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


COVID PANDEMIC AND VACCINE ROLLOUT

Business Leadership SA goes big in UK to get SA off red list and restart tourism

BL Premium reports that Business Leadership SA (BLSA) has enlisted some of the world’s best-known companies to campaign for the removal of UK travel restrictions that threaten to bring a second summer of misery to SA tourism. Industry body Satsa, which has been lobbying the UK government, argued on Monday that the rate of infections in SA was lower than the UK’s and so there was no justification for the ban. Travel between the countries is not prohibited, but the UK put SA on a “red list” — anyone entering from such destinations has to spend 10 days in a quarantine hotel and pay more than £2,000 (R39,000), making SA too expensive for most Britons. Satsa is desperate for the restrictions to be eased as SA enters its summer months.   Traditionally, the country would now be looking forward to an influx of high-spending tourists from the UK and other key markets such as the US, Germany and France. Before the pandemic, SA attracted about 450,000 UK travellers a year.   BLSA has written a letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying many of its members have “significant numbers of UK employees” and raise capital on London’s financial markets. It emphasised Africa’s critical role to the UK’s long-term economic prospects.   While other countries, such as France and Canada, are now open to vaccinated South Africans, the UK has kept tough restrictions. Fedhasa, which represents the hospitality industry, said the government’s ever changing lockdown restrictions, such as alcohol bans, early curfews and travel bans, also deterred tourists.

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

Tourism, hospitality and restaurant sectors welcome vaccine passports

Mail & Guardian reports that the tourism industry has been battered by lockdowns and, with thousands of job losses, the industry is on its knees. Commentators say the recovery will take years but with mandatory vaccine passports it’s likely to speed up. In 2018, the tourism sector contributed about 4.5% of total employment in South Africa, according to Stats SA. Andrew Stark, managing director of the Flight Centre Travel Group for Middle East and Africa, said tourism was at the centre of the Covid-19 pandemic and the present was the first time they have seen signs of recovery after eight months of significant losses.   “We’ve seen increases as countries open up to South Africans, both vaccinated and non-vaccinated. There’s a huge demand for travel,” Stark reported. He argued that the adoption of vaccination passports would send a message that the country has a vaccination programme and aimed to reach herd immunity.   Grace Harding, the head of The Restaurant Collective and chief executive of Ocean Basket, said there were two issues around vaccinating staff members in the restaurant industry. Some staff were reluctant to get vaccinated for “absurd reasons”, but others lacked education about the registration process and benefits inherent in vaccination.   Rosemary Anderson of the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa), said she supported the establishment of a uniform standard that would facilitate travel. She indicated: “We believe that vaccine passports will provide much-needed standardisation for our inbound international guests and for South African travellers travelling abroad. We also support vaccination in our sector and are hence fully behind participating in a vaccine passport that is internationally recognised.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Anathi Madubela at Mail & Guardian

Call on social media for protests against Covid-19 vaccination ’passport’

Independent Media reports that opposition to a ’vaccine passport’ has erupted on social media, with some South Africans calling it a violation of civil liberties. The strong stance online against these ’vaccine passports’ have now evolved into a call for protests across the country this Saturday. A tweet with posters for the protests in the different cities was published by Lonwabo Mfundisi on Twitter on Sunday night, shortly after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the movement of the country to lockdown level 2. It read: “It’s time to rise the #VaccinePassport are here. Let's put down the keyboard and be at these venues. Vaxx or not vaxxed your freedoms are being taken slowly. Retweet.” A ’vaccine passport’ is a certification of either vaccination status or immunity following a natural infection that confirms you no longer pose a risk to others. While many supported the opposing stance, others brushed off the call for protests as just another Twitter rant.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Kailene Pillay at Independent Media

Pfizer vaccine approved for children older than 12, but roll-out not yet on the way as priority remains those aged 60 years and older

Mail & Guardian reports that children aged 12 years and older may now be given a shot of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. This follows an announcement on Sunday by the SA Health Products Authority (Sahpra), approving the use of the Pfizer Comirnaty vaccine in terms of the Medicines Act to include individuals aged 12 years and older. According to the regulator, a review of updated safety and efficacy information led to the decision to allow the emergency use of the vaccine in this age group. Sahrpra has not yet not received any applications from other manufacturers of vaccines currently available in SA to authorise their use for children from the age of 12 years. According to Dr Nicholas Crisp, a deputy director general in the department of health, the most vulnerable groups, which are mainly those aged 60 years and older, remain a priority for the vaccination roll-out. “We still need to get to another 30% in some provinces and up to 40% in others of people over the age of 60. That’s the primary target: to get older people, who are most vulnerable, vaccinated — there’s no question about that,” Crisp indicated. With the fourth wave looming and the effect that the Delta variant during the third wave had on children, Crisp said that there was a need to protect children, but that various factors would have to be taken into consideration. These included vaccine supply, establishing protocols, and the involvement of parents or guardians. A consultation process before there is a decision to vaccinate children will be starting this week.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Marcia Zali at Mail & Guardian. Read too, SA targets improved vaccine coverage for adults before offering jabs to children, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)

Teacher unions want government to consider taking Covid-19 vaccination drive to schools

News24 reports that the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) says there is a need for government to urgently consider taking the Covid-19 vaccination drive to schools. According to the union's general secretary, Mugwena Maluleke, there was a significant number of positive cases from children aged 12-years and older in primary schools, since their return to traditional daily timetabling in August. He said returning to normal timetabling for high schools, now that the country was on adjusted lockdown Level 2, would, therefore pose a risk. "The high schools are a serious risk to even begin to adjust their attendance because we are seeing a lot of positive cases from... 12 years old in the primary schools and we must urge the Health Department to make the vaccine accessible to [those] 12 years and older as a matter of urgency," Maluleke stated. He added that the union believed there was scientific evidence supporting the rollout to children, especially those aged 12 and older.   Basil Manuel of the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA (Naptosa) commented: "We want to see the plan [for] getting our schools safer.   Not only for just now, Level 2, but we need to be looking at next year, and we need to be seeing how we are going to ensure that our learners spend more time at school."   Professional Educators Union (PEU) president Johannes Motona and Chris Klopper of the SA Teachers' Union' (SAOU) indicated that they were also in support of a motion for children to get their Covid-19 jabs, provided it would be safe for them. Klopper said the vaccination of pupils, would, however, also need to be voluntary and no one should be forced.

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

Universities weigh up mandatory jabs for staff and students, but move could put them on collision course with trade unions

BL Premium reports that as the debate about mandatory vaccination policies intensifies, some of SA’s leading universities are mulling making it compulsory for staff and students to get jabs against Covid-19 to ensure the academic programme is not disrupted. But, such a move could put higher education institutions and trade unions on a collision course. Trade union federation Cosatu has said it would rather see workers volunteer to get vaccinated, and making it mandatory “provokes a negative reaction and creates a poisoned debate”. While it is unclear what a mandatory vaccine policy for tertiary institutions would entail, there is a possibility that those who refuse to be vaccinated could face restrictions on campus to limit the spread of Covid-19. The rollout of vaccines among students has largely been slow amid growing hesitancy. Linda Meyer, a director of operations at Universities SA, the body that represents the country’s public universities, says while no-one can be forced under the current legislative framework to be vaccinated, tertiary institutions have a constitutional right and established rights according to the Higher Education Act to determine who may access their property.   “Universities have an obligation to take positive steps ... to ensure that staff, students and the public are safe on their sites or face criminal consequences,” Meyer indicated. Earlier in September, the deans of SA’s medical and dental schools recommended compulsory vaccination for their students and the general healthcare workforce, arguing it would protect individuals from serious illness and help slow the spread of Covid-19.

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

Take a jab or lose your job, Western Cape farmer warns his employees

Cape Times reports that a Western Cape farmer has warned his employees to vaccinate or face being banned from work. This has sparked outrage from workers' unions who have described Rob Duncan's threats as “abusive master/slave tactics”.   According to workers at Pomona Farm in Piketberg, they were issued with a letter, warning that if they didn’t take the vaccine, they would lose their jobs. The letter dated 1 September reads: “Vaccination for anyone who is 18 years and older has been open and we have registered and transported everyone who has asked. I have asked all people who do not want to vaccinate to come and give me reasons for not wanting to vaccinate.   To date, only two people have come to see me and I have spoken to two others. From Wednesday 8 September 2021 anyone who is 18 years and older will no longer be allowed to work, live or visit Pomona Farm unless they can show proof of vaccination.” Duncan said of the 81 employees on the farm, including casual workers, only four opted not to get vaccines - but the rest of the workers and their families have received their jabs. Billy Claasen of the Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation has reported the matter to the Department of Employment and Labour, DEL). The DEL said on Monday it would be sending an inspection team with a view to inspect the risk management plan that the employer has conducted with regard to the vaccination and to advise on proper procedures going forward. Cosatu provincial secretary Malvern De Bruyn said they were disappointed that there were still employers who were “forcing” workers to take the vaccine and threatening them with dismissal. “We will follow up on this particular matter and we will engage the farm owners and if there are any dismissals Cosatu will assist its workers and refer the matter to the CCMA,” he said.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Siphokazi Vuso on page 1 of Cape Times of 14 September 2021

Saphra reports no one in SA has died from Covid-19 vaccines; special compensation fund to be established for serious vaccine injury

Moneyweb reports that the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) and the Department of Health (DoH) claimed in a webinar on Monday that no one in SA has died to date as a direct result of receiving a Covid-19 vaccine. Investigations into reported Covid-19 related deaths showed that people died either as a result of contracting the virus before vaccination or contracting the virus shortly after inoculation, but none died because of taking an actual vaccine dose. “So these people that died because of Covid-19, they had already incubated Covid-19 at the time of vaccination or they contracted Covid-19 shortly after being vaccinated, before they could mount an adequate immune response,” National Immunisation Safety Expert Committee chair Professor Hannelie Meyer advised. The Sahpra data on vaccine side effects comes after a recent survey by Ask Afrika and the Government Communication and Information System found that 23% of South Africans were hesitant to take the vaccine because they feared vaccine side effects. It was also revealed during the webinar that the DoH would establish a ‘No Fault Compensation Scheme’ for adverse events following immunisation. The scheme will be aimed at compensating people who suffered serious vaccine injury as a result of taking the Covid-19 vaccine in SA. However, a causal link will have to be established and therefore proof would have to be provided that the vaccine caused the adverse event. This causal link will be established by the national immunisation safety expert committee.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Akhona Matshoba at Moneyweb

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • SA passes 85,000 Covid-19 deaths with 125 fatalities and 2,640 new cases in the past 24 hours, at TimesLIVE
  • Adjusted level 2 rules ease pressure on ‘struggling hospitality sector’, at The Citizen
  • Associations say eased liquor trading restrictions still a challenge, at Engineering News
  • Why no liquor sales on weekends? asks booze body, at The Citizen
  • No festivals yet but smaller venues will benefit from eased lockdown, says events industry, at Fin24


MINING LABOUR

Over 16,000 Amplats employees receive first Covid-19 vaccination jabs

Business Report writes that more than 16,000 Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) employees and contractors have received their first Covid-19 jabs since the start of the company’s workplace vaccination programme in July. Chief Executive Natascha Viljoen said on Friday that vaccines were at the heart of the fight against Covid-19: “They are our best course of protection against severe hospitalisation and deaths.   We are pleased that close to over 50 percent of our South Africa workforce have consented to be vaccinated.”   According to the company, more than 40,000 employees and contractors could participate in the workplace vaccination programme, and more than 3,000 employees and contractors had also received their second jabs. Meanwhile, Limpopo’s health MEC Phophi Ramathuba said the province continued to lead the way in SA’s vaccination drive. “This has been achieved by partnering with companies like Anglo American Platinum and the broader mining industry,“ Ramathuba indicated.

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Dineo Faku at Business Report


STAFFING / TRAINING

Western Cape trains 250 more officers to send to hotspots during festive season

TimesLIVE reports that the Western Cape‘s crime-fighting efforts received a boost when 250 law-enforcement officers were recruited for the province’s most dangerous neighbourhoods. On Monday, community safety MEC Albert Fritz said the new Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (Leap) officers would be ready for deployment in some of the crime hotspots in the Cape Flats by mid-December, in time for the festive season. In the next few weeks, the Leap officers will receive training in how to use a handgun, a tonfa (baton) and pepper spray, how to stop and approach people, as well as radio procedures. The new intake brings the number of Leap officers in the Western Cape to 1,081. The unit has 110 Leap commanders, who have already been deployed. To date, women make up almost half of the Leap officers. Fritz said the new officers would increase visible policing in the identified crime hotspots in Cape Town. The officers are being deployed as part of the Western Cape safety plan which was launched late in 2019, when the province and Cape Town were dealing with a murder epidemic. Premier Alan Winde previously indicated that the province would spend R1bn a year in a bid to halve the province’s murder rate in a decade. He said 3,000 law-enforcement officers would be trained to plug the policing gap caused by the understaffing and underfunding of the SA Police Service.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sipokazi Fokazi at TimesLIVE. Read too, A further 250 officers to be deployed to hot spot areas in Cape Town, at Independent Media. . And also, City of Cape Town enforcement agencies yield success, at Independent Media


GENDER PAY GAP

Recent study highlights persisting levels of gender pay inequality, not only in SA but around the world.

Bryden Morton and Cris Blair of 21st Century write that Women’s Month has highlighted the role of women (past, present and future) in society and has once again reinforced awareness around disparities in gender-based pay that still persists today. A recent study by the National Business Initiative (Gender Pay Gap Pilot Report 2021) highlights the persisting levels of gender inequality, not only in SA but around the world. The report further indicated that the negative impact of the Covid pandemic, from both an economic and societal point of view, was felt most by women. The recently published Q2 2021 Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for SA supports this view as the number of employed women fell by 10.4% between Q1 of 2020 and Q2 of 2021. The equivalent figure for men was a 7.5% decrease. While the recent study speaks to a comparison of the remuneration of men and women, what is missing is ensuring that the pay of men and women within the same job or at the same job grade is being compared. In the absence of this direct, ‘like-for-like’ comparison, issues outside of pay are being added to the mix, for example the proportion of jobs at each occupational level that are occupied by men and women as well as gender unemployment rates (to name just two).   Using the 21st Century remuneration database and calculating the weighted average gender-based wage gap in SA, comparing positions on a ‘like-for-like’ (same job grade) basis shows that men earn approximately 15% more than women at the same job grade. This indicates that despite the increased social awareness and discussion around the topic of gender-based pay inequality, it continues to persist in the SA economy and around the world.

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


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT

With Thembalihle railway station in ruins, KwaMashu commuters must wait another year to catch a train

GroundUp reports that Thembalihle station on the KwaMashu line, north of Durban, has been closed for almost a year due to vandalism and cable theft.   Broken windows, broken glass strewn across the floor, the platform roof stripped, the grounds littered with rubbish and overgrown by grass display the poor condition of Thembalihle station. KwaMashu terminus, further down the line, is also closed, as is Bridge City station.   The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) has not started to repair the KwaMashu line, but it has been prioritised for this financial year. Prasa told Parliament last week that the line would reopen, depending on supply and delivery of rails, at the end of August 2022. KwaZulu-Natal Prasa spokesperson Zama Nomnganga advised that the agency has increased security to prevent further damage. Traders at the stations and on the trains have also been hard hit by the closures on the KwaMashu line. Sandile Mnisi, who sells cellphone pouches, handbags and earrings, said business has been bad. And while transport is costing commuters more, Prasa is losing ticket income. Prasa did not reply to GroundUp’s questions as to how much income had been lost, when the stations would reopen, the cost of fixing Thembalihle station and the KwaMashu line, or whether a contractor had been awarded the tender for the repair work.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nokulunga Majola at GroundUp

 


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