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, 29 April 2021.


TOP STORY – RAND WATER DISPUTE

Rand Water and Samwu head back to negotiating table to try to stave off strike over incentive bonuses

TimesLIVE reports that the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has issued a certificate of non-resolution in a dispute between Rand Water and the SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu). The matter was referred to the CCMA for conciliation after the union decided to embark on a strike over a circular issued by Rand Water informing employees about the removal of incentive bonuses. Rand Water went to the labour court to interdict the strike and an agreement, which was made an order of the court, was reached in terms of which the company would withdrew its circular and the dispute would be referred to the CCMA for conciliation on 28 April. The union also suspended its strike action. Samwu’s Bafana Zungu reported that the dispute had not been able to be resolved at the CCMA meeting on Wednesday and the commissioner thereafter issued a certificate of non-resolution, thereby affording the union the right to go on a protected strike. But, late on Wednesday night, the union received a letter from Rand Water inviting the union to a meeting on Friday morning. Rand Water's Teboho Joala commented as follows: “We are continuing to engage with stakeholders to avert this situation. We hope to reach an amicable solution on the dispute. There are engagements that are taking place.” He added that Rand Water was introducing its strike management plan to address what would happen should there be a strike and he gave an assurance to customers that “taps will not run dry.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ernest Mabuza at TimesLIVE


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Cape Town police hunting suspects after off-duty Metro cop killed in Philippi on Wednesday

EWN reports that Philippi East police have launched a manhunt for suspects after an off-duty officer attached to the City of Cape Town's Metro Police was killed on Wednesday afternoon. According to police, the shooting incident occurred in Disa Road. The member was based at the Metro Police radio control at N1 City in Goodwood.   The 49-year-old officer was found with gunshot wounds next to his vehicle. The police's Frederick van Wyk reported that the suspects fled the scene in a vehicle that belonged to the victim. "The motive for the attack is possibly robbery. The suspects are yet to be arrested and Philippi East detectives are investigating a case of murder," Van Wyk indicated. In March, an off-duty police officer was killed in Delft and weeks before that two officers were ambushed and killed while on duty in Bloekombos.

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Kaylynn Palm at EWN

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • SA is likely to experience third Covid-19 wave in winter, says Prof Abdool Karim, at TimesLIVE


WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Transport unions threaten to strike as Transnet offers zero wage increase

BL Premium reports that transport unions have threatened to embark on a strike action at Transnet after management of the state-owned freight rail and logistics company offered no increase for the 2021/2022 financial year. Transnet management apparently proposed a 3% non-pensionable allowance on basic salary as a wage increase. The zero percent offer led to the wage talks reaching a stalemate. Steve Harris of the United National Transport Union (Untu) and Jack Mazibuko of the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) said in a joint statement that the offer was “so bad that organised labour can’t even present it to their constituents to obtain a revised mandate”. They indicated that the 0% offer was “rejected in totality” and emphasised that unions were prepared to “fight our battle in the streets, if we must”.   Conciliation talks will now take place at the bargaining council. According to Mazibuko, the unions’ initial demand was for a 12.5% wage increase across the board, which was revised during the second round of negotiations to 10%, while management stuck at 0%. Transnet commented that the “difficult economic climate and the resultant decline in the operational and financial performance of the company means Transnet is not in a position to accede to the demands made by the unions in the bargaining council.” It added that its offer was reasonable and realistic.   The company apparently refused to guarantee no retrenchments.

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


PROTEST ACTION

Public Protector steps in to mediate standoff between artists and National Arts Council over relief funds

EWN reports that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has stepped in to mediate the standoff between artists and creatives on the one hand and the National Arts Council (NAC) on the other hand. Following a public outcry, Mkhwebane and Deputy Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka met with Department of Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa and members of the council last week. The two-month-long dispute between creatives, the council and the department is over the disbursement of R300 million from the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme and more specifically where that money has actually gone. Artists from across the country have been staging a sit-in at the NAC’s office in Johannesburg since the beginning of March over alleged maladministration of the relief funds. They claim that the funds allocated for artists through the stimulus programme has disappeared. Mkhwebane indicated: “We informed them that we were prepared to do an alternative resolution session, which normally would result in a settlement agreement, especially on the issues of payments.” The artists are expected to make a written submission to the Public Protector’s office before another dispute resolution session is held.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Veronica Mokhoali at EWN. Read too, Public protector aims to resolve artists' dispute with government, at TimesLIVE


MINING LABOUR

Amcu heads to ConCourt in bid to get solidarity strikes legally protected

The Star reports that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) wants the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) to pronounce that solidarity strikes are legally protected. Formally referred to as secondary strikes, these are a form of industrial action by workers in support of a strike initiated by fellow union members in a separate company. In Amcu’s case, protected secondary strikes would enable the union to bring members out at gold, platinum and coal mines if one employer in the mining industry failed to meet workers’ demands. Amcu’s resolve to push for protection of solidarity strikes emanated from a failed bid to achieve this in 2019. When its protected strike at Sibanye-Stillwater that year entered a fourth month, Amcu issued secondary strike notices against a number of other mining groups. Amcu’s bid was thwarted by the Labour Court, which ruled that secondary strikes were unprotected. The Labour Appeal Court (LAC) also dealt Amcu’s appeal application a blow, ruling the case had become moot because there was no longer a strike.   Believing that both the Labour Court and LAC had erred, Amcu has now appealed the two judgments at the ConCourt.  Several mines are opposing Amcu’s application. Sandra Labuschagne of Sibanye Gold submitted in court papers that Amcu’s interpretation was fundamentally wrong.   “If (Amcu's) proposition was allowed to stand, it would leave a secondary employer without any protection available to it. This is so because the secondary employer cannot accede to the demands of the primary strikers in order to settle the dispute, nor is it a participant in the power play between the primary employer and its employees,” Labuschagne argued.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Bongani Nkosi at The Star

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Pallinghurst Group co-founder Brian Gilbertson retires, at Mining Weekly

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Anglo American opted for SA coal demerger because it didn’t “have the right” to shut down mines, at Miningmx


STAFF RETRENCHMENTS

SAA Technical starts retrenchment process to cut at least 60% of its 2,000 jobs

BL Premium reports that SA Airways Technical (SAAT), the repair and maintenance unit of the grounded national carrier, is set to retrench at least 60% of its 2,000 employees. Trade union Solidarity said it had received retrenchment notices inviting parties to consult on possible redundancies. “We can confirm that the CCMA [Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration] has been requested to facilitate the talks between workers and the company,” the union’s organiser, Derek Mans, indicated on Wednesday. The maintenance, repair and overhaul firm took a knock during Covid-19 as airlines could not fly under the strict lockdown, throttling cash flow and forcing it to cut staff pay by 25% in September. Department of Public Enterprises spokesperson Richard Mantu previously said SAA’s subsidiaries, including SAAT and Mango, were expecting funds from the government as part of the R10.5bn allocation made to the airline in October’s medium-term budget policy statement. However, for them to get the funding a special appropriation bill would have to be passed by parliament.

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Bekezela Phakathi at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read too, SAA Technical starting retrenchment process that could cut more than half its staff, at Fin24


APPOINTMENTS / RECRUITMENT

Search for Lindiwe Sisulu’s ‘call’ to local engineers ahead of importing Cubans yields no results

The Citizen reports that trade union Solidarity has expressed its disappointment in Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu for allegedly changing her story regarding the 24 Cuban engineers brought to SA to assist with ailing water infrastructure.   “At first she said there were no South Africans at all [who could do it] and now there were five companies that were not good enough, or as good as, the Cuban engineers,” spokesman Morne Malan pointed out. On Tuesday, Sisulu’s spokesperson Steve Motale said the minister had made a call to local engineers and only a few had responded. “When Minister Sisulu made a call for engineers in the country to come forward so the department can have a working partnership, only five companies responded. Now they cry foul,” he said. A search for Sisulu’s call yielded no results, but according to the department’s Sputnik Ratau “it was known since 2019”. Malan questioned why Sisulu did not appoint the five companies that had allegedly approached the department. “If five companies applied why were any of them not appointed?   We’ve given her until tomorrow [Thursday] to reply with regards to the qualifications of the Cubans,” he indicated.   Engineering Council of SA spokeswoman Millicent Kabwe said any engineer who was not registered with the council would have difficulty signing off projects. But Sisulu emphasised that the Cubans were not here for employment, but “to mentor municipal workers”.

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Asanda Matlhare at The Citizen. Read too, MKMVA backs Sisulu over deployment of Cuban engineers in SA, at EWN


REMUNERATION

Take-home pay in formal economy returning to pre-Covid levels

BL Premium reports that according to data drawn from the National Payments System (NPS), wages and salaries in the formal economy have almost recovered to pre-Covid levels. BankservAfrica, which administers the NPS and compiles a monthly index on take-home pay, said on Wednesday that the number of transfers to employees in March 2021 was slightly higher than the same month a year ago. The data also showed that overall take-home pay had increased in real terms by 0.7% over the year. “In my opinion, the recovery has been nothing short of incredible and much better than I expected. But I must note we are not creating new jobs just yet. The figures for March this year are still lower than what was recorded two years ago,” said economist Mike Schüssler. The data only includes companies that use payroll software to administer payments, skewing the data towards the public sector and larger companies. Despite this, Schüssler said the data showed the recovery in employment underway at workforces of medium and large companies had returned to pre-Covid levels.   But, Bankserv’s data also showed that daily-paid employees have continued on a declining trend, indicating that part-time and casually employed staff have borne the brunt of the economic fallout. “But there are definitely fewer lower-wage employees in the system. In our estimate, the levels are 8%-10% lower than last year,” said Schüssler.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Warren Thompson at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read too, SA’s take-home pay increases are returning to their pre-Covid trend, at Business Report


WORKPLACE CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Ex-Oudtshoorn municipal officer sentenced to an effective our years behind bars for R1.9m fraud

EWN reports that a former Oudtshoorn municipal official will spend an effective four years behind bars on charges of fraud worth R1.9 million. Frikkie van Staden was sentenced in the Oudtshoorn Regional Court on Wednesday.   Van Staden, who was responsible for the maintenance of roads, instructed his sister-in-law to register a company under her name. The 55-year-old man later took over the company's operation to score contracts within the municipality without his sister-in-law's knowledge. The Hawks' Zinzi Hani reported: “Van Staden was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for corruption, of which three years was suspended on condition that he is not convicted of similar crimes during the period of the suspension. A further five years imprisonment for fraud wholly suspended with the condition was imposed on him.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Shamiela Fisher at EWN


SPECIAL INVESTIGATING UNIT PPE REPORT

Senior official at Joburg Property Company fingered for allegedly awarding irregular PPE contracts worth R18m

Pretoria News reports that a senior official at the City of Johannesburg Property Company allegedly awarded personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts irregularly, costing the municipality at least R18 million in fruitless and wasteful expenditure last year. The tender in question was awarded to four companies for deep cleaning and sanitisation services during the national state of disaster declared to contain the Covid-19 outbreak. According to a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report dated 29 March 2021, the general manager for special projects – identified as Gowrie Sunker – was found to have committed financial misconduct by flouting Section 172 of the Municipal Finance Management Act and disregarding supply chain management policies during a tender-awarding process. The report has been sent to acting city manager Floyd Brink, who was asked to provide the SIU with the outcomes of any action he might choose to institute against Sunker before the submission of the report to President Cyril Ramaphosa. Asked about the SIU report and possible action taken against Sunker, municipal spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane said: “The City would have to consider the report before it could determine whether there would be any sanctions, which is what the City is doing at this stage.” Contacted for comment, Sunker told the Pretoria News that he was not actively involved in the awarding of the tender in question.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Rapula Moatshe at Pretoria News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • SIU probe into dodgy Covid-19 tenders fingers Joburg Property Company CEO, CFO, at Independent Media


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT

More than 80% of Gauteng train stations left in ruins

Pretoria News reports that more than 80% of train stations in Gauteng have been left in ruins after they were stripped of anything of value, leaving hundreds of commuters stranded. The infrastructure was ravaged after President Cyril Ramaphosa placed the country under lockdown last year following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. This left train stations unguarded, paving the way for thieves to plunder everything from cables, handrails and windows to doors and bricks. Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said last month at the launch of the People’s Responsibility to Protect campaign, aimed at addressing the challenges facing the rail sector, that the government was coming up with interventions to remedy the situation at train stations. Responding to questions this week, Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) spokesperson Bane Ndlovu said they were attending to the matter with urgency. “The technical team has evaluated the extent of the infrastructure damage and has assessed the scope of work required to restore the corridors for train services. To this end a procurement process is being embarked upon to source service providers who will come and repair the lines, including the power supply system,” he indicated. He urged communities to report criminal elements that were vandalising the much-needed infrastructure.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mashudu Sadike at Petoria News


OTHER REPORTS

With jobs at stake, Numsa joins Ayo’s court battle to stop FNB from cutting off banking services

BL Premium reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) will be joining Ayo Technology Solutions in a bid to interdict FNB from cutting off that company’s banking services. Ayo filed an urgent high court application earlier in April to stop FNB, after the lender gave the company until 3 May to find a new bank. The urgent interdict was scheduled to be heard on Thursday, with Numsa claiming the liquidation of Ayo would cost 1,275 jobs. According to Numsa, the move would collapse a black-owned information and communications technology company, to the benefit of white-owned competitors. “Ayo has not been found guilty of any crime, and this includes money laundering or terrorist financing, therefore there is absolutely no justifiable reason for FNB to take such a drastic stance,” Numsa said. According to Ayo, the bank has not provided it with “valid reasons” for the move.

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

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page