news shutterstockIn our afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Tuesday, 3 March 2020.


STATE WAGE BILL

Ramaphosa backs Mboweni’s public wage reduction plan

Business Report writes that President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday threw his weight behind Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s plan to reduce the public sector wage bill.  In a carefully crafted response to the ongoing wrangle between the government and public sector unions, Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter that a large part of the savings would come from reducing the rate at which the wage bill grew rather than cutting the number of jobs.  “Our approach is not to dramatically cut the size of the public service, but to examine the rate at which wages grow.  Public service wages have, on average, increased at a much higher rate than inflation over many years, and we need to fix this if we are to get public finances under control,” he wrote.  Last week, Mboweni announced adjustments of R160.2-billion on the wage bill over the medium term, with R37.8bn earmarked to be saved in the next financial year.  Ramaphosa said reducing the wage bill would require focused discussions among all social partners, but particularly with public sector unions.  “These engagements need to be conducted in a spirit of seeking solutions. I am heartened by the willingness of all parties to engage in serious negotiations aimed at finding a solution,” he stated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Siphelele Dludla at Business Report

Unions not on board with public sector wage proposal being negotiated at Nedlac

Fin24 reports that trade unions are not playing ball when it comes to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s plan to slash the public wage bill by R160 billion over the next three years, even after President Ramaphosa promised on Monday that government would not cut jobs.  The president said in his weekly newsletter that the state wage bill savings would come from lower wage growth, but the country’s biggest unions and federations said they would not accept that either.  Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla indicated that labour representatives who met government and business leaders at Nedlac on Monday were clear that workers would not be reopening this year’s wage agreement or negotiating lower wage increases in the bargaining council.  "There’s nothing to talk about. At Nedlac, they wanted to discuss the issue, but why should we discuss it? So, when they say they are talking to labour, we don’t know who they are talking to, because labour cannot talk without a mandate from workers," Pamla stated.  Fedusa’s Riefdah Ajam said it was disingenuous for government to attempt renegotiating a wage agreement that was concluded and signed in 2018 at Nedlac as that was not a forum for wage bargaining.  "We have to make it known to all interested parties that Nedlac is not a negotiating forum. It’s a matter that will be discussed only in the public service coordinating bargaining council, and nowhere else," she insisted.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Londiwe Buthelezi at Fin24. Read too, Government rebuffed in attempt to curb pay, at Moneyweb

New police union threatens mass protest over plans to cut public sector wage bill

ANA reports that the newly-formed South African Police Allied Workers’ Union (Sapawu) warned on Tuesday that it would mobilise a mass protest should the government follow through on plans to slash the public sector wage bill by about R160-billion.  In his national budget speech last week, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said the government would decrease its wage bill over the medium term as part of efforts to lower spending and narrow the budget deficit.  The union, which was formed last year, reacted as follows:  "Should the department of public service and administration implement the plans of the finance minister ... Sapawu will mobilise all the unions in the public sector to embark on a mass action to fight this war against the proletariat.  If the finance minister wants to serve the economy of this country, he must find money somewhere else not to play with the public servant’s money."  The union claimed that stated employees were the worst paid workers in SA and that cutting the wage bill would "paralyse" them.  It warned that "whoever is declaring war against the working class ... must be ready to take a punch".

Read the original of the above report at Independent News


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT / JOB CREATION

Cannabis high on state’s agenda to unlock economic growth and jobs

BusinessLive reports that the presidential working committee on jobs has rallied behind the government’s plans to legalise cannabis to unlock economic growth and job creation.  The committee, which meets at Nedlac every month, comprises government, business, labour and community stakeholders.  Its meeting on Monday followed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address (Sona) in February, where he announced that the state would open up and regulate the commercial use of hemp products in 2020 to provide opportunities to small-scale farmers.  Ramaphosa also said his administration would formulate policy on the use of cannabis products “for medicinal purposes, to build this country in line with global trends”.  According to Business Unity SA president Sipho Pityana, one of the items discussed at Monday’s meeting of the working group was the use of cannabis for industrial and medicinal use, and its contribution to job creation.  Godfrey Selematsela of union federation Fedusa said they supported the legalisation of cannabis as long as it was not done “haphazardly” and was aimed at growing the ailing economy.  “The issue of cannabis and hemp, in our view, will assist in creating jobs in SA. Therefore, it is important that [cannabis] is not classified as a drug as per the current legislation,” said Selematsela.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Luyolo Mkentane at BusinessLive


ESKOM BAILOUT

Cosatu expects its Eskom bailout plan to be completed within weeks

Bloomberg reports that the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) expects a plan that it’s proposing to save Eskom from its debt burden to be ready within weeks.  The union federation has proposed using the state pension fund manager, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), and government-owned development finance institutions to cut the power utility’s debt by R254-billion to R200-billion.  While there was initially some disagreement within Cosatu as some affiliated unions were concerned about the plan, consultations have now been held, Cosatu’s Matthew Parks indicated.  The matter was also discussed at the Presidential Working Committee, where labour, business and other stakeholders were represented, on Monday.  Cosatu and Business Unity SA (Busa), the main business lobby group, had previously said they’d hoped a pact on the Eskom bailout would be announced in last month’s state-of-the-nation address, but this was moved out to allow for more consulting.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Mining Weekly


PRICES

AgriSA says fuel price drop will aid farmers, but Cosatu says it is not enough of a reduction

BusinessLive reports that the agriculture sector, which is battling drought conditions and, more recently the global effects of the coronavirus outbreak, has welcomed a drop in fuel prices.  It reckons it will have a positive effect on food inflation and will provide relief for farmers ahead of the harvesting period.  On Tuesday, mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe announced that the price of petrol and diesel would decrease 19c/l and 54c/l respectively, effective from Wednesday.  AgriSA’s Christo van der Rheede said this was welcome news for farmers.  However, labour federation Cosatu said that while it welcomed the fuel price drop, it was still not enough because it was likely to be “repealed by the pending tax increase of 25c that will see 16c going to the general fuel levy and 9c to the Road Accident Fund”.  Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said only a further reduction and “a steady drop” could give some respite to lower-income earners and poor households.  “They are struggling to survive under these difficult economic conditions. Hopefully, this reduction will continue because workers are spending too much money travelling to work and they are sliding deeper and deeper into debt because of declining wages.  An extra decrease in the price of fuel will be able to boost the purchasing power of most South Africans and, hopefully, lift the economy and help it recover,” said Pamla.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Luyolo Mkentane at BusinessLive


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Security guard shot dead while raising alarm about robbers at betting business at Greyville Racecourse

TimesLIVE reports that a Durban security guard was shot dead while raising the alarm about armed robbers, who stormed into a business at Greyville Racecourse on Tuesday morning.  The 47-year-old security guard was employed by Betting World.  Leon Fourie of Life Response 24/7 reported that the incident occurred just before 10am and he went on to indicate:  “Five armed suspects entered the property and the victim ran to the offices to warn everyone.  He was shot in the chest.  The suspects ran off and nothing was taken.”  The victim died before paramedics arrived.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Orrin Singh at TimesLIVE

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • School bus driver shot at in front of kids outside high school in Benoni, at The Citizen
  • SAPS has to pay wife after Fidelity guard was shot dead at crime scene, at Pretoria News


MINING LABOUR

Workers now owners of Arnot coal mine

City Press reports that for the first time in the history of SA, former mine employees have become owners of a mine they used to work at.  Exxaro Resources, one of the largest black-owned mining companies in SA, has decided to hand over full ownership of Arnot coal mine, situated between Middelburg and Carolina in Mpumalanga, to its former employees and nearby communities.  Arnot had a 40-year coal-supply agreement with Eskom for the nearby Arnot Power Station, but it lapsed in December 2015, leading to the closure of the mine and retrenchment of employees.  Exxaro spokesperson Tsabeng Nthite said the mine had been transferred to Arnot OpCo, an entity owned by the former employees, communities and Wescoal Holdings.  Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe granted the cession of the mining rights of Arnot to Arnot OpCo about eight months ago.  Nthite indicated that Exxaro transferred the mining rights, as well as movable and immovable assets, at no cost to Arnot OpCo.  The former employees have been given 50% ownership through Innovators Resources, a trust and private entity.  Innovators Resources has partnered with Wescoal, which has vast experience in coal mining. Wescoal holds a 50% stake through Arnot HoldCo, which has shareholding in Arnot OpCo.  It is anticipated that production will mostly be supplied to Eskom.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sizwe Sama Yende at City Press

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Residents of Wells township in Emalahleni shocked to discover illegal mining on their doorstep, at City Press


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

New national minimum wage non-compliance hotline goes live on Thursday

The Citizen reports that in an effort to enforce compliance with the national minimum wage (NMW), employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi will on Thursday launch a new hotline that will allow workers to report cases of non-compliance with the NMW at no cost.  The tip-off line will be called the Impimpa hotline.  It will be backed by one of the country’s leading cellular providers, which will provide a messaging interaction mechanism for end-users (workers) as an alternative means of reporting non-compliance.  “The NMW Impimpa hotline will provide an effective monitoring and enforcement system. Its launch is seen as vital to the success of this significant policy intervention (NMW),” the department indicated in a statement.  The department could not be drawn as to how defaulters would be dealt with, but added that all would be explained following Thursday’s launch.

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


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS

Nearly 200 jobs on the line as Ellies Electronics announces restructuring

Fin24 reports that Ellies Electronics would be embarking on a restructuring process, affecting 183 jobs, the holding group said in a stock exchange notice on Monday.  Ellies Group is a manufacturer, importer and wholesaler of electronic goods.  The group indicated that its subsidiary Ellies Electronics had entered into a Section 189 (i.e. retrenchment) process and would be restructuring its "goods receiving, warehousing, distribution, logistics and head office functions".  "This is pursuant to ongoing financial losses experienced by Ellies Electronics. The restructuring will result in the rationalisation of overheads and the realisation of other efficiencies required to restore profitability and ensure the existence and longevity of the company going forward," the notice indicated.  The group said it would work with affected employees to consider measures that "avoid and mitigate" possible retrenchments.

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

Jobs cuts loom in Nelson Mandela Bay, with four major employers set to retrench

City Press writes that Nelson Mandela Bay’s unemployment rate of 32% is expected to rise as four major companies are in the process of retrenching staff.  Goodyear, SAB, Aspen Pharmacare and Educor, which together employ close to 10,000 people, have signalled possible job cuts.  Business Chamber CEO Nomkhita Mona said they were “deeply concerned” about any potential job losses in the metro as unemployment was already “alarmingly high”.  “Nelson Mandela Bay has been plagued by political instability which has paralysed the region. The lack of leadership and chaos brought about by the ineffective coalition government has brought the city to a standstill.  Locally, there has been hardly any economic activity as the basics have largely not been in place,” said Mona.  Meantime, Goodyear has written to metalworkers’ union Numsa notifying it of pending retrenchments.  According to Numsa’s Mphumzi Maqungo, the company intends to retrench about 200 workers.  Numsa is still negotiating with management.  The Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu), which represents the SAB employees, said retrenchment negotiations were still ongoing at the CCMA.  The union’s Mayoyo Mngomezulu said they did not know how many workers would be affected:  “The company first said 500, then it was 300 and now we are hearing 100.”  Aspen is also still negotiating with the workers’ union, but apparently the pharmaceutical manufacturer intends to retrench about 500 workers.  It has also been reported that Educor intends to retrench more than 700 workers.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Max Matavire at City Press


SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / TRAINING

It’s back to school for over 1,000 newly-graduated JMPD officers who can’t handle guns or direct traffic

News24 reports that more than 1,000 Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officers have been sent back for training as they were unable to perform some of their duties, such as handling firearms or directing traffic.  The group, which graduated from the City of Johannesburg training academy last year, has been sent back to re-polish their skills after having initially been trained for 18 months.  JMPD spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said the training was part of the internal training requirement to enhance the skills the recruits were lacking.  He indicated that it took more than the required 18 months of training for an officer to be fully trained and pointed out that all the officers were “not the same and don't have similar skills and talents."  Minnaar confirmed that some needed to be fully trained to become competent in handling firearms, driving skills as well as controlling traffic.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ntwaagae Seleka at News24. Read too, Newly-graduated metro cops can't drive, handle guns and have phobia for traffic, at The Star

Government scheme to help unemployed youth get driver’s licences grinds to a halt

HeraldLIVE reports that a government programme aimed at empowering unemployed youth by providing them with driver’s licences has come to a halt.  Some R8m was forked out, but produced only 125 drivers out of 2,290 participants.  The initiative by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), which was initiated in the 2018/19 financial year, was established to train young people to obtain codes 10 or 14 licences to increase their chances of employability as drivers in the transport and logistics sectors.  However, the project abruptly came to a halt when the DEA cancelled contracts in June last year with two service providers it had appointed to undertake the pilot programme.  DEA spokesperson Albi Modise said:  “The two companies who won the national tender failed to deliver, and their contracts were terminated.”  He added that the department was in the process of procuring new service providers to complete the project.  Of those who took the exam, 125 (86.2%) actually passed, representing 5.5% of the total intake of 2,290 participants.  Now those in possession of learner’s licences are in a panic that their papers will expire before they ever take driving lessons and the test.  The DEA attributed delays in the resumption of the project to “administrative issues” in terminating one set of contracts and running compliant procurement processes to source others.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Zimasa Matiwane at HeraldLIVE

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Higher education, science and technology official denies role in R24m lecturers’ scam, at City Press


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND ARTICLES

  • SA in a recession for the third time since 1994, at City Press
  • Opinion: Why prescribed assets could prove disastrous, at Fin24
  • Mark Harris appointed as permanent MD of Altron Nexus, at BusinessLive

 


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