news shutterstockIn our afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Wednesday, 13 November 2019.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

KZN bus driver shot dead by gunman posing as passenger

News24 reports that a man posing as a passenger fired three shots at a bus driver in Redcliffe, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), on Tuesday, killing him instantly.  A police spokesperson said the 31-year-old driver had been driving on Buffelsdraai Road when an unknown man shot him.  The gunman fled in a getaway car.  The motive for the shooting has not yet been established.  Reaction Unit SA spokesperson Prem Balram said they responded to the scene just after 07:00 where their officers found the man slumped in the driver's seat with three gunshot wounds to his head.  According to witnesses on the bus, a passenger entered the vehicle, drew a handgun and shot the driver in the head, Balram said.  The suspect had apparently been picked up as a passenger a short distance from the scene.  Witnesses informed reaction officers that the bus was in motion when the driver was attacked.  The vehicle then rolled back for a short distance before coming to a standstill in the centre of the road.

Read the original of the above report by Tammy Petersen at News24

Gauteng High Court sentences seven cop killers to life imprisonment

News24 reports that seven persons standing trial for the murder of a police officer and the attempted murder of another officer have been handed hefty sentences by the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.  In a statement on Tuesday, the Hawks said the convicted criminals were sentenced to life imprisonment on Friday.  They were also sentenced to an additional 70 years for attempted murder, unlawful possession of prohibited firearms, unlawful possession of unlicenced firearms and ammunition as well as robbery with aggravating circumstances.  In 2015, the seven were caught in the act during a robbery in Jeppestown, Johannesburg.  When approached by two on-duty officers - sergeants Selby Hlabisa and Mashudu Ramabulana - some of the suspects opened fire, killing Hlabisa.  Ramabulana was unharmed.  Three of the suspects were shot and injured after which they fled to the Jeppe hostel.  The police gave chase, searched the hostel and apprehended the suspects.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Kamva Somdyala at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Sandton house robbers shoot security guard and police officer, at TimesLIVE
  • Deadly Bank of Lisbon building to go down in a bang, at The Star


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Unions issue SAA with strike notice

Fin24 reports that South African Airways (SAA) acting chairperson Thandeka Mgoduso has confirmed that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) issued the national carrier with a strike notice on Wednesday morning.  SAA announced on Monday that it was embarking on a restructuring process that might affect 944 jobs (almost a fifth of its employees).  In response, Numsa and Sacca warned that their members were preparing for "the mother of all strikes at SAA".  Deon Fredericks, interim chief financial officer of SAA, told a media briefing on Tuesday that the strike would endanger the existence of SAA and could destroy every job at the state-owned airline.  Fredericks also advised that labour costs currently represented 24% of SAA's total cost.  On Wednesday, SAA briefed Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on the reasons why it had failed to submit its 2018-19 annual report and financial statements.  The delegation said they were prevented from tabling the report as there were reservations as to whether the airline could be presented as a going concern.  Over the past 13 years, the carrier has incurred over R28bn in cumulative losses.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Khulekani Magubane at Fin24. Read too, 'Technically insolvent' SAA says it is at a precipice as strike looms, at Fin24

SAA can’t withstand a strike, nonexecutive director Kingston warns

BusinessLive reports that South African Airways (SAA) nonexecutive director Martin Kingston said on Wednesday that the national carrier would not be able to withstand a strike, which would cost in region of R50m a day.  He also said that despite having received substantial support from the government in 2019, SAA required more funding to continue operations.  “The consequence of our current financial circumstances and the threat of an impending strike would fundamentally undermine any hope of a turnaround taking place,” Kingston told MPs.  He was appearing before parliament’s standing committee on public accounts to explain why SAA had failed to submit its annual financial statement to parliament for the past two years.  Kingston told MPs that the company was unable to table its financial statements as it was not a going concern and would receive either a disclaimer or a qualified audit.  A disclaimer on the accounts would mean that SAA’s credit would dry up overnight and would be unable to fly, so the board was not prepared to take that risk, said CFO Deon Fredericks.  Kingston said the only remaining option was for SAA to table accounts on a liquidation basis, which would have a catastrophic effect.  “All our loans and the leases on our planes would be accelerated.  There are R40bn of obligations that would have to be settled immediately,” said Kingston.  He indicated that liquidation would put 10,000 jobs at SAA and its subsidiaries at risk, and 40,000 to 50,000 indirect jobs.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Carol Paton at BusinessLive. Read too, Retrenchments unavoidable to fix 'challenges currently facing SAA', at TimesLIVE

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • ‘Technically insolvent’ SAA says it is at a precipice as strike looms, at The Citizen
  • SAA sticks to its guns on restructuring, at Business Report


MINING LABOUR

Signing of Amcu wage agreement with platinum producers, scheduled for Wednesday, postponed

ANA reports that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) said late on Tuesday that the signing of a wage agreement with platinum producers scheduled for Wednesday had been postponed.  "Signing ceremony scheduled for 13 November 2019 at the Glenburn Lodge & Spa has been postponed to date yet to be confirmed.  Amcu apologises for any inconvenience and will communicate the new date once it’s confirmed," the union posted on its Twitter account.  Earlier on Tuesday, Amcu indicated in a statement that it had reached a three-year wage deal with Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum and Sibanye-Stillwater.  Amcu, which had been demanding a living wage of R17,000 per month for mineworkers, said details of the agreement would be revealed at the signing ceremony.

Read the original of the above report at Mining Weekly. Read too, Amcu postpones platinum wage pact signing for further ‘technical’ talks, at Miningmx

NUM to hold its first rally in Marikana since 2012 massacre

Independent News reports that after years of bleeding members at the hands of rival Amcu in Marikana, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is heading back to the area on a recruitment drive this weekend, backed by its federation Cosatu.  On Sunday, NUM is planning to hold its first rally in Marikana since the 2012 massacre, which saw 34 mineworkers being gunned down by police as they were striking for better wages.  Cosatu North West secretary Kopano Konopi said the main purpose of the rally was to revive the NUM once more in the area.  “Since the developments in 2012 we have not been active there.  The last activity we had in Rustenburg was in October in 2017, but it was not in Marikana,” he indicated.  Konopi remarked that it had been difficult for NUM to organise and get membership since the massacre due to intimidation of workers and the violence that has seen a number of miners being killed.  He said many members who wanted to join NUM were unable to do so as they feared for their lives.  “Safety and freedom of speech is of concern in the area.  What makes it difficult for us to organise there is that people are being intimidated.  People are willing to move from Amcu but they are scared for their lives,” he stated.  

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Siviwe Feketha at Independent News


RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB CUTS

SA Post Office to cut jobs to ensure its viability

BusinessLive reports that executives at the SA Post Office (Sapo) told MPs on Tuesday that a process was under way at the parastatal aimed at reducing staff numbers and increasing productivity.  They bemoaned the high and unsustainable cost base at the cash-strapped parastatal, especially salaries and perks, which gobble up more than 70% of its revenue.  Sapo employs about 23,000 people and operates more than 2,400 postal branches around the country.  In a submission to members of parliament’s communications portfolio committee, the company’s executives said that the restructuring would be done in a phased approach.  About 776 employees would be leaving the organisation at the end of November 2019 through voluntary severance packages.  Employees were invited to apply for the package in October and a total of 2,839 quotations were requested.  Sapo said the 776 applications, as approved, would realise savings of R17m a month.  A total of R204m per year in benefits would be paid out, which was below the target of R320m.  Furthermore, the reduction of labour related costs such as overtime and extended hours, would reduce staff expenditure.  Subject to negotiations with organised labour, some functions could be outsourced.  Sapo has also been hamstrung by vacancies in key posts, including that of CEO and CFO.  

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

Closure of Saldanha steel plant will be 'catastrophic' for West Coast

TimesLIVE reports that the impact of ArcelorMittal SA (Amsa) winding down operations at its Saldanha steel plant early in 2020 will be catastrophic for the region, about 100km north of Cape Town.  An estimated 900 workers will be left jobless by the end of the first quarter of 2020 as the factory scales back production from its current 1.2-million tons of steel each year to none.  Warning about the impact of the closure, the West Coast Chamber of Business has called for a meeting with stakeholders in the steel industry.  Chairperson Shanah Damonse said the closure would be catastrophic and indicated as follows:  “Nine hundred people are being retrenched.  If those 900 people are responsible for four people in their household, 3,600 people are being indirectly impacted.”  It was moreover expected that there would be a ripple effect on several small businesses involved in the Saldanha steel industry, leading to even more job losses.  The SA Social and Economic Development Forum has called for a march to the factory gates and said it would be writing to trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel and President Cyril Ramaphosa to seek their intervention.  Amsa said it was closing the plant because it could no longer compete in export markets.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jamaica Ponder and Maggie Connolly at TimesLIVE

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Saldanha Steel plant closure set to shed 900 jobs, at Moneyweb


SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / TRAINING

Lack of funding hinders government’s plans to grow TVET college enrolments

BusinessLive reports that MPs heard on Tuesday that the government’s hopes of expanding student numbers at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges were being stymied by the weak economy and the tight fiscal environment.  The National Development Plan positions TVET colleges as vital for tackling SA’s skill shortage and suggests reversing the current situation in which more school leavers enroll at universities than colleges.  In line with the plan, the government’s 2013 white paper for post-school education and training proposed expanding enrolment in the TVET college sector to 2.5-million by 2030, but the number was capped in 2015 at 710,535 due to funding constraints.  That threshold has yet to be reached, and preliminary figures presented to parliament indicated that enrolments for 2019 stood at only 436,525.  Though additional funding was made available to the sector in the wake of former president Jacob Zuma’s announcement of free higher education for eligible students in 2017, historic underfunding meant the extra money was not enough to increase student numbers.  Worse still, no enrolment growth would be possible over the next three years unless there was an increase to the TVET college budget allocation, which was unlikely in the current fiscal environment.  

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tamar Kahn at BusinessLive


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Trade and Industry pays almost R6m to 10 officials who were suspended with full pay

Independent News reports that the Department of Trade and Industry has paid almost R6 million to 10 officials who has been on suspension with full pay - one of them for more than 750 days.  This was revealed by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, following written parliamentary questions from the DA’s Mat Cuthbert in September.  Cuthbert wanted to know the total amount paid to the 10 officials after Patel had earlier indicated that several of his suspended officials were receiving benefits, including pay, while on suspension for various offences.  In his reply in August, Patel said 10 officials were on paid suspension and one of the officials had been on full pay suspension for 729 days at the time.  Two other officials, had been on paid suspension for 325 days and 235 days respectively.  Out of the 10 senior staff concerned there are two chief directors; one director; five deputy directors; one assistant director and one trade and investment advisor.  All 10 of them faces charges ranging from alleged fraud, gross negligence and dishonesty.  Patel advised in the follow-up answer that the total amount paid to the officials was R5,867,579.  He indicated that he had asked the Director-General to consider appropriate ways, within the legislative framework and prescripts to avoid lengthy suspensions in future.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Baldwin Ndaba at Independent News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Senior Kruger Park ranger suspended for allegedly torturing black employees, at City Press


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Former Eskom and Transnet CFO Anoj Singh a no-show at Saica disciplinary hearing

BusinessLive reports that former Eskom and Transnet CFO Anoj Singh was a no-show at his SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) disciplinary hearing that began on Wednesday morning.  Singh is facing 18 charges for breaching a multitude of the organisation’s by-laws.  The 18 charges of dishonesty and gross negligence relate to his conduct at both parastatals between 2012 and 2015.  He had a relationship with the Gupta family, which linked across his tenure at both companies.  The Guptas are at the centre of state capture allegations.  Saica has already suspended Singh’s membership, but the disciplinary hearing may pave the way to have him completely deregistered as a chartered accountant.  Saica said on Wednesday that when it informed Singh of the charges, he chose only to respond to matters related to Eskom and pleaded not guilty.  Saica referred the matter to the disciplinary committee to force Singh to respond to the charges he faced during his time at Transnet.  Singh and his legal team were not present at Wednesday's hearing, despite being invited to appear.  The disciplinary hearing will continue in his absence until Friday.  

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Londiwe Buthelezi at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Over 300 Gauteng officials ‘stole’ over R200m, at


SEXUAL ASSAULT

Fake education department official accused raping Mpumalanga pupils remanded in custody

Sowetan reports that a Mpumalanga man who allegedly raped two pupils and sexually assaulted another after he apparently posed as an official from the department of education has been remanded in custody.  The man apparently went to Keledi High School in Bushbuckridge last week and claimed he was an official from the department of education.  He offered to help grade 12 pupils apply for bursaries to study medicine in Russia.  Provincial police said the man took the cellphone numbers of the pupils and met them individually outside the school in his car where he allegedly raped two of them.  The third victim managed to escape when she realised what was happening.  Brig Leonard Hlathi said the man allegedly told each victim that he had grade 12 exam papers that he wanted to give to them, but they must sleep with him first.  When they refused, he forced himself on them.  The accused appeared briefly in the Bushbuckridge Magistrate’s Court on Monday.  Education spokesperson Jasper Zwane said:  “As the department we condemn the incident and we are deeply shocked.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mandla Khoza on page 4 of Sowetan of 12 November 2019

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Ex-Bryanston High coach accused of sexual abuse of pupils on bail, on page 8 of The Citizen of 13 November 2019


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT

Metrorail to bolster Western Cape fleet with eight new train sets over next two months

EWN reports that Metrorail has advised that over the next two months eight new train sets would be added to its existing fleet in the Western Cape.  Two train sets were already undergoing trial operations and technical crews were being trained to operate and maintain the new fleet.  The rail operator added that depot and infrastructure technology upgrades were under way and that the re-signalling programme was 84% completed for the entire Prasa Western Cape network.  Metrorail's Richard Walker indicated:  "We've identified the Cape Flats corridor as the corridor where we will first introduce these new train sets.  Together with the two we already have, over the next two months we're bringing down a further eight more.  The approval has already been given by the Rail Safety Regulator to transport those trains down."  The rail operator said that the province would have 20 new trains by the end of 2020 and 35 by end of 2021.  With reference to vandalism, Walker said they were “going to deploy with a very tactful and strategic plan to ensure that we have adequate security on board.  The feature of the train lends itself to better visible policing on board as well."

Read the original of the above report by Kaylynn Palm at EWN

OTHER NEWS HEADLINES

  • Automotive component makers to invest R2.4bn in South Africa, at Engineering News
  • Justice department dismisses fake advocate accused of fraud, at News24
  • Agriculture sector in mire, on page 6 of The Citizen of 13 November 2019
  • Drought threatens SA’s food security, at Business Report

 


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