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
Wednesday, 31 March 2021.


LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS

No outright booze ban, but liquor industry still concerned about effect on retailers

News24Wire reports that the announcement President Cyril Ramaphosa of restrictions on alcohol sales over the Easter weekend has ended speculation about an outright ban, but the industry is concerned about the effect on retailers. On Tuesday evening and amid concerns about a third wave of Covid-19 infections, Ramaphosa advised that alcohol trading would be restricted to onsite consumption at restaurants, shebeens and bars, and that retail sales would be stopped over the four-day Easter weekend. The government has been walking a tightrope, instituting lockdown regulations including restrictions on alcohol trading to ensure that infections stay low on the one hand, and keeping the economy open to preserve lives on the other hand. Sibani Mngadi of the SA Liquor Brand owners Association (Salba) said: "In our view, from where we were last week, [the restriction's] a reasonable outcome that considers the general interest of the country in terms of economic activity, as well as tourism and other things that need to recover at this point." But Mngadi added that, at some point, the state needed to have a discussion with the industry about the rationale behind the restrictions for retailers and the impact the restrictions have had. He said that consultations between the government and the industry needed to be improved and that there needed to be an alignment between the two parties on the requirements to minimise infections.   Meanwhile, the government's move to allow onsite consumption to continue was welcomed by the country's eating establishments, which previously said a lot of business was lost when establishments couldn't serve alcohol.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Engineering News. See too, Ramaphosa announces changes to alcohol sales, gatherings ahead of Easter, at Engineering News


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Pilots’ union issues strike notice to SAA, with unusual demands

The Citizen reports that the SA Airways Pilots Association (Saapa) has issued a strike notice to state-owned SA Airways (SAA), with a list of unusual demands. While the industrial action may likely be somewhat symbolic given there is not an operational airline to disrupt, the association’s 350 members have been offensively locked out from the airline since December last year. Presently 31 pilots are not locked out, seven of whom fulfil management roles, while balance belong to the National Transport Movement (NTM) union. Saapa’s demands are threefold. Firstly, that the pilots’ regulating agreement, which emanates from the late ’80s, be terminated on the day the last SAA pilot leaves the building as it relates to the section 189(3) notice dated 18 July 2020. Secondly, the pilots want amended terms and conditions that are now relevant to future pilots in terms of retrenchments and three-month notice periods, to be applied to the retrenchment process of the current flight deck pool. Finally, Saapa wants all pilots who were notified of their imminent retrenchment in July last year to be let go by 15 April and that SAA pay these pilots their remuneration on termination for the three months’ notice that pilots would have received in lieu of the pilots working their notice period. The statement also saw the association not hold back in the sustained war of words between the parties.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Hein Kaiser at The Citizen. Read too, SAA pilots vote to strike, at BusinessLive

Strike by Limpopo health workers over duty rosters averted after MEC’s intervention

News24 reports that a renewed strike by Limpopo health workers was averted when Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba scuppered efforts by administrators to unilaterally implement a new duty roster. The new roster has been at the centre of a dispute with seven trade unions. Ramathuba hastily convened a meeting in Polokwane with all provincial medical services managers and the two circulars concerned were withdrawn to allow line managers to draft a duty roster at each health facility. Three weeks ago, the unions agreed with Ramathuba that the two circulars should be withdrawn to pave way for discussions, though they complained that the head of department, Dr Thokozani Mhlongo, "deliberately" altered the agreement. This resulted in talks of a strike. In a statement after the meeting, Ramathuba said the move was to allow line managers to draft their own rosters, according to the dynamics of their respective areas. "It became clear there was a breakdown in communication when the implementation was to be realised," Ramathuba said. According to the unions, health authorities in the province have been under pressure from Treasury to reduce their budget by R3.9 billion, hence the rushed move to unilaterally alter the working conditions of workers. Speaking on behalf of the unions, National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union’s (Nehawu’s) Jacob Adams said the initiative was a step in the right direction:   "We think the health department has listened to workers, and let's give this particular period a chance to see whether it brings beneficial fruits to workers in the province."

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Russel Molefe at News24


PROTESTS / PICKETS

Union pickets to demand permanent employment of EPWP workers at Gauteng health department

The Star reports that the Gauteng Department of Health has come under sharp scrutiny for its Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).   On Tuesday, the leadership of the Independent Liberation and Allied Workers’ Union (Ilawu) and members picketed outside the Hillbrow Clinic for permanent employment. They pointed out that over the past ten years their employment has been on the basis of fixed term contracts. Ilawu general secretary Siphamandla Masimula said they felt obliged to raise their unhappiness about the continuous lack of permanent recognition of the EPWP workers. Top of their demands was that all the EPWP workers be immediately employed on a permanent basis and absorbed in the same way that the community health-care workers were absorbed. The union’s memorandum also highlighted the union’s demand that all the EPWP workers be immediately given a Covid-19 allowance, as they continued to risk their lives during the pandemic. It read: “We demand that all the EPWP workers who lost their lives on duty as a result of Covid-19 be immediately compensated as per the Compensation of Injuries on Duty Act.” The union also demanded that all the EPWP workers should qualify for all the benefits enjoyed by the health-care workers. As the picket gained momentum, an official from the Department of Health was said to be on his way to address the crowd. However, this did not materialise, leaving the union feeling aggrieved.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Gift Tlou at The Star


MINING LABOUR

Minerals Council SA urges caution over Easter weekend

Mining Weekly reports that the Minerals Council SA (MCSA) has urged all employees and communities to be mindful that Covid-19 was still prevalent. This was especially so over the Easter weekend and other holidays in April when many will travel to visit friends and family and otherwise interact socially.   MCSA head Dr Thuthula Balfour said Covid-19 “will not take a break over Easter”, and that, as far as possible, everyone must continue to follow Covid-19 guidelines, stay at home and avoid group gatherings to reduce the spread of the virus during this time.   She pointed out that following the 2020 festive period, the impact of the second wave of infections was “devastating” – the results of which meant that many South Africans lost their lives or suffered the loss of someone dear to them. The impact was also felt in the mining sector. During the whole of 2020, 213 employees succumbed to Covid-19, but a further 162 deaths were recorded in the industry for the three months from 1 January to 30 March. The MCSA cautioned that, although the current infection levels indicated that SA’s Covid-19 positive cases were declining, signs of a potential third wave were emerging in some provinces.

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


STAFFING / APPOINTMENTS

Eastern Cape government finds R400m to extend contracts of 8,000 temporary Covid-19 health workers for three more months

News24 reports that after a public outcry coupled with protest action, the Eastern Cape health department has sourced R400 million to keep 8,000 Covid-19 contract workers employed for the next three months and community workers for another 12 months. The contracts of the frontline workers were due to end on Wednesday, but with the funding obtained, the Covid-19 contract workers will be able to work for three more months and the community health workers for 12 months. The decision to extend the contracts was taken after a technical team led by Eastern Cape Department of Health acting Superintendent-General Dr Sibongile Zungu made recommendations to Health MEC Nomakhosazana Meth. This came after Premier Oscar Mabuyane, Meth, Finance MEC Mlungisi Mvoko and representatives of the affected workers met earlier this month to discuss how best to handle the matter, which had sparked an uproar. MEC Meth said with the third wave of Covid-19 infections expected to hit SA soon, the province needed all hands on deck. Meth added: “This is why we need to renew their contracts so that they will continue what they have been doing and help us to reduce the spread of the virus. We would love to permanently employ all of them, but the truth is that we just don't have the budget. This is largely because of medico-legal claims, which we are working tirelessly to address.” The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) welcomed the extension of the workers’ contracts.

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

Phindile Baleni appointed Director-General in the Presidency

News24 reports that the Presidency finally has a director-general (DG) after President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Phindile Baleni in the post that Cassius Lubisi left vacant after he left the public service in September last year. Baleni was the DG in the Office of Gauteng Premier David Makhura from 2015 and has vast experience in the public sector. She will now be the most senior administrative government official, and will also be the secretary to Cabinet. She is the first woman to hold this position. Baleni is an admitted attorney and conveyancer who holds a B.Proc and an LLB from the University of the Witwatersrand. She is married to Frans Baleni, the former general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) – a staunch Ramaphosa supporter. President Ramaphosa wished Ms Baleni well in her new position and also expressed his appreciation to Ms Lusanda Mxenge who was acting DG of the Presidency for several months.

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


VACANCIES / RECRUITMENT

Survey shows that 77% of organisations struggle to recruit and obtain critical skills

Business Report writes that Xpatweb’s Critical Skills Survey 2020/21 showed that 77% of organisations were struggling to recruit and obtain critical skills in SA for their local and cross-border operations.   “A further 76 percent further confirmed an international search would assist them in meeting business objectives,” Xpatweb MD Marisa Jacobs indicated in a statement on Tuesday.   According to the latest survey, the top ten skills businesses were struggling to recruit included engineers (18%); ICT (13%); foreign language speakers (10%); media and marketing specialists (9%); artisans (8%); C-suite executives (7%); senior financial executives (6%); health professions and related clinical sciences (5%); science professionals (4%); and accounting (1%). The number of businesses indicating that engineers were difficult to recruit rose to 18% from 16%, which could indicate these skills were being lost to the brain drain to countries like Australia and the UK.   The demand for ICT skills remained high. Professionals most sought after included IT application developers (11%); data analysts (10%); data scientists (9%); software developers (9%); and software engineers (8%). Most in demand senior executive professions were chief operating officer (24%); chief financial officer (24%); chief executive officer (19%); and chief technology officer (19%).

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Edward West at Business Report


PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION

Department heads must act on errant behaviour by public servants, says Public Service Commission

BL Premium reports that the Public Service Commission (PSC) said on Tuesday that heads of government departments must act on errant behaviour by civil servants and bring those who breached public service regulations to book. The PSC, which is responsible for maintaining ethical standards and professionalism in the public service, said the lack of effective consequence management in the government encouraged non-compliance among public servants. “However small the non-compliance is, the person who has not performed must be held to account immediately, timeously, otherwise the non-compliance will continue. We are seeing some departments in which there is improvement because they are acting on non-compliance. Where there is no action, we see non-compliance increases,” Commissioner Michael Seloane said at the release of the PSC’s quarterly bulletin, The Pulse of the Public Service. The bulletin focused, among other things, on compliance by departments to pay suppliers within 30 days of receiving an undisputed invoice, and senior managers complying with the financial disclosure framework in 2019/2020.   It revealed that at end-December 2020, the worst performing national departments in terms of outstanding invoices were the department of public works and infrastructure’s property management trading entity and the department of water & sanitation.   At provincial level, the Eastern Cape was the worst performer.

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

PSC says officials doing deals with state must face action

SowetanLive reports that the Public Service Commission (PSC) wants disciplinary action to be taken against senior managers whom it has identified as having conflicts of interest. Addressing the media on Tuesday, PSC commissioner Michael Seloane said they had identified 11 cases of actual conflict of interest in one national department and three cases in provinces. His address was part of the release of the latest edition of the quarterly bulletin "The Pulse of the Public Service", covering the period 1 October to 31 December 2020. Seloane said two heads of department in Gauteng and the Northern Cape were among senior managers found to have conflicts of interest. “Disciplinary action should also be taken if it can be established that [senior management service] members intentionally ignored the call by the minister for public service and administration to cease conducting business with organs of state; or to resign as directors of companies that are conducting business with organs of state,” Seloane stated. He said particular focus should also be placed on determining how companies that were linked to public servants were able to conduct business with organs of state, which should assist in identifying gaps that there were in the system and measures to address them. Seloane revealed that a total of 382 senior managers were doing paid work outside their main jobs. “Only 52% [199] of these [senior manager service] members provided proof that they obtained prior permission to do so in terms of section 30 of the act,” he indicated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Aphiwe Deklerk at SowetanLive. Read too, 11 cases of conflict of interest found in public service between October and December, at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Public service professionalisation a balancing act for civil servants and government, at Engineering News


WORKPLACE CORRUPTION / FRAUD

eThekwini city manager barred from returning to work until after conclusion of criminal trial

TimesLIVE reports that eThekwini city manager Sipho Nzuza, who is one of the accused in the R320m Durban Solid Waste corruption and fraud matter, has been barred from going back to work. Durban regional court magistrate Garth Davis dismissed his application on Tuesday for a relaxation of bail condition, and imposed even harsher conditions in a lengthy ruling in which he detailed why he did not believe Nzuza should be allowed to sit in the city’s accounting officer chair until after the criminal trial was over. A date for the trial of Nzuza and his co-accused, including former mayor Zandile Gumede, is expected to be set later this year.   Nzuza was arrested in March last year, apparently after he reneged on a deal with the state that he would become a section 2014 witness. The magistrate said the evidence during the hearing showed Nzuza had protected other accused in the matter and had not instituted disciplinary hearings against them. He also noted that Nzuza and others had chosen to ignore their legal obligations to provide meaningful oversight over the fiscus of the municipality.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tania Broughton at TimesLIVE


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT

Metro mayors and unions call for provision of subsidies to public transport networks

The Star reports that the mayors of Johannesburg, Tshwane and eThekwini, along with transport unions, have called on the government to provide reliable operational subsidies to public transport networks.   This forms part of a campaign called The Future is Public Transport, which aims to highlight the importance of public transport to Covid-19 recovery within cities. SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) spokesperson Solomon Mahlangu said on Tuesday: “The national government must provide a subsidy to make our public transport system integrated, safe, sustainable and resilient to future crises. Essential workers are not just doctors and nurses.   Public transport workers deserve secure formal jobs with decent terms and conditions.” The mayors and Satawu noted in a joint statement that while subsidies to the SA bus and train network existed, recent reports suggested that these modes of transport only accounted for 23.6% and 9.9% of commuted transport respectively. Meantime, the minibus taxi industry, which was responsible for 66.6% of commuter travel, did not receive an operational subsidy. In their view, the introduction of a reliable and consistent operational subsidy would lay the groundwork for safer Covid-19 measures to protect operators and commuters; a more affordable transport system through centralised fare collections integrating costs across multiple trips; as well as generating decent jobs for informal and formal workers. The mayors added that inaction posed risks to the livelihoods of about 650,000 drivers, marshals and informal traders who faced unemployment from the impact of Covid-19 on public transport systems.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Chulumanco Mahamba at The Star

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Construction starts on Rivonia road Rea Vaya BRT station, at Engineering News
  • Rea Vaya commuters bemoan lack of peak-hour buses, on page 22 of The Star of 31 March 2021

 


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