news shutterstockIn our afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Thursday, 25 March 2021.


COVID-19 VACCINATION ROLL-OUT

Most South Africans will have to wait until November to start getting Covid-19 vaccines

News24 reports that while SA’s dithering Covid-19 vaccine rollout programme has so far only reached just over 200,000 people, government promises to vaccinate 22 million citizens between November 2021 and February 2022. Phase 2 of the vaccination programme will be implemented over six months, from May to October, and will target 13 million vulnerable groups, essential workers, occupational health and safety workers, and those in critical sectors of economic recovery. This information was provided in a statement on Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, delivered on Thursday at a press briefing by Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, acting Minister in the Presidency. Ntshavheni said that, in Phase 2, workers in the mines, hospitality industry, taxi industry, retail and spaza shops, fruit and vegetable vendors and media would be targeted. She added:   “The vaccination sites for Phases 2 and 3 will expand to 2 085 and will also include private sector sites to improve the efficiency and speed of the vaccination rollout programme.” Phase 3 will be implemented over three months, between November 2021 and February 2022. It will cover the remainder of all citizens, including those who were not vaccinated in Phase 2. It is hoped at least 22,600,640 persons will be reached.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jason Felix at News24

Solidarity Fund considers injecting more funds into SA’s Covid-19 vaccine effort

BL Premium reports that the Solidarity Fund, established last year to raise money to help the government tackle the coronavirus crisis, is considering spending R69m on technical support for its Covid-19 vaccine rollout. The fund has received pledges of R3.22bn since its establishment, of which R2.76bn has been allocated to health, humanitarian relief and behavioural change interventions, CEO Tandi Nzimande indicated. It has now shifted its focus to vaccines as they offer the best hope for controlling and reducing the impact of Covid-19, she said. The national vaccination drive will be the biggest in SA’s history, and aims to inoculate 40-million adults, two thirds of the country’s population. It has yet to get under way as commercial stocks secured from vaccine manufacturers have yet to be delivered. The fund has already provided the government with R283m for its down payment to the international vaccine financing vehicle Covax, and gave R50m towards the operational costs of the Sisonke implementation study dispensing Johnson & Johnson shots to health workers. The fund will not get involved in vaccine procurement or logistics, but is “in advanced discussion” with the national health department about contributing towards technical support for the vaccine rollout. The department has made a request to a consortium of donors to fund technical support, and is seeking a total of R138m for the project, half of it from the Solidarity Fund.

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

Health workers in the military denied Covid-19 vaccines

GroundUp reports that health workers in the military have had no vaccinations against Covid-19 since the programme to vaccinate public and private health workers began in mid-February. Moreover, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) appears to be in no hurry to change that. In a document dated 17 March, a military medical worker, who is apparently in direct contact with Covid-19 patients, put in a formal request to be included in the Sisonke Vaccination Programme. The request was denied by a very senior officer and it was indicated that not a single military medical health worker was permitted to go outside the department of defence for a vaccine. Earlier in March, the SA National Defence Union (Sandu) threatened legal action if health workers in the military were not included in the Sisonke Programme.   Pikkie Greeff, Sandu’s national secretary, indicated on Tuesday that the union would seek an urgent court order if nothing was forthcoming. “The military authorities are endangering its own forces by failing to vaccinate its health workers. Endangering [your] own forces is a criminal offence. The surgeon general should resign immediately,” said Greeff. The SA Medical Association (SAMA) has reportedly received numerous queries relating to Covid-19 vaccinations for healthcare workers of the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS). A document dated 23 February outlines the rollout plan of SAMHS and it is clear from the document the SAMHS plans to vaccinate its own staff and handle the process from beginning to end. But which vaccine the military wants to give its health workers, where, and how it plans to obtain them is not indicated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Elsabé Brits at GroundUp <https://www.groundup.org.za/article/military-health-workers-kept-away-covid-19-vaccinations/>

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • More than 200,000 health workers now vaccinated, at TimesLIVE
  • Editorial: SA’s bungles cost it badly on vaccines, at Financial Mail


COVID-19 RELIEF FUNDS

DA wants action over almost 40,000 state workers who applied for Covid-19 relief grant meant for the unemployed

TimesLIVE reports that the Democratic Alliance (DA) has demanded action from the Department of Social Development (DSD) as it investigates public servants earning full salaries who applied for the special R350 Covid-19 relief grant. The DSD indicated in a reply to a parliamentary question that nearly R85,000 was paid to 241 state employees in May last year after they were approved for the grant. According to the DA, no action has been taken to recover the money. Deputy social development minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu’s response also advised that, as of the end of February this year, 39,672 government employees had applied for the grant. Some of the government employees allegedly submitted applications to test the system or to assist applicants to apply as all applications were submitted electronically. No disciplinary or legal steps have been taken against any of them because investigations have not yet been concluded. Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu advised that the Social Security Agency of SA (Sassa) would recommend disciplinary action and recover the money. Meantime, a new system has been put in place to stop public servants from being able to receive the grant. “Decisive disciplinary and legal action must be taken. The SRD (special relief) grant is intended solely for the most vulnerable and distressed members of our society and should not be open to abuse by public service employees who are drawing a monthly salary,” DA shadow deputy minister of social development, Dr Mimmy Gondwe complained.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Belinda Pheto at TimesLIVE. Read too, Government employees tried to fleece R350 grants, at Independent Media


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY

Alleged Alexandra cop killer hands himself over to police

The Citizen reports that Sergeant Moshela Mokgoba’s alleged killer has handed himself over to the Johannesburg Police Station.   The 52-year-old suspect will appear in court soon on charges of murder, attempted murder, robbery of a firearm and discharging a firearm in a municipal area. Mokgoba was shot dead while on duty in Alexandra on Tuesday night when he and colleagues were following a suspicious vehicle. “There was a traffic jam on Third Street near Pan African Mall, so he and a colleague proceeded to approach the vehicle on foot. Shots were fired from that vehicle and the member was declared dead on the scene,” police spokesperson Colonel Brenda Muridili indicated.

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


MINING LABOUR

Exxaro Resources announces five-year TB initiative at Grootegeluk

Mining Weekly reports that coal and heavy minerals producer Exxaro Resources has announced a R19.7-million, five-year tuberculosis (TB) initiative at its Grootegeluk mine in Limpopo’s Waterberg district.   The initiative will benefit mine employees and the host community and will focus on home-based healthcare, preventive care and treating the most vulnerable community members first. In response to the need for TB support, Exxaro has partnered with Anglo American, as well as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), engineering multinational Zutari and humanitarian organisation World Vision to form the Impact Catalyst.   Together, the partners have proposed a far-reaching programme to support optimal primary healthcare in mining communities that are experiencing increasing HIV and TB infections. The team had contracted the University of Pretoria’s (UP's) Community-Oriented Primary Care (COPC) Research Unit to identify high-prevalence communities that need healthcare aid. Waterberg was pinpointed as one such community battling an HIV and TB crisis – with the two diseases cited as the leading causes of death among men and women in the 25 to 64 age group. The project will be run by Exxaro and UP.

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

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Mantashe points finger at SA mining executives for low ranking in Fraser survey, at Business Report
  • Mantashe wants six-month, fast track delivery of SA’s new minerals cadaster, at Miningmx


WORKING CONDITIONS

Uber, Bolt drivers set for month-long negotiation process to end ’exploitation, mistreatment’

Pretoria News reports that aggrieved e-hailing drivers who sought the intervention of the government to end their "exploitation and mistreatment" by app companies like Uber and Bolt have agreed to negotiations facilitated by an independent mediator. The drivers, who earlier this month downed keys and marched to the office of Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula in Pretoria, are set for a month-long negotiation process following the intervention of MEC for Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo. The drivers marched in Pretoria demanding that the government regulate the international app companies they accused of exploiting them by offering significantly cheaper trips that also placed them in a position of conflict with metered taxi drivers. They also demanded improved security for all drivers because their colleagues were dying at the hands of criminals who posed as passengers looking for a lift. Some said the app companies were not fairly disciplining drivers because drivers would just be summarily removed from the app following complaints. The drivers and e-hailing companies held a meeting on Wednesday following Mamabolo's commitment to bring the two parties closer to each other in order to resolve challenges that faced their industry.   Mamabolo described the inaugural meeting of the parties as constructive and fruitful.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by James Mahlokwane at Pretoria News


BCEA EARNINGS THRESHOLD

BCEA earnings threshold increased from 1 March 2021

Michael Bagraim writes the earnings threshold in terms of section 6(3) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) has been increased. The Minister of Employment and Labour has published the new earnings threshold and has determined that with effect from 1 March 2021 it would increase to R211,596.30 per annum (approximately R17,633.00 per month). The previous earnings threshold was a gross income of R205,433.30 a year (or R17 119.44 per month) and had not been increased for seven years. From time to time, the Minister sets an earnings threshold in respect of certain sections of the BCEA. For who earns above the threshold, the employer does not have to adhere to Sections 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17(2) and 18(3) of the BCEA. Accordingly, employees earning in excess of the earnings threshold are excluded from the provisions which control ordinary hours of work, overtime hours and pay, compressed working weeks, averaging of hours of work, meal intervals, daily and weekly rest periods, weekend pay, night work pay and public holiday pay. The increase in the earnings threshold is long overdue and will be welcomed by workers who now fall under the threshold and so will be able to claim for overtime work and other protections afforded by the BCEA

Read Michael Bagraim’s report, entitled ‘Earnings threshold: what the law says’, on page 21 of The Star of 25 March 2021..   Read too, A new employee earnings threshold has been issued. What does this mean for employees? at GoLegal


STAFF RETRENCHMENTS

Saccawu threatens strike at Massmart over retrenchments

BusinessLive reports that the SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) is threatening to embark on industrial action at retail giant Massmart over potential retrenchments that could result in more than 100 workers losing their jobs. Massmart, owned by Walmart, is grappling with a R6bn sales hit from the global Covid-19 pandemic. It announced a turnaround plan in January 2020 as well as the potential closure of 34 DionWired and Masscash stores. The company, which owns Game, Makro and Builders Warehouse, employs about 45,000 workers. On 2 February, it issued a so-called section 189 retrenchment notice potentially affecting about 130 workers. Saccawu said Massmart initially wanted to retrench about 1,400 employees during June and July 2020, and noted that most of the affected employees had already been placed in other posts within the company. The Cosatu affiliate has continued to engage with Massmart regarding about 130 workers who have yet to be placed. This week, Saccawu said it had “exhausted all efforts intended to convince Massmart” to stop the retrenchments. “The union is engaging with all members across SA and in all brands of Massmart and her subsidiaries for a remedial action under the circumstances, including industrial action; if needs be,” the union stated.

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


BASIC EDUCATION / TEACHING

‘Appropriate action’ to be taken against Gauteng teacher seen on video roughly combing pupil’s hair

TimesLIVE reports that according to Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, “appropriate action” will be taken against a teacher who was caught on video roughly combing a pupil’s hair. In the video, apparently taken at Fundulwazi Secondary School in Sedibeng West, the woman can be seen making a row of boys line up to have their natural hair combed before entering the school gates. In the background, pupils can be heard disagreeing with the teacher’s style of combing. Lesufi reportedly said his department was reviewing a report into the incident and action will be taken depending on the outcome. He advised: “We are not opposed to any form of discipline, but if it involves public humiliation, it needs to be treated carefully. I am going through the report. We want to know whether the parents were involved, what was their response, whether the pupil was warned before and what was the response of the pupil.” EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi also weighed in about the video and said the act was “child abuse, black self-hate and definitively illegal”. Ndlozi added: “This woman must be found and put to the book. You can’t teach kids to hate their hair. No! Her treatment of black hair is the same as that of white racists who tell black kids to remove or hide their Afros.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Unathi Nkanjeni at TimesLIVE. Read too, Motshekga says teachers should not inadvertently mistreat pupils, at The Citizen


HIGHER EDUCATION / QUALIFICATIONS

Saftu calls on Blade Nzimande to resign as minister after he likened student protests to soapie

EWN reports that the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) on Thursday called on Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande to resign after he likened the protests for free higher education to a soap opera.   On Tuesday, Nzimande expressed concern over the disruptions at tertiary institutions where students are calling for historic debt to be scrapped and for government to deliver on its promise of free education. “Every year, it’s like a soapie now, The Bold and the Beautiful, every beginning of the year there is instability,” Nzimande said. Saftu's spokesperson Trevor Shaku said these statements were reckless. He pointed out that the minister should be fighting for free education instead of mocking those trying to hold government to account. In a statement, Saftu said: "For a minister who is the general secretary of the Communist Party to make remarks that undermine the efforts of students to free quality education and underplay the need for such education is shameful."   Meanwhile, Nzimande said it was not true that he was refusing to meet with students to discuss their demands.   The SA Union of Students announced plans to march to the Union Buildings after the minster failed to attend a planned meeting over the weekend. However, Nzimande said he had already held several meetings with student leadership and had responded to the union's written demands.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mia Lindeque at EWN


WORKPLACE CRIME

Two KZN guards get life in prison for 2016 killing of boss with spear, burning body

News24 Wire reports that two security guards who murdered their employer have been sentenced to life imprisonment in the Ladysmith Regional Court. National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Natasha Kara indicated on Wednesday that Philani Mbhele, 26, and Sanele Madide, 23, were each sentenced to life for the murder, 15 years for robbery and 15 years for obstructing the course of justice relating to the death of their employer, Dawood Warasally. In early June 2016, Warasally, the owner of a security company based in Ladysmith, was paying wages to his employees across northern KZN. Mbhele and Madide were stationed at a vacant hotel. Warasally had called them earlier in the day, saying that he would be coming through to pay them their wages. When Warasally arrived at the hotel, he was severely assaulted by the two men. They used a spear, bricks and rocks and he died on the scene due to severe brain damage and extensive skull fractures. Mbhele and Madide also set Warasally’s body alight to hide their crime.   The two stole his vehicle, all the wages and his cellphone before fleeing the scene. Mbhele was arrested in Ladysmith the next day in possession of Warasally’s phone. Madide was caught a year-and-a-half later after he was arrested for another case in Nquthu. At least 70 employees lost their jobs as the security company had to be downsized.

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


OTHER HEADLINES OF INTEREST

  • Opinion: Pension funds offer benefits to infrastructure and asset owners, at BusinessLive
  • Mpumalanga cop arrested after allegedly allowing hijacked vehicle to be registered, News24
  • DA in Gauteng calls on social development dept to fill vacant posts, at News24

 


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