news shutterstockIn our afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Tuesday, 18 February 2020.


MINING LABOUR

Anglo American looks at internal appointment after surprise resignation of Amplats CEO

BL Premium reports that Anglo American will replace Chris Griffith, CEO of its platinum division, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), with an internal appointment, thereby ruling out a host of external candidates.  Griffith surprised the market on Monday by announcing his departure from Amplats, prompting speculation about what was behind his resignation after seven years as head of the world’s second-biggest platinum miner.  "It was a surprise, but if you think about it, what was left for him to do at Amplats?  He’s done the big things.  All that’s left now are quite small, incremental things," noted Nedbank analyst Arnold van Graan.  Griffith said on a media call that his replacement would be made internally at Anglo, which has mines in copper, diamonds, iron ore, coal, nickel and platinum group metals, but he gave no clue as to which division could be called upon for a CEO.  Griffith, who has 30 years of experience within Anglo, said he was "nervously excited" about leaving the company.  He ruled out any difference of opinion between Anglo, as the majority shareholder, and himself as the reason for leaving.  "Chris’s track record at Kumba and now at Amplats is strong.  He’s leaving Amplats with record results, its best safety record, billions of rand in cash, strong dividends, and a successful turnaround of the business during his time," noted an analyst, who added that his record made him “very marketable."

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Allan Seccombe at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read too, Griffith to quit Anglo after riding a crest of success, at Business Report


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Cosatu slams Mboweni for “silly” proposal of a referendum on bailing out SOEs

EWN reports that the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has slammed a suggestion by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni that a referendum should be held on the use of taxpayer’s money to bail out beleaguered state-owned enterprises (SOEs).  Mboweni took to Twitter at the weekend and said that in a proper democracy there would be a public debate that would lead to the referendum taking place.  He said ordinary citizens should have a say on the use of public funds and not just political parties.  However, in an interview with eNCA on Tuesday, Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla took a swipe at the finance minister and called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to take action against him.  He said Mboweni’s proposal for a referendum on SOEs was “silly” and added that:  “He sits at Nedlac but he keeps quiet, he doesn’t raise these issues at Nedlac because we have never heard his proposal from him at Nedlac.  When he’s at Nedlac he doesn’t say the things that he says on Twitter and that then becomes a problem, because a structure like Nedlac is where we want to hear all views.”  Mboweni’s call for a referendum came against the backdrop of a proposal from Cosatu to use public servants’ pension funds to bail out Eskom, which has been struggling to keep the lights on and is burdened with over R400 billion in debt.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Thapelo Lekabe at EWN


APPOINTMENTS / RECRUITMENT

Mondi appoints CFO Andrew King as its new CEO

BusinessLive reports that paper and packaging group Mondi has appointed its CFO as CEO with effect from April.  Andrew King replaces Peter Oswald, who took over the reins in May 2017.  The appointment comes as the company executes big projects in Slovakia and Russia as part of its capital expenditure project pipeline.  The group is grappling with lower volumes in certain segments and higher costs that are weighing on profits.  King has spent 17 years at Mondi in various strategy, business development and finance roles.  “He has been instrumental in defining the group’s strategic direction since listing and I am confident he will bring significant insight and leadership to the role of CEO,” Mondi chair David Williams indicated.  Mondi said it would begin looking for a new CFO immediately.

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Karl Gernetzky at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category


VACANCIES / STAFFING

Statistics Council threatens to resign over lack of Stats SA funding, frozen posts

Fin24 reports that the SA Statistics Council, an advisory body that endorses the releases of data by Statistics SA, has threatened to resign as a measure of last resort if the national statistical agency does not receive more funding and fill frozen posts.  The council, which is appointed by the minister in the presidency, advises the minister and Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke on issues concerned with the production and use of official statistics.  The council also endorses statistics produced by Stats SA.  "Stats SA right now is at a tipping point.  The warning lights are flashing red, and government needs to act swiftly if South Africa is to retain a robust and innovative Stats SA," said Professor David Everatt, the council's chairperson, in a statement.  He indicated that in 2015 Stats SA had had R160m stripped from its budget, while all its posts were frozen.  He went on to indicate:  "Both (measures) have remained in place since that point.  By early 2020, the situation has reached crisis point.  The vacancy rate has climbed to almost 20% - that is, every 5th position is vacant, and many staff are thus taking on their own job and work that should be done by others."  Due to staff shortages, working a six or seven day week is common.  The freeze on posts means that no promotions are possible and no vacancies can be filled.  Everatt stated that if Stats SA was not able to "fill posts with skilled people, keep sample sizes up, and innovate", the council would be "forced to withdraw support for official statistics".

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


EXECUTIVE DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Axed Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo tells court his right to work, dignity and self-worth can't be replaced by money

Fin24 reports that axed Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo has claimed he would suffer further reputational harm if the financial services company appointed a new CEO while there was an ongoing court battle.  Moyo made the remarks in an urgent court application filed at the Johannesburg High Court on Friday.  He wants the court to interdict Old Mutual from appointing a new permanent CEO.  The matter is set to be heard on 10 March 2020.  Old Mutual, in a statement on Sunday, said it had received the urgent application and was considering legal advice before deciding on whether it would oppose.  It has until 20 February to file a notice of opposition to the application.  Moyo was suspended in May 2019 and later dismissed in June, with Old Mutual citing a breakdown in trust and a conflict of interest.  The two parties have been engaged in a legal battle ever since, with Moyo contesting his dismissal.  On 14 January, Old Mutual won its appeal against a July 2019 ruling that Moyo be reinstated.  But Moyo's legal team has since given notice of their intention to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal.  According to Moyo's attorney, Eric Mabuza, the application for leave to appeal suspends the 14 January ruling.  Meantime, on 26 January, Old Mutual advertised for a new CEO.  Moyo contends that if a new CEO is appointed, he will suffer irreversible harm.  He said the harm he would suffer would be "unquantifiable" and it would not be possible to recover it by means of a damages claim.  "My right to work, dignity and self-worth cannot be replaced by money," he averred.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lameez Omarjee at Fin24

Suspended Pembury CEO demands extraordinary general meeting to get board reconstituted

Fin24 reports that Pembury Lifestyle Group CEO and major shareholder Andrew McLachlan – who was suspended late last month – has, with two other shareholders, demanded an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders with a view to reconstituting the board.  Notice of the meeting will apparently be issued within 10 business days as per JSE listing requirements.  This follows an announcement late last week that Moore Stephens, the previous auditors of PLG, had served separate applications for the provisional liquidation on Pembury Schools, PLG Retirement Villages and PLG Properties, which the group said it would be opposing on grounds that it was disputing the fees charged by Moore Stephens.  It would also try to settle the matter amicably, the board indicated.  Andrew McLachlan holds some 46% of the voting rights in the company.  The demand for an extraordinary meeting was received from him and Joan McLachlan – an immediate family member – who holds a further 5% of the voting rights; as well as Jason McLachlan, an extended family member, who holds another 2.87%.  The group indicated, late in January, that it had suspended McLachlan and was investigating him for alleged flouting of corporate governance guidelines.  Pembury, which owns schools and retirement villages in Gauteng, Limpopo and Northwest, said it had asked the CEO to temporarily step aside because it had been alerted to several concerns which it would be investigating.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Marelise van der Merwe at Fin24


REMUNERATION / SALARY ADMINISTRATION

Not legal to dock workers’ wage due to load shedding downtime

The Mercury reports that labour experts have warned that businesses may not legally arbitrarily dock workers’ wages for lost productivity during Eskom’s load shedding.  This was advised after a KwaZulu-Natal factory worker complained that his employer had engaged in the practice for several years, with 10 hours of load shedding a week equating to an almost 25% drop in wages.  Jason Whyte of Norton Rose Fulbright said workers who provided their services were entitled to wages, regardless of whether work was available in the factory.  He said employers could not unilaterally vary the terms of an employment contract, but added that:  “In certain limited circumstances, an employer might be able to contend that due to force majeure (an “act of God”) it is unable to perform its obligations under the contract of employment.  This may allow the employer to reduce remuneration for the period of time that load shedding endures.  This is, however, an exceptional defence and is highly dependent on the facts of any case.”  Alex Rocher of Cox Yeats confirmed that in the absence of an express agreement or collective agreement an employer could not lawfully deduct wages for time not worked due to load shedding.  “The common law provides that when an employee arrives at work and tenders his or her services with a view to discharge his or her obligation under the employment contract, the employer is obliged to pay the employee notwithstanding the fact that the employee is not able to work due to a power cut.”  But, some collective agreements make provision for ‘short-time’ whereby, usually, only four hours’ wages are paid to employees if employees are sent home due to load shedding.  “Some bargaining councils or forums had the foresight after 2008 when the phenomenon of load shedding was introduced to incorporate clauses in their collective agreements regulating the payment of wages during load shedding,” Rocher noted.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lyse Comins at The Mercury


RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB CUTS

Fears mount over the likelihood of continued retrenchments

Business Report writes that the list of announced plans to retrench in 2020, both in the private and public sectors, has grown rapidly and an anticipated small uptick in the economy is unlikely to slow its trajectory.  Among the list of larger companies to have announced retrenchment plans this year are the following: ArcelorMittal SA (400); Educor (752); Eskom (voluntary separation packages for “non-core” staff); Telkom (3,000); Massmart (1,440); Aspen (219); Samancor (2,500); Glencore (605); SAB (500); and Tongaat-Hulett (400).  Added to this is the unremitting pace of company liquidations, which consequently lead to job losses.  Statistics SA data show liquidations increased by 11% to 1,079, while close corporation liquidations increased by 10.3% to 963 between 2018 and 2019.  Economist John Loos said the upward trend in retrenchments was likely to continue as retrenchments lagged the economy, and current job cuts were the cumulative result of the stagnant or low growing economy since 2012.  He said this meant that even if the economy grew marginally by 1% in 2020, as forecast by FNB, compared with only 0.3% growth last year, the current trend of retrenchments was likely to continue for the present.  Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the rate of retrenchments was a big worry for the trade union federation and that was why it had begun working towards finding solutions itself to the problems, as it had done with the recent proposal that government pension funds be used to assist in getting Eskom functioning properly again.

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

Educor, which owns Damelin, City Varsity and other colleges, is planning to retrench more than 700 employees

Cape Argus reports that Educor, which owns Damelin, City Varsity, Intec College and Lyceum College, is planning to retrench more than 700 people from its workforce; almost half its permanent staff.  This development comes on the back of increased business insolvencies in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Stats SA.  The 1,558 permanent employees of the Educor brands received an internal memo on 7 February indicating that the higher education group was materially affected by the poor economy, which was leading to fewer enrolments and a growing number of students not paying fees.  Educor chief operating officer Michael Thurley said first year enrolments were 20% lower than last year.  The group was also 48% behind sales budget for this year, which corresponded with a decrease in student fees.  Thurley indicated that the reason for the proposed retrenchments was based on financial and operational requirements.  “We regret to advise that no voluntary severance packages or early retirement packages will be offered,” he advised.  Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesperson on higher education and training Professor Belinda Bozzoli said it would help if the government were to provide a subsidy to private institutions that were of the right standing and quality.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sisonke Mlamla at Cape Argus


BASIC EDUCATION / TEACHING

San Souci teacher who slapped pupil questions why assault charges reinstated by NPA

EWN reports that the lawyer representing a teacher who slapped a pupil last year has questioned why charges, which were previously withdrawn, have been reinstated.  The Sans Souci Girls' High School teacher was in the dock early last year on an assault charge.  At that time, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) dropped that charge.  Grade nine teacher Clarissa Venter was subjected to an internal disciplinary hearing and has since returned to work.  Venter's lawyer William Booth is presently consulting with the NPA to understand why the case has been reopened.  "I find it extremely surprising that a decision has been made to reinstitute the case.  I'm trying to get to the bottom of that and find out on what basis that has happened and then pending on what I find out I will then consult with Venter."  Venter is expected to appear in court again next month.

Read the original of the above report by Jarita Kassen at EWN


WORKPLACE CRIME

Police hunt for security guard who strolled off with R4m in cash stuffed in rubbish bags

News24 reports that police are still on the hunt for a female security guard who allegedly stole R4m in cash from her employer, SBV Services, in July last year.  She has not reported for duty since the incident and her whereabouts are unknown.  According to a report in Sowetan, Bathobile Mlangeni, 29, cut open two bulk cash bags and then put millions of rands in cash in a few refuse bags, placed them in a trolley and walked off.  These events were apparently recorded on CCTV.  In a statement issued on Tuesday, SBV Services appealed to members of the public for any information which might assist police in their investigation.  The company explained further as follows:  "This is not a cash centre, but a collection facility for cash collected from tenants in the mall.  A case was lodged with the SAPS when the incident occurred, and SBV's Risk and Compliance team is continuing to work closely with the SAPS on the investigation.  This is in line with SBV's relentless pursuit on all matters of crime that affect the business.”  Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo urged members of the public who had information on Mlangeni's whereabouts to come forward.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at News24. Read too, Wanted: guard who 'strolled off with R4m', at SowetanLive


SEXUAL MISCONDUCT / HARASSMENT

Wits makes controversial decision to reinstate lecturer accused of sexual harassment

City Press reports that the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has controversially reinstated a professor who was previously accused of sexual harassment.  Professor Mulala Danny Simatele was reinstated by the university after a successful review of a panel’s sexual harassment finding against him.  He had been found guilty by the university’s Gender Equity Office (GEO) panel, chaired by attorney Wandisa Phama and two academics, on 25 March last year.  But, Wits informed staff about Simatele’s return in December, saying he would be transferred from the geography, archaeology and environmental studies (GAES) to the global change institute from the beginning of this month until the end of January 2021 and that he would continue to teach a selection of courses in GAES.  According to the record of the first ruling, six women at GAES, split between staff and students, had apparently filed complaints against Simatele.  One of them seemingly withdrew her complaint at the stage of the hearing.  The panel upheld each of the five complaints of sexual harassment and found the Simatele guilty of misconduct in relation to each complaint.  According to Wits’ spokesperson, Buhle Zuma, Simatele applied in line with the university’s policies to have the recommendation of the first panel reviewed and a review committee was convened to hear the application.  The outcome was that the recommendation of the original panel was overturned and there was then no legal impediment preventing Simatele from returning to the university.  “Keeping in mind the fact that some witnesses [not complainants] might be in the same vicinity as Simatele, it was agreed that he would move to another entity in the university,” Zuma indicated.

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


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND ARTICLES

  • Moody’s cuts SA’s 2020 GDP growth forecast to 0.7%, at Moneyweb
  • Relief for ex-Sars officials as charges withdrawn in lengthy ‘rogue unit’ saga, at The Citizen
  • Ramaphosa to meet business executives on infrastructure investment, at Engineering News
  • A Master’s degree, 30 job applications but Manenberg woman, 29, can’t find a job, at Cape Times
  • Adam Habib to leave Wits after eight years for London directorship, at TimesLIVE
  • Adam Habib leaving 'unfinished business' at Wits, say activist, unionist, at TimesLIVE

 


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