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


COVID PANDEMIC AND VACCINE ROLLOUT

Health department supports mandatory Covid vaccinations for some industries

BusinessLive reports that the Department of Health wants mandatory Covid-19 vaccination in certain industries, but believes that while jabbing is important, forcing vaccination by law is the wrong approach.   This was indicated by acting health director-general Nicholas Crisp during a televised Newzroom Afrika debate on Sunday that included deputy justice minister John Jeffrey, Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach and public health lawyer Safura Abdool Carrim. Jeffrey repeated the comments on Friday to the National Assembly of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who had said: “No-one should be forced to be vaccinated. Instead we need to use the available scientific evidence to encourage people to be vaccinated to protect themselves and the people about them.   At the same time‚ our occupational‚ health and safety laws require that we ensure a safe working environment.”   Listing provisions in the constitution for bodily integrity plus the right to freedom of religion and belief, Jeffrey said: “Rights must be read in conjunction with one another.” He predicted that legal debate over workers’ right to refuse jabs and employers’ duty to ensure health and safety in the workplace would reach the Constitutional Court and speculated that it was likely the top court would rule in favour of employers. The panel mostly agreed that offering incentives for getting the jab was the preferred tactic, rather than using the strong arm of the law to compel people to immunise. Discovery’s Noach said only in cases where the company could not accommodate workers refusing vaccination against Covid-19 would the two have to split. “It is critically important that we make every effort to find that reasonable accommodation,” he said.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Erin Bates at BusinessLive

Very large clinical trial shows that face masks work to prevent Covid-19 infections

As part of a longer report on Covid-19 issues, GroundUp writes that it was not thought that it would be possible to ever do a clinical trial showing whether or not masks were effective against Covid-19 infections. A lot of studies have shown the benefits of masks, but none have met the gold standard of a trial. Now a trial has indeed shown that masks reduce the risk of Covid, especially surgical masks, though cloth masks are also beneficial. The results of an enormous study in Bangladesh involving just less than 350,000 people were published last week. In a cluster randomized trial, it compared what happened when mask wearing was actively promoted (and increased) against a business-as-usual approach. Mask wearing increased dramatically in the villages where it was promoted. Covid infections went down. In some of the villages surgical masks were promoted; in others cloth masks were promoted. The villages with surgical masks did better. Interestingly, although the cloth masks did not reduce the number of confirmed Covid infections by much (in fact the cloth mask reduction may only be due to chance) it reduced the number of people with Covid symptoms significantly. There is now no doubt that masks are effective, especially surgical ones.   They’re also completely safe to wear.   The level of effectiveness will depend, to a large extent, on the level of adherence.

Read the full report, entitled ‘Covid-19: a promising new treatment, a failed treatment, new evidence on masks and the push for compulsory vaccination’ at GroundUp

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • SA records 4,100 new Covid-19 cases and 198 deaths, as 6.6-million are now fully vaccinated, at TimesLIVE
  • Phaahla says the target is to vaccinate at least 28 million people by end December, at News24


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY

Popcru calls for an urgent intervention to curb the killing of police officers, while Cele says killing of police officers has become the norm

News24 reports that shortly after the country commemorated 34 police officers who lost their lives in the past year, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) called for an end to police killings     The officers lost their lives between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, and Popcru urged the leadership of the SA African Police Service (SAPS) and Police Minister Bheki Cele to put in place more measures to curb the killings. Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said criminals were running amok, wiping out the SAPS workforce on the ground. He called for an urgent meeting with the SAPS leadership and Cele.   "We want to discuss underlying factors behind these killings and ultimately jointly with communities come up with a way to revitalise relations and work together," Mamabolo indicated. Popcru said some of the challenges that had to be fixed included providing required tools of the trade, training, and the issue of budget cuts. Mamabolo pointed out that police officers still received a R400 danger allowance, the same amount they have received since 2001.   "The death benefits [paid to] slain officers' families [mean they are] are struggling to make ends meet with the R200,000 benefit, while post-traumatic stress disorders continue to climb," he stated. Speaking during the funeral of a fallen officer over the weekend, Cele said:   “There are countries where if you bury three police officers in a single weekend, there would be real and loud outcries. Here this is becoming normal.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ntwaagae Seleka and details of the recent killings at News24


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Deadline for metals and engineering industries wage negotiations extended to 14 September

Engineering News reports that according to the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa), its fellow employer associations, namely the National Employers Association of SA and the SA Engineers and Founders Association, have agreed to extend the deadline for concluding wage negotiations to 14 September. The organisation stated that this was being done in a serious endeavour to stave off the possibility of industry industrial action. Seifsa CEO Lucio Trentini pointed out that, because the National Union of Metalworkers SA (Numsa) had declared a dispute against all the employer organisations on 29 July, and Seifsa had countered with its own dispute against Numsa on 2 August, a certificate of non-resolution could have been called for as early as 2 September. But a bargaining council dispute subcommittee meeting held on 2 September ended with all the parties agreeing that the life of the subcommittee should be extended to 14 September, at which point the parties will report on whether an agreement has been reached or whether the parties have been unable to break the current deadlock. Seifsa’s affiliated associations have offered employees a 4.4% increase this year, a consumer price index (CPI) plus 0.5% increase in 2022 and a CPI plus 1% increase in 2023. According to Trentini, negotiations will continue “in earnest” between all the parties, with “every reasonable effort” being made to avoid a breakdown in negotiations which in turn would open the way for an industry strike and lock-out action.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Engineering News


MINING LABOUR

Rampant looting, illegal mining and theft could wipe out ailing Matjhabeng municipality

News24 reports that unemployment and closure of businesses in the Free State's mining towns has left one municipality with an enormous burden of problems. Financial implications accompanying the Covid-19 pandemic have also added to the problems facing the ailing Matjhabeng local municipality, which services Allanridge, Odendaalsrus, Welkom, and Virginia. The municipality is also battling rampant looting and the destruction of its infrastructure and properties. Among the targeted assets are municipal buildings and theft of municipal fences, electricity cables, and other valuables. Looting takes place in both towns and in townships.   The most ailing towns are Meloding, Virginia, Thabong, and Welkom. Two weeks ago, thieves stole electricity cables worth R5 million. Municipal spokesperson Kgojane Matutle said the recent cable theft had left six suburbs in Welkom in the dark. "Our buildings and other properties are under siege from criminals," Matutle lamented. Cemeteries are not spared either. Matutle said the municipality, with a population of 480,000 citizens, has over 150,000 unemployed adults. Many lost their jobs when about ten gold mines closed their shafts.   Some companies that were supplying those mines were also forced to shut doors. "One of the biggest challenges is increasing illegal mining activities. The remaining gold mines are complaining about zama zamas. Most of the illegal miners are former mineworkers who have the skill and knowledge of mining," said Matutle.   Matjhabeng's only hope of being rescued from the quagmire it finds itself in is said to be provincial and national government intervention.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ntwaagae Seleka at News24

Possible illegal-mining connection to 'tightly wrapped' body found in Benoni on Sunday

TimesLIVE reports that Gauteng police have opened an inquest docket after a body suspected to be linked to illegal mining was found tightly wrapped in a bag in Benoni, Gauteng. Police spokesperson Capt Mavela Masondo said the body was found on Sunday. “Police can confirm that the body was found wrapped in a bag and dumped in Benoni,” he indicated. In June, 20 bodies — suspected to be those of illegal miners — were discovered just outside Klerksdorp in the North West. Those bodies were found wrapped in white plastic bags. According to the police, the men had suffered severe burns to their bodies.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Shonisani Tshikalange at TimesLIVE

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • DMRE has neither the resources nor energy to do its job properly, at Daily Maverick


MARIKANA MASSACRE

Damages case of Marikana massacre survivors against Ramaphosa, Sibanye and state to be heard on Friday

Sunday Independent reports that the case of 329 mineworkers, who were arrested and injured during the Marikana massacre nine years ago, against President Cyril Ramaphosa in his personal capacity, Sibanye-Stillwater and the government for more than R1 billion in damages is set to be heard in the South Gauteng High Court on Friday. In court papers, the mineworkers claim that Ramaphosa acted in his personal capacity as a director and shareholder of Lonmin, which is now part of Sibanye-Stillwater, when he wrote an email stating that some of the striking workers were criminals and that “concomitant action should be taken against those engaged in criminal conduct”. Thirty-four mine workers lost their lives when police opened fire. The survivors allege that Ramaphosa’s email correspondence resulted in the police’s actions on 16 August 2012 and demand to be compensated. They are demanding R97 million in “patrimonial and compensable loss” and R164.5m in other damages. They also claim that Ramaphosa acted in collusion with the government. But Ramaphosa’s lawyers are set to argue that the accusations are vague and defamatory as the president didn’t instruct the police to kill striking mine workers. Ramaphosa’s lawyer last week strongly denied that the president was an instigator.   But Mzoxolo Magidiwana, spokesperson for the survivors, insisted that the president had blood on his hands:   “We strongly believe that the police killed our people in Marikana because they were under pressure from directors of Lonmin, like Ramaphosa.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mzilikazi Wa Africa on page 1 of Sunday Independent of 5 September 2021. Read too, Marikana mineworkers gun for Cyril, state and Sibanye, on page 1 of The Star of 6 September 2021


SERVICE DELIVERY

Ramaphosa calls on public servants to work on new service delivery model

News24 reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa has paid tribute to public servants to mark Public Service Month and has called on them to participate in the development of a new integrated model for service delivery. Last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa identified the need for a new model that was responsive, adaptive and brought development to where it was needed most.   This model, now known as the District Development Model, has been embodied in the Batho Pele White Paper.   "We call on public servants to be part of this process by identifying ways in which we can realise a public service focused on meeting the needs and advancing the interests of citizens," Ramaphosa said. He hailed the response of public servants to the Covid-19 pandemic: Our fight against the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated that we do have capable and committed public servants who diligently serve the people of South Africa. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, civil servants have displayed courage and resilience in discharging their duties, often under the most difficult of circumstances. Despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic, they have kept the wheels of our country turning and have ensured that service delivery continues.” But, the president added that Covid-19 had exposed the chasms between the planning and execution of public service delivery.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nicole McCain at News24. Read too, Ramaphosa writes that most public servants discharge their duties faithfully, at Moneyweb


EMPLOYMENT / JOBs

Outlawing of bookmakers’ bets set to hit thousands of jobs in regional tourism sector

Business Report writes that a seismic judgment by the Mbombela High Court last week declaring it illegal for provincial bookmakers, Lottostar and Betting World, to place bets on the outcome of the national lottery is said to be a death knell for regional tourism still recovering from extensive damage brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. The court declared that from a player’s perspective, the experience of placing bets on the outcome of lottery draws through Lottostar and Betting World was almost identical to the experience of playing the National Lottery through Ithuba, which had sought the order, thus creating unbeneficial competition The national lottery is obliged to contribute 47% of its annual budget to the National Lotteries Distribution Fund (NLDF), while the regional bodies are only obliged for 1.5% of their takings. The court found that because of their less onerous obligations, Lottostar and Betting World were able to offer higher prize pay-outs and more regular prizes to players, giving them an unfair advantage over Ithuba. “For us this is unfortunate, we need as many jobs as possible. This will affect job creation in the tourism sector, thousands of jobs are on the line now. All these areas of entertainment attract thousands of tourists and this is disruptive to the recovery of the tourism sector,” Oupa Pilane, chairman of the Kruger Lowveld Tourism Association, said.   He indicated that, notwithstanding the judgment, the tourism sector still advocated for an amicable resolution among the lottery operators as business had invested substantially in the infrastructure and amenities to cater for the market, which would now likely dwindle as there was less incentive for lotto players to place bets.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Banele Ginindza at Business Report

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Legal dagga industry can create up to 25,000 jobs, on page 5 of Saturday Citizen of 4 September 2021


EXECUTIVE PAY

‘Significant proportion’ of Alexander Forbes’ shareholders oppose remuneration policies

Moneyweb reports that a significant proportion of Alexander Forbes shareholders voted against its remuneration policy at its annual general meeting (AGM) on Friday. Shareholders holding 42% of the listed company’s shares that voted at the AGM were against the non-binding resolution adopting the company’s remuneration report. After indicating the results of the vote, Alexander Forbes chair Marilyn Ramplin noted that the company had completed an extensive governance roadshow before its AGM. The roadshow had dealt with feedback about the company’s remuneration policy and its implementation report. However, despite these engagements, the resolution dealing with the company’s remuneration policy received a vote against by over 25% of the company shareholders. Advisory votes need 75% support. If that threshold is not reached, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange requires the company to address the issue with its shareholders. Ramplin asked any other shareholders who wished to discuss thye remuneration implementation report to approach the company by 15 September. “Depending on this feedback, the company will establish whether a further meeting of concerned shareholders is required. If so, we will communicate the details in an announcement,” Ramplin indicated. There was also strong shareholder opposition (44%) to the re-election of Andile Mazwai as a non-executive director and audit and risk committee member. Over 39% of shares voted at the AGM were also cast against the re-election of non-executive director Richard Head as an audit and risk committee member.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Justin Brown at Moneyweb

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Executive remuneration: TFG’s misunderstood shareholders and a cheeky move at Old Mutual, at Moneyweb


ALLEGED WORKPLACE CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Former Eskom senior manager wins appeal against fraud and money laundering conviction and 15-year sentence

Fin24 reports that former Eskom senior manager Dawid Malherbe's appeal against his 15-year sentence for fraud and money laundering has succeeded. In 2016, the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Bellville had sentenced Malherbe to a term of effectively 15 years in a matter that related to contracts worth R65 million outsourced by an Eskom subsidiary, PN Energy Services (PNES), to his own company, Energy Utility Services (EUS). Malherbe was arrested with another suspect in 2013 after a whistleblower alerted the Hawks to irregularities in the power utility’s tender awarding process. The second accused was granted immunity from prosecution after agreeing to testify against Malherbe. His role in bringing about the conclusion of the contracts between the two entities was the foundation of the fraud charge against him. Malherbe had seconded as a managing director of PNES.   After a series of appeals, the matter finally ended up at the Western Cape High Court, five years after Malherbe was sentenced. The ruling by three judges of the Western Cape High Court upheld the appeal, setting aside previous orders and effectively acquitting Malherbe and EUS of fraud and money laundering. Fin24’s report outlines the grounds upon which Malherbe’s appeal succeeded.

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

Former National Health Laboratory Service CEO granted R20,000 bail in R113m tender corruption case

News24 reports that Joyce Mogale, former CEO of the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS), appeared in the Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Monday for alleged tender corruption of more than R113 million. She was granted R20,000 bail. The charges relate to a contract in 2016 with Blue Future Internet and Surveillance for maintenance and support of end-user computer hardware for three years.   The former CEO has been charged with fraud and contravention of Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) following her misrepresentations to the board of directors at NHLS. She handed herself over to the Hawks' Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team in Germiston on Monday morning. Mogale’s case was postponed on Monday to 17 September for trial. Mogale will be joined by four co-accused, who are also out on bail.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sesona Ngqakamba at News24

 


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