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, 10 February 2020.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Woman suffers 'almost complete amputation' of leg in tractor accident at Pretoria nursery

TimesLIVE reports that a critically injured 58-year-old woman had to be airlifted to hospital after her clothing got caught in the propshaft of a tractor she was driving at a nursery in Pretoria.  The incident happened in Wonderboom on Sunday.  Netcare 911 spokesperson Shawn Herbst said reports from the scene indicated that the woman had “got her clothing caught in the propshaft resulting in her getting pulled in as well.”  He advised further that medics assessed the scene “and found that the lady had sustained an almost complete amputation of the left leg.”  She was treated at the scene and airlifted to hospital.

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

Four arrested for assaulting EMPD officers in Daveyton over request to produce driver’s license

News24 reports that four men who were filmed allegedly assaulting Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EMPD) officers in Daveyton on Friday afternoon have been arrested.  According to the mayoral committee member for community safety, Phaladi Mmoko, the officers were on patrol when they stopped a suspicious looking vehicle and pulled it over.  When the car stopped, the EMPD officers discovered the driver of the vehicle did not have a driver's licence.  "One of the occupants offered to fetch it as he claimed their house was close by.  On his return, he came with a few other people who then physically assaulted the officers," Mmoko reported.  In a video of the incident, which has circulated on social media, several men can be seen throwing an officer to the ground, kicking him and then pushing him around as he stood up.  The incident happened at around 18:00 on Friday and four suspects were arrested by the EMPD tracing unit.

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Alex Mitchley and watch the video clip at News24

Health department’s Civitas building in Pretoria is ‘unsafe’ and ‘unhealthy’

City Press writes that the health department, which claims to be ready to roll out one of the most far-reaching and expensive health initiatives in the history of SA, appears unable to provide a “healthy” working environment for its own personnel.  Since September 2018, hundreds of employees at the department’s Civitas building in Pretoria have refused to enter it after it was declared unsafe and unhealthy.  Every morning they arrive for work and gather in the lobby where they wait until 11am before leaving.  The minister of health, Zweli Mkhize, has now ordered the department to find an alternative office urgently, although it is unclear how long this will take.  The labour department declared the building unsafe in October 2018.  At the time, it was reported that the building complied with only 20% of the safety standards mandated by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  The building accommodates about 1,400 workers, including the regulatory authority for healthcare products.  Union members from Nehawu and the Public Servants’ Association have complained for years about problematic electrical connections, regular flooding in parts of the building and “black dust” that clings to windows, walls and air conditioning units.  Early in 2018, a Nehawu poll among 88 personnel found that 48 people regularly struggled with headaches, dizziness, sinus and breathing problems.  Seemingly, the department’s management will now go ahead with the implementation of the relocation process and for arrangements to be made for employees to return to working full days.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Riana de Langer on page 8 of City Press of 9 February 2020

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Sanef condemns attack on journalists in Embalenhle, Secuna, by alleged taxi association members, at News24


MINING LABOUR

Samancor denies pending layoffs connected to Amcu lawsuit over alleged fraud and profit-shifting

Sunday Times Business Times reports that Samancor Chrome is in the crosshairs of labour unions again over the possible retrenchment of more than 3,000 workers, even while as it faces allegations of fraud and profit-shifting.  Last month Samancor issued section 189 (i.e. retrenchment) notices to unions at its operations and corporate office.  "This will start the consultation process between the company and the unions.  The process may potentially affect 2,438 employees at the company's mining operations and 599 employees at its smelters," the company indicated.  But, according to the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), Samancor has not yet set a date to consult with the unions on the retrenchments.  The looming retrenchments are only part of the problems Samancor is facing with unions.  Numsa has also demanded that the miner carry out an independent forensic investigation into its employee share ownership programme, the Ndizani Trust.  Numsa's demand came after the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (Amcu) approached the high court in Johannesburg in October, seeking permission to litigate against Samancor, its current and former directors and its other entities.  The union, whose members form 6,000 minority shareholders as part of the trust, alleged in court papers that some of Samancor's executives were involved in fraud and profit-shifting from 2005.  At the heart of the court action are Amcu's allegations that Samancor's related company fees and transfers resulted in workers losing out on over R1.5bn in dividends.  But, Samancor CEO Desmond McManus said there was no connection between the litigation against the company and its decision to realign its business by retrenching.  Amcu said the retrenchments would not affect its litigation process against the mine.  Johan Lorenzen advised that Richard Spoor Attorneys was in the process of serving the executives with court papers and that it could take up to a year for a court date to be set.

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


UNION RIVALRY

Audio recording at Sace meeting reveals alleged Sadtu plot to crush rival union

City Press reports that the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) is allegedly using its dominance at the SA Council for Educators (Sace) to crush a smaller rival union formed by its former president, Thobile Ntola.  An audio recording of a Sace executive committee meeting, held in February last year, reveals how Sadtu president Magope Maphila gave instructions to the council to deal with Ntola’s union, the SA Liberated Public Sector Workers’ Union (Salipswu).  The meeting dealt with various matters – including 22 Sace employees affiliated to Salipswu who had, a month earlier, staged a protest and disrupted meetings at Sace’s head office.  This was to demand recognition of their union at the council.  Shortly after the executive committee meeting, the 22 employees were fired.  In the recording, obtained by City Press last week, Maphila ostensibly instructed Sace’s CEO, Ella Mokgalane, and her management to find out whether Salipswu general secretary Ntola, treasurer Gordon Maseko and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) provincial secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi were still teachers.  If not, he said, “something” should be done to ensure that their behaviour was unwelcome in the profession should they wish to make their way back into the system.  Also, labour minister Thulas Nxesi was to be informed that “we are faced with this challenge” and that the registrar “must ask them [Salipswu] why they should not be deregistered”, while basic education minister Angie Motshekga, the director-general in her department, the portfolio committee on basic education and other stakeholders should be brought “on board”.  Sace CEO Mokgalane advised that at the executive committee meeting, members had been briefed about “illegal industrial action” which staff had embarked on in January 2019.  But she declined to comment on whether she had complied with Maphila’s instructions.  Ntola commented that Maphila’s remarks were an indication that government was captured by Sadtu.

Read the full original of the detailed report in the above regard by Msindisi Fengu at City Press


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT / JOB CREATION

Jobs Fund has allocated its full disbursement of R9 billion on 153 projects

Business Report writes that the Jobs Fund, launched by the government in 2011 through a R9 billion disbursement, had allocated the full amount on 153 projects by the end of September last year.  More than 118,867 new permanent jobs were created during the period.  In addition, some 56,660 unemployed individuals were placed in vacant permanent positions and 250,024 people benefited from work readiness and technical training, the National Treasury, which manages the fund, indicated on Friday.  The fund’s objective is to co-finance projects by public, private and non-government organisations that will contribute to job creation.  Between January and December last year, the fund supported 45 projects in the portfolio through grant funding disbursements.  The Jobs Fund Investment Committee said it believed the fund had demonstrated its value over eight-and a-half years, as public funds had been used innovatively to leverage R14.1bn from the Job Fund’s partners, towards job creation.  Initiatives supported by the fund cover a range of interventions, from microfinance to support for rural women, to guarantee schemes to crowd-in pension fund investments for the support of SME development, to agriculture support for smallholder farmers.  Projects included the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, SmartStart Early Learning Franchisee Development, Urban Agriculture Initiative, CCI and CareerBox’s Workforce Development Centre Project, and Phakamani-Creating Micro Jobs for Rural Women.

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


GEPF BAILOUT OF ESKOM

BNP Paribas calls for caution on Cosatu’s Eskom bailout plan, because ultimately the debt will still rest with the state

BusinessLive reports that according to global bank BNP Paribas, Cosatu’s debt rescue plan for Eskom, which has already received support from the public enterprises ministry and the president, should be broached with caution as it was likely to amount to little more than an added “contingent liability by stealth” on the state’s finances.  The labour federation’s proposal to hive off R250bn in Eskom debt, and place it into a special purpose vehicle supported by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and other government development finance institutions, was “not the way to go” said BNP Paribas senior economist Jeffrey Schultz.  The PIC manages almost R2-trillion in funds on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF).  The use of such funds might eliminate Eskom’s burden, by shifting the debt to the PIC’s books, but ultimately that liability was going to rest with the state, noted Schultz.  This was because the GEPF was a defined benefit fund, meaning pensioners got a set payout regardless of the fund’s performance and the state must make up any losses owned to beneficiaries.  “We are calling it a contingent liability by stealth, it’s just moving the contingent liability around ... [the state] needs to deal with this in a much more careful fashion,” said Schultz.  Contingent liabilities are the risks posed by commitments that may result in future financial obligations.  “The notion of prescribed assets jumps to mind and this is a slippery slope,” Schultz said of Cosatu’s plan.  SA needed to be “signalling the right policies” to attract investment rather than those that detracted from it, noted Schultz.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lynley Donnelly at BusinessLive

Cosatu wants workers to have R104bn equity stake in Eskom

Bloomberg reports that labour federation Cosatu said it wanted the R104 billion of Eskom’s debt held by the state pension fund manager to be converted into equity owned by workers.  The proposal, made in an opinion piece in Business Day by Cosatu’s general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali, is part of a deal the labour federation is trying to reach with business and government to rescue the power utility. “This will result in workers becoming shareholders in the power utility,” Ntshalintshali said, without giving further details.   Eskom can’t supply sufficient power to the country and has R454 billion in debt.  Ntshalintshali also recommended that at least 10% of all pension funds, whether private or government owned, be invested in government bonds geared toward social investment and employment creation.  “Workers believe that their retirement funds can contribute toward economic growth, socially desirable investments and employment creation,” he stated.  But, the raising of the possibility of so-called prescribed assets is likely to trouble investors, who are opposed to having their investments dictated by government.

Read the original of the above report by Antony Sguazzin at Moneyweb

Read too, Ntshalintshali sheds some light on Cosatu’s novel plans to save Eskom, at BusinessLive

GEPF 'not consulted' on Cosatu's plan to use state pension fund to save Eskom

ANA reports that the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) indicated on Friday that it had not been consulted about Cosatu’s debt recovery plan to save Eskom.  Cosatu in January released a statement that recommended Eskom's debt be reduced from "R450-billion to R200-billion" through a pro-worker "special purpose finance vehicle involving a social compact between government, the Public Investment Corporation and development finance institutions (DFIs)".  At Nedlac on Wednesday, the trade union federation received huge support when it tabled the proposal, which suggested that the government should use the pension funds the PIC managed to pay more than half of Eskom’s debt.  The Fund commented as follows:  "The GEPF has noted the recent media reports including government support, as well as public discourse on the statement issued by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) titled, 'Key Eskom and Economic Intervention Proposals'.  The GEPF would like to inform its members, pensioners and beneficiaries that the Fund has not received such a proposal nor has it been consulted on the Cosatu proposals or any other proposals to reduce Eskom debt.  If the GEPF is approached with a proposal that requires investing in Eskom, such a proposal must will be considered on its merits in the best interests of members, pensioners and beneficiaries."

Read the original of the above report at Independent News. Read too, We are in the dark about Cosatu plan to use our money to save Eskom, says GEPF, at Fin24


RETRENCHMENTS

Numsa rejects Telkom's reasoning behind proposal to cut 3,000 jobs

EWN reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has rejected Telkom's reasons for planning to retrench 3,000 of its employees.  Numsa met with Telkom management on Wednesday and Thursday last week to discuss the imminent job cuts.  The union had complained about not being fully represented during the first consultations Telkom had held with unions, but indicated that the CCMA commissioner had given agreement for Numsa to be present during future talks.  Telkom has blamed the sluggish economy for its decision to cut jobs, but Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi pointed out that Telkom needed to substantiate how laying off workers would help with its performance.  "Telkom management has cited stiff competition as a drawback but we're not convinced how trimming the workforce will actually address that issue.  Telkom management also failed to substantiate reasons why Telkom is losing so much revenue when it is operating on fixed line and mobile date but its competitors are only focusing on mobile data," she stated.

Read the original of the above report at EWN


NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

NHI public hearings set to come to an end soon

The Sunday Independent reports that the public hearings into the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme are reaching the last leg.  With the NHI expected to receive some funding when the national budget is tabled later this month, there has already been some work done in pilot sites in various provinces.  But according to opposition parties, the pilot sites have not achieved much or been effective in delivering deliver services.  One of the tasks of government will be to refurbish infrastructure in preparation for the implementation of universal health coverage.  But the cost of NHI remains a sticking point, with opposition parties projecting that it will run into tens of billions of rands.  The government has indicated that the actual cost has not yet been determined.  Members of the public have attended a number of hearings in various provinces.  In finalising the relevant legislation, government has said it would consider the comments made in the public hearings.

Read the original of the above report at Independent News


DISMISSALS

Samwu set to challenge Ekurhuleni’s sacking of 40 waste removal workers who allegedly went on rampage

SowetanLive reports that the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) plans to challenge the City of Ekurhuleni for its decision to fire 40 of its members in the waste removal department.  The city fired the workers on Monday last week for gross misconduct after they allegedly went on the rampage on the preceding Saturday, harassing, assaulting and intimidating a waste-collecting crew at the Kempton Park depot.  It is the city’s claim that the workers tried to set a truck driver and an operator alight, but fortunately the duo managed to escape on foot.  But, Samwu is fuming over the dismissals and has accused the metro of trying to bring in contractors to do work that its members are paid for.  According to Samwu spokesperson Papikie Mohale, the city indicated at the local labour forum that it wanted to contract private companies for some of its collection and waste disposal functions.  However, before the discussion were concluded, the city went ahead and appointed contractors, Mohale claimed.  It was apparently those contractors who were attacked.  Mohale refused to comment on the veracity of the allegations against the workers, but noted that the city had to explain why it dismissed the workers without any disciplinary processes.  Yet, Ekurhuleni defended its decision to fire the workers, saying it viewed the conduct of the employees as rendering their continued employment intolerable.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Penwell Dlamini at SowetanLive


SUSPENSIONS / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Crisis-hit Post Office suspends new CEO Lindiwe Kwele after just four months in the job

BL Premium reports that the SA Post Office (Sapo) has suspended its CEO, Lindiwe Kwele, after just four months into the job.  Sapo, which lost more than R1bn in the last financial year, is one of several state-owned entities that has had to rely on government bailouts to stay afloat.  The reasons for Kwele’s suspension are not publicly known.  It comes barely months after she took over from Mark Barnes, who resigned in August after clashing with the board and the government over their decision to hive off Postbank, the financial services arm of the Post Office, with ambitions to become a fully-fledged bank.  Kwele and the head of the supply chain management division, Mothusi Motjale, were placed on suspension on 4 December.  Sapo confirmed the suspension of the duo, saying it would allow for an independent investigation into unspecified matters.  Kwele’s lawyer, Eric Mabuza, said his client had already taken urgent steps to challenge the suspension.  "We maintain that her suspension was unlawful.  We are very confident that this suspension will be set aside by an independent panel as unlawful," he stated.  Ivumile Nongogo, an executive in Sapo’s governance and regulatory affairs department, has been appointed acting group CEO.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Genevieve Quintal at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read too, Suspended acting Post Office CEO ready to fight 'frivolous' charges, at Fin24


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND ARTICLES

  • Scrap 'untenable' SAA route cancellations, protect workers, but turn SAA around, says SACP, at Fin24
  • Two arrested after KZN railway lines stolen, at TimesLIVE
  • Transport union says criminals running amok, even as 'train arsonists' appear in court, at TimesLIVE
  • Staff steal over R20m from State Theatre, at SowetanLive
  • What’s behind the shutdown of High Court Masters’ Offices? at Moneyweb
  • SA planning to raise tariffs on poultry imports from US, Brazil, at Fin24

 


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