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 roundup of weekend news, see
summaries of our selection of South African
labour-related stories that appeared since
Friday, 16 July 2021.


TOP STORY - TERS

UIF to bypass 'unscrupulous employers' by paying Ters monies directly to workers

Fin24 reports that the new round of Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) payments for industries that can't operate fully during the Level 4 lockdown will be made directly to workers in an effort to avoid fraud by "unscrupulous employers".   While employers are still expected to claim from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) on their workers’ behalf from Monday, this time around payment will be directly into employees’ bank accounts – "unless otherwise decided at the discretion of the UIF Commissioner", the fund advised in a statement "It is therefore crucial for employers to provide valid and accurate details of their employees including identity document numbers and valid bank accounts," acting UIF commissioner Mzie Yawa indicated. The UIF said that in instances where workers did not have accounts or there were issues in paying them directly, employers must provide proof and "funds may be paid into the employer’s account at the UIF’s discretion".   "We have learnt the lesson from the previous phases that some unscrupulous employers did not advance the funds to their employees and it is for that reason that we have opted for this mode of payment,” Yawa reported. Successful claims will start to be paid out from 26 July.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard compiled by Ahmed Areff at Fin24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Workers can claim Ters from Monday, payment expected a month after start of Level 4, at News24
  • SAB halts beer production amid extended alcohol sales ban, at News24


COVID-19 THIRD WAVE

Covid-19 claims 76 Joburg City staffers

The Star reports that the ravages of Covid-19 have not spared the City of Johannesburg. Acting city manager Floyd Brink reported that as of 7 July, 76 officials in the municipality had died. This is according to Group Safety, Health and Environment, which tracks citywide screening and Covid-19 testing. “They were colleagues who also played a key role in ensuring that service delivery is indeed accelerated for our residents. They were not just numbers,” Brink lamented. He went on to say: “In scores of offices around the city, there are empty desks where the fallen colleagues used to sit. Some offices have gone quiet … The sad passing of our colleagues and councillors means that we have lost all that institutional memory they possessed and freely shared with the rest of us. Institutional memory is not something you build overnight. It takes years to acquire and impart.   They died in the trenches and we have to pick up the baton and meaningfully transform the lives of our residents”. The City, through its employee assistance programme (EAP), is offering counselling services to officials and their families who are affected or have come down with Covid-19. On Wednesday, the City buried its executive mayor Geoff Makhubo, who succumbed to Covid-19 complications.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard on page 5 of The Star of 16 July 2021

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Matlosana mayor Maetu Kgaile passes away after contracting covid-19, at EWN
  • Covid-19-gevalle in SA begin afneem, by Maroela Media
  • Excess deaths during pandemic nearing 200,000, says SAMRC, at TimesLIVE


COVID-19 VACCINATION ROLLOUT

Covid-19 vaccination rollout for social development sector to commence from Monday

News24 reports that early childhood development (ECD) teachers, Sassa officials and other social development department staff will receive Covid-19 vaccines from Monday. Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has advised the social development sector will be launching its national vaccine rollout plan from Monday in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North West and Northern Cape. The vaccination rollout in the Western Cape will start on Thursday and in Limpopo on Friday. Just over 240,000 people are expected to receive their jabs during the rollout.   Included in the plan are ECD practitioners and staff working in the ECD environment. Also eligible are social service professionals, including all social workers, auxiliary social workers and student social workers who are currently doing fieldwork, child and youth care workers, child and youth care auxiliary workers and all social service professionals in the public, private or NGO sectors. The rollout will also include community development practitioners and frontline staff working in the social development department, including at all social development facilities, Sassa, the National Development Agency, and the SA Council for Social Service Professions.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nicole McCain at News24. Lees ook, DKD-amptenare, maatskaplike werkers volgende in entstoftou, by Maroela Media

Covid-19 vaccinations sharply down as centres shut down in fear of rioters destroying and looting medicines

City Press reports that government wants to have looters who stole dying patients’ chronic medication charged with murder in cases where those patients died. This comes after not only 90 pharmacies were looted in the recent public violence, but also medicine factories and warehouses from where medicines are distributed, especially in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). The Covid-19 vaccination programme also came to a near halt in the province due to the violence. Medical staff could not reach their workplaces because of the riots and a fuel shortage. While about 40,000 people a day were previously being vaccinated in KZN, the average dropped to barely 4,000 a day due to the violence. There was also a decrease in Gauteng from about 44,000 vaccinations per day to about 35,000 on Tuesday and Wednesday when townships in the province in particular were targeted by rioters. Several vaccination centres closed as a precaution over fears that protesters would target them. By Friday, the KZN health department still could not indicate when the centres would reopen. The police told the parliamentary portfolio committee on policing on Friday that they were guarding vaccine supplies to ensure looters did not steal or destroy them.   The SA Pharmacy Council reported that Covid-19 vaccines had been lost due to the looting of pharmacies in KZN and Gauteng, but could not say how many doses had been stolen or destroyed.   The Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC), which is tasked with ensuring the safety of health workers and users of health services, said the impact of the looting in KZN and Gauteng was going to hit the health system hard.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Dawie Boonzaaier at City Press

SA starts weekend Covid-19 vaccinations in Gauteng

Bloomberg reports that authorities are to give Covid-19 vaccinations for the first time at weekends in Gauteng. The nation’s coronavirus inoculation program was disrupted by recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng.   South Africa has been on virus alert level 4, its second-highest, since late June. “We are taking this step to open these vaccination sites over the weekend to make sure as many people as possible are vaccinated,” Motalatale Modiba, the head of communications at the Gauteng Department of Health, said in a statement. Gauteng has been worst affected by the virus, with 805,478 cases recorded since the start of the pandemic. The national death toll from the illness stands at 66,676, with the total number of cases at 2.28 million by 17 July.

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Adelaide Changole and Khuleko Siwele at Moneyweb

It’s Solidarity versus Sahpra on private acquisition of vaccine

City Press reports that according to the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), there is no rule or provision stating that only government may buy Covid-19 vaccines, which was why the urgent application by trade union Solidarity and civil rights organisation AfriForum for such a provision to be set aside was rejected in the Pretoria High Court. On 23 June, the two organisations filed an urgent application to set aside Sahpra’s provisions that only the national government may purchase the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. Solidarity and AfriForum’s main argument was based on an article in Business Day on 13 April, in which it was reported that Sahpra had approved the use of the J&J vaccine in SA on condition that only the government could purchase the vaccine. Solidarity maintained that government was centralising the purchases in a roundabout way, to the detriment of a vaccination project that would have proceeded much faster if the private sector could have played a greater role, especially with regard to purchases. Solidarity also tried to purchase vaccines directly, hence the court application. To show that the application was urgent, Solidarity presented a press release from Sahpra dated 1 April, in which the regulatory authority stated that the vaccine was provided “in accordance with the national department of health’s Covid-19 vaccination plan”. But, Judge Selby Baqwa struck the case off the roll because he ruled that no urgency had been proven. Anton van der Bijl, head of legal services at Solidarity, confirmed that the case would now be placed on the usual roll, but that a date for it had not yet been set.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Dawie Boonzaaier at City Press (paywall access only)

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Prisoners at correctional centres to be jabbed against Covid-19 from Monday, at News24


PUBLIC VIOLENCE AND LOOTING

Game and Makro owner Massmart to prioritise employee safety and well-being

Fin24 reports that as Makro and Game owner Massmart moves to prioritise protecting the jobs of its employees affected by the looting and violence that recently spread through parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, it says plans are also underway to restock its stores. The retailer reported last week that looters gained access to and made off with merchandise in 18 Cambridge stores, ten Game stores, eight Builders stores, three Cash & Carry and two Makro stores.   Two of its distribution centres were been directly impacted and altogether four facilities suffered significant damage due to arson. CEO Mitchell Slape said in a video message to Massmart employees at the end of last week that the company’s immediately priority was their safety and well-being.   “We have confirmed that we are focused on protecting jobs of affected colleagues. [We are] taking action to support our KwaZulu-Natal associates in these trying times by putting together parcels for them,” he indicated. Those parcels were expected to arrive in the province soon. He said they were aiming to re-open KwaZulu-Natal stores “when it is safe to do so”. Slape also said Massmart was making large donations of basic food items, commodities, and baby formula to Gift of the Givers and Food Forward for distribution in affected communities.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ahmed Areff at Fin24

CEO of Ubuntu Wealth Management suspended after allegedly taking part in looting in KZN

News24 reports that Ubuntu Wealth Management CEO Qhawe Sithole has been suspended with immediate effect, following looting allegations. According to reports, Umhlanga police arrested him for allegedly looting a washing machine, a bar stool, alcohol and braai accessories during recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal. But Sithole has denied that he was part of the mass looting and said that he was moving furniture on Tuesday and has the receipts to prove that he bought the items.   In a statement, the Ubuntu Wealth Management board said Sithole was suspended with immediate effect, pending the outcome of his criminal case and an independent investigation into allegations against him. The company's COO, Mmangaliso Nxumalo, said on behalf of the board: "Once the board receives all facts to his case and [has] studied the findings, the board will take the recommended disciplinary action against the chief executive (or anyone else) as required."   He added that the board would institute the disciplinary action so that the matter could be resolved swiftly.   "This remains a matter of utmost concern to the board. The board wishes to assure all stakeholders and the public that this matter is receiving all the attention it deserves. However, the board is also at pains to ensure that due process is followed at all times," Nxumalo stated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jeanette Chabalala at News24. Read too, CEO suspended for looting appliances, booze in Durban, at Independent Media

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Sitruskwekers gevra om stadiger te oes, verpak, at Maroela Media
  • Looting draining police resources, on page 5 of Sunday Independent of 17 July 2021
  • Union slams vandalising, looting of KZN schools, at SowetanLive


LOCKOUTS / STRIKES

Agreement between SAA and pilots finally signed on Friday

Fin24 reports that SA Airways (SAA) announced on Friday evening that it had reached an agreement with the SAA Pilots' Association (Saapa), thus marking another significant milestone towards resuming operations. The deal was signed and ratified on Friday and followed the in-principle agreement reached on 6 July. Saapa member pilots voted with a 94.9% majority in favour of the deal in a ballot process that closed on 11 July. The negotiations have taken more than ten months. “Our pilots will now receive all monies due to them. We have already started the process to make payments that do not require tax directives," said SAA's interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo.   SAA went into business rescue on 5 December 2019 and pilots have not received salaries since March 2020.     SAA's business rescue practitioners imposed a lock-out on Saapa members from 18 December 2020, seeking to get assent to a new agreement in terms of which salaries of all pilots will be reduced by 50%. Saapa went on strike earlier this year, demanding that its members be retrenched at terms and conditions under the existing regulating agreement. More than 200 SAA pilots took voluntary severance packages during the airline's business rescue process. Overall, Saapa members will be retrenched at below what they would be entitled to under the regulating agreement. Saapa expects that about 290 will have to still be retrenched in order to leave the 88 envisioned in terms of the rescue plan.   Retrenched pilots will get severance pay of one week for each completed year of service, two months' notice pay, and three months' back pay in settlement for the period 1 April to 30 November 2020. All accumulated and accrued leave will be paid at full value, except for the period of lockout. Pilots will also get their 13th cheques due for 2019 and that of 2020 and payment of their salary from 1 to 18 December 2020.

Read the full original of the informative report in the above regard by Carin Smith at Fin24


WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Time to decide: Public service unions mull latest wage offer, with only two unions accepting

Fin24 reports that the week before last, the government tabled an offer of a 1.5% pensionable salary increase with a lump sum gratuity payable on a monthly basis ranging from R1,200 to R1,600 to public sector workers. The South African Democratic Teachers' Union and National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA have accepted the offer. The Police and Prison Civil Rights Union and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union have rejected the offer, while others are still canvassing for a mandate. Unions have been given 21 days from the formal tabling of the revised offer to consult with their membership and get a mandate to either accept or reject it.   If the majority of unions do not accept the offer, it will be off the table and one of the parties involved will have to request that it be resubmitted to the table for further negotiation, or request more time to get a mandate.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Khulekani Magubane at Fin24


MINING LABOUR

Employee dies in mine-related incident at Harmony's Tshepong South mine

Mining Weekly reports that an employee died in a mine-related incident at Harmony Gold's Tshepong South mine, in the Free State, on 15 July. CEO Peter Steenkamp reacted: “The safety of our employees is a major focus at all our operations and every effort is being made to embed a proactive safety culture to ensure we achieve our objective of zero harm and zero loss of life. After an extended period without fatalities, there can be no greater reminder of the importance of safety than the loss of one of our colleagues. We are deeply saddened by the incident and will ensure a full investigation into the cause of this tragedy.”

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

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Amplats loses court bid to stop neighbour developing on Modikwa platinum mine, at Miningmx
  • Bushveld Vametco mine in North West being investigated following allegations of possible fronting, at City Press (paywall access only)


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Five years after Life Esidimeni tragedy, still no action taken against officials

City Press reports that five years after the Life Esidimeni catastrophe, which resulted in the deaths of 144 mentally ill state patients, four of those accountable for it have still not been suspended by their professional councils. The formal judicial inquest into the deaths of the patients will begin on Monday in the Pretoria High Court. On Friday, the SA Nursing Council (SANC) advised that steps had still not been taken against Dr Makgabo Manamela, then director of mental health at the Gauteng health department, her then deputy, Hannah Jacobus, and Dumi Masondo, former chairperson of the Gauteng review board. The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) has also not yet suspended Dr Barney Selebano, who was then head of the Gauteng health department.   The health department confirmed that Selebano and Jacobus had retired and received their full pension payments.   Jacobus worked at the department until her retirement. The then MEC for health, Qedani Mahlangu, Selebano and Manamela all resigned in 2017, around the time that the health ombudsman recommended that those whom he called the “architects” of the tragedy and everyone involved in it be suspended. “Quick action against such employees is important for government.   That’s why we’re currently working on the process,” said SANC CEO Sizeni Mchunu in response to a query.   She did not explain why the “quick action” had still not taken place – four years after the recommendation.   Christopher Tsatsawane of the HPCSA said the case against Selebano had been postponed due to the current level 4 lockdown, but also failed to explain why the matter had been delayed for years.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Suzanne Venter at City Press


WORKPLACE CRIME

Two Cape Town police officers arrested for replacing missing suspect with random person off the street

EWN reports that two Cape Town police officers have been arrested for allegedly replacing a suspect with a random person. The officers were charged with defeating the administration of justice and kidnapping. The original suspect was arrested for housebreaking and theft and was detained at the Maitland Police Station at the end of May. He managed to escape when he was taken to Somerset Hospital for medical care. After failing to track him down, the two officers arrested another man off the street and booked him in at the police station to take on the identity of the escaped suspect. SA Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson, Captain Frederick van Wyk, said that the next day a detective realised the arrested person did not fit the description of the original suspect. After investigation by the anti-corruption unit, it was decided by public prosecution to charge the SAPS members.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Kevin Brandt at EWN


OTHER HEADLINES OF INTEREST

  • Teachers are the real deal, tech just a tool, on page 28 of Mail & Guardian of 16 July 2021
  • Not all wage gaps are equal, at Moneyweb

Western Cape High Court orders security for axed cop Jeremy Vearey be reinstated immediately, at News24


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page