news shutterstockIn our afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Wednesday, 6 November 2019.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Six trucks torched on Monday in Mpumalanga, four near Arnot power station; suspects still at large

News24 reports that the police in Mpumalanga are on the lookout for a number of suspects after six trucks were set alight in separate incidents on Monday night.  One incident took place in Hendrina, four at Arnot and the sixth truck was reportedly set alight in Kriel.  According to police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi, the driver at Hendrina was asleep inside a parked truck when he was awoken by the noise of a breaking window.  An unknown male ordered him to get out of the truck.  He was accompanied by seven other unknown males.  The first suspect allegedly took out a box of matches and set the blankets that were inside the truck alight.  The suspects then fled the scene.  Four other trucks were also burnt in Arnot near the Eskom power station.  This was after one of the truck drivers was ordered to take his belongings out of the truck by an unknown male, who made accusations that the driver was among people who continued to work while others were on strike.  "Thereafter, the said driver saw other trucks that were in the same queue that he was in, burning.  The reports suggest that the trucks were queuing to deliver coal at Arnot Power Station," Hlathi said.  No arrest have been made as yet.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Riaan Grobler at News24. See too, Four trucks torched outside power station, on page 2 of Sowetan of 6 November 2019

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Kalk Bay restaurant manager, staff held at gunpoint by gang who stole R200k, at Cape Times


BARGAINING COUNCILS

Non-compliance with minimum employment conditions a challenge in SA clothing manufacturing sector

Fin24 reports that according to Marthie Raphael, chair of the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry, efforts to improve compliance with minimum employment conditions remained a challenge in SA’s clothing manufacturing industry.  This was, therefore, one of the issues the council wanted to address going forward, she indicated at the body’s recent annual general meeting.  Raphael's report indicates that the council has continued to prosecute offenders for non-compliance with its main collective agreement and has tried to ensure that only companies with compliance certificates are able to access government funding.  Another challenge facing the local clothing manufacturing industry is continued economic pressure, not only in SA, but compounded by unstable global conditions.  As for industry trends, Raphael's report says the local market demand increasingly reflects the sophistication of first world markets.  The local industry has accordingly grown to offer a full range of services from natural and synthetic fibre production to non-wovens, spinning, weaving, tufting, knitting, dyeing and finishing.  Furthermore, due to technological developments, local textile production has evolved into a capital-intensive industry, producing synthetic fibres in ever-increasing proportions.  The apparel industry has also undergone significant technological change and has benefited from the country's sophisticated transport and communications infrastructure, Raphael’s report states.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Carin Smith at Fin24


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT / JOB CREATION

Tshwane automotive investment zone will generate an initial 6,700 jobs

BusinessLive reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that the creation of a Tshwane automotive investment zone that would generate an initial 6,700 jobs, with the promise of more later, underlined SA’s attractiveness to foreign investors.  Central government is spending R3.5bn on infrastructure for a special economic zone (SEZ) next to the Silverton vehicle assembly plant of Ford Southern Africa.  The 81ha first phase has already been fully taken by local and international companies supplying components and services.  Most are existing suppliers that will relocate from current premises, but Ford MD Neale Hill said some were new.  Production is expected to begin in January 2021.  Inducements include tax, duty and VAT breaks, as well as job-creation benefits.  The zone is an extension of the OR Tambo International Airport SEZ.  Besides central government, the Gauteng and Tshwane development agencies are also in on the deal.  A further 81ha adjoining the current land will be released for development later.  The SEZ is another step in Tshwane’s ambition to become Africa’s “motor city”.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by David Furlonger at BusinessLive. Read too, New hub to create more than 6,700 jobs, says Ramaphosa, at BusinessTech

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • New partnership to create 70,000 jobs, at SowetanLive


EXECUTIVE PAY / WAGE GAP

Old Mutual and Just Share want investors to have a binding say on executive pay as a means of narrowing wage gap

BL Premium reports that according to Old Mutual and shareholder activist Just Share, the vote by shareholders on executive remuneration should be binding to help narrow the income gap in SA and reduce inequity.  Speaking at the impact investing forum on Tuesday, Old Mutual’s Jon Duncan said it was “ludicrous” that shareholders’ vote on pay policies was non-binding in SA.  He challenged asset managers to collectively change this.  In SA, votes by shareholders on company pay policies do not give them the final say because the votes are only a non-binding advisory.  The JSE’s listing requirements compel companies to engage shareholders if more than 25% voted against their pay policies.  High levels of executive pay in SA have been a contentious issue for years.  Duncan said asset managers must not be “absent landlords” and should actively shape how companies tackle inequality in SA through their remuneration policies, among other things.  Just Share director Tracey Davies said that while there had been “sporadic efforts” by some asset managers to challenge “obscene” executive pay in listed companies lately, investors need to go a step further by asking executives to explain how their remuneration fared against that of other employees in their companies.

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

Executives at SABC are worth their R42.5m pay, communications minister says

BusinessLive reports that Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has defended the high salaries paid to SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) executives even though the public broadcaster faces an uncertain future due to crippling financial challenges.  According to the SABC’s annual report for 2018/2019, the broadcaster’s CEO, Madoda Mxakwe, received a total pay package of R3.9m for nine months’ work.  The packages for SABC’s top executives including the CEO, CFO, COO and its board totalled R42.5m in the reporting period.  The broadcaster, which has a huge unsustainable wage bill, spends more than R3bn a year on the salaries of more than 3,000 permanent employees across all levels.  Ndabeni-Abrahams said in Parliament on Tuesday:  “The CEO is getting what he is supposed to get ... they [executives] have to be compensated in a competitive manner.  We are confident that as we benchmark with the industry out [and] if we want our executives to perform to their level best they have to be compensated in a deserving manner and ... their turnaround plan is very clear on what needs to be done.”  Despite the SABC’s dire financial situation, Ndabeni-Abrahams suggested that there was no need to cut executives’ salaries.  The SABC had previously planned to retrench staff across the board to turn around its poor financial state, but this route was blocked after Ndabeni-Abrahams’s intervention.  Her department has made a commitment to appoint a chief restructuring officer who will monitor the cost-containment measures.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Bekezela Phakathi at BusinessLive

Calgro M3 forced to collapse executive share scheme to shore up capital

Business Report writes that Calgro M3 was forced to collapse a share scheme for its executives as it frantically sought ways to shore up capital ahead of the release of its interim results.  This was done in order not to breach its loan covenants.  This emerged after the developer of lifestyle estates, memorial parks and rental units on Tuesday tried to explain the reasons for the JSE’s public censure of the company.  The JSE said the group had failed to follow proper governance processes when it collapsed the share scheme for executives.  It explained that Calgro had been censured because it had breached listing requirements by failing to announce all share dealings by directors, failing to announce the terms of share repurchases; and that the JSE had not been notified if shareholder approval had been sought to approve a board resolution for such a share repurchase.  Calgro M3 in September last year decided to cancel the executive share scheme initially approved by shareholders in July 2015, due to the negative impact that new accounting standards IFRS 15 and IFRS 9 had on the net debt/equity ratio, and the gearing ability of the company in future.  The directors said they had a “genuine and bona fide belief,” that they were complying with all relevant JSE listings requirements.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Edward West at Business Report

Ailing economy douses hopes of any bonuses or pay increases for senior professionals

Business Report writes that South African senior professionals, especially in the retail, manufacturing and finance sectors, are neither optimistic about a bonus this year nor a salary increase in the new year.  The belt-tightening as a result of the sluggish economy has doused expectations of bonus and salary raises, according to the Jack Hammer Bonus and Salary Survey for 2019.  These expectations are the lowest they have been in the past four years, the annual survey shows.  About 56% of respondents indicated that they expected little in the way of bonuses this year, and 33% were anticipating no salary increase.  “It is clear that reality is hitting home now, with professionals accepting that if the company and the economy is under stress and profitability is lower, everyone is going to feel the pain,” said Jack Hammer chief operations officer Advaita Naidoo.  In retail and financial services, where many businesses were not meeting their targets, bonuses and increases were not expected.  A main cause of despondency among SA’s professionals arose from concerns around political factors and poor management of state-owned enterprises, high unemployment levels and retrenchment, as well as a perceived lack of capacity-building in emerging skills disciplines.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Banele Ginindza at Business Report


RETIREMENT FUNDS / PENSION INVESTMENTS

Mboweni gives assurance that Treasury is not considering prescribed retirement fund assets

BL Premium reports that the Treasury has for the first time categorically denied that it is actively considering the introduction of prescribed assets.  Finance minister Tito Mboweni also warned on Tuesday that making public comments on such a threat could result in workers cashing in their pension funds prematurely.  At its national conference in December the ANC said the introduction of prescribed assets — which would require pension funds to invest in government bonds and perhaps state-owned entities — would be investigated.  Critics have warned that such a measure would result in lower returns on pension fund assets.  “I want to assure all members of any retirement fund that government’s first and foremost responsibility is to protect their funds at all times, and we have in fact strengthened our regulatory system to continue to do so … This naturally means investing for the long term, in ways that support economic development and growth, and earning good returns based on fund and market fundamentals,” Mboweni indicated in a written reply to a parliamentary question.  The minister emphasised in his reply that the Treasury had not held any consultative meetings in 2019 with industry or anyone else about prescribed assets.

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


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Axed Public Protector COO Basani Baloyi to challenge her dismissal in court

News24 reports that the former chief operating officer (COO) at the Office of the Public Protector SA (PP), Basani Baloyi, will be challenging her dismissal in court on the basis that it was “completely unlawful”.  Her attorney Eric Mabuza said they would be lodging papers in court soon.  Last month, Public Protector (PP) Busisiwe Mkhwebane dismissed Baloyi, along with three other senior officials.  In a letter penned by the PP’s chief executive, Vussy Mahlangu, Baloyi was deemed unsuitable for the position of chief operating officer and lacking the required skills and conduct.  Mahlangu wrote that the PP could not employ Baloyi on a permanent basis, adding that if she wished to appeal the decision she should do so directly to Mkhwebane.  In a letter to the PP dated 28 October, Mabuza indicated that Baloyi would not be appealing the decision “due to the fact that the CEO lacked the authority to terminate her contract of employment.  The termination letter is accordingly a nullity and is of no force and effect."  He added:  "Accordingly, our client cannot be expected to appeal or make representations on something which is a nullity."

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Azarrah Karrim at News24


SEXUAL HARASSMENT / ASSAULT

Correctional services minister, manager at prison found liable for damages for sexual assault on staffer

News24 reports that the Minister of Correctional Services and a manager at a Western Cape prison were found liable on Tuesday for damages to a social worker who was sexually assaulted in the manager's office.  Judge Judith Cloete of the Western Cape High Court ruled as follows:  "It is declared that the first and second defendants are jointly and severally liable for such damages as the plaintiff may prove she has suffered in consequence of the sexual assault upon her on January 9, 2009, at the Dwarsrivier Correctional Centre."  In a lengthy judgment, Cloete went over the voluminous submissions on the prison's organogram, as well as the minister's submissions that even though the assault happened at the prison during working hours, the minister could not be responsible for a sexual assault.  However, the minister was found vicariously responsible, namely that he was responsible through the actions of the staffer.  The staffer was also found liable.  Cloete said case law found that when an employer placed an employee in a special position of trust, the employer bore the responsibility of ensuring that the employee was capable of trust.  She also noted that, even though the manager was not the victim's direct supervisor, the balance of power between the manager and the plaintiff was unequal.  Details of the case are contained in the News24 report.  

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Bongani Hans by Jenni Evans at News24

Security guard at Cape Town primary school fired after 'sex abuse' claims

TimesLIVE reports that a security guard at a primary school in Cape Town has been fired after he allegedly sexually abused a pupil.  Provincial education department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said officials became aware of the alleged incident on 22 October.  A meeting was then scheduled with police and the pupil's parents.  "The police advised the school that the parents needed to lay a charge.  The parents have not yet done so, according to our information,” Hammond advised on Tuesday.  She said the guard was employed by the school governing body and had since been dismissed.  “Our metro north district office has investigated and will continue to monitor all developments.  A district social worker is providing counselling,” she said.  The matter has been referred to child protection services at SAPS.

Read the original of the above report by Iavan Pijoos at TimesLIVE


OTHER REPORTS

Private security companies threaten to sue Prasa after cancellation of guarding contracts

Cape Times reports that three private security companies have threatened to take the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) to court after their contracts were terminated, allegedly without notice.  According to the service providers, about 1,100 security personnel who were deployed to safeguard train drivers, commuters and rail infrastructure along the northern, southern and central lines in Cape Town now faced unemployment.  The companies jointly said a new tender for private security services for Prasa was issued in April 2019.  This tender was meant to be fully operational as of July and, while it was being operationalised, Prasa undertook to make use of the existing service providers   But, the new tender was not finalised by July and Prasa issued month-to-month extension letters to the service providers.  The extensions apparently came for August, September and October, but they did not receive any extension letter for this month.  They advised further:  “Last Friday, November 1, security personnel had worked.  At about 5pm each company received a call from a Prasa representatives ordering that we should stop rendering services at all sites by midnight.  We requested that the termination be provided in writing, but we have not received anything to date.”  The companies on Monday gave Prasa until end of business hours to respond to a letter from their lawyers.  A Prasa spokesperson said letters were issued to the respective companies a month in advance and other security staff had assumed the jobs on Friday.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Okuhle Hlati at Cape Times


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND PRESS STATEMENTS

  • Moody's lowers Eskom's junk rating on restructuring doubts, at Engineering News
  • SABC confirms payment plan to give local artists royalty payments owed to them, at Channel24
  • Parents accuse Isipingo principal of earning R40K salary 'for doing absolutely nothing', at Daily News
  • Opinion: The how of NHI implementation has yet to be spelt out, at BusinessLive

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page