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
Tuesday, 19 May 2020.


HEALTH & SAFETY

Free State ready to put 17 Cuban doctors to work in the province in fight against coronavirus

News24 reports that the Free State government has welcomed the deployment of 17 Cuban doctors to assist the province in the fight against the coronavirus.  By Monday evening, the province had recorded 163 cases of infections, with six deaths registered.  Free State Department of Health spokesperson Mondli Mvambi said the doctors would be deployed to all five districts in the province and went on to point out:  "They are here to be integrated into the health teams in the districts as they specialise in oriented primary healthcare for a preventative healthcare service.”  Health MEC Montseng Tsiu said the department was facilitating the registration of the Cuban doctors with the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) and inducting them before they could practice medicine in the country.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ntwaagae Seleka at News24. Read too, Thirteen Cuban doctors deployed to North West start work, at News24

Three more Eastern Cape police stations close for deep cleaning due to Covid-19 infection

News24 reports that three more Eastern Cape police stations have been shut for decontamination and deep cleaning due to exposure to cases of the coronavirus.  This brings the number of police stations to have been temporarily closed in the province to five, out of a total of 197.  The latest stations to close are Bhisho, Willowvale and Kinkelbos.  This comes after King William's Town and New Brighton police stations were closed on Sunday and last week respectively.  The Willowvale police station will now operate from the town hall on Willowvale Main Street.  The Kinkelbos community service centre, outside Port Elizabeth, will temporarily operate from the victim support centre building on the same premises.  The Bhisho police station will operate from the old police station building situated below the nearby Engen garage, while the King William's Town police station community service centre will be operating from the hall at the back of the building.  Meanwhile, Mpumalanga police have confirmed that the Emalahleni police station was again "fully operational" after it was closed on Friday when a reservist tested positive for coronavirus.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Malibongwe Dayimani at News24

Armed gang holds up security guards at gunpoint, breaks into Durban liquor store

SowetanLive reports that an armed gang escaped with loot of alcohol after breaking into a liquor store in Berea, Durban, on Tuesday morning.  According to police, the incident occurred at Pick n Pay Liquors at the Berea Centre about 5am.  Police spokesperson Capt Nqobile Gwala said a group of men held the security guards at gunpoint.  He reported further as follows:  “One of the suspects threatened them with a firearm and the thieves broke the glass door.  They took various liquors from the business premises before fleeing in their getaway vehicle.  A case of business robbery has been opened for investigation at Umbilo SAPS.”

Read the original of the report by Orrin Singh at SowetanLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Refuse collections delayed in Cape Town as workers test positive for Covid-19, at EWN
  • Bara maternity ward cleared, disinfected after patient tests positive for Covid-19, at The Star
  • Shoprite in Joburg South closed after employees test positive for Covid-19, at The Star


BASIC EDUCATION / TEACHING

Angie Motshekga still consulting on Tuesday morning about plans to reopen schools

BusinessLive reports that Department of Basic Education (DBE) Minister Angie Motshekga told MPs on Tuesday morning that she was still consulting teachers, governing bodies and students about plans to reopen schools.  This was said just hours before she was due to brief the media on government’s final decision.  Teachers and families will be keenly watching to see which schools will be permitted to open, and which grades will go back first.  The minister is facing stiff opposition from unions to the opening of schools on 1 June, because many provinces have yet to convince teachers that they will be returning to a safe working environment.  It has emerged that many schools still do not have the means to ensure they can follow the social distancing and hygiene protocols set out by the education department.  “Eighty percent of schools have reported no deliveries of personal protective equipment,” Basil Manuel of the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA, claimed.  The Federation of School Governing Bodies (Fedsas) indicated that they supported a differentiated approach to opening schools in different districts, based on the extent of Covid-19 transmission.  Motshekga was scheduled to brief the media on her plans for reopening schools at 6pm on Tuesday.

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


MINING LABOUR

Amcu urges government to make universal Covid-19 testing for mineworkers mandatory

Mining Weekly reports that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has reiterated its call for universal Covid-19 testing of all mineworkers.  This came after the diagnosis of 19 new infections at Impala Platinum’s Marula mine in Limpopo, which brought the total number of infections in the mining sector to 32, with one employee having died from the virus.  Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said that screening employees before work was not sufficient as it failed to detect asymptomatic workers who might be infected.  Earlier in May, the union won a Labour Court case against the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), forcing the department to compile national minimum standards for managing the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of the Mine Health and Safety Act.  On 11 May, the DMRE published for public comment a draft code of practice for the mitigation and management of Covid-19 in the mining sector.  The closing date for public comment was 14 May.  The draft did not specify that all mineworkers had to be tested for Covid-19 before resuming work.  Mathunjwa questioned whether it was rational to open mines only to be forced to close them down when there was an explosion of infections.

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

Keen to work, but surplus Kusasalethu miners must wait in hostels until lockdown level 3

SowetanLive reports that mineworkers who went back to their workplaces when they heard about the easing of national lockdown restrictions are now in a waiting pattern until level 3 lockdown restrictions kick in.  According to their employer Harmony Gold, they are confined to their hostels as they do not fall within the critical skills parameters permitted under government rules.  The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) earlier claimed that 60 workers at the Kusasalethu mine in Carletonville had been stranded for at least a week.  The union’s Oupa Ralake said the mineworkers have no money to return home after the mining house called them back to work, which Harmony denied.  Ralake said:  “Unfortunately, when they arrived they were informed there was no space for them to work because the mine had exceeded its capacity.  It is allowed to operate only at 50% capacity, and already the number of employees required was above 60%.  With nowhere to go, workers have no choice but to remain in the hostels.  They were promised transport back to their homes but this has not materialised.  They have been stranded for more than a week and would prefer to go home because there they can practise social distancing.”  Numsa also claimed workers had not received their full salaries for April.  Harmony has disputed the allegations.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Kgaugelo Masweneng and Ernest Mabuza at SowetanLive. Read too, Numsa accuses Kusasalethu Mine of abandoning its workers, at EWN

Skills development contract at centre of dispute between MQA and service provider

SowetanLive reports that the quality of a six-month skills training programme given to 80 unemployed youth at a cost of R11m has been brought into question.  The Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA), a sector education and training authority (Seta), funded the learnership programme that is now the subject of a dispute over payment between it and a service provider.  VSL General Trading, which provided the skills training at a cost of more than R100,000 per student, is embroiled in a bitter feud with MQA over nonpayment of an outstanding R2.8m.  The company provided training to 80 unemployed youth from Khuma township near Klerksdorp in the North West.  But a report by the authority's monitoring and evaluation unit has painted a worrying picture on the quality of the skills training received by learners.  The report recommended that an outstanding payment of R2.8m not be made as participants in the course would not be getting credit-bearing certificates and objectives had not been met.  VSL has already been paid almost R8.5m in three tranches.  MQA board chairperson David Msiza advised that the VSL contract was among three contracts on learnerships and internships they would soon launch investigations into.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Isaac Mahlangu at SowetanLive

MQA-funded trainees who received no practical training struggle to find jobs

SowetanLive reports on the cases of a number of unemployed persons who underwent skills development training funded by the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) but who are unable to find jobs even though they received their certificates.  One such person Songezile Segade, 37, had hoped that the skills he got would open many doors for him as a disabled person and he keeps the eight certificates he received after completing the skills training like prized possessions.  He was one of 80 unemployed people from the impoverished mining town of Stilfontein in the North West who three years ago were selected to take part in the training.  They were paid a monthly stipend of R1,500 and were to be equipped with skills on solar systems, including installation, servicing and maintenance.  "I've been applying and attaching all my certificates and especially as someone with a disability, I expected to be called for an interview but I've not been called.  I've lost count how many CVs I've gone to drop off whenever there are vacancies."Segade said.  He said the training they received could have been improved as it lacked practical component.  He admitted that he would first need practical training before he could render services in the solar systems environment.  "We did theory on solar systems... all we know now is that the solar converts energy but we've not seen [it] practically, we've seen how it gets installed but in terms of the operations we don't know," he lamented.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Isaac Mahlangu at SowetanLive

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Glencore Coal donating food to Mpumalanga communities, at Mining Weekly


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS

SA Express tells employees their contracts are suspended and not to return to work due to provisional liquidation

BusinessLive reports that employees of SA Express have been told they will not be paid and that they must not return to work, as their contracts of employment have been suspended due to the provisional liquidation of the airline.  In a letter sent to the embattled state-owned carrier’s more than 600 employees last Friday, the liquidators announced the immediate suspension of the contracts.  The airline, which owes creditors more than R2bn, was placed under provisional liquidation on 29 April after its business rescue practitioners (BRPs) told the High Court in Johannesburg that it had no prospect of survival.  The final liquidation hearing is expected to take place on 9 June.  The BRPs applied for liquidation after the government had denied them further funding.  The airline’s demise has also been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to SA Express suspending operations in March.  The airline has been unable to pay staff salaries since March.  SA Express did put in an application to receive money from the UIF to pay salaries, but only received a partial payment.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Genevieve Quintal at BusinessLive

Calgro M3 Holdings closes construction division, retrenches 150 employees

Moneyweb reports that about 150 employees at property and private memorial parks developer Calgro M3 Holdings have been retrenched, following a decision by the group to close its construction division.  The retrenched employees could apparently not be absorbed by Calgro M3’s new outsourced contractors.  Calgro M3 has also decided to sell its entire residential rental portfolio and use the proceeds to settle debt.  CEO Wikus Lategan indicated that closing the construction division, rightsizing the business and closing offices had probably cost the company between R20 million and R30 million.  He added that the decision was largely driven by fixed cost reduction to enable the group to support itself much better in challenging times and it had “almost set ourselves up for Covid-19 in this respect”.  Referring to the decision to close the construction division, Lategan noted that there were contractors “that build way more efficiently than us and specialise in that.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Roy Cokayne at Moneyweb


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Probe into conduct of JMPD officers at scene of Collins Khosa’s death to be finalised on Tuesday

TimesLIVE reports that the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) on Monday said it expected the report into an investigation into the conduct of officers who were at the scene when an Alexandra man was allegedly beaten to death to be completed on Tuesday.  Collins Khosa was allegedly beaten by soldiers — in the presence of JMPD officers — at his home on 10 April during the a lockdown enforcement operation.  He later succumbed to his wounds.  His family went directly to the Constitutional Court in a bid to hold the government accountable for his death.  JMPD spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said they did not argue the matter in court, but agreed at the hearing with the attorneys of the applicants that JMPD would conduct an internal investigation to determine whether the conduct of the officers warranted disciplinary action or not.  “Because of this agreement, JMPD did not see the need to wait for the judgment and it commenced with internal investigations.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nonkululeko Njilo at TimesLIVE

Military ombudsman probing 52 lockdown complaints against members

EWN reports that the office of the military ombudsman has announced that it was investigating at least 52 cases from the public relating to allegations against as serving and former members of the SA national Defence Force (SANDF) during the national coronavirus lockdown.  Many of the complaints related to heavy-handedness, undignified treatment and unlawful confiscation of property.  Last week, the High Court in Pretoria ordered that all officers involved in the killing of Alexandra resident Collins Khosa be suspended pending an investigation into his murder.  Khosa died after allegedly having been beaten by law enforcement officers during a lockdown enforcement operation in the township.  The office said that it had already started assessing the complaints lodged since the onset of lockdown, with some having already been allocated for investigation.

Read the original of the report by Ayanda Nyathi at EWN


CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Two Cape Town police sergeants in court for corruption following 11-month long investigation

News24 reports that two Cape Town police officers appeared in the Athlone Magistrate's Court on Monday for alleged corruption.  The two sergeants, aged 32 and 25, were arrested on Sunday following an 11-month long investigation by the police's anti-corruption unit pursuant to the lodging of a complaint.  The officers are stationed at the Manenberg police station.  Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said that on 15 June 2019 the pair allegedly visited the complainant's home in Athlone and accused him of printing and selling passports.  After seizing his laptop and cellphones, the officers took the complainant to the Manenberg police station where they demanded money to secure his release.  The complainant informed them that he only had cash at his home.  They took him back to his home and returned his laptop and cellphones in return for R5,000.  The matter was reported and investigated.  

Read the original of the report by Ntwaagae Seleka at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Limpopo prosecutor arrested for allegedly soliciting R6 000 bribe to make case 'disappear', at News24

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page