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, 10 September 2021.


COVID PANDEMIC AND VACCINE ROLLOUT

President eases alcohol and gathering restrictions, as SA moves to adjusted level 2 lockdown

The Citizen reports that on Sunday President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the easing of national lockdown restrictions from adjusted alert level 3 to adjusted alert level 2, with effect from Monday. The president indicated that the decision was based on the latest figures, which had shown a consistent decrease of daily Covid-19 cases over the last few weeks. He nevertheless pleaded for people to get vaccinated as a large majority of those who were hospitalised were unvaccinated. “People vaccinated are less likely to die,” he pointed out, stressing that the more people got the jab, the earlier the country would be able to fully reopen gatherings such as sports stadiums and concerts.   Among the changes that apply to adjusted level 2 include the following: the curfew moves to 11pm-4am; the limit for indoor gatherings has been increased from 50 people to 250 and the outdoor limit from 100 to 500 people; restaurants and bars need to close at 10pm, an hour later than the previous restriction of 9pm; small venues that cannot safely accommodate 250 people may not operate at more than 50% of capacity; funerals remain restricted to 50 people; sale of alcohol for off-site consumption is allowed to take place from 10am to 6pm from Monday to Friday. Ramaphosa also advised that the health department was looking into vaccine passports for entry into certain locations.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sandisiwe Mbhele at The Citizen. Read too, Business thrown a lifeline as SA moves to level 2 lockdown, at BusinessLive

Extra hour for restaurants, taverns under lockdown level 2 said to be ‘much better’

Fin24 reports that from Monday restaurants, bars and gyms can close an hour later, namely at 22:00, after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced SA’s move to lockdown level 2. The hours of curfew will now start at 23:00 (from 22:00 previously) and end at 04:00. Restaurants, bars and fitness centres have to close an hour earlier, to allow their employees and patrons to travel home before the start of the curfew.   "This is much better – especially for taverns and pubs. They need the extra hour," Grace Harding, CEO of Ocean Basket and spokesperson for The Restaurant Collective, reacted. But while Lucky Ntimane, convener of the National Liquor Traders (which represents township-based taverns, shebeen permit holders and bottle stores), also welcomed the move, he wanted more and said: "We feel that given the economic conditions of the country the president might have missed a perfect opportunity to move the country back to Level 1 and set us on a much quicker way to economic recovery." While seven million South Africans are now fully vaccinated, Harding said that restaurants have not seen much positive impact as the economy remained depressed. "People have been retrenched and (there is) lots of financial harm," Harding noted. According tom both Harding and Ntimane, vaccinations will remain key to move out of lockdown.   But, experts say a fourth wave is almost inevitable.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Fin24

Cosatu and most political parties welcome easing of lockdown restrictions, but DA wants more

Independent News reports that labour and political parties have welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Sunday night to move the country from adjusted level 3 to 2 with effect from today.   Labour federation Cosatu noted the decision and spokesperson Sizwe Pamla called on all South Africans to continue to abide by the various health and safety measures, in particular wearing masks, sanitising, social distancing and others as these were vital in curbing the pandemic. “We applaud the progress on speeding up the vaccination campaign and the tireless efforts of all health care workers. The procurement and delivery of vaccinations programme has shown a positive improvement,” Pamla said. He added that Cosatu was deeply worrying that many people have failed to vaccinate. “All adults need to vaccinate because the vaccines have proven to be highly effective in minimising infections and saving lives. It is critical that everyone vaccinates not only to protect themselves but also their co-workers and families.” Pamla said it was only through achieving mass population immunity that the economy would be able to emerge safely and jobs saved. “The economy cannot afford to continue absorbing periodic lockdowns, nor is there enough in the Unemployment Insurance Fund to provide relief to workers,” he noted. While welcoming the easing of restrictions, the Democratic Alliance called on Ramaphosa to commit to an end date for all lockdown restrictions as well as the state of disaster.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mayibongwe Maqhina at Independent News

Health Minister announces development of digital vaccination certificate

Engineering News reports that the Department of Health (DoH) has announced the development of a digital vaccination certificate, which will show proof of Covid-19 vaccination. Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla said this initiative was in line with the World Health Organisation-initiated vaccination certificate, which the organisation was using in an attempt to standardise vaccination proof across the world. He indicated that in the coming weeks the certificate should be available to all those who had been vaccinated. The DoH said it would ensure that the certificate was protected against fraud, adding that it would be able to be uploaded on a smartphone and would also be printable. Phaahla explained that this digital feature might be useful for government in terms of accessing various services but “I must add that we have no intention as government to require people in future to produce this certificate to access public services.” He added that the certificate might also be useful for access to some entertainment and sporting venues and other events, but said it was definitely not going to be used to access essential services and public services. Separately, Phaahla said the government was aware of the debate around a vaccination passport, which was required by some counties for international travel, but confirmed that SA was not enforcing one at the present stage.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Engineering News. Read too, How SA's digital vaccine certificates will look – roughly – and what will get them revoked, at Business Insider SA

We won't make vaccination mandatory, but we might move anti-vaxxers around, says Momentum CEO

Fin24 reports that Momentum Metropolitan's CEO Hillie Meyer says the insurer won't make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory, but it may be forced to move around employees who don't want to vaccinate.   Discovery, Curro and Sanlam are three companies that have put in place mandatory vaccination policies for their employees. While others have not drawn a definite line in the sand with staff vaccination policies, many are thinking about what to do with customer-facing employees who refuse to vaccinate. Meyer indicated that, despite a workplace vaccination programme, the insurer still had staff who weren’t vaccinating. Some of its business units, like Momentum Health, have better vaccination outcomes than others. "We are not going to make vaccination mandatory, but we believe that the case for vaccination is compelling," Meyer said in an interview last week.   He added that the insurer's approach would be one which involved educating people about the impact of the vaccine through statistics gathered in its health business and life businesses.   "But at some point, if they are hardcore anti-vaxxers, then there will be consequences. Those staff members, we might have to say...listen, you can't do that job that you're doing...engaging with clients. Either we've got to find some back-office job for you where you don't see people, or you will have to reconsider [anti-vax views]," Meyer stated. He added that the group would deal with such cases on an individual basis.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Londiwe Buthelezi at Fin24 (subscriber access only)

Soccer bosses, entertainers back Covid vaccination incentives

SowetanLive reports that soccer bosses and the entertainment industry say they will support initiatives to give incentives to vaccinated people. This, the entertainment industry said, would allow them to get back to work as they have not been making money since the country went under lockdown last year.   The department of sport, arts and culture has launched its “Return to Play — it's in your hands” initiative aimed at encouraging people to vaccinate. Reacting, Moroka Swallows chair David Mogoshoa said they would support the initiative “if this is how they want us to get back to normality”. Mogoshoa explained: “You must understand that it’s not just the fans that are affected but the entire value chain of a stadium is affected. The security guards, the cleaners, the car park attendants, these are all the jobs that fell through the cracks when the pandemic started. We are even willing to demarcate a section of the stadium specifically for administering vaccines so that it becomes convenient.” Maritzburg United chair Farouk Kadodia echoed Mogoshoa’s sentiments, saying getting vaccinated was a small price to pay in the new norm. At the launch, SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan said they would give away 50% of the tickets to fans for the 2022 Qatar Fifa World Cup qualifier match between Bafana Bafana and Ethiopia next month.   But the fans would have to produce proof of vaccination. Acclaimed choreographer and member of the Theatre and Dance Industry Alliance, Gregory Maqoma, said he would support any idea that would make people safe inside theatres, restaurants and clubs. Event organiser Terry Mokoena said: “For the past few months I have been hosting events for a small number of people. But you cannot make money from such events. If I can have more crowds that are vaccinated, then I support that idea. People are frustrated by this lockdown and hungry for fun.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tankiso Makhetha and Patience Bambalele at SowetanLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Covid-19 update: SA records new 3,961 cases and 126 deaths, at The Citizen
  • Warning of fourth Covid-19 wave hitting at Christmas time or even earlier, on page 1 of Saturday Star of 11 September 2021
  • Children over 12 now eligible to receive Covid vaccine, at Sunday Tribune
  • Local elections will not affect vaccination drive, says deputy health minister, at BusinessLive


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

‘Broke’ ANC starts paying employees their July salaries

City Press reports that following a public crowdfunding initiative, the African National Congress (ANC) has started paying some of its staff, especially junior employees at Luthuli House. The workers at the party’s headquarters in Johannesburg had not been paid for three months, leading to a strike. The strike resulted in the governing party failing to submit a full list of its local government election candidates to the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) last month. Mvusi Mdala, the chairperson of the ANC staff committee, advised last week that the party had started paying July’s salaries. Mdala indicated that if all employees were paid, they would go back to work. The ANC has for several months struggled to pay salaries and the Unemployment Insurance Fund contributions for its workers, leading to two nationwide pickets and the eventual downing of tools. On Thursday, Mdala met with the national office bearers to discuss a way forward. “We just discussed our memorandum of demands with the top five. The meeting was adjourned before they could give us feedback on the crowdfunding initiative. We have to continue with the discussions,” Mdala advised. Staff will apparently meet on Tuesday to assess the situation as regards salary payments and will then take a decision on whether or not they will go back to work.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Queenin Masuabi at City Press (subscriber access only)

Read too, ANC staffers backtrack on taking legal action against top six, at The Citizen


STATE-OWNED ENTERPRISES

Employees not paid full salaries since May 2020 ask court to place Denel under business rescue

Daily Maverick reports that the Denel Employees Association has applied to the Pretoria High Court to have the cash-strapped arms manufacturer placed under business rescue and controlled by independent administrators to solve its financial crisis. The association, which in court papers described itself as a voluntary organisation made up of current and former Denel employees who were owed salaries by the state-owned enterprise (SOE), said Denel had not paid employees their full salaries since May 2020. Vinnesh Singh, a mechanical design engineer at Denel who deposed the association’s affidavit, said placing the company in business rescue would maximise its chances of survival and result in a better return to its creditors, including its more than 2,500 employees. In August, acting Denel CEO William Hlakoane told Parliament that the arms manufacturer owed staff R636-million and suppliers R900-million. The technically insolvent company hasn’t paid PAYE or VAT and, according to Singh, has not paid employees’ medical aid fees, union subscriptions, pension funds or death and disability cover for more than a year. Since May 2020, Denel’s various divisions have been paying employees a portion of their salaries, from around 30 to 80% on a sliding scale. The business rescue court application is expected to be heard on 21 September.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Greg Nicolson at Daily Maverick


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT / JOB CREATION

With big expansion plans, Shoprite eyes more stores and up to 10,000 new direct jobs

Business Times reports that Shoprite has big expansion plans that will see hundreds of new outlets open and could create up to 10,000 direct jobs. Shoprite CEO Pieter Engelbrecht said last week the group was looking to increase the number of USave stores - its basic-goods brand - from 398 to 1,000 over the next three to four years, with 30 of the new stores opening in financial 2022. Boosting the group's strategy to increase its footprint in areas that target lower-income consumers is the acquisition from Massmart of Cambridge Food, Rhino, Massfresh and Cash & Carry. The 68 stores, 43 liquor outlets and other facilities in these chains will be relaunched under Shoprite's various brands. This transaction, which still needs competition authority approval, includes Shoprite taking onto its payroll about 7,000 people now working for the Massmart chains. Currently the group has 1,734 outlets in SA across all its brands. It plans to increase the number of upmarket FreshX stores from 41 to 80 over the next two years, while in financial 2022 it will boost the tally of Checkers stores from 230 to 247 and add 47 LiquorShop outlets to the 537 it now has. Shoprite, which employs more than 140,000 people in SA and the rest of Africa, estimates that the USave and FreshX expansion strategy alone could generate up to 10,000 direct job opportunities over time. Far more jobs are likely to be created indirectly. But, the group says it is difficult to be precise about job creation potential because not all the FreshX stores will be "brand new builds", with many being conversions of existing Checkers stores.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nick Wilson at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)

Other internet posting(s) in this news category


BASIC EDUCATION / TEACHING

Naptosa says lack of counsellors at schools contributes to violent incidents

EWN reports that according to the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa), there are insufficient counsellors at schools to deal with the violence occurring on school premises.   Last Thursday, the schooling community in Gauteng was rocked after a 16-year-old boy was stabbed to death, allegedly by a 14-year-old girl from a neighbouring school in Alexandra. In the same week, a 17-year-old boy was recovering in hospital after he was stabbed several times with a pair of scissors by another pupil. While some of the violence has been attributed to gangsterism and social ills spilling into the school environment, Naptosa’s Basil Manuel said there was a lack of intervention from the basic education department. “We don’t see anything being done in terms of a concerted working together of parents, schools and of course, the Education Department. One of the problems that we’ve long identified is the lack of any form of counsellors at the schools. There are no more teacher counsellors at schools. So when problems present themselves before they result in something, there’s no intervention,” said Manuel

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Veronica Mokhoali at EWN

Thousands of teacher posts in Eastern Cape schools vacant

City Press reports that thousands of schools in the Eastern Cape are without teachers, with some of the posts only likely to be filled next year. This was revealed by Education MEC Fundile Gade in a reply to a parliamentary question from Yusuf Cassim, the DA’s education spokesperson in the province.   Gade also revealed that a staggering 86% of the posts had been vacant for more than three months. The MEC furthermore said the posts were only likely to be filled next year, if budgetary funds became available. A total of 2,348 schools in the province had vacant teaching posts. Out of these, 726 needed principals, 296 were without deputy principals and 797 had no heads of department. At least 1,203 schools needed level 1 teachers, Gade indicated. As if that was not enough, the MEC also revealed that a total of 1,765 schools had no support staff. The schools with the highest number of vacant posts were in the Amathole East district with 359, the OR Tambo Coastal district with 289 and the Alfred Nzo West district, which had 228 schools with vacant posts. In his reply, Gade advised that a total of 4,107 posts were vacant and there were 2,492 additional or excess teachers in the system, which left a net of 1,616 vacancies based on the 54,026 declared posts.   At least 3,721 of the posts had been vacant for more than three months. Cassim said it was shocking that the department found itself in this situation. “Even though there are 2,492 excess teachers employed by the department, these have not been placed and are unlikely to have the requisite qualifications for the vacancies that exist,” Cassim pointed out.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lubabalo Ngcukana at City Press (subscriber access only)


DISMISSALS

Dirco Director-General fired amid probe into botched R118m New York land deal

News24 reports that on Friday, Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) Minister Naledi Pandor advised that the department’s suspended Director-General (DG), Kgabo Mahoai, was no longer employed by the department. She stated: "Please be advised that the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has terminated its employment relationship with Mr KE Mahoai following the conclusion of a disciplinary case instituted against the director-general." Pandor added that ambassador Nonceba Losi would continue as acting director-general until further notice. President Cyril Ramaphosa delegated Pandor to institute disciplinary proceedings against Mahoai over a botched R118-million New York land deal. Last month, Mahoai was found guilty of gross negligence, gross dereliction of duty and breach of legal obligation, as well as irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure. Judge Cynthia Pretorius handed down judgment in his disciplinary case on 23 August.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jason Felix at News24


OTHER HEADLINES OF INTEREST

  • Steinhoff settlement gets final thumbs-up, but threat of liquidation has not disappeared, at BusinessLive
  • SANDF member in hospital after being attacked by hyena at Kruger National Park, at Independent Media

 


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