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, 18 May 2020.


TOP STORY – SAA CRISIS

Gordhan’s SAA truce on the rocks as business rescuer still wants to wind airline down

BL Premium reports that the truce between the SA Airways business rescue practitioners (BRPs) and Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) Minister Pravin Gordhan is on the rocks following a statement to a parliamentary committee on Friday that the one of the BRPs intended to submit a report for the wind-down of the company.  Last week Gordhan secured a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the BRPs, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, in which they agreed to hear out Gordhan’s plans for a new airline and to hold over any sale of company assets until 30 June.  But on Friday, Dongwana told the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) that he intended to finalise the plan for a structured wind down.  It became clear during the proceedings that Dongwana and Matuson, who are from different companies and each have their own team, did not speak with one voice.  While Dongwana took the lead and answered all questions from MPs, Matuson read a prepared statement in which he praised Gordhan’s vision and tenacity.  Gordhan, who believes that a state airline is a matter of national interest, wants to ring-fence the liabilities of the old SAA and start a new airline.  The MOU was intended to secure the co-operation of the BRPs in such a project.  Gordhan expressed his fury at Dongwana for disregarding last week’s memorandum.  He also claimed said it was "petulant" of Dongwana and Matuson to argue about provision of government funding when their task was to draw up a plan for a viable business.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Carol Paton at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read too, Gordhan and SAA business rescue practitioners trade barbs over rescue plan, at Engineering News

Unions reject plan to wind SAA down and offer a 49% pay cut for two months

TimesLIVE reports that the majority of unions representing workers at SA Airways (SAA) have rejected the proposal of the business rescue practitioners (BRP) to wind down the airline.  They stated:  “We, as the major unions at SAA, are committed to working actively and constructively with minister [Pravin] Gordhan in an effort to rescue our national carrier.  And we are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to do so.  However, it appears as if no sacrifice will be enough to satisfy those who are intent on destroying SAA for whatever sinister reasons.”  The unions, including the SAA Pilots’ Association (Saapa), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca), advised that their members had offered to cut their salaries by up to 49% for two months.  But according to them, the BRPs “have rejected our offer of a salary cut and, in doing so, have reneged on their previous commitment to accept it.  This pay cut – to the tune of R82m - was designed to buy enough time to restructure, right size and reform SAA.”  The unions said they had completely lost faith in the BRPs.  Amongst other items, the unions have demanded the resignation of the BRPs and withdrawal of their legal advisers “if they are not willing to categorically support the vision of a new national airline.”

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

SAA’s business rescue practitioners castigated for raking in over R30m in fees without producing a plan

Sunday Independent reports that SA Airway’s (SAA’s) business rescue practitioners (BRPs) are under fire for raking in over R30 million in fees without producing a plan to save the broke airline.  The state-owned carrier has lost almost R16 billion in the past three years.  The BRPs, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, were heavily chastised by the chairperson of the National Assembly’s standing committee on public accounts, Mkhuleko Hlengwa, and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on Friday.  Gordhan told a virtual meeting of the committee that a total of R30m was shared between Matuson and Dongwana for between three or four months’ work since their appointment in December.  Dongwana advised that their hourly rate was regulated by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission.  “We would be more than happy to provide the fees for the rest of the team to the committee in writing for the duration of the business rescue process including the fees for all the advisors,” he indicated.  The committee also heard that the carrier had no money to pay its 4,708-strong workforce this month.  “From May 1 due to the lockdown and the inability to have people working, everyone is on unpaid leave of absence and the company does not, as things stand, have funds to pay salaries for May,” Dongwana advised.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Loyiso Sidimba at Independent News. Read too, Unions want SAA business rescue team audited, at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category


CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN

Organised business calls for quick move to lockdown level 2 as a matter of urgency

BL Premium reports that in the latest sign of souring sentiment in boardrooms over a national lockdown that threatens cascading corporate failures, organised business has proposed that SA move quickly to open virtually the entire economy.  In a presentation on Friday at Nedlac, Business for SA (B4SA) called for a swift move to level 2, which would remove restrictions on virtually all sectors, including retail, construction, mining as well as domestic air travel and car rental services.  The move could save more than half of the formal jobs that would be lost at level 4 — in which about 1.5-million workers returned with some industries running at 50% capacity — and limit the drop in GDP in 2020 to 10.3%.  As part of business proposals, which B4SA’s Martin Kingston said had received a "receptive ear", companies promised to implement a set of practices to minimise transmission, including ensuring workplaces had protective gear, supporting employees with safe public transport and checking employees for symptoms.  President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was at the Nedlac meeting, has promised another partial reopening of the economy, to level 3, at the end of the month.  Meantime, some members of a committee tasked with advising health minister Zweli Mkhize on the health crisis are reportedly no longer backing government’s lockdown, saying it was not backed by science.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tiisetso Motsoeneng, Odwa Mjo and Bekezela Phakathi at BusinessLive (paywall access only)

Hair salons and beauty salons facing ruin due to Covid-19 lockdown launch court fight to reopen

Cape Argus reports that hair and beauty salon owners have launched an urgent interdict that could set a precedent for similar businesses.  Like other small businesses, hair-salon owners face closure if they are forced to remain shut during the Covid-19 lockdown and Advocate Carlo Viljoen and associates will head to the high court on Tuesday to apply for an urgent court interdict for the industry to reopen.  Assisting with the initiative is Jade Tomé, a South African hair industry entrepreneur currently living in Portugal.  “As you know, we are currently classified at level 1, which is predicted to roll out in February 2021.  There are supposed negotiations from the current hair and beauty union who are hopeful to have the hair and beauty industry upgraded to level 3, which is scheduled to happen in September,” she indicated.  Tome argued that a court case was the only way to place all statistical data and expert opinions on record, and to reach a just and fair outcome.  Hair salons, beauty therapists and cosmetology studios have been closed since 27 March when the nationwide lockdown came into effect.  Nearly 70,000 people have signed an online petition launched by the Employers Organisation for Hairdressing, Cosmetology and Beauty pleading with the government to reconsider its decision.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Marvin Charles at Cape Argus. Read too, Black market haircuts are available in SA and here’s what hairdressers and barbers are charging, at BusinessInsider

Restaurant lobby group pleads with government that sector needs to open

The Citizen reports that a restaurant lobby group has expressed disappointment that President Cyril Ramaphosa did not ease restrictions to immediately allow “call and collect” for meals’ service, but is hoping the government will allow sit-down restaurants under Level 3 of the national Covid-19 lockdown.  The Restaurant Collective – a group of more than 500 establishments recently formed countrywide – said that if restaurants did not get the go-head soon to resume business, it would be “catastrophic” for the sector.  Ocean Basket CEO Grace Harding, spokesperson for the collective, advised that the sector employed more than 500,000 persons directly and indirectly in the supplier industries – and that each of those people supported, on average, six others.  The sector will, according to the “risk-adjusted strategy” being followed by the government, only be allowed back in business by Level 2 at the earliest.  Harding said:  “The sit-down restaurant and its entire ecosystem employs so many entrepreneurs who are the backbone of this economy.  We need to move up to Level 3 with great urgency or we will have severe casualties.”  She advised that the collective had “already completed a comprehensive Covid-safety and regulations operations guide.  Our head of training and education has completed the relevant online training modules for sit-down restaurants”.

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

Over R2bn still not paid over to workers as UIF waits on 74,000 employers

The Citizen reports that according to Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) Minister Thulas Nxesi, 14,113 domestic workers have benefitted from the special Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) lockdown benefit to the extent of R55,572,870.  This has brought the total amount the department has distributed since 16 April to R13.3 billion in respect of 2,401,973 workers.  Last week Nxesi announced that a private company, Interfile, had agreed to join forces with the DEL to help trace domestic workers through cellphone numbers and other forms of communication to ensure that they received their necessary benefit.  As a result, 10,092 employers lodged claims on behalf of their domestic workers.  “We need more employers of domestic workers to apply on their behalf so that they benefit from the relief scheme that government availed to ensure that we mitigate the worst effects of the lockdown,” said Nxesi.  The UIF has also ensured that, where possible, workers are being paid directly.  The DEL is currently engaged in going through its database to reach out to farmworkers.  But, Nxesi expressed concern as over R2 billion that could possibly benefit 535,587 workers remained unpaid as the UIF was awaiting further particulars from 74,401 employers.

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

ConCourt dismisses bid by Solidarity/AfriForum to appeal ruling over Tourism Relief Fund, but row with tourism minister not over

Moneyweb reports that Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has welcomed the Constitutional Court’s (ConCourt’s) dismissal on Friday of the joint Solidarity/AfriForum application to appeal and set aside the use of broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) criteria as part of the department’s R200 million Covid-19 Tourism Relief Fund for small businesses.  The court concluded that there were “insufficient grounds raised for a direct appeal to this court on an urgent basis.”  Solidarity and AfriForum took their fight to the ConCourt last week after losing the initial case brought before the Pretoria High Court late in April.  AfriForum, however, said over the weekend that the battle was not over, and it now planned to take the case to the Supreme Court of Appeal.  Solidarity, AfriForum and the Democratic Alliance (DA) have objected to the use of B-BBEE criteria being used in determining which businesses should benefit from some of government’s Covid-19 relief funds, arguing that all business were facing financial fallout from the impact of the pandemic.  Kubayi-Ngubane noted that more than 13,000 applications had been received thus far for support from the Tourism Relief Fund.  “The [Tourism] Department has already started processing payments to beneficiaries, and it is important to note that this includes both black and white business owners,” she indicated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Suren Naidoo at Moneyweb

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Tourism minister provides update on how the industry plans to slowly reopen, at The Citizen
  • Motor vehicle dealers ready for reopening, says dealer association, at Engineering News
  • Salary cuts leave many hungry, at SowetanLive
  • Solidarity Fund assists more than 300,000 South Africans with food relief, at The Citizen


HEALTH & SAFETY

Nearly 600 coronavirus infections in SA’s prisons

SowetanLive reports that there has been a steep jump in the number of coronavirus infections in the prison system.  On Saturday, the number of infections stood at 388, but by Sunday the number had jumped to 571.  A total of 393 prisoners have tested positive for the virus and 178 Department of Correctional Services (DCS) officials.  Of all these cases, 99 have recorded recoveries while four have resulted in fatalities.  DCS spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo Nxumalo advised that in a bid to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the medical advisory panel had advised correctional services to go beyond the prescribed screening procedures.  As a result, DCS has commenced with advanced screening, which includes assessment of vital signs.  At least 1,087 specimens from inmates were collected on 16 May, and that would henceforth be the norm.  “Infection prevention control is receiving the necessary attention as it plays a critical role in curbing the spread of infection in our centres.  DCS will continue to separate newly admitted inmates from other inmates for at least 14 days,” Nxumalo said.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Naledi Shange at TimesLIVE

State will kill people from other diseases by ploughing every resource into the fight against Covid-19

SowetanLive reports that according to a group of 38 public and private healthcare doctors across the country, the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic was not sustainable and would cause serious harm to the country's healthcare system in the long run.  The group has written a scathing open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa and health minister Zweli Mkhize, warning that the government's decision to plough every resource into the fight against Covid-19 has led to other healthcare needs affecting the majority of South Africans being neglected.  The group is made up of 23 public health doctors and 15 private doctors and described the government's response to coronavirus as "driven by fear and panic".  They raised concerns about non-Covid-19 chronic diseases such as TB, HIV/Aids, malnutrition, influenza and pneumonia being overlooked even though they actually killed more people than coronavirus.  According to the doctors, other healthcare services which focused on the majority of South Africans have been suspended or halted, including surgeries, while non-Covid-19 patients have been released earlier than usual to make space for coronavirus patients.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Kgothatso Madisa at SowetanLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Survivors of Covid-19 Zwelinzima Vavi, Madiba's grandson, yoga teacher share their stories, at Sunday Independent


MINING LABOUR

Fear in Limpopo community as 19 miners test positive for virus

SowetanLive reports that fear has gripped a Limpopo village after 19 miners in the area tested positive for the deadly Covid-19.  The mineworkers, employees at Impala Platinum’s (Implats’) Marula platinum mine in Diphale village, tested positive to the virus - prompting the mine to shut down operations.  According to Limpopo health MEC Phophi Ramathuba, this was the highest number of positive cases to be recorded in a day in the province.  One of the mineworkers said he was worried that some of his colleagues who travelled from other provinces could be spreading the virus at work.  "I stay in the village and there were no cases of the virus before the mines opened. It is very difficult to keep social distancing in the mine and in production, we use same equipment," he observed.  Implats spokesperson Johan Theron said the mineworkers were detected following stringent and comprehensive screening, testing and tracing protocols.  He indicated:  "Implats has identified 19 positive cases during the week, all of them asymptomatic. Of these cases, 14 were identified as the result of proactive testing of employees returning to work.  None of these employees had started work at the mine.  Of the remaining five, one case was identified as a primary contact and the remaining four were identified through contact tracing."  Some residents are worried that the operation of mines will turn the mining town of Burgersfort into an epicenter and urged the government to trace all those who made contact with the infected miners to test them, particularly in the villages.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Peter Ramothwala at SowetanLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Limpopo to quarantine mineworkers from Covid-19 epicentres, at The Citizen


PUBLIC SECTOR WAGE DISPUTE

Unions say Mboweni must reverse stance on not increasing public servants’ salaries in emergency budget

City Press reports that trade unions are calling on Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to reverse his stance on not increasing public servants’ salaries when he delivers his “emergency” revised budget next month.  Mboweni plans to be ready to table the budget, which will make provision for the Covid-19 coronavirus relief efforts, by 24 June.  Trade union federation Cosatu and its affiliate Nehawu have called on Mboweni to use this “second chance” to make amends and try to fix his fractured relationship with workers.  “We hope the minister will use this opportunity to do the right thing and make the money available to honour the last leg of Resolution 1 of 2018 as it stands,” said Nehawu’s Khaya Xaba.  Cosatu’s Sizwe Pamla forthrightly said that they expected the minister to pay workers back the money “that he stole from them”.  Meantime, the unions have taken a resolution not to renegotiate what they have described as “a legally binding agreement concluded in 2018”.  Instead, Nehawu, with Cosatu’s support, last week filed an application for arbitration and is anticipating that it will be set down in the first week of June.  The last conciliation meeting between the parties ended in a stalemate on 6 May, when government tabled an offer of half of the agreement reached in 2018.  “The suggestion was that workers must get gratuity payments over 12 months, which equal half or 50% of the percentage increase due to them in terms of Resolution 1 of 2018,” Xaba indicated.  That was rejected.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Juniour Khumalo at City Press

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page