mining and the formation of businesses to sustain communities after mining is completed.  It has taken more than a year of intense negotiations with the Limpopo government, community groups, faith groups and non-governmental organisations to align strategies and processes to come up with what is called Impact Catalyst.  For Anglo, the initiative will include communities around Mogalakwena and further afield in the province where Exxaro has large coal mines supplying Eskom and the export markets.  “At the heart of this, we want to create sustainable communities that can survive after mining in our host areas,” Anglo’s Andile Sangqu said.

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


MARIKANA DEATHS / FARLAM COMMISSION REPORT

Former top cop and three others back in the dock over circumstances of Marikana death

ANA reports that the trial of former North West deputy police commissioner Major General William Mpembe and three others in relation to the death of one of the mineworkers killed in the 2012 Marikana massacre continued at the North West High Court in Mogwase on Tuesday.  Mpembe, provincial head of detectives Brigadier Gideon van Zyl, Colonel Dingaan Madoda and Captain Oupa Pule are facing charges of contravention of the Commissions Act, contravention of the Independent Police Directorate Act and defeating the ends of justice.  They were arrested after an investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) found that one mine worker, Modisaotsile van Wyk Sagalala, died in police custody and not in hospital or at the scene where the police shot at mine workers.  The state charges that the accused concealed the circumstances of Sagalala's death.  The trial continues.

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


BARGAINING COUNCILS

Stop extending bargaining council agreements to small businesses, Michael Bagraim exhorts

Michael Bagraim, MP and well-known labour analyst, writes as follows to the editor of Business Day:  “Many of the budget proposals coming from the public to finance minister Tito Mboweni entail more government spending to obtain benefits.  However, one small but effective proposal already made by Mboweni himself is to stop the ministerial practice of extending bargaining council agreements to small businesses.  This practice can be stopped by the stroke of a pen with immediate effect, at absolutely no cost.  This will result in freeing up small business to take on more employees, and potentially create more than 1-million new jobs.  Over and above this, it would stop the wholesale retrenchments that are taking place at present.  The extension of the bargaining council agreements creates a situation where big business is able to destroy competitive small businesses by pushing up the terms and conditions of employment beyond the ability of the small business sector to pay.  It is understood that this practice is heavily supported by the trade union movement, which is not that active within the small business sector and wants to ensure its members in big business are not threatened by a small business recruitment.”

Read the original of the above letter at BusinessLive


EXECUTIVE PAY

Hefty pay cut for Blue Label executives after failure to meet targets

BL Premium reports that executives at technology group Blue Label Telecoms took a large pay cut in the last financial year after failing to meet a number of targets.  Blue Label’s recent performance has been hampered by its investment in Cell C, in which it holds a 45% stake.  In its latest annual report, Blue Label said the board and management were “extremely disappointed in the performance of Cell C and, as at 31 May 2019, our entire investment into Cell C and our exposure in the SPV1 and 2 structures, was written down to zero”.  Its remuneration report shows that compensation for the company’s top executives comprised a number of factors, most notably short-term and long-term incentives, and performance bonuses.  The total remuneration of co-CEOs Brett and Mark Levy, who each received R23.9m in 2018, declined 40%.  They were paid R14.3m each in 2019 with a base salary of about R9m.  In terms of short-term incentives, the company indicated that it had not achieved predetermined targets for growth.  “As a result thereof, as well as the executive directors electing to forfeit bonuses for the nonfinancial targets, no short-term incentive bonuses were paid to them,” the company stated.  No short-term bonuses were given in 2018 but in 2017 the Levy brothers received as much as R7.8m in such incentives.

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


RISK COVER

SA earners live dangerously with too little death and disability risk cover

BusinessLive reports that on average, South Africans are short R2.2m in cover, the latest SA life and disability gap study shows.  The shortfall in life and risk assurance cover for the country as a whole is growing, with the insurance gap reaching almost R34.7-trillion for its 15.6-million income earners.  This gap has widened by almost R6-trillion, or 6.4% a year, since the end of 2015, according to the 2019 Insurance Gap Study of the Association for Savings and Investment SA (Asisa).  The study, conducted every three years, measures the difference between the risk cover SA income earners have in place and what they actually need.  The insurance need is defined as the amount of money a person or his/her family would need to maintain the same standard of living prior to the person dying or becoming permanently disabled and losing income.  It does not take into account any debt, or additional once-off costs associated with disability, such as adapting a home for a wheelchair.  The shortfall in life cover of R1m and in disability cover of R1.2m means the average income earner has a combined insurance gap of R2.2m.  The loss of an earner could have devastating financial implications for families if no provision is made for adequate life cover, Asisa’s Rosemary Lightbody warned.  She also noted that the need for disability insurance was higher than for life assurance because household expenses tended to decrease when a family member died, while disability tended to increase household expenses due to the needs of a disabled person.  

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Charlene Steenkamp at BusinessLive


DISMISSALS

Old Mutual seeks recusal of Judge Mashile in contempt hearing brought by former CEO Peter Moyo

Business Report writes that Old Mutual has applied for Judge Brian Mashile’s recusal as the presiding judge in the upcoming contempt of court hearing between the insurer and its former chief executive Peter Moyo.  The hearing is due to be heard early next month.  Old Mutual first fired Moyo in June due to an alleged breakdown in trust and conflict of interest.  When Moyo sued for unfair dismissal, the court ruled in his favour.  However, Old Mutual refused to re-admit him to its offices and fired him a second time.  “The decision to proceed with the recusal application was a difficult one.  The directors emphatically state that they mean no disrespect to Judge Mashile.  By making Judge Mashile the subject of the contempt proceedings, Moyo’s team have created a situation where the judge would have to decide on claims, which now directly involve him personally,” Old Mutual’s board said.  On 15 October, Moyo filed a replying affidavit introducing a new ground of contempt, in which he claimed that Old Mutual and its directors had embarked on a campaign of insulting Judge Mashile personally.  Incidentally, Old Mutual’s chairperson Trevor Manuel had had to apologise publicly for a remark he made about Judge Mashile, when the judge delivered the ruling in Moyo’s favour.  Meanwhile, the High Court in Johannesburg has set an accelerated timetable for Old Mutual’s appeal against the judgment that temporarily reinstated Moyo and it will be heard on 4 December.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Edward West at Business Report. Read too, Old Mutual’s bid to remove judge a 'desperate attempt' to delay case, says Moyo’s lawyer, at Fin24


SUSPENSIONS

Cricket South Africa suspends three senior employees

EWN reports that Cricket SA (CSA) has confirmed the suspension of a group of what is believed to be senior employees surrounding a situation involving player contracts and the South African Cricketers Association (SACA).  According to CricInfo, the employees suspended include interim director of cricket Corrie van Zyl, as well as chief operating officer Naasei Appiah and commercial manager Clive Eksteen.  CSA said they were investigating allegations of dereliction through non-payment of players during the 2018 Mzansi Super League.  The governing body also confirmed that disciplinary action could be taken against the suspended employees following the outcome of the investigation.  CEO of Cricket South Africa Thabang Moroe said: “CSA wants to reassure all cricket fans and all cricket stakeholders that our organisation and indeed our staff adhere to the highest ethical standards in all our dealings and that consistency and accountability remains uppermost in all our processes and procedures.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Matthew Young at EWN. Read too, Chaos reigns as Cricket SA suspend three top employees, at The Citizen

 


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