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
Thursday, 16 January 2020.


TOP STORY – TELKOM RETRENCHMENTS

Telkom serves unions with notice of plan to retrench 3,000 employees

BusinessLive reports that the Communication Workers Union (CWU) said on Wednesday that Telkom had served unions with letters regarding planned retrenchments of 3,000 workers.  The proposed job cuts will affect nearly a third of Telkom’s 9,000-strong workforce.  On Tuesday following a briefing session, the union received two letters, namely from Telkom and Trudon (Telkom’s subsidiary), which informed it of their plans to reduce the workforce.  The union still has to respond.  CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala indicated that there were processes that the employer still needed to fulfil in terms of the Labour Relations Act, such as informing the employees of the reason for the planned retrenchments.  Telkom has apparently proposed meetings for next Wednesday and Thursday for consultations.  Tshabalala noted that employees were bitter about this development, particularly as they had not received increases for a number of years.  He pointed out that the government was a major shareholder in Telkom and should not be seen to be at the forefront of retrenchments.  Trade union Solidarity confirmed that its members had received notice of the retrenchment process.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ernest Mabuza at BusinessLive. Read too, Telkom to shed 3,000 jobs as mobile surges, at Business Report

Solidarity blasts Telkom’s job cut plans as ‘reckless, merciless’, requests moratorium

TechCentral reports that trade union Solidarity has slammed Telkom over its plan to cut up to 3,000 jobs, or 20% of its 15,000-strong workforce.  In a statement on Thursday, Solidarity described the planned cuts as reported on Wednesday, as “reckless” in that they would “threaten the financial sustainability” of the company.  The union has written to Telkom asking for a moratorium on all forced retrenchments.  “A company cannot pay its executive team more than R100-million and then get rid of 3,000 of its workforce.  That is reckless and, given the labour market retrenched workers have to face, it is merciless,” said Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann in the statement.  He added that in the previous financial year, Telkom’s CEO, Sipho Maseko, alone took home a full R23-million.  Hermann described axing 3,000 employees as being “too many”, saying that if staff numbers needed to be reduced, this should be done through voluntary processes and natural staff turnover.  Solidarity has requested that “an aggressive retraining programme be implemented during the moratorium so workers can be equipped with new skills to help Telkom grow in the fast-changing information environment.”  Hermann said that when a company “fails to train its workforce for new challenges, it should not retrench the workers — it should get rid of the top management”.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Duncan McLeod at TechCentral. Read too, Union slams Telkom for paying execs R100m then retrenching workers, at ITWeb. Read Solidarity’s press statement at Polity

Unions threaten drastic action at Telkom to fight job cuts

BL Premium reports that unions representing most of Telkom's workers have threatened drastic action, including calling for the entire board to be declared delinquent and camping outside the ANC's headquarters, in their fight against the fixed-line operator's plan to cut up to a fifth of its staff.  The Communication Workers Union (CWU), the majority union representing more than 50% of the workforce, has threatened to camp out at Luthuli House to stop the planned retrenchments, which Telkom plans to implement because it is battling declining income from its fixed-line services.  General secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said the collapse of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) was deliberate and aimed at benefiting a few individuals at the expense of workers and the poor.  Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) acting general secretary Riefdah Ajam said:  “We are outraged at Telkom’s turn of events because this is an own-goal that Telkom has scored.”  Ajam indicated that the federation would push for the possible removal of the entire Telkom board and that they be declared delinquent.  On Thursday, Solidarity said it had written a letter to Telkom asking for a moratorium on the “forced retrenchments”, which it said threatened the company’s financial sustainability.  Solidarity has requested that an “aggressive retraining programme” be implemented during the moratorium so workers can be equipped with new skills to help Telkom grow in a fast-changing information environment.  Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann noted that Telkom workers must move forward with the company from fixed-line services to mobile services.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Luyolo Mkentane and Karl Gernetky at BusinessLive (paywall access only)


MASSMART RETRENCHMENTS

Parliamentary select committee chair wants government to stop job cuts at DionWired, Masscash

Fin24 reports that on Wednesday the chairperson of Parliament's Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour called for the respective departments in the executive to intervene in planned retrenchments at Massmart.  The retailer announced on Monday that it might cut some 1,400 jobs as it planned to close 34 DionWired and Masscash stores.  The select committee's chair, Mandla Rayi, said in a statement that while he was aware of the implications of state intervention in a business’ internal affairs, the loss of that many jobs was a far worse fate.  "It is not ideal to have government interfere in business, but the severity of the pending retrenchments necessitates that there must be a collaboration of minds.  Losing over 1,000 job opportunities will be catastrophic not only for job creation, but also for the families of those who will be affected," said Rayi.  He recommended that all planned job cuts be put on ice until the company had tried and exhausted all other alternatives at saving money and boosting revenue.  Rayi said the select committee would prefer it if Massmart considered ways of accommodating the labour force in other business units, or expanding operations to rural provinces "where their footprint was not prevalent".  On Tuesday, the SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) said it would opposed the plans by Massmart

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


SOEs IN CRISIS

With funding held up, SAA faces suspension of flights by 19 January

BL Premium reports that South African Airways (SAA) is again in a perilous situation after the R2bn it was promised by the Treasury to fund the business-rescue process failed to materialise.  Without this funding the national airline could be forced to suspend flights by 19 January, and could go into liquidation, which would involve selling its assets to pay creditors.  SAA was placed in business rescue in December as it did not have working capital to fund operations.  Announcing the business rescue, public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said the airline would receive R4bn in post-commencement financing to enable the business to continue while a rescue plan was put in place.  Half of this was to come from existing lenders and would be repayable from future budget appropriations; and R2bn from the Treasury, which would be provided in "a fiscally neutral manner".  While the R2bn from lenders was made immediately available, the Treasury was required to sell assets, which it has been unable to do within the narrow timeframe.  A spokesperson for business rescue practitioner Les Matuson confirmed on Monday that the funds were needed and had not been received.  On Wednesday, Matuson met SAA trade unions and informed them that the government had undertaken to provide a decision on the funding by 19 January.  "If they don’t get the money by the 19th then they will have to suspend flights," said a union participant.  It is believed that intense efforts are under way to persuade lenders to extend another R2bn in bridge financing to be repaid when the Treasury raises the funds from asset sales.  SAA employs about 10,000 people across the parent company and subsidiaries.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Carol Paton at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read too, Mboweni says government needs funding for troubled airline SAA, at Engineering News. And also, SAA in death throes as weekend deadline for its survival looms, at Fin24

Without R2bn from government, SAA flights at risk and salaries could be delayed, union warns

Reuters reports that a trade union official said on Wednesday that South African Airways (SAA) might have to suspend some flights and delay salary payments if the government cannot not come up with a plan soon to provide the R2 billion it promised the airline last month.  The state-owned national carrier entered business rescue last month in an effort to rescue the company and 10,000 related jobs.  At the time it was promised R2 billion from the government and R2 billion from lenders.  But unions briefed by the business rescue practitioners (BRPs) were told on Wednesday that the government had not yet been able to provide its portion of the funds.  Mashudu Raphetha of the National Transport Movement said unions were told that clarity was needed from government on the R2 billion of promised funding by 19 January.  The BRPs said in a statement:  “We remain hopeful that a mechanism can be found to unlock the liquidity constraints.  Government continues to indicate its support for the business rescue process and together we are considering various scenarios to keep the entity operational. … The liquidation of SAA is not one such current scenario.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Alexander Winning at Moneyweb. Read too, Tito Mboweni on SAA funding: We’re working on it, at BusinessLive

Cash-strapped SAA to sell off nine of its Airbus planes

Reuters reports that South African Airways (SAA) has put up for sale nine of its Airbus aircraft, according to a tender document seeking proposals from interested buyers, as seen on Thursday.  SAA, which was placed in business rescue late last year, is selling the Airbus A340-300s and A340-600s as well as 15 spare engines, the document indicated.  Meanwhile, one of the unions at SAA has cautioned that the airline could suspend flights and delay salary payments if government failed to provide more money.  The National Transport Union's Mashudu Raphetha said this would have dire implications, viz.:  “Ten thousand families are going to starve, and we are appealing to government to address these issues before they happen.  But we are confident it won’t reach that boiling point.”  Earlier on Thursday, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni told business leaders at a pre-World Economic Forum breakfast that Treasury was trying to find additional financing for the embattled airline.

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Sifiso Zulu at EWN

Eskom appoints Prof William Makgoba as interim chairperson

Fin24 reports that the Department of Public Enterprises announced on Wednesday that Professor Malegapuru William Makgoba had been appointed interim chairperson of Eskom, following the shock resignation of Jabu Mabuza last week.  The government was also in the process of putting in place a new board in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement on Friday, the department added in a statement.  The President announced a plan of introducing a reconfigured Eskom Board with the appropriate mix of electricity industry, engineering and corporate governance experience.  Makgoba joined the Eskom board in 2018 and is the independent lead director.  He is well known as a public health advocate and academic, and was formerly the vice-chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.  Most recently, he was behind the Makgoba report into the Life Esidimeni disaster, having presided over the investigation.

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


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Cape Town municipal cop accused of killing undercover constable who was arresting a robbery suspect

TimesLIVE reports that a Cape Town law enforcement officer fingered in a shooting that left undercover policeman Const Thando Sigcu dead was scheduled to appear in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Thursday on a murder charge.  Meanwhile, the city said it would provide legal assistance to its officer, who has been removed from operational duties even though no suspension has been effected.  Western Cape police spokesperson Brig Novela Potelwa said in a statement on Wednesday:  “It is alleged that the 38-year-old constable (Sigcu) was apprehending a robbery suspect in Heerengracht Street, Cape Town, around 9pm [on January 7] when two City of Cape Town law enforcement officers stopped on the scene.  Shots were discharged and the constable was fatally wounded.  Meanwhile, the robbery suspect also sustained a gunshot wound and was subsequently admitted to hospital.”  Sigcu was attached to Cape Town Central police station and at the time of his death was performing crime-prevention duties.  He had been in the police for five years and known as a responsible and disciplined member.  The Hawks have taken over the investigation.

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Philani Nombembe at TimesLIVE

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Armed robbers ambush security guards at Klipsriviersberg Nature Reserve, at The Citizen


MINING LABOUR

Herman Mashaba out to retrieve bodies of Lily Mine trio by footing legal bill on behalf of families

SowetanLive reports that former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has pledged money to help the families of three mineworkers whose bodies are still trapped at Lily Mine in Mpumalanga.  He said he would foot the bill to force the government and Vantage Goldfields to retrieve the three miners.  Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyarenda and Yvonne Mnisi disappeared on 5 February 2016 when the mine’s crown pillar collapsed into a sinkhole while they were working in a lamp room container that was swallowed up.  They were never found and their families have been camping outside the mine since April last year.  Mashaba, who was approached by family members of the miners, the community and former employees of the mine, said he would get top lawyers to work on the case.  He said:  "We want them to force government and the mine to retrieve that container and also force the company [Vantage] to pay the employees any outstanding monies or compensations.  If government says they don't have the capacity in South Africa, then let them allow us to seek experts outside the country."  Mashaba was accompanied by former Gauteng police commissioner Deliwe de Lange on a visit to the area on Wednesday.  He brought food parcels for the families and former mineworkers.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mandla Khoza at SowetanLive. Read too, Mashaba to help families of Lily mine victims find 'the best legal assistance', at TimesLIVE

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Minerals Council calls for intervention to ‘salvage and revive’ South Africa, at Engineering News
  • Artisanal gold mining is on the rise, and abuses along with it, at BusinessLive
  • Eskom is ‘death knell’ for SA mines, Exxaro CEO warns, at Moneyweb
  • South32 lowers SA coal production forecast, at BusinessLive


REMUNERATION / SALARY ADMINISTRATION

Limpopo municipality to pay workers by bank cheque in bid to flush out ‘ghost employees’

SowetanLive reports that it's back to paying employees with cheques for a Limpopo municipality on a mission to rid its payroll of ghost workers.  The Greater Sekhukhune district municipality on Monday issued a circular informing all its employees that their January salaries would be paid by cheque.  Employees were requested to bring along their identity documents to collect their wages when they would be required to sign a register.  According to the circular issued by acting municipal manager Mpho Mofokeng, the decision was in accordance with a council resolution.  "Note that overtime, stand-by and travels will be paid through the normal electronic funds transfers.  Line managers and supervisors are also requested to ensure that all their subordinates are available to collect their cheques on the set dates and at designated stations by informing them accordingly," Mofokeng wrote.  However, municipal spokesperson Moloko Moloto said the resolution would now be effected from February and not January after it was amended.  Moloto added that council had resolved to conduct a skills audit to ensure that people occupied positions they were qualified for.  Last month the municipality commissioned forensic investigations into the theft of R12m of employees' compensation fund monies which were paid to a wrong banking account.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Peter Ramothwala at SowetanLive


EXECUTIVE PAY

Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk gains a cool R1bn from sale of share incentives

BusinessLive reports that Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk has sold shares in the Cape Town-based group for close to R1bn.  The shares were awarded by the company through its share incentive scheme.  On Wednesday, the JSE-listed company said Van Dijk had exercised stock appreciation rights (SARs) in the Naspers Global Ecommerce Share Appreciation Rights plan, receiving 414,932 Naspers N ordinary shares in settlement of the gain.  He recently sold that stock for R2,400 per share for R995.8m.  Van Dijk will reinvest most of the funds back into the Naspers group in the form of bonds that he will buy on the open market.  Naspers’ remuneration policy has been criticised in the past for being opaque and unjustified.  The group recently introduced a shareholding requirement for the CEO, whereby he must hold 10 times his base salary in Naspers shares at all times.  Naspers said Van Dijk continued to exceed that requirement.  In addition, Van Dijk could be paid as much as R234.65m in total remuneration for the 2020 financial year if the company’s fortunes continue to improve.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mudiwa Gavaza at BusinessLive


CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Bail for immigration official accused of extorting R100,000 to ensure foreign businessman not deported

News24 reports that an immigration official was granted R5,000 bail in the Kempton Park Regional Court in Gauteng on Wednesday when he appeared on charges of corruption, extortion and defeating the ends of justice.  Sam Jan Langa, 52, who works at the Department of Home Affairs’ national office, allegedly demanded over R100,000 from a foreign businessman to ensure that he, as well as other foreign nationals, would not be deported.  According to police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo, Langa’s bail was granted on condition that he did not interfere with witnesses.  He also had to hand over his passport to the investigating officer and had to report to his nearest police station once a week.  "At approximately 17:40 on 9 January 2020, Langa was arrested during a sting operation at the OR Tambo International Airport departure terminal after allegedly accepting the 'bribe money'," Naidoo said.  The case has been postponed to 2 March 2020.

Read the original of the above report by Azarrah Karrim at News24


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT

Mbalula admits that Prasa’s a ‘broken entity’, ditches ‘war room’

Fin24 reports that Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula announced on Wednesday that the "war room" he set up in August 2019 to turn around the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) would be wound down as many of its functions were being transferred to the state-owned entity's administrator.  Mbalula placed Prasa under administration in early December.  In a statement, Mbalula said that Prasa was a "broken organisation, struggling to provide an efficient commuter and passenger rail service".  He explained that the war room was never intended to be a "silver bullet" to rid Prasa of its "chronic ailments" and although it had not met all of its targets, he had seen progress in improving operational performance at the agency.  The war room also helped in "energising management" and mobilising staff behind a focused vision, he added.  As for Prasa's turnaround plan, the administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo will focus on speeding up interventions to improve operational performance, expedite the modernisation programme, ensure security interventions and review the organisational design and business model, among other things.  Commenting on operations, Mpondo said that the central line in Cape Town has not been running for three months.  An upgrade, which will take place over a six-month-period was planned, and the track and fencing would be looked at.  Alternative modes of transport, such as buses were being considered, for the duration of the upgrades.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Phumi Ramalepe and Lameez Omarjee at Fin24. Read too, Vandalism, disorder, mismanagement led Prasa to lose R1bn in two years, says Mbalula, at TimesLIVE

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Train carriage set alight at Cape Town’s Retreat station on Wednesday evening, at TimesLIVE

 


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