news shutterstockIn our afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Monday, 23 March 2020.


TOP STORY – CORONAVIRUS / COVID-19

Organised business sets up project management office to collaborate with government on Covid-19

TimesLIVE reports that the business sector is proactively collaborating with government to reduce the economic, social and health effects of Covid-19.  Business Unity SA (Busa), the Black Business Council (BBC) and other companies met President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday as part of a multi-stakeholder engagement on Covid-19.  “Business has rapidly mobilised to combine its resources in the service of South Africa and its people to limit the economic, social and health effects of Covid-19 on the country,” Busa indicated in a statement.  Accordingly, the business sector has established a project management office to ensure collaboration with government and to use available business resources and capacity to support public-sector initiatives.  Task teams have been set up to proactively assess and implement business initiatives to deal with the impact of Covid-19 in health, the labour market and the broader economy.  The labour work-stream will look at the impact of Covid-19 on employers and employees, developing advice on issues such as short working hours, Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) claims and special leave.  It will identify and address blockages such as seeking adjustments to the Disaster Management Regulations and other aspects of the regulatory framework.  It will also be encouraging good practice to preserve and support employees, environment and workplace hygiene, and collaboration with regulators, especially in high-risk sectors.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nomahlubi Jordaan at TimesLIVE

Numsa in talks with BMW over financial compensation for employees as a result shutdown

Business Report writes that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has met with the management of BMW SA to discuss financial compensation for employees in respect of the shutdown of the Rosslyn manufacturing plant for two weeks.  Numsa Hlanganani region deputy chairperson Thabo Mogoroe noted the plant was being shut down due to slower vehicle sales, caused by the spread of the coronavirus.  All BMW plants in Europe and Rosslyn were shut down on Friday, affecting some 2,500 local employees, until 19 April.  After the shutdown a decision would apparently be taken, depending on the circumstances, whether to re-open or not.  Mogoroe indicated:  “We met with management (on Thursday) to discuss the details of remuneration during this period.  The provisions of lay-off leave, which is a maximum of 10 days will kick in.  Thereafter, management is proposing to use the Worktime Account, where workers would have to “pay back” those days through overtime work, which the union had rejected.  We have proposed that the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) should be used, or that the BMW Group must contribute something to workers in order to mitigate against the hardship which workers and their families will face during this period.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Edward West on page 15 of Business Report of 23 March 2020

Calls for domestic workers to be granted paid leave mounting to protect them from Covid-19

TimesLIVE writes that as Covid-19 continues to spread in SA and more people opt to work from home, the safety of domestic employees remains a cause for concern, and calls for employers to grant them paid leave are mounting.  Domestic workers don't have the option of working from home.  Those who don't live full time in the homes of their employers mostly rely on public transport to travel to and from work, which puts them at a higher risk of contracting the virus.  On Friday, United Domestic Workers of SA (Udwosa) president Pinky Mashiane said employers must grant their employees paid leave if they wanted them to stay in their own homes during the pandemic.  Eunice Dhladhla of the SA Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (Sadsawu) said employers who insisted on having their employees come to work amid the pandemic must do so responsibly by providing sanitisers, gloves and masks to prevent the possibility of infection.  “The employers could still let their workers come to work, but must buy the correct items to protect their workers.  Although there is the saying ‘no work, no pay’ there are domestic workers who will stay home not because they want to, but because they’re afraid of this illness."  Department of Employment and Labour spokesperson Teboho Thejane said employers who granted leave to their domestic workers were legally obliged to pay them.  He said the department was looking into leave options employees could apply for while they practised self-isolation and social distancing.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Cebelihle Bhengu at TimesLIVE. Read too, 'If employers tell domestic workers to stay home, they must get paid', says union on coronavirus, at TimesLIVE. And also, Coronavirus: As an employee, what are your rights? at Pretoria News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Covid-19 cases in SA increase to 402, at The Citizen
  • Private healthcare groups in KZN pledge wards, beds to assist in coronavirus outbreak, at News24
  • Gauteng health department consulting with private hospital groups as coronavirus cases rise in province, at News24
  • Tighter restrictions at SA ports to fend off coronavirus outbreak, at TimesLIVE
  • Opinion: Shutting public transport is among steps SA should take to beat Covid-19, at BusinessLive
  • Standard Bank announces payment holiday for certain clients, at EWN


MINING LABOUR

Minerals Council condemns false Sibanye Covid-19 report, to provide daily updates on any incidents

Mining Weekly reports that the Minerals Council SA (MCSA – previously called the Chamber of Mines) says it will provide a daily update on its website if and when incidents of Covid-19 are confirmed at its members’ operations.  This follows reports last week of a purported confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Marikana operation, which had been circulating on social media and were picked up by a broadcast channel without verification.  Sibanye has confirmed that there are currently no confirmed cases of Covid-19 at any of its operations and it plans to pursue legal action once the source of the false information has been traced and identified.  The MCSA also condemned the false reports and pleaded with media to “be vigilant in detecting and avoiding misrepresentation”.  It said the industry’s approach to reporting on incidents of Covid-19 would be aligned to the requirements of the Department of Health in the first instance, while keeping the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the Mine Health and Safety Council and organised labour always informed.

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

Mineral resources department to mediate in impasse over sale of Lily Mine, where bodies of three miners are still underground

City Press reports that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has intervened in the litigation process that has stalled the reopening of two Mpumalanga gold mines and the retrieval of the bodies of three workers who were buried underground.  The department hopes to pursuade the owner of Lily and Barbrook mines, Vantage Goldfields SA (VGSA), as well as Arqomanzi – an entity formed by Siyakhula Sisonke Corporation (SSC) subsidiary Flaming Silver 373 – and Taung Gold to reach an out-of-court settlement.  Arqomanzi has put in a R472 million offer to buy the mines, located near Barberton.  They were shut down in February 2016 when the entrance to Lily Mine collapsed.  The mines were subsequently placed in business rescue.  But VGSA has been reluctant to sell to the company to Flaming Silver, and would prefer to sell it to Real Win Investments instead.  VGSA initially cancelled a sale agreement it had signed with Flaming Silver, thereby precipitating court challenges from SSC.  DMRE spokesperson Ayanda Shezi confirmed that they were trying to mediate between the two companies to reach an out-of-court settlement.  Since the closure, 1,000 workers have lost their jobs.  Some former workers have been camping outside Lily Mine (for 332 days at last count) and going underground to try to retrieve the container office that sank underground while their three colleagues were working inside.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sizwe Sama Yende on page 3 of City Press Business of 22 March 2020

Case for more women in SA mining to be put firmly on the agendas of CEOs

Miningmx reports that there’s a raft of information that shows involving women in the mining business is not just the mark of a just, modern society, but a good business strategy.  According to Deshnee Naidoo, CEO of Vedanta Zinc International and a Minerals Council SA (MCSA) board member who’s driving the organisation’s White Paper aimed at advancing the role of women in the industry, a firm intervention is needed to step up female representation in the industry. “If we don’t put it on the agenda of the CEO, it doesn’t happen,” she pointed out.  She was speaking ahead of the launch of the White Paper on 8 March, which was International Women’s Day.  Currently, there are about 54,000 women working in SA’s mining sector, the equivalent of 13% of the sector’s total workforce.  This is a clear under-representation.  A number of strategic points have been identified by the MCSA, which has assembled a task-team of 12 members, mostly woman (Naidoo said more men should be on it) with the aim of making this a serious point of adoption in the industry at the highest level.  The Department of Minerals and Energy is supportive of the initiative and its cooperation will be key aspect if the MCSA is to be successful.  MCSA CEO Roger Baxrter indicated:  “We have had preliminary discussions with the minister (Gwede Mantashe).  The department has been invited to be part of the task team.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by David McKay at Miningmx

Limpopo police catch four zama zamas with illegally mined chrome

News24 reports that four persons were scheduled to appear in the Mecklenburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday for illegal mining and possession of chrome.  They were arrested on Thursday by Limpopo Organised Crime Unit officers.  "On Thursday, the unit intercepted and nabbed four suspects, aged between 28 and 68, for illegal mining and for possession of illegally mined chrome during a sting joint operation conducted in the Mecklenburg policing area outside Burgersfort," police spokesperson Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe indicated on Monday.  He went on to state:  "The police team was on a disruptive operation at Ga-Makgoba village next to Twickenham mine when the four suspects were spotted driving in two motor vehicles. They were stopped, searched and police found buckets full of chrome."  The two vehicles were confiscated.  Limpopo police commissioner Lieutenant General Nneke Ledwaba commended the unit for dealing with all forms of illegal mining "head-on" in the province.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ntwaagae Seleka at News24


CORPORATE TRANSFORMATION / EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

Labour-related violations account for second-highest number of complaints received by Human Rights Commission

Lungile Langa, group HR director at Servest, writes that the latest “Annual Trends Analysis Report” compiled by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) finds that labour-related human rights violations accounted for the second-highest number of complaints about human rights violations that the commission received, after equality.  Most of those cases related to unfair dismissals and other unfair labour practices, which speaks to widespread discrimination in the workplace.  The report findings were based on statistics and data on human rights violations received by the commission and cases from all nine provinces.  Despite the promulgation of a series of laws that protect employees and entrench a culture of human rights, the human rights of many employees are said to still suffer being trampled upon.  Challenges that remain in workplaces include exclusionary practices in some workplaces, salary gaps relating to gender, and racial biases.  According to research conducted by Stats SA, the labour market is still heavily racialised and gender biased.  It highlights that the labour market favours men over women, and that men are more likely to be in paid employment than women, regardless of race.  On average, female employees earn about 30% less than their male counterparts in the same roles.  Several outlier issues remain, but they cannot be addressed through the regulatory framework alone.  Issues of culture and inculcating equitable practices deliberately as part of an organisation’s culture remain one of the biggest challenges.

Read Lungile Langa’s article in full at BusinessLive


RETIREMENT FUNDS / PENSION INVESTMENTS

Settlement offer for long-suffering Transnet pensioners offers little after seven-year battle

BL Premium reports that a hard-fought legal challenge brought by Transnet pensioners against the state-owned logistics company has after seven years culminated in a settlement agreement, offering only some justice for the long-suffering retirees.  The settlement, which has yet to be made a court order, consists of a R30,000 lump sum per retiree, paid in three tranches over two years, and higher annual increases in future.  It falls way short of what many pensioners and their dependants expected.  It was originally argued in the legal challenge that pensioners were in fact owed R100bn in legacy debt, which would have amounted to R1.25m each.  When Transnet became the legal successor of SA Transport Services in 1990, about 80,000 Transnet pensioners were moved to one of two Transnet pension funds — the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund or the Transport Pension Fund — depending on when they retired.  Despite the government’s verbal commitment, the pension payouts have grown at just 2% per year in accordance with the fund rule — leaving many of the Transnet’s elderly former employees with little to no retirement income.  The provisional settlement will be finalised by an order of the Pretoria High Court on 14 April, if no legal objections are raised.  Although the lawyers representing the class action have not received valid objections, some might still be lodged ahead of the court date.  If the matter is successfully opposed, the court date will be postponed to 17 June.

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


DISMISSALS

Nine Soweto TV producers fight to get their jobs back

SowetanLive reports that nine Soweto TV producers have vowed to fight for their jobs after they were fired in January following disciplinary hearings.  They were served with suspension letters on 6 January, but only got their dismissal letters late last month.  They produced a variety of shows that ranged from sports to cooking.  According to a dismissal letter to one of the producers, she was dismissed for failing to produce new shows as instructed by the station, leading to a lot of repeats of her show.  The employees said their troubles started in November when the new management, led by radio personality T-bo Touch Molefe who is the station's acting CEO, wanted all employees to sign a performance contract without addressing operational issues at the station.  One of the producers said:  "We refused to sign the contract because we wanted the issue of a lack of tools of trade to be addressed.”  General secretary of the Communications Workers Union (CWU), Aubrey Tshabalala, said they were disappointed that the station dismissed the employees while they were still engaging and had an agreement.  The matter is now heading to the CCMA.  Soweto TV's Mandla Ncinitwa said the producers were dismissed for gross misconduct and not for repeating shows.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Patience Bambalele at SowetanLive

Out on Cape Town’s streets far from home after dispute over salary

Sowetan reports a company that gives people in need of a place to stay has ironically left its employee stranded without accommodation far from home in Cape Town.  Habitat for Humanity, whose vision is of a world where everyone has a decent place to live, allegedly kicked its finance consultant Dineo Saba out of a guesthouse booked for her after her apparent refusal to sign an employment contract that she disputed over the pay rate.  Speaking on Sunday, Naomi Saba, 50, from North West, said her misery began three days before when she had already arrived in Cape Town.  “I received the copy of my contract while at the guesthouse and realised that I was dissatisfied with the figures for the pay rate and accommodation arrangements. So, I confronted the CEO Dineo Molomo who later became arrogant and not willing to hear me out,” claimed Saba.  According to Saba, she had a verbal agreement with Molomo after she was selected and appointed as a finance consultant for the Cape Town office.  She worked for the company for over 12 years as a regional finance manager for the division in Pretoria.  Her agreed rate with the CEO was apparently a net salary of R27,000 after deductions.  Saba said she was kicked out of the guesthouse on Friday morning and was staying with an unknown woman whom she met at a bus stop in Cape Town.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Promise Marupeng on page 2 of Sowetan of 23 March 2020


WORKPLACE CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Former top cop Khomotso Phahlane disputes Ipid’s forensic report in corruption case against him

City Press reports that the lawyers of former top cop Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane are confident that when his trial continues in May they will be able to punch holes in a forensic report by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) that forms the basis of the state’s case against him.  Phahlane is accused, along with other high-ranking police officials, of fraud and corruption regarding their involvement in a procurement contract that saw the installation of blue lights in police vehicles in Gauteng in 2016 – at a cost of R84 million.  The former acting national police commissioner and five other high-ranking SA Police Service (SAPS) officials face charges of fraud‚ forgery and uttering, which carry a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.  Phahlane, who headed the SAPS forensic division before he was appointed as the acting national police commissioner, describes the findings against him as “baseless, malicious, unsubstantiated, devoid of the truth, and thus must be strongly condemned”.  In his submission to the NPA, he points out at least two instances where the purchase order for procurement of services was concluded long after former police minister Fikile Mbalula removed him from office in 2017, but he was still being cited as the accounting officer responsible.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Setumo Stone on page 4 of City Press of 22 March 2020

 


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