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
Thursday, 25 June 2020.


TOP STORY – SUPPLEMENTARY BUDGET

Cosatu slams Tito Mboweni's supplementary budget, while opposition parties are left uninspired

News24 reports that while opposition parties were generally uninspired by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's supplementary budget delivered on Wednesday, his most strident criticism came from within the tripartite alliance as Cosatu expressed its disillusionment with the budget.  The labour federation’s Matthew Parks said they were "extremely disheartened and disillusioned by the uninspiring and timid” budget that was “not a budget fit for a country that is in deep recession with an expanded unemployment rate of 40%, with more millions of workers facing retrenchments."  Parks added Cosatu had hoped for an imaginative budget, but received one that would only entrench the current economic stagnation:  "The minister rehashed the economic relief measures announced by the president a month ago.  Despite the president repeatedly calling for a bold R1 trillion stimulus plan to grow the economy and smash unemployment, there was no such plan tabled today."  He said the silence on wasteful expenditure was shameful and added that “fat must be cut from the wages of politicians and senior managers and not among struggling workers."  The IFP welcomed the zero-based budget approach as it allowed for flexibility in the financial management in response to the crisis.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jan Gerber at News24

Tito Mboweni provides scant detail in budget speech on future of public wage bill

BusinessLive reports that Finance minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday gave little indication of how the supplementary budget would affect the public wage bill, except for saying that nearly half of all consolidated revenue would go towards the compensation of workers.  His budget speech laid out the full extent of the damage the Covid-19 crisis has had on the state’s already weak finances.  “We value the important work public servants do. [Public service and administration] minister Senzo Mchunu is negotiating with our partners in the labour movement to find a balanced solution that sets compensation at an appropriate, affordable and fair level,” Mboweni stated, adding that public finances were dangerously overstretched.  In February, the minister pencilled in huge cuts to the public-sector wage bill, indicating that the government wanted to slash the total public wage by R160.2bn over the next three years.  But, public sector unions took this as a ‘declaration of war’.  Since then, the increases in the final leg of the three-year wage agreement signed in 2018, which were scheduled to have taken effect on 1 April, have not been honoured.  Some public-sector unions have consequently taken the government to court over its refusal to implement a standing wage agreement, while others have declared a dispute at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council over the matter.

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

Unions warn of messy salary talks after Tito Mboweni doubles down on public sector wage bill cuts

BL Premium reports that the government is in line for tough wage negotiations later this year, as Finance Minister Tito Mboweni doubled down on cuts to the public sector wage bill and warned that there were more to come.  In his supplementary budget speech on Wednesday, Mboweni briefly touched on the bloated wage bill, which has been in severe dispute since cuts were announced during the February budget speech without organised labour having been brought on board.  The supplementary budget review advised that the cabinet had reiterated its support for the proposed public service wage bill reductions announced in February.  Meantime, the government’s decision not to implement salaries increases in April, as had been agreed upon in a 2018 multi-term wage agreement, is already subject to a court challenge as well as arbitration at the bargaining council.  Addressing the wage bill on Wednesday, Mboweni said that public service & administration minister Senzo Mchunu was negotiating with organised labour to “find a balanced solution that sets compensation at an appropriate, affordable and fair level”.  Mugwena Maluleke, chief negotiator for Cosatu’s public sector unions (excluding Nehawu) observed that it was clear from the comments that government was not likely to make additional funds available when negotiations for the next wage agreement started later this year.  In his view, the negotiations were set to be messy, as the budget had implicitly opened up the door for retrenchments.  Reuben Maleka of the Public Servants Association said there were “serious expectations that in the coming outer years we must sacrifice”, but that the cuts would have to be fought against to deliver on members’ expectations.

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

Tito Mboweni warns that jobs emergency is SA’s greatest challenge

Fin24 reports that Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni said on Wednesday that, even with the Unemployment Insurance Fund relief and the R100 billion multi-year economic support package to save jobs, unemployment would remain the biggest economic challenge for SA in the year ahead.  "The figures (from Stats SA) from yesterday (Tuesday) show that unemployment is our single greatest challenge.  The economic support package sets aside R100 billion for a multi-year, comprehensive response to our jobs emergency.  The President’s job creation and protection initiative will be rolled out over the medium-term," the minister indicated during his supplementary budget speech.  Mboweni advised that the package would include “a repurposed public employment programme and a Presidential Youth Employment Intervention.  In this year, an amount of R6.1bn is already allocated, and a further R19.6 billion has been set aside mainly for this purpose."  Observers expect the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent national lockdown to hammer jobs data for the rest of the year.  Mboweni also noted that, as of mid-June, the UIF had provided R23 billion in Covid-19 relief to over 4.7 million workers affected by the pandemic thanks to a huge upgrade and repurposing of the UIF system to deal with the increase in mostly online applications, and to build in protections against fraud.  

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Khulekani Magubane at News24

Salaries paid out in May dropped by 7.2%, reflecting massive downturn in persons employed

The Star reports that salaries paid out in May fell significantly by 7.2%, reflecting the downturn in the number of people employed as well as financial pressure on low-income earners from the Covid-19 lockdown.  The latest BankservAfrica payments-clearing house data monitored more than 4 million take-home pay transactions in May, which represents 2.75 million employees in the formal sector.  The amount paid to employees declined by -7.2% in real terms, even with the UIF Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) payouts, tax reductions and pension payment holidays.  Well-known economist Mike Schüssler commented:  “The lockdown has hurt people who take home less than R10 000 a month.  We estimate the number of payments for casual employees has been cut by 26%, and weekly payments have declined by 9%, while monthly payment numbers fell by 2%.  Counting employee payments made via BankservAfrica’s payments system, we estimate that about 13% of employee payments have disappeared.”  This did not, however, translate into the exact number of additional unemployed people in May, as some payments had gone from weekly to monthly, as would be the case when a weekly wage earner gets paid UIF.  Also, payments on the index were more likely to represent bigger enterprises and the government.  “We can presume about 20% of private sector salary payments did not take place last month, which is concerning, as it indicates a massive spike in unemployment,” Schüssler said.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Edward West on page 6 of The Star of 25 June 2020

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Country at crossroad, warns Mboweni, on page 1 of The Star of 25 June 2020


LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS

‘Save tourism sector and restaurants from disaster by reopening interprovincial travel’

The Citizen reports that tourism and restaurant industry bodies have urged government to announce a date for the reopening of interprovincial travel as uncertainty has gripped these ailing sectors.  The tourism industry has bled R65 billion since the start of the national Covid-19 lockdown in March, according to Southern African Tourism Association (TBCSA) CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa.  Adding to the urgency are the 500,000 people whose jobs have hung in the balance as the months rolled by with no indication of when leisure travel would be allowed.  The tourism sector is 66% dependent on domestic travellers.  More than 250,000 employees in the tourism value chain applied for the UIF temporary employee/employer relief scheme programme in April and May and this is expected to double with June applications.  About 49,000 small, medium and micro enterprises have already been negatively affected and the TBCSA warns that more will meet a similar fate.  According to Wendy Alberts, CEO of the Restaurants Association of SA, the sector, which depended largely on domestic tourism, has been completely decimated, with some iconic luxury restaurants having already closed down.  Despite ongoing discussions with government, the association said it was none the wiser on how much longer it had to wait to be allowed full operation, let alone when domestic leisure travel, which the sector depended on, would be allowed again.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni on page 2 of The Citizen of 25 June 2020

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Beauty salons return with new safety rules for clients, on page 11 of Sowetan of 25 June 2020


HEALTH & SAFETY

Teacher in self-isolation at home sets herself on fire over stigma of Covid-19

SowetanLive reports that a school principal whose wife attempted to commit suicide because of Covid-19 depression plans to embark on community education campaigns aimed at de-stigmatising people infected by the virus.  The 51-year-old spoke on Tuesday about how he battled to save his 48-year-old wife from the flames engulfing her isolation room at their house in Benoni.  The principal said his wife tested positive for the virus two weeks ago after coming back from a meeting at a school in Daveyton where she is a teacher.  His wife did not display any further symptoms of the virus while in isolation.  "It was day 11 [June 6] of her being in quarantine at home. After all the support and medication we had given her, we did not realise she was losing it," the husband noted.  His wife “would go for walks in the morning with her mask on around the yard while we cleaned and disinfected her room and sanitised everything in it. She appeared very well although she was panicking about her status.”  But, she complained about being sent messages that made her feel like she was dying.  She also complained about gossip that came from colleagues and friends.  On Monday, doctors confirmed that the principal’s wife was now negative.  "Now we focus on her journey to recovery on her burn wounds," he said.  Psychologist Dr Penelope Mlangeni commented that stigma was a challenge in any circumstance and that positive messages and unequivocal support could have an impact in giving hope to someone in isolation.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Promise Marupeng at SowetanLive

Police voice their concern at handling of Covid-19 cases at Johannesburg Central Police Station

The Star reports that Johannesburg Central Police Station members are up in arms over the handling of Covid-19 cases and decontamination of the station after 10 members allegedly tested positive for the virus.  A week ago, an officer at the station collapsed and died, but the SA Police Service (SAPS) refuted claims that he succumbed to the virus, stating that it was a heart attack.  An officer said that positive cases were being confirmed each week, but claimed that management refused to be transparent.  “We are working in fear at the station.  We are told that senior members are on leave all of a sudden and we find it hard to believe because we don’t know if they have tested positive or not,” she said.  The member went on to say:  “It is likely that each week there will be rumours of someone being found positive, but we’re kept in the dark. At the moment we know of 10 members who are in quarantine and that has strained us because now we should cover for them.”  Police spokesperson Colonel Noxolo Kweza confirmed that there were some cases at the station:  “There are members at the station who were found positive and their results came out on Monday. Members have been sent to isolation. At the moment, I can’t say how many members have tested positive.”  Kweza said the station had not yet undergone decontamination.  SA Policing Union general secretary Tumelo Mogodiseng said they had noted numerous grievances from their members and they had decided to write to the Minister of Police for his intervention.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Gift Tlou on page 6 of The Star of 25 June 2020

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Covid-19: 7,400 deaths, 400,000 cases expected by mid-July, but data uncertainty remains, at News24
  • Spike in Covid-19 cases blamed on rush to reopen schools, at The Star
  • Covid-19: Cape Town principals call on Ramaphosa to close schools, at News24


MINING LABOUR

SA mines record six Covid-19 deaths

BusinessLive reports that SA’s mines, which are slowly returning to work as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased, have recorded six deaths related to the pandemic.  Mines were shut down from 27 March as the government implemented a strict lockdown of the economy to curtail the spread of the virus.  Since the start of June, mines have been granted permission to return to full production.  So far, about 273,000 out of a 450,000 workforce have returned to the mines and are being screened daily.  The Minerals Council SA (MCSA) reported on Thursday that six mine workers had died from Covid-19 to date.  Two of these people had contracted the virus at home and died without being back at work, said Thuthula Balfour, the MCSA’s head of health.  She added that it was too soon to indicate a pattern as to which mines and which commodities were the hot-spots.  Of the six cases, two were in gold, three in platinum and one in quarrying.  All six had underlying conditions that made them susceptible to developing Covid-19.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Allan Seccombe at BusinessLive

Harmony Gold forecasts mines up and running fully only in August as migrant returns proving slow

Miningmx reports that Harmony Gold might not restore full mining at its SA operations until August as the return of migrant workers to the country is taking longer than anticipated.  Peter Steenkamp, CEO of Harmony Gold, indicated in an interview:  “We have 7,000 migrant workers that have to return.  We think we have got all the approvals in place, but that (full return of workers) won’t be until the middle of July.  We are only getting about 300 people per day through the border post.  We are confident in our gold production numbers but the mines will not be synchronised.”  Migrant gold mineworkers who went home during SA’s 21-day lockdown that commenced in March have been prevented from returning as borders have been closed in the wake of the Covid-19 related lockdowns.  The Minerals Council SA said earlier this month that the return of about 9,500 foreign mineworkers would only begin from 15 June owing to delays in re-opening borders with neighbouring countries.  Roughly 10% of the SA mining sector’s 450,000 employees hail from SADC countries, predominantly Mozambique and Lesotho.

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


BUSINESS RESCUE

Airlink loses court bid to stop vote on Thursday by creditors on SAA rescue plan

Fin24 reports that an urgent application by privately-owned regional airline Airlink to interdict a creditors’ meeting to vote on the business rescue plan proposed for SA Airways (SAA) was struck from the roll in the South Gauteng High Court on Wednesday.  The business rescue practitioners (BRPs), the Department of Public Enterprises representing government as shareholder of the airline, as well as three unions, namely the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) and the SAA Pilots' Association (Saapa), opposed the application.  Earlier this year, Airlink terminated a franchise agreement after SAA went into business rescue and failed to pay over more than R700 million of revenue for tickets issued on flights flown by Airlink.  Concurrent creditors like Airlink will only get 7.5 cents in the rand if the proposed rescue plan is accepted.  In the view of Airlink, the rescue plan is not commercially viable, especially given the uncertain outlook for the airline industry after the Covid-19 crisis.  Airlink also wants to have the rescue process terminated, the appointment of the BRPs set aside, and SAA to be placed in provisional liquidation.  

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Carin Smith at Fin24. See too, Airlink will vote against business rescue plan for SAA, at Engineering News. And also, Government urges creditors to support SAA rescue plan, at Engineering News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • SAA business rescue the best plan for everyone, says public enterprises department, at SowetanLive


SUSPENSIONS

Suspended CEO Thabang Moroe accuses Cricket SA of misleading parliament

BusinessLive reports that suspended Cricket SA (CSA) CEO Thabang Moroe has accused the organisation’s president Chris Nenzani and acting CEO Jacques Faul of misleading parliament during a presentation to the portfolio committee on sport‚ arts and culture last week.  A CSA delegation presented an annual performance report and a turnaround strategy on Friday.  In a letter addressed to chair Beauty Dlulani on Tuesday‚ Moroe detailed how the CSA delegation allegedly misrepresented the truth when it told the committee that “investigations relating to Moroe have been completed”.  Amongst other points, the delegation also told the committee that “the forensic auditors were not able to consult with Moroe regardless of various attempts to do so”.  Moroe’s lawyer Sharlyn Geza indicated in a letter to the committee that the CSA’s assertion that the forensic investigation into the suspended CEO had been completed was “disingenuous”.  Geza advised that her client believed the investigation was still ongoing, and pointed to continued correspondence with her client despite the governing body’s claim it was over.  “CSA’s attempt to present Mr Moroe as being unco-operative is false,” Geza wrote, adding that as far as Moroe was aware the investigation into allegations of impropriety on the his part was still ongoing.  Moroe was suspended by phone by Nenzani on 5 December 2019.  The forensic auditors were only appointed on 6 March 2020.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tiisetso Malepa at BusinessLive


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Cape Town police officer faces disciplinary action after turning away woman wanting to open rape case

News24 reports that a Cape Town police officer who reportedly told a Khayelitsha woman wanting to open a rape case to come back the next day, will face disciplinary action.  Western Cape police advised that the 26-year-old wanted to report an alleged rape case on Monday evening, but was told by the police officer to come back the following day.  A senior police officer had to visit the victim at her home the next day, Tuesday, and only then was a rape case opened.  The incident has left Western Cape police commissioner Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata "horrified".  Reiterating the police's stance on dealing with cases of rape, sexual violation and other forms of violence, as contained in organisational directives, Matakata said that claims of what had happened smacked of dereliction of duty.  Police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa noted that details of the incident have been circulating on social media platforms, adding that the alleged rapist had not been arrested but that detectives were following up on several leads.

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

 


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