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, 23 March 2021.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Reward offered after two Best Care ambulances petrol-bombed on Friday night

The Citizen reports that two Best Care Emergency Medical Service ambulances were targeted in a petrol-bombing attack at the company’s premises in Mountain View in the Pretoria area on Friday night. Best Care has now offered a cash reward for any information leading to the arrest of the suspects. In video footage, two men can be seen walking gingerly towards Best Care’s premises. The men pause to peer over the fence, before one lights an incendiary device, and throws it over the wall. The other man threw what was thought to be another bomb, but it was confirmed to be a rock. They are then recorded making a run for it. However, a social media post shared by the company alludes to the attack having been more sinister than a random criminal incident. Spokesperson Xander Loubser said he met with the president of an unnamed biker’s club earlier in March. The man claimed he had been tasked to “sabotage Best Care and Ambu-Link EMS for a period of 12 months”, allegedly by another emergency service. Both companies are owned by the same proprietor, and operate from the same premises. Loubser asked the man to accompany him to the police station, but he refused.   Loubser went to police regardless and made an official statement. Best Care is working with private investigators to find out who committed the crimes.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nica Richards at The Citizen. Read too, Ambulances petrol-bombed in Pretoria, at TimesLIVE

Alleged killer of Cape Town cop hands himself over to police

TimesLIVE reports that a 23-year-old man handed himself over to police on Sunday after allegedly killing a police officer in Delft, Western Cape. Const Khangelani Mangqabini was shot several times in Ravel Street in Delft on Friday afternoon. Hawks detectives took over the case on Friday and on Sunday morning at 9.30am the suspect’s attorney accompanied him to Delft police station where he handed himself over. The 40-year-old constable was based at Mowbray police station near the Cape Town city centre. According to Hawks spokesperson Zinzi Hani, Mangqabini was shot multiple times “during a dispute” and was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. He was not on duty at the time of the incident.   The suspect was scheduled to appear at the Bluedowns Magistrate's Court on Tuesday on a murder charge.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Aron Hyman at TimesLIVE

Teachers fearful after panga-carrying gang shuts down Mpumalanga school

SowetanLive reports that there was uncertainty on Tuesday about whether schooling would resume at a Mpumalanga school after it was forced to shut down when a gang stormed it last week. The gang, known as the Wrong Turn, forced the school to close as gang rivalry escalated in Elukwatini near Badplaas. The Wrong Turn gang, which has members of school-going age who carry pangas, made teachers fearful of going to school.   In footage Sowetan has seen, two young gang members are seen wielding a panga and threatening teachers. Teachers said they feared for their lives as they had tried stopping the gang and were now being targeted. “It was on Wednesday when the Wrong Turn came to the school, teachers tried to stop them and the gang left. They promised to come back on Friday, that is why the school had to be closed because of fear for both the teachers and the learners. It’s a war zone here. It’s norm for learners to go to school with pangas,” said one teacher.   A pupil stated: “The boys are always having some kind of a weapon, if it’s not a knife, it’s a panga. It’s scary because sometimes we have to run for our lives at school. They fear no one.” School principal JM Mahlinza said: “We shall meet with the circuit coordinator for a commitment and also the department to ensure that safety is restored.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mandla Khoza at SowetanLive

Budget cuts to labour department’s inspectorate to give bad bosses a pass

Mail & Guardian reports that budget cuts to the Department of Employment & Labour’s (DEL’s) inspectorate have sparked concerns that “unscrupulous employers” will go unchecked while workplace safety deteriorates. The labour inspectorate — tasked with weeding out employers who fail to keep their workers safe — had more than R63-million cut from its budget last year.   Labour inspectors visit workplaces to investigate complaints by workers and to make sure they comply with labour laws, like the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. When Covid-19 hit SA a year ago, the inspectorate received a wave of complaints by workers that their bosses were not complying with pandemic-related protocols put in place to stop the spread of the virus in the workplace. Inspectors conducted 24,252 health and safety checks and the overall compliance rate was only 56%. Despite receiving a boost to its budget last year, the DEL’s director general Thobile Lamati said the subsequent cut might mean that inspections will have to be scaled down. Lamati pointed out that though the initial budget cuts were not felt in 2021 — because of decreased travel costs — this would likely change as the economy re-opened and inspectors were expected to work at their full capacity. Last year, the DEL department decided to reduce its inspection targets by 15%. “The implication of that is we will visit fewer workplaces,” Lamati said, adding that vulnerable workers will be exposed to “unscrupulous employers” as a result.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sarah Smit at Mail & Guardian (paywall access only)


WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Samwu to demand salary hike of R4,000 a month at upcoming municipal wage negotiations

The Citizen reports that following its recent collective bargaining conference, the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) intends to demand a R4,000 monthly salary hike at municipalities. Current agreements in both the SA Local Government Bargaining Council (Salgbc) and the Amanzi Bargaining Council come to an end in June this year and Samwu has prepared a list of demands and resolutions prior to the commencement of the wage negotiations. Samwu also plans to demand single year agreement after workers decided they no longer wanted to be tied to multi-year agreements that ‘are not in their interest’ and that failed to effect real socioeconomic change.   “The Conference further believes that single year agreements would be in the interest of labour stability in the sector given the fact that the future is uncertain,’ the conference declaration penned by the union’s secretariat indicates. “We further send a strong warning to National Treasury which has made itself the enemy of workers to desist from interfering in collective bargaining, otherwise they will know the full might of municipal workers,” the declaration warns. In the 2021 Budget Review, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced a planned reduction in government expenditure by as much as R264.9-billion over the next three years. This was would be achieved by freezing wages for SA’s 1.2 million public servants.   Sivuyile Mbambato, spokesperson for the SA Local Government Association (Salga), which represents the employer municipalities, indicated:  ”The salary negotiations with concerned parties will be ventilated at an appropriate time through the collective bargaining council.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni at The Citizen (paywall access only)


PROTESTS / CAMPAIGNS

Artists vow to continue with sit-in at National Arts Council over R300m fund saga

The Star reports that after a virtual meeting held over the weekend to address the ongoing Presidential Empowerment Stimulus Programme (PESP) fund saga, artists have vowed to continue their sit-in at the National Arts Council (NAC) until there is a resolution. Over the past few weeks, members of the arts industry have raised concerns about how the R300 million fund has allegedly been mismanaged.   Opera singer Sibongile Mngoma, who has been at the forefront of the sit-in, said the council was hiding its mismanagement of the funds. At the end of February, the NAC had to suspend its chief executive and chief finance officer, due to mismanagement of the funds. As it stands, the PESP fund was open to all creative and cultural workers to present ideas on how to keep the sector above water through employment creation and retention of jobs. The applications process was finalised by December, with an approval of 1,374 successful applicants, which translated to funding that was more than what was available. “They had approved the applicants, which amounted to R611 million while there was only R300 million in funding available,” board member and head of communications for the NAC, Dr Sipho Sithole, explained. He also said the council discovered that it had run out of money because there were people who were granted more money than they had requested. “All of this meant we needed to withdraw the initial letters of approval to adjust the figures, reissue new letters and re-contract people. That caused a delay, as management could not pay out based on the old approvals,” Sithole explained. He said the aim was to make sure that by the end of March, all approved beneficiaries would be paid. But, Mngoma said the sit-in would continue, while the artists waited for a resolution.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mpiletso Motumi at The Star. Read too, Protesting artists won’t leave NAC offices, at City Press (paywall access only)

Planned protest on Artscape Plaza in Cape Town over arts funding delayed

Cape Argus reports that Cape Town artists, creatives and performers had been expected take to the streets in artistic protest and in solidarity with artists from across the country in the ongoing protest against the mismanagement of funds meant to assist the entertainment industry, but they had to postpone their protest. The "Day of Protest Art Performances“ had been set to take place at the Artscape Plaza to form part of the larger ongoing action of a sit-in at the National Arts Council of SA (NAC) offices in Newtown, Johannesburg.   The Day of Protest Art Performances had to be postponed due to unrelated protest action in Cape Town, organisers said. “This is due to continuing and unrelated protest action across transport routes that places artists and supporters travelling to the city centre in danger,” they indicated. The Day of Protest Art Performances is now expected to take place on Saturday.   Several artists have occupied the NAC offices since 3 March over the mismanagement, misappropriation and slow dispersion of relief funding meant for artists in the form of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme (PESP). The NAC is managing the distribution of the PESP, amounting to R300 million, on behalf of the national Department of Sport, Arts and Culture. Renowned opera singer Sibongile Mngoma, who is leading the peaceful protest, said there were currently around 20 artists sitting-in at the Joburg offices. A meeting was held on Friday with Minister Nathi Mthethwa, which Mngoma said had been pointless owing to the minister’s ill-preparedness.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Shakirah Thebus at Cape Argus


MINING LABOUR

Northam pays most tax in its history, as its growth strategy heads for 8,500 jobs boost

Mining Weekly reports that Northam Platinum CEO Paul Dunne said during last week’s presentation of the company’s 74%-higher headline half-year earnings that the producer made the single-largest tax payment in the history of the company. The JSE-listed platinum group metals mining company’s half-year contribution to the fiscus topped R1.6-billion, made up of just on R795-million paid in income tax, R223-million in mineral royalty tax, and R585-million tax paid by its 16,000 employees, who with the communities own 8% of the equity of the company. The employee empowerment trust scored R135-million. Since launching its growth strategy in 2015, Northam has created more than 6,000 new jobs, more than 800 arising in the last 12 months and nearly 300 in the six months to 31 December. As the company grows its production base to one-million ounces a year, Northam is set to add another 2,500 permanent jobs, to take the total since the launch of the growth strategy to 8,500 new jobs. In placing a high premium on living conditions, Northam provides interest-free loans to employees to acquire accommodation in company-built home ownership programmes. “The new units at Booysendal have proved extremely popular for our mining families,” said Dunne. Northam has provided R80-million in 341 interest-free home loans to date in its drive to fund home ownership, which has seen R242-million being invested in housing development, with the construction of 127 more houses coming up.

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


UNION AFFAIRS

SA Medical Association’s legal battle with trade union over subscriptions deducted over past 20 years continues

BL Premium reports that the SA Medical Association (Sama) and the SA Medical Association Trade Union (Samatu) have been in a long-standing dispute over whether Sama owes Samatu millions of rand in deductions paid over the past 20 years. Samatu, which is under administration, has applied for Sama’s liquidation saying that it owes as much as R370m, but Sama is opposing this. According to Sama spokesperson Angelique Coetzee, a Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruling last week did not mean that it was now required to immediately pay millions of rand to Samatu. A later court case would determine what if anything was owed to Samatu in respect of deductions for trade union membership, Coetzee indicated. For the past 20 years, deductions were deposited into Sama’s bank account rather than into a separate account for Samatu, which represents about 7,500 public sector doctors. From 1996 when it was formed until 2013 Samatu operated as a division of Sama and adopted its own constitution in that year. The ConCourt matter related to Sama disputing that its public sector members had signed up for Samatu when they joined Sama. The lower court order that Sama sought leave to appeal against had declared that all Sama members who paid subscriptions via Persal were by implication Samatu members. The ConCourt ruled that there were no prospects for success for an appeal.   This has established the foundation for an allocation of funds by Sama to Samatu should another court find that funds are owed. The acrimonious dispute between Sama and Samatu has involved several court cases.

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


PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION

EAAB says it has issued most of the outstanding fidelity fund certificates required by estate agents to practice

BL Premium reports that the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), the body responsible for regulating and controlling certain activities of estate agents, says it has issued most of the outstanding certificates required by estate agents to practice. Estate agents need to have valid fidelity fund certificates (FFCs) to sell properties. It’s a criminal offence for any person to act as an estate agent without a valid licence. However, after the EAAB failed to issue 2021 certificates to more than 832 estate agents, Real Estate Business Owners of SA (Rebosa), a non-profit group, took the body to court to force it to do so. On 16 March, a judge ordered the EAAB to issue the certificates or refusals with reasons within days. It was also ordered to report to the court the number of applications received on or before 31 October 2020, as well as the number of the applications approved for certification, and certificates issued. In a statement on Monday, the EAAB said it was studying the judgment.   It added that of the 832 outstanding certificates, 629 had been issued, 166 were duplicate applications and 37 were incomplete. The EAAB went on to indicate that it “was committed to ensuring that every legitimate certificate applicant can get his or her certificate in time” and it was holding weekly meetings with Rebosa to resolve issues.

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


AGE DISCRIMINATION

SCA rules that SA Navy’s recruitment age requirement of 18 to 22 not discriminatory

Cape Times reports that the SA Navy has successfully challenged a Limpopo High Court decision declaring its recruitment age requirement invalid. This was after the Tebeila Institute, which took on the Navy, could not prove its case at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). The policy stipulates age requirements for admission to the navy’s recruitment programme. Under the military skills development system (MSDS), applicants who would serve in a combat role are required to be between 18 and 22 years of age.   Tebeila challenged the age requirement. However, the Navy contended in its papers that the age requirement did not constitute unfair discrimination. In his judgement, SCA Judge David Unterhalter said: “The policy, though expressed in sometimes arcane language, explains that the defence force requires young, fit and healthy members who are able to adapt to change. The defence force runs the risk of rank-age imbalance. The essential difficulty is that the age profile of members of the defence force, within and between the different ranks, exceeds international norms.   This can hamper the readiness and capability of the defence force. It can also give rise to the difficulty that older soldiers holding more junior ranks are commanded by younger soldiers holding more senior ranks.   Put simply, too many members of the defence force within the ranks, and especially within the junior ranks, are, on average, too old. Recruitment policy must therefore seek to redress this imbalance.” The judge set aside the order made by the Limpopo High Court. A Tebeila Institute spokesperson said that after their legal team had studied the judgment, they would possibly take the matter to the Constitutional Court.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Chevon Booysen at Cape Times


SEXUAL ASSUALT / HARASSMENT

Ex-Denel COO unsuccessful in his appeal against conviction of rape and indecent assault of former colleague

The Citizen reports that the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has thrown out former Denel boss and convicted sex pest Koos Venter’s bid to overturn his multiple rape and indecent assault convictions. In 2009, the Pretoria Regional Court convicted Venter, who used to head up Denel’s Aero Manpower Group division as chief operations officer, on a total of four charges of raping a one-time colleague and seven charges of indecently assaulting her. He was sentenced to an effective 10 years in jail.   At trial, the court heard harrowing details around the harassment he had subjected the woman to. The harassment started just three months after she began working at Denel and went on for some four years before she eventually managed to report it. Venter, for his part, has flatly denied the charges and on appeal, he tried to argue that the court had not properly assessed the victim’s evidence intrinsically against the evidence of the other witnesses. At trial, Venter had testified that he and the complainant had had a strained relationship due to factors including that she was unhappy with her salary. The SCA found the trial court had rightly rejected Venter’s version as not being reasonably possibly true.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Bernadette Wicks at The Citizen (paywall access only)

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page