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
Monday, 2 December 2019.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Overview of the high cost at work of mental illness

Financial Mail writes that an economy in crisis, retrenchments, job insecurity, high unemployment and escalating crime are combining to cause depression and stress among many South Africans of working age.  According to the SA Depression & Anxiety Group (Sadag), one in three South Africans suffer, or will suffer, from a mental illness at some point in their lifetime.  A study conducted by Sadag and others involving more than 1,000 employed or previously employed workers and managers, found that depression impairs employees’ intellectual functioning and productivity as a result of poor concentration, forgetfulness, indecisiveness, difficulties with problem-solving, slower thinking speed and negative or distorted thinking patterns, among others.  Workers with cognitive symptoms of depression, the study found, are more likely to take time off from work.  The study also found that more than 40% of illnesses were the result of work-related stress, depression, burnout or anxiety disorders and that companies were losing up to 16 days every year in productivity per employee because of that.  It was vital to examine how depression was managed in the workplace and what procedures were in place to ensure that affected employees were encouraged and supported to seek treatment, observed Sadag’s Cassey Chambers.  However, despite a global drive to remove the negative stigma around mental health, this has proved difficult in SA, with the result that many employees do not cite depression as a reason for absenteeism.  With social contributors to mental health on the increase in SA, demand for mental health care is likely to grow.  But, difficulty in accessing mental health care may be a barrier to care as SA has an abnormally constrained supply of psychiatrists and mental health practitioners.

Read the full original of the informative report in the above regard at BusinessLive

Precious Ramabulana's brutal murder at Capricorn TVET College exposes safety issues at rural colleges

Sunday Independent reports that revelations that Capricorn TVET College student Precious Ramabulana’s killer gained access to her room through a window with a dysfunctional lock to the room she was renting in a Limpopo village has once again cast the spotlight on accommodation for students at institutions of higher learning in rural areas.  Ramabulana, who was buried on Friday, was killed by an intruder who allegedly stabbed her 52 times in the early hours of last Monday.  A 28-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday morning in a village outside Polokwane, and is expected to appear in court soon.  Wendy Matshela, SRC chairperson at the Capricorn TVET College, said that accommodation for students in the village was generally poor.  The campus itself does not have accommodation facilities.  As a result, students rent rooms from homesteads around the Botlokwa area, paying between R500 and R1,000 a month.  SRC president Robert Bopape called on the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology to allocate resources to TVET colleges in the same way as it did at universities when it came to the safety of students.  He said the department must help to build accommodation facilities for students.  “Stop taking universities more seriously than TVET.  We are more than 50 colleges in this country.  We are more than universities.  We need infrastructure.  TVET colleges, it is these same centres that will produce engineers.  It is these same centres that will produce future artisans,” he said.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lucas Ledwaba at Sunday Independent


MINING LABOUR

Latest draft mining regulations add an additional employment burden on industry, says Richard Spoor

BL Premium reports that according prominent human rights lawyer Richard Spoor, SA’s latest draft mining regulations, which impose fresh socioeconomic and labour requirements on the industry, may add an extra layer of burden for struggling companies that have been shedding jobs.  The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) on Friday published draft amendments to the mineral and petroleum resources development regulations for public comment.  The draft focuses on the social, labour and environmental aspects of the current regulations.  In respect of "labour sending areas", the amendments require employers to demonstrate steps to uplift areas from which they source workers, not just where they operate.  The draft amendments also deal with social and labour plans (SLPs), introducing clear timelines on when they should be submitted and when consultations with communities and other structures over the plans need to be held.  Spoor said he suspected that the government was trying to use the draft amendments to introduce points that were disputed in the Mining Charter.  With regard to the additional requirements of a social and labour plan, Spoor said this was adding another "burden on employers" who were operating in an industry where questions persisted about overregulation and duplication.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Penelope Mashego at BusinessLive

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Social pressures force Anglo American to find environmental answers, at BusinessLive


PUBLIC FINANCES

Cosatu calls for higher taxes to get SA out of its hole over public finances

BusinessLive reports that trade union federation Cosatu has called for tax increases, some targeting the wealthy, which it says will go a long way towards fixing SA’s perilous public finances.  Cosatu, an ANC alliance partner, said it believed that the state could increase revenue and provide more resources in support of economic stimulus, job creation and developmental objectives by increasing company and capital-gains taxes, among others.  In the medium-term budget policy statement in October, finance minister Tito Mboweni painted a bleak picture of SA’s finances.  The Treasury has indicated that additional tax measures were under consideration to boost state coffers.  On Friday, parliament held public hearings on the 2019 Adjustments Appropriation Bill and the medium-term budget.  In its submission, Cosatu said increasing company taxes to 30% or 32% would generate an additional R13bn-R26bn in revenues.  Increasing capital gains tax to 45% could add R4bn.  Cosatu’s parliamentary co-ordinator Matthew Parks said the government should consider adding a further tax on “wealthy companies”, increasing inheritance, estate, land and dividends taxes for the wealthy, and hiking VAT for luxury goods, and custom duties for imports.  He called for the introduction of a “solidarity tax”, aimed at capping the growth of earnings of the top 10% and to accelerate the earnings of the bottom 10%.

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category


CRISIS AT SAA

Despite financial woes, SAA manages to pay November salaries in full

Fin24 reports that in the midst of facing a "sudden deterioration" in its finances following strike action, South African Airways (SAA) has paid its employees their November salaries.  The national carrier last week warned that November salaries might not be paid on schedule.  Spokesperson Tlali Tlali had advised that the airline was working to secure R2bn in working capital to fund its daily operations, inclusive of employee salaries.  On Saturday morning, Tlali confirmed the full salaries had been paid.  The airline's finances suffered a knock when employees belonging to the National Union of Metalworkers of SA and the SA Cabin Crew Association embarked on an eight-day strike against retrenchments and for salary increases.  According to SAA, the strike cost it about R50m per day.  With the help of the CCMA, the unions and SAA eventually reached a wage deal on 22 November 2019.  Just days after, the Department of Public Enterprises issued a statement saying that the strike and the consequential cancellation of flight bookings at the airline had led to a deterioration of its finances.  Last week, the travel insurance divisions of both Santam and Hollard withdrew insolvency benefit cover on SAA tickets.  Similarly, insurance group Hollard also withdrew insolvency benefit cover.  The withdrawal of the benefit cover, prompted travel group Flight Centre to stop selling SAA tickets.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lameez Omarjee at Fin24. Read too, Gordhan says SAA in ‘intense discussions’ with lenders, calls on public to buy tickets, at Fin24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Is SAA trading under insolvent circumstances? at Moneyweb


ANNUAL LEAVE

Cele says in order to curb crime, no leave for cops this festive period

Pretoria News reports that the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, has advised that SA police officers will not be taking annual leave this festive season as robust plans were in motion to curb expected crimes.  Cele said a decision was taken that all senior generals would also not be permitted to take annual leave but would instead be deployed to assist their colleagues in confronting crime on the streets.  Addressing the media last week, the minister explained that this was being done to employ more manpower to curb the violence and crime during the festive break.  He said people could expect to see constant blue lights from police vehicles and increased police patrols and visibility throughout the festive period.  This will be on trains, in buses at bus stops and malls, taxi ranks, and various public areas.  Cele said the police had noticed that criminals have increasingly been staging brazen robberies in malls and on the roads by attacking cash vans.  The latest crime statistics showed that cash-in-transit robberies have decreased by over 23%, while bank robberies and car hi-jacking have also come down.  Cele also condemned gender-based violence, which occurred even while the country was still observing 16 Days of Activism against it.

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


APPOINTMENTS / PROMOTIONS

Former prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams says president faces court battle for reversing NPA appointments

BL Premium reports that former prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams says the justice officials whose appointments to senior posts were reversed by President Cyril Ramaphosa were “victims of collateral damage” in the takeover from Jacob Zuma.  In response to court challenges launched by three justice officials against Ramaphosa’s decision to reverse their National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) appointments, Abrahams said he did not believe Ramaphosa could legally rescind the appointments “without resorting to the courts”.  Abrahams, whose appointment by Zuma was found by the Constitutional Court to have been invalid, said he believed the officials whose appointments were reversed, including the former acting head of the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit, Torie Pretorius, had been “treated unfairly”.  But, Ramaphosa’s office has defended the president’s right to rescind Zuma’s NPA appointments, on the basis that Ramaphosa did not publicly or privately announce them.  According to director-general in the presidency Cassius Lubisi, Ramaphosa was “entitled to change his mind and … to decide not to go ahead with, and give legal effect to, his predecessor’s decision”.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Karyn Maughan at BusinessLive


RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB CUTS

Buyers eye ArcelorMittal’s Saldanha steel plant as job cuts loom

Fin24 reports that the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) announced on Sunday that two parties had come forward with an interest to buy ArcelorMittal SA’s (Amsa’s) Saldanha operations.  The steel producer indicated in November that it planned to wind down operations at the works, which had lost its "structural competitive cost advantage" to allow it to effectively compete in the export market.  Furthermore, it said the plant was suffering "severe financial losses" that were expected to continue in the foreseeable future.  At the time, it noted that the winding down process, expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2020, could see almost 1,000 workers lose their jobs.  On Sunday, the ministry said it had engaged with Amsa to indicate that potential buyers were considering making a bid for the steel plant.  It commented:  “We are encouraged by these early expressions of interest in Saldanha Steel.  Saldanha Steel plays an important role in South Africa’s industrial footprint.  For the Saldanha region specifically, the steel works is an important source of employment and development as well.”  The ministry called on Amsa to consider every effort to retain employment in Saldanha, including giving consideration to potential bids by other investors.  The DTIC noted that government had, over the past few years, supported Amsa with tariff protection from imports, including safeguard duties and the designation of steel for state infrastructure projects.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Fin24


SUSPENSIONS

Tshwane city manager to go to jail if he doesn’t reinstate suspended official by the end of the week

The Citizen reports that Nontobeko Memela, the City of Tshwane’s group head of human settlements, has been on suspension with full pay for a year for alleged financial misconduct, despite a June ruling that the City must reinstate her.  The Labour Court has now found the city to be in contempt of court for ignoring the June ruling, and has ordered Memela’s reinstatement.  Outgoing acting city manager Moeketsi Ntsimane was consequently sentenced to three months in prison – suspended on condition he reinstated Memela by the end of the week.  The court accused the city of wasting taxpayer’s money by pursuing a case against Memela that never reached a conclusion, and by paying her for a year during her suspension.  Acting Tshwane mayor Abel Tau said the City would not stop Memela from returning to work.  He told EWN that Ntsimane had challenged the sentence and contempt of court ruling as the city was in the process of appealing the June ruling.  “He might file papers so that the court clarifies but we cannot prevent this employee from coming back to work,” Tau indicated.  Memela was placed on a three-month suspension with her salary of R150,000 a month in November 2018, pending the completion of an internal investigation into allegations of financial misconduct.

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


SEXUAL MISCONDUCT / HARASSMENT / ABUSE

Probe finds former female teacher at Bishops Diocesan College engaged in 'sexual misconduct' with five pupils

News24 reports that a female teacher at Bishops Diocesan College in Cape Town has been found to have engaged in sexual misconduct with at least five pupils, but no disciplinary action can be taken against her by the school for these breaches she was no longer an employee.  The teacher, Fiona Viotti, resigned on 11 October amid allegations of a relationship with an 18-year-old pupil and the school later announced that several more pupils might have been involved.  It launched its own investigation through lawyers.  In a statement on Monday, the school said Viotti opted to not make written submissions to the investigators after her resignation.  The main findings of the investigation were that during the period 2013 to 2019, and whilst employed as a teacher at the school, she engaged in sexual misconduct with at least five pupils.  The investigators found that the teacher had acted in breach of the Bishops Code of Professional Conduct for Teaching Staff and the Code of Professional Ethics issued by the SA Council of Educators (SACE).  No information was received that indicated that the school knew anything about the sexual misconduct with pupils.  In Monday's statement, headmaster Guy Pearson said the investigators had told the school it needed to report the matter to the "appropriate authorities" and it was co-operating in that regard.  The parents of the affected pupils have been informed on their rights and responsibilities regarding the matter.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jenni Evans at News24. Read too, Probe finds teacher 'engaged in sexual misconduct' with five pupils at Bishops, at TimesLIVE

Cleaner alleges senior East Rand cop raped her four times since 2017

SowetanLive reports that a cleaner has accused a senior policeman of raping her four times since 2017.  The 41-year-old woman from Daveyton on the East Rand opened a case of rape last week at the Benoni police station.  Her matter has been transferred to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).  She said the top cop, who works at the Benoni police vehicle clearance centre, raped her once at his home, twice at her home and once at the police station.  The officer cannot be named because he has not been charged and asked to plead to the charges.  The rapes allegedly happened between 2017 and August this year.  The woman, who has been working at the centre part-time since 2015, alleges that when she initially tried to open the case against the policeman she was accused of lying.  The mother of two claims that high-ranking officers at the Benoni police station threatened to charge her with perjury.  An Ipid spokesperson confirmed that they were investigating the allegations.  "The investigation is at an early stage, but it's ongoing.  No arrest has been made yet."

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tankiso Makhetha at SowetanLive


OTHER REPORTS

Minor victory for Hlaudi Motsoeneng against SABC in case over legal costs

City Press reports that former SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng has won a court challenge against the public broadcaster.  He scored a victory in the Western Cape High Court on 21 November in a case concerning an application that was brought by the SABC to force him to pay the legal costs it had incurred in a particular case.  Motsoeneng had initially taken legal action against the broadcaster soon after his axing in June 2017, in response to the SABC charging him for comments he had made at a press conference in April 2017.  Motsoeneng challenged his former employer for charging him on that basis, rather than on then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s recommendations.  In her report, released in 2014, Madonsela recommended that action be taken against Motsoeneng for receiving exorbitant salary increases and lying in his SABC application form that he had a matric certificate.  Motsoeneng then withdrew his case, but last week the SABC was unsuccessful in forcing him to cover the legal costs.  At the 2017 press conference, Motsoeneng defended the decisions he had taken as COO of the SABC, including his implementation of the 90% local content policy.  By that time, he had been placed on suspension from the SABC, following a court ruling.  He was fired in June 2017 for bringing the public broadcaster into disrepute.  The legal action taken by the SABC against him for costs is one of a number of court cases the broadcaster is said to be involved in.  

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Msindisi Fengu on page 6 of City Press of 1 December 2019

 


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