news shutterstockIn our Friday morning roundup, see
summaries of our selection of recent South African
labour-related reports.


TOP STORY – COST OF NHI

NHI costing report compiled by Solidarity estimates unaffordable shortfall of R112 billion

On Thursday, trade union Solidarity presented the findings of a comprehensive report compiled by the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI) into the estimated cost of introducing the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme. “According to our calculations, there will be a shortfall of approximately R112 billion in the budget when provision is made for the NHI.   Our country simply cannot afford this.   It is a well-known fact that South Africa’s state coffers have been plundered and are empty, and that most state institutions have been governed into bankruptcy. Borrowing additional money will be fatal for the country’s economy,” said Solidarity Chief Executive Dr Dirk Hermann. According to Solidarity, the government’s projected deficit of R32 billion was unrealistic, while the deficit would in fact amount to roughly R112 billion. But, borrowing money to fund this deficit should not be considered because the country already owed billions of rands and could not afford more debt.   Solidarity also cautioned that the deficit could not be supplemented by taxes because the SA taxpayer was already overburdened. In Solidarity’s view, South Africans would benefit more if the state reformed its current public health system by ensuring better returns on investment. In addition, the private sector should be permitted on a permanent basis to alleviate the burden of the public health system by continuing to provide services to those who could afford it. “Forcing the whole country to uniformly depend on the state is not the answer,” Hermann argued.

Read Solidarity’s press statement on the above and access the full report at Solidarity News. Lees ook, R112 miljard se tekort as NVG ingestel word, by Maroela Media


COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND VACCINE ROLLOUT

‘Whites only’ Covid-19 vaccine allegations being probed in North West

The Citizen reports that three North West health officials could be in trouble for allegedly withholding Covid-19 vaccines from black people, while mobilising white people to get vaccinated at the department’s Tswaing sub-district last month. The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has charged that, if true, the officials’ alleged actions would amount to attempted murder, and even murder, if any of those affected contracted Covid-19 and died.   The senior officials, including the sub-district manager, allegedly denied vaccines to black patients at a local vaccination site, claiming they were out of stock. Spokesperson for the provincial department of health, Tebogo Lekgethwane, said the trio then allegedly mobilised members of the local white community for vaccination, which he said was very serious. Nehawu alleges that the officials were all white, but the department has yet to confirm or deny that. Lekgethwane said the motive for their actions might very well be racial, because there has been enough vaccines in the sub-district, yet a number of people who went to the vaccination site for scheduled inoculations were turned back as there was apparently no stock. Nehawu provincial secretary Patrick Makhafane said it was very worrying when people could not get vaccinated on the basis of their colour, saying this was akin to extermination of another race. He said they would request an urgent meeting with the provincial health department to ensure that systems were in place to get to the bottom of this matter, which they also intended to report to the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for investigation.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sipho Mabena at The Citizen (paywall access only). Read too, White officials accused of denying vaccine to black residents and giving it to families, friends, at Independent Media

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Western Cape still at the peak of Covid-19 third wave, say health officials, at EWN
  • Georgia rugby coach fighting for his life in Johannesburg hospital with Covid-19 complications, at BusinessLive
  • Nearly 90 Eastern Cape schools battling Covid-19 outbreaks, at TimesLIVE
  • Sanlam seeing ‘significantly more death and funeral claims’, largely attributed to Covid-19, at Moneyweb
  • Nearly 10% of SA’s vaccination target reached as 9m Covid jabs administered, at EWN
  • Tembisa taxi drivers get their Covid-19 jabs while a few doubters look on, at News24
  • Sahpra unable to link any deaths reported to it to the Covid-19 vaccine, at News24
  • Gauteng looking to ramp up daily Covid-19 vaccinations to 100k, at The Citizen
  • Vinpro’s interdict to give Cape premier the power to circumvent booze ban declared moot, at Cape Argus


RELIEF FUNDS

UIF slammed by Western Cape legislative committee for taking over a month to answer 123 complaints

Cape Argus reports that the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has been slammed for being too slow to deal with 123 complaints submitted a month ago. This was after it emerged that only 60.9% of the complaints submiutted by the Western Cape legislature’s standing committee on finance, economic opportunities and tourism had been resolved. Committee chairperson Deidre Baartman (DA) said: “This means that almost 40% of applicants are still left without support whilst employment opportunities remain constrained under lockdown restrictions. It appears that UIF is building this aircraft in the air 18 months after lockdown regulations were first introduced. While it has been a massive feat to distribute more than R10 billion to the people of the Western Cape, too often enquiries still fall through the cracks.” Acting UIF commissioner Mzie Yawa admitted that his department was unprepared for the number of Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) applications received and that they could have handled the response to complaints from the public better and faster than they did. He said:   “I agree that a month between the time we received the complaints from the committee and now, needs to be explained as to what the hold-up was. However, without also making excuses, I can say that the UIF management and staff were never geared for the pandemic and this impacted on the speed with which we did things.” The committee resolved that the UIF should submit a monthly report outlining its progress in addressing the payment of UIF and Covid-19 Ters benefits and that it should resolve the outstanding 40% enquiries by 25 August.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mwangi Githahu at Cape Argus


MINING LABOUR

Northam’s Zondereinde mine concludes five-year wage agreement with NUM

Mining Weekly reports that Northam Platinum has advised that wage negotiations at its Zondereinde mine, in Limpopo, with representative union the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have been concluded.   Northam said the wage agreement was effective from 1 July and assured Zondereinde employees of increases to all major components of remuneration over the next five years. It noted that the agreement was aligned with industry settlements and took into consideration the reality of inflationary pressures faced by its employees. “The wage agreement secures five years of stability at Zondereinde and has been achieved through a collaborative, respectful and constructive engagement process between Northam and the NUM, without requiring intervention or mediation by third parties,” said Northam CEO Paul Dunne.

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

Pan African Resources concludes three-year wage agreements with NUM and Uasa at Barberton mines

Mining Weekly reports that according to Pan African Resources, its Barberton Mines operation has successfully concluded a three-year wage agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and a five-year wage agreement with Uasa. The NUM agreement is effective from 1 July and terminates on 30 June 2024.   It provides for an average yearly wage increase of about 5.6%, compounded yearly, for employees in the NUM bargaining unit. The Uasa agreement is effective from 21 July and terminates on 30 June 2026.   It provides for an average yearly increase of 5% for years one and two; an average yearly increase of 5% or the yearly consumer price inflation rate (CPI), whichever is higher, capped at 6%, for year three; and an average yearly increase of 5% or CPI, whichever is higher, capped at 6%, for years four and five. The parties have, however, agreed to renegotiate these increases in the event of CPI being lower than 4% or higher than 7.5%, for years four and five. Assuming a CPI rate of 5% for the initial three-year period, the above mentioned wage increases will result in an average yearly increase of about 5.4%, compounded yearly, for the Uasa bargaining unit over the period.

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

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Mgojo blames Exxaro’s 30% plunge in coal exports to “one of worst rail performances”, at Miningmx
  • Transnet abandons coal rail expansion as part of broad effort to restore credibility, at Miningmx
  • Arnot Opco clinches ten-year coal supply contract with Eskom, at Fin24


BUSINESS RESCUE / RESTRUCTURING

Numsa warns that giving Mango control over business rescue sets dangerous precedent

Eyewitness News reports that labour unions have indicated that despite losing their court battle over the business rescue process at Mango, they believed that their pressure and actions stopped the Department of Public Enterprises from allowing the collapse and liquidation of the low-cost carrier. The Mango Pilots Association, the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said that they planned to challenge a High Court's decision that afforded Mango control over a voluntary business rescue. The ruling means that the carrier’s board can appoint its own business rescue practitioners to oversee the process. Numsa's Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said that the decision set a dangerous precedent and opened up the business rescue system to abuse.   “Given the disastrous business rescue processes that took place at SAA, we hope that this time things would be different. Companies will theoretically be able to pass a business rescue resolution but never file it, as was the case with the Mango board who sat on the resolution for three-and-a-half months. They can then effectively use it at a later date, as a get out of jail free card should a liquidation application be brought against the company,” Hlubi-Majola commented.

Read the original of the report in the above regard at EWN


YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

SA ranked low in new report on youth development

The Citizen reports that a new report shows SA is lagging behind in the ranking for countries that have made an improvement in youth development. This was indicated in the 2020 Global Youth Development Index released this week by the Commonwealth Secretariat.   The index, a triennial ranking of youth development in 181 countries, ranked SA 131st, which was just 50 places above the last country at the bottom, namely Niger.   The survey ranked countries according to the development in youth education, employment, health, equality and inclusion, peace and security, and political and civic participation.   It looked at 27 indicators including literacy and voting to showcase the state of the world’s 1.8 billion people between the ages of 15 and 29. Among its recommendations, the index called for more investment in lifelong digital skills training of young people, mental health services, apprenticeships, road safety and youth participation in decision-making to reverse trends which adversely impact them. Nonceba Mhlauli, convener of the ANC Youth League national task team, commented: “Although the improvement is marginal in most developing countries such as (our) country, we also take stock of the fact that the Covid-19 disease has affected young people the most as development opportunities have been adversely affected by the global pandemic… As the Youth League, our task is therefore to mobilise young people to become active participants in the development process of their countries.”

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


RETIREMENT FUNDS / PRE-RETIREMENT WITHDRAWALS

Cosatu and PSA slam Treasury for exclusion of public servants from new rules on early retirement fund withdrawals

Fin24 reports that labour federation Cosatu and the Public Servants Association (PSA) have each hit out at National Treasury's indication that members of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) will be excluded from new rules enabling pre-retirement fund withdrawals. With the economic impact of Covid-19 hitting household budgets, Treasury on Wednesday issued a statement on its approach to growing calls to allow members of retirement funds to access part of their savings. Government has proposed a two-bucket system, allowing one pot of savings to be preserved until retirement and the other to allow pre-retirement access only in emergencies or extraordinary circumstances. Treasury pointed out that withdrawals would not apply to members of the GEPF, as that fund was not regulated under the Pension Fund Act.   Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said Treasury's announcement was "outrageous" and "unacceptable". Claiming that Treasury was the "chief bastion of resistance" when it came to progressive socio-economic policies, Pamla added that Cosatu “rejects this unwarranted isolation and victimisation of public servants."   Cosatu wants to meet with Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana and Treasury to address its concerns. The PSA, which also represents public servants who are members of the GEPF, said that Treasury must take note that public servants have equally been affected by the devastating impact of Covid-19, like other employees in the country.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lameez Omarjee at Fin24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Werkers kan dalk deel van pensioen in 2022 bekom, by Maroela Media
  • Early access to retirement funds at least a year away, at Moneyweb
  • Pension showdown looms as public servants are excluded from their funds, at Business Report


SPECIAL LEAVE / SUSPENSIONS

After rape of grade one learner, five workers at Soshanguve school asked to ‘stay at home’, but not suspended

At least five general workers at Khensani Primary School in Soshanguve have been asked to stay at home while the investigation into the rape of a grade one learner is underway.   This was indicated by Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng MEC for education, on Thursday, following a visit to the school after allegations surfaced that a six-year-old girl had been raped last week in the school's toilets. Lesufi said that the five had not been suspended, but asked to stay at home for their own safety following threats against the school and its workers. Four of the individuals are general assistants and the other is a volunteer at the school. Lesufi reported that the volunteer had not reported for work since the incident came to light and that the department had asked law enforcement to follow up on the matter. He revealed that there were still issues that the department wanted to understand.   Meanwhile, Action SA on Thursday called on Lesufi to immediately suspend the principal of the school. It also expressed shock to learn that despite reports of an ongoing police investigation, no one had been placed on precautionary suspension pending the outcome of the probe. The political party’s Abel Tau said this only served to further endanger pupils at the school.

Based on reports at The Citizen and EWN


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Limpopo education department reprimands official who asked schools to pay for his office wifi

Sunday Times Daily reports that the Limpopo education department has reprimanded a circuit manager for asking schools for donations to pay for wifi connectivity and stationery consumables for his office.   This followed the issuing of a letter, signed by a principal of a committee of the Soutpansberg East circuit office, requesting principals of 25 schools falling under the control of circuit manager Falaza Baloyi to donate R2,200 each for circuit functions.   Among other things, the money was to be used to pay for wifi for the circuit office and to settle an outstanding balance of about R16,000 owed to a stationery supplier for toners and ink.   The letter, dated 24 March and bearing the letterhead of the circuit office, was withdrawn by Baloyi after the provincial education department instructed him to do so. He was also ordered to refund all monies that were donated by the schools, which all fell into the quintile 1 to 3 category, or very poor schools. The National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB) in Limpopo lodged a complaint with the education department after being tipped off about the controversial request. Baloyi denied instructing schools to provide donations, saying principals agreed in a management meeting at which he was present to make the request.   Limpopo education department spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene confirmed that circuit offices were not allowed to collect money from schools. She said the district director had held a meeting with Baloyi, “where he was reprimanded for the action”.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Prega Govender at TimesLIVE

Minimal staff at Cape Town fire stations because of disciplinary hearings

Cape Argus reports that fire stations across Cape Town have been working with minimal staff for the last month because 525 firefighters are facing disciplinary hearings and are not allowed to work overtime. The firefighters are facing disciplinary hearings for refusing to “work as required”.   Their letters of notice from the City claimed that the workers committed wilful gross misconduct when, during the period between 1 and 8 October 2019, they participated in an unlawful strike by refusing to work according to the shift system. SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) secretary Mike Khumalo reported that of the 525, at least 439 accepted a bargaining plea   Some 30 individuals were in training at the time and did not take the bargaining offer, so their cases would continue this week. Khumalo said 50 people were regarded as ring leaders by the City and their cases would continue next month. Three others had died due to Covid-19. City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo confirmed that disciplinary processes had been completed for some staff members. The outcome of the process was a matter between the employer and its employees. But, Tyhalibongo claimed there had been no impact on fire stations because of the disciplinary process.   Nonetheless, like many other frontline services, the City’s Fire and Rescue Service has been dealing with the impact of Covid-19 on staff, in addition to other sick leave requests.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sisonke Mlamla at Cape Argus


ALLEGED CORRUPTION / FRAUD

City of Cape Town DA councillor accused of defrauding Ters steps aside from party duties

News24 reports that the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Cape Town has confirmed that Ward 23 councillor, Nora Grose, has stepped aside from her party duties. Grose is currently out on R10,000 bail after she was accused of misappropriating City of Cape Town funds. The DA's constituency head in Durbanville-Blaauwberg, Emma Powell, advised:   "Last week Monday, Nora wrote to the provincial executive committee noting that in the best interests of the party, she has voluntarily taken the decision to step aside from party-related activities, until such time as she has cleared her name in a court of law." Grose will, however, still continue with her duties as a ward councillor. Grose faces charges of fraud and money laundering.   In May, the Hawks announced that she had been charged alongside Atlantis pastor, Reuben Swartz, who is accused of fraudulently claiming R297,800 from the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) and using it for personal gain. Meantime, the Life Changers Church in Table View has seemingly paid back R54,328.06 of the R171,778 in Covid-19 food relief funds it allegedly irregularly and indirectly received from the City.Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Marvin Charles at News24. Read too, DA councillor Nora Grose steps aside following charges of siphoning Covid-19 funds, at Weekend Argus

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Ramaphosa warns SA faces long haul to tackle graft, at Moneyweb


OTHER HEADLINES OF INTEREST

  • Government boosts role of women in agriculture, at BusinessLive
  • Commission for Gender Equality suspends Mbuyiselo Botha for derogatory 'albino' comment, at News24
  • Denel plans to restructure as it inches close to coughing up salaries, at Business Report
  • SANDF infantry vehicle topples over on Joburg freeway, but no-one is injured, at TimesLIVE
  • Prison death mystery, with warden’s bloodied body only found after husband had to force way into her office, on page 1 of The Star of 12 August 2021

 


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