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
Wednesday, 25 March 2020.


TOP STORY – CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN

Clothing industry workers guaranteed full pay for six weeks during Covid-19 lockdown

BusinessLive reports that the clothing and textile sector’s 80,000 workers have been guaranteed full pay for six weeks during and after the Covid-19 lock down in a ground-breaking agreement by stakeholders.  On Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown to limit the coronavirus outbreak.  On Tuesday, the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry in SA announced that parties in the industry had reached a “ground-breaking agreement” that would see workers getting their salaries during the lockdown period.  The signatories include the SA Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu), the Apparel & Textile Association of SA (Atasa) and the SA Apparel Association (Saaa).  According to the agreement, payment to the industry’s 80,000 workers will be made up of workers' Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) monies and employers’ funds.  The bargaining council will be the institution for the UIF distribution payments to workers through company payroll systems.  The bargaining council said the agreement had been submitted to the Department of Employment and Labour for an “emergency gazette and extension to non-party companies in the clothing industry”.

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

Labour department enacting labour support measures for Covid-19 lockdown

Engineering News reports that following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that SA would enter a 21-day lockdown to help curb the spread of Covid-19, the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) indicated that it would be enacting several support measures for affected employers and employees.  In a briefing on Tuesday, Minister Thulas Nxesi noted that large groups of workers would remain at work, such as those in emergency services, medical professionals and those providing essential services.  He emphasised that these workers must receive the necessary protective gear.  For those workers affected by the lockdown, or those that become sick, the DEL would be providing support through a number of measures.  Firstly, it will be activating the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, for those workers to seek leave and annual leave.  Employers and labour, through Nedlac, had agreed to negotiate special leave conditions for those who fell ill as a result of work.  They will be covered by the Compensation Fund or the Compensation Act.  The Unemployment Insurance Fund’s existing benefits for reduced worktime or illness for affected workers would be augmented through a new national disaster benefit.  Also, one of the UIF’s existing programmes, the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme, would be expanded and expedited.  Nxesi also indicated that companies and bargaining councils would be used for distributing the new UIF benefits.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Engineering News

UIF braces for flood of Covid-19 claims

EWN reports that the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) on Tuesday said it had emergency reserves in place to deal with the anticipated flood of claims due to the Covid-19 crisis.  The organisation is responsible for providing relief to eligible employees in times of distress.  Government has also indicated its funds would be pivotal in cushioning some businesses and the workforce from the economic effects of the spread of the virus and the looming lockdown.  UIF commissioner Teboho Maruping said while R800 million had been budgeted to aid struggling small to medium-sized businesses through the temporary employer-employee relief system, more money would be availed when the need arose.  “What we’ve done, in case there is an emergency where we need to pay a huge amount of benefit, we have also set aside a technical reserve for that,” he indicated.  He also explained that support measures were in place for employees who would be out of work or have their hours shortened as a result of the Covid-19 measures.  On Tuesday, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi stated that government expected millions of workers to claim from the UIF during this period.

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Theto Mahlakoana at EWN

Solidarity complains to Human Right Commission and prepares litigation over link for crisis funding to BEE

Trade union Solidarity on Wednesday announced that it had lodged a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission and was preparing for urgent litigation against government’s plans to make crisis funding for small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) subject to black economic empowerment (BEE).  The union reported that it was reportedly unequivocally indicated at a press conference that assistance related to the Covid-19 crisis from the Department of Small Business Development would only be made available in a “demographically representative” manner.  Meantime, the Department of Tourism has apparently released a document indicating that at least 70% of the funds would go exclusively to black controlled companies.  According to Solidarity “it is one thing to say that BEE is a prerequisite for government contracts, but it is something totally different when the president has declared that no one is allowed to do business and then refuses to protect certain businesses amid such a drastic step.”  Dirk Hermann, Solidarity’s chief executive commented:  “While the rest of us are indeed bracing for a time of crisis and unprecedented hardship, government sees it as a golden opportunity to enforce its offensive race ideology.  This is appalling.”

Read Solidarity’s press statement on this matter at <https://solidariteit.co.za/en/bee-prerequisite-for-emergency-funds-anc-shows-true-colours/

Shoprite supermarket cashiers to get R102m cash appreciation bonus for Covid-19 work

TimesLIVE reports that cashiers and store packers on the front line of panic buying and who will come face-to-face with shoppers during the Covid-19 lockdown are to receive a cash bonus from retailer Shoprite.  The chain, which says it is the largest private employer in SA, has announced a one-off R102m appreciation bonus for its shop floor and distribution centre employees “to thank and support them for their tireless efforts to feed the nation in these unprecedented times.”  Pieter Engelbrecht, CEO of the Shoprite Group, said:  “They will be paid the appreciation bonus next Thursday, April 2 2020. This is one of the many measures we have initiated to support our most vital teams, including the supply of free hand sanitiser and expanded leave guidelines to cater for those impacted.”  The group urged customers to shop responsibly.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at TimesLIVE. Read too, Boss gives staff Netflix subscriptions, early salaries to ease lockdown stress, at TimesLIVE

Rupert family wants its R1bn Covid-19 donation to go into workers’ pockets

BL Premium reports that Remgro chair Johann Rupert says the preferred route for the disbursement of his family’s R1bn donation to assist small businesses will be through Business Partners, a company he founded and co-owns.  He expects to finalise plans in the coming days.  "Business Partners have the institutional capacity to do this, as they have been financing and mentoring small businesses for almost 40 years. So it’s the perfect delivery mechanism in which to give the money and get cash into the pockets of employees.  The primary purpose of the money will be to pay workers’ salaries," Rupert indicated.  Remgro owns 43% of Business Partners, a specialist lender to small and medium-sized business owners.  The R1bn contribution from the Rupert family will be separately earmarked for use as donations to small businesses using the company’s infrastructure, and will run separately from the donation made by the Oppenheimer family.  Rupert’s donation is part of efforts to cushion the economic effects of the 21-day lockdown announced on Monday by President Cyril Ramaphosa to contain the coronavirus pandemic.  The Oppenheimers, who will also donate R1bn to help small businesses, indicated that they were busy finalising the structure, operation and governance of the fund.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Warren Thompson at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read too, Coronavirus: SA Muslim body donates R1m to assist government’s Solidarity Fund, at News24

No taxis or Ubers during lockdown, but you can jog as long as you don't mingle, say ministers

Independent News reports that according to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, a "lockdown is a lockdown" and no taxis or e-hailing services will be allowed to operate as usual during the national 21-day lockdown.  South Africans will be expected to isolate at home from Thursday night as the country shuts down to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.  Only essential service workers will be allowed to leave their homes and go to work. Essential service workers include supermarket workers, health care workers and various other sectors deemed essential.  Mbalula said no taxis and e-hailing services, including Uber and Bolt, would be permitted to operate.  He advised that his department was working on allowing an afternoon and a morning shift to allow for essential service workers to catch public transport during the lockdown.  Mbalula explained further:  They (buses, taxis, uber and bolt) will not be operating. There will be special arrangements for public transport in terms of taxis. We are looking at allocating time for taxis in the morning and afternoon. During the day, it is a lockdown. Trains we are looking at none at all. Long-distance trains will not be operating. We are looking at intensifying the lockdown in terms of aviation."  Earlier on Wednesday, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said people could jog during the lockdown and also walk their dogs.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Zintle Mahlati at Independent News. See too, Taxis, e-hailing services will not be operating during lockdown, says Mbalula, at EWN

Netcare suspends hospital visits from Wednesday to protect staff and patients

TimesLIVE reports that hospital group Netcare announced on Wednesday that all visiting hours for general wards, ICUs and high care units would be suspended with immediate effect.  “In light of the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic, we needed to take extraordinary measures to protect all health care teams and our patients who cannot be discharged,” said Dr Richard Friedland, Netcare CEO.  Restricted visits will be permitted for newborns, young children and the gravely ill, with tightened precautionary measures (details provided in report).

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

Gauteng education department negotiating with labour to scrap June holidays

BusinessLive reports that the Gauteng government is negotiating with labour unions and other education sector stakeholders to scrap the June school holidays due to the disruption caused by SA’s Covid-19 outbreak.  Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said on Wednesday that the government hoped to scrap the June school holidays to enable schools to catch up on the missed learning opportunities triggered by their early closure ahead of the Easter holidays, and the three-week national lock down, which begins at midnight on Thursday.  Schools closed on 18 March and were due to resume teaching on 15 April, but the lockdown means they will remain closed until at least 20 April.  Learners will thus have been away from their classrooms for at least a month by the time schools re-open.  “When we come back, we want to run without a break because there have already been breaks,” Lesufi explained.  The Gauteng government will be implementing a range of measures to help learners during the coming weeks.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tamar Kahn at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • UIF dysfunctional ahead of Covid-19 influx, writes claimant, at BusinessLive
  • Comair, SAA suspend flights during Covid-19 lockdown, at BusinessLive
  • FlySafair suspends operations for 21-day lockdown, at Fin24
  • SA lockdown: tourist attractions, casinos, more hotels close, at Moneyweb
  • Business organisations, labour say lockdown is a responsible decision, at Engineering News
  • Minibus taxis’ cash system makes industry a sitting duck in Covid-19 pandemic, at BusinessLive
  • SA miners count the cost of COVID-19 lockdown as projects, production, financing put on hold, at Miningmx
  • Eskom has asked coal miners, coal transporters and Transnet to continue coal supply operations during the lockdown, at Moneyweb


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Public sector unions likely to suspend wage strike due to Covid-19 lockdown

BusinessLive reports that the 21-day national lockdown aimed at limiting Covid-19 has thrown a spanner in the works for public sector unions eager to down tools should the government not increase their salaries on 1 April.  The unions who stated their clear intention of going on strike should the state not implement the last leg of the 2018 wage agreement include Nehawu, SA’s largest public service union.  Denosa and Nupsaw have also thrown in their lot with Nehawu, saying they were willing to down tools if the government showed “disdain” to public servants by refusing to adjust their salaries.  Nehawu’s Zola Saphetha indicated that the parties would meet at the public sector bargaining council (PSCBC) again on Wednesday to try and find each other.  The union’s leadership would then meet afterwards to determine the next course of action “in light of the lockdown”.  Nupsaw’s Success Mataitsane was more straightforward:  “The strike action has been suspended until the lockdown is over. We don’t know why we are being called into the PSCBC again because we have made it clear that we are not interested in 0% increase.”  Public service and administration minister Senzo Mchunu would only say he did not want to speculate what would happen on 1 April as the matter was “too sensitive and serious for speculation”.

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


DISMISSALS

Wrongfully convicted SANDF soldier wins six-year battle for reinstatement

Pretoria News reports that it took a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) soldier six years and a battle all the way to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) to be reinstated in his job.  He was dismissed after he had been (wrongfully) convicted of rape and sentenced to life imprisonment in July 2014.  Between his arrest, conviction and sentence, he still served as a member of the SANDF.  He was fired after sentencing.  Maswanganyi objected and said that he was appealing his conviction, but the SANDF refused to reverse its decision.  A year later he won his appeal, and it was found that he had been wrongly convicted and was released.  He thereupon requested to be reinstated, but the SANDF said he had to apply to get his old job back, which he did.  His application was refused.  Maswanganyi turned to the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, which ordered that the SANDF had to reinstate him.  The SANDF approached the Supreme Court of Appeal, which took the side of the SANDF and ruled that his dismissal had been fair.  But the ConCourt has now ruled in his favour and has ordered the SANDF to reinstate him, backdated to 2014.  According to the judges, Maswanganyi no longer holds a criminal record and he must be treated by the SANDF as if he is still employed by it.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Zelda Venter at Pretoria News


WORKPLACE CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Stellenbosch law firm secretary in court for allegedly siphoned R12m from trust funds

TimesLIVE reports that a secretary at a law firm in Stellenbosch who allegedly siphoned R12m from trust funds has appeared in court with her husband and daughter on fraud and theft charges.  The Hawks said in a statement:  “It is alleged that Alwena Smith, who worked as a secretary in a well-established attorney’s practice in Stellenbosch, unlawfully transferred trust funds to various accounts between January 2016 and April 2018.  She allegedly amassed over R12m in her alleged illegal dealings from the law firm she worked for, of which half of the funds were recovered and paid back into the trust fund.”  Investigators allegedly linked the bank accounts to Smith’s family.  The case against the trio was postponed to 17 April for further investigation.  They were each released on bail of R3,000, with stringent conditions.

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

 


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