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


TOP STORY – GDP CONTRACTION

SA’s GDP contraction by 1.5% in third quarter worse than expected

BL Premium reports that the hit to SA’s GDP during the third quarter of 2021 was worse than expected as civil unrest and tougher lockdown restrictions during the pandemic’s third wave hammered the nascent economic recovery. Output contracted by a seasonally adjusted 1.5% quarter-on-quarter, according to data released from Stats SA on Tuesday, down from a revised 1.1% expansion in the second quarter. The outcome was worse than the consensus forecast for a 1% contraction by economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Though GDP grew by 2.9% year-on-year on an annual basis, it remained well below pre-pandemic levels, and was the same size as it was in the first quarter of 2016. The sectors that were the biggest drag on the GDP were trade and manufacturing, which contributed -0.7 and -0.5 percentage points respectively, to the overall decline. “Many industries or components were impacted either by the July unrest, as well as the Covid-19 lockdowns,” said Michael Manamela chief director of national accounts. Agriculture also took a hit, declining 13.6% and was the third-largest contributor to the headline decline with 0.4 percentage points. According to Manamela, this was due to declines in animal products and field crops, with the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal having affected both poultry and pig production, and the torching of fields having affected field crop production.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lynley Donnelly at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read too, Third-quarter GDP contracts by 1.5%, at Engineering News


MANDATORY COVID-19 VACCINATIONS

Nedlac recommends mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations in workplaces

IOL reports that the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) has recommended the implementation of mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations in workplaces. This was confirmed by Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi on Tuesday morning, who added that part of Nedlac’s recommendation was that access to certain venues, gatherings and events, particularly in the hospitality sector, should be restricted to vaccinated people only. “The Nedlac social partners represented in the Nedlac Rapid Response Task Team believe that the promotion of vaccines remains the most significant intervention to prevent further spread of Covid19 and lockdowns. While the social partners believe that vaccine mandates will pass constitutional scrutiny, they support the work of Busa (Business Unity SA) to get a declarator from the Constitutional Court in the New Year,” Nxesi indicated.   Meanwhile, in his weekly “From the Desk of the President” column, on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that SA now had sufficient supplies of vaccines and that there were vaccine stations set up in every part of the country. He added that vaccination was essential for the country’s economic recovery because as more people were vaccinated, more areas of economic activity would be opened up.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Samkelo Mtshali at IOL. Read too, Nedlac backs mandatory Covid-19 jabs and restricting the unvaccinated from public events, at Fin24

Task falls to business as government kicks vaccine mandates into touch

BL Premium reports that less than two weeks after the government signalled urgency in boosting the take-up of Covid-19 jabs, it has left the important task to businesses after saying it would seek a Constitutional Court order before making vaccination mandatory for access to certain places and activities. At a time when SA may be forced to confront a fourth wave of infections with just a quarter of the population fully vaccinated, a social compact at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) agreed in principle that the only way out of the health pandemic was to ensure the vast majority have taken jabs. But business will bear the sole burden of implementation until the outcome of what may be a lengthy legal process. The government moved on Tuesday to encourage individual businesses, such as restaurants and hotels, to ensure staff and patrons were vaccinated, but has stalled any enforcement of vaccine mandates in public places until SA’s highest court gives the state the thumbs up.   Delivering the keynote address at the annual Nedlac summit held virtually on Tuesday, employment & labour minister Thulas Nxesi said while there was agreement among social partners that mandates would pass a constitutional test, they "support the work of Busa (Business Unity SA) to get a declarator from the Constitutional Court in the new year". Busa has in fact applied to the high court, and expects the matter to be heard only in the first quarter of 2022. The decision to turn to the courts is said to show a government that is unwilling to lead on the issue, while its ally Cosatu’s stance has also been marked by inconsistency and confusion. Cosatu has been facing a backlash from members over the impending demand for workers to vaccinate, and has welcomed the government’s decision to stall implementation.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Hajra Omarjee and Luyolo Mkentane at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read too, State dithers about vaccine mandate while seeking direction from ConCourt, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)

Fedusa says mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations must not breach constitution

BL Premium reports that according to the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa), mandatory vaccinations must strike a fine balance between public health and compliance with the constitution. More companies are enforcing policies that make it mandatory for employees to take the jab against Covid-19. Fedusa said while it supported mandatory vaccinations for the sake of opening up the economy, the social partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) needed to investigate the complexities of mandatory vaccinations. Godfrey Selematsela, who was re-elected as president of the 600,000-member federation on Monday, said the outcome of such an investigation and consultations should strike “a good balance between public health concerns, constitutional provisions, cultural and religious beliefs and the imperatives of economic recovery and reconstruction”. He went on to indicate: “An important area of focus for organised labour would be whether both the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act should be amended to include Covid-19 as an occupational disease that triggers fair compensation for affected workers.”   Covid-19 has battered the SA economy, which declined 6.4% and led to a loss of about 1.4-million jobs in 2020. But, the identification of the highly infectious Omicron variant in the country has led to a surge in the number of people getting inoculated.

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

With over 80% of employees already vaccinated, Sappi to introduce vaccine mandate from 1 February

Engineering News reports that Sappi says that, as at the beginning of December, over 80% of its almost 5,000 SA employees had received at least one Covid-19 vaccine, while 73% were fully vaccinated. As soon as it was allowed to open its own vaccinations centres in August, the company was able to overcome the logistical challenges for staff and their families to access vaccines. This resulted in the rapid administration of over 8,000 vaccines to almost 4,000 staff members, 3,000 contractors and just over 1,100 family members. The company will, however, introduce a mandatory vaccination policy from 1 February.   The company explained: “While Sappi respects people’s right to choose, the company also recognises that in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993, it has a legal and moral duty as an employer to protect the health and safety of all employees at work. Non-vaccinated Sappi employees who work with colleagues in a shared work environment pose a Covid-19 risk that can be avoided through vaccination. Therefore, after conducting a thorough risk assessment, Sappi determined that vaccination is an inherent requirement for people who work in certain positions.   Protocols are being put in place for those employees who have a medical or other reason for choosing not to be vaccinated.”

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Covid-19 update: SA breaches 90,000 death mark, at The Citizen


COVID-19 LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS

President Ramaphosa to weigh tighter lockdown restrictions when he returns to SA on Wednesday

TimesLIVE reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday said he would err on the side of caution before placing the country under stricter Covid-19 lockdown when he returned to SA on Wednesday.   Speaking during a joint media briefing with his Senegalese counterpart, Macky Sall, at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, Ramaphosa said that when he landed in SA he would head straight into a cabinet meeting. Ramaphosa acknowledged that infections were rising “and therefore we need to be cautious about how we handle any measures we put in place”. He added that any announcement relating to regulations would be preceded by a meeting of the presidential co-ordinating council, which included premiers and metro mayors. “So whatever measure we take will be properly [considered] by everyone affected,” he assured.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Amanda Khoza at BusinessLive

Wine industry body Vinpro loses court bid to overturn lockdown liquor bans

TimesLIVE reports that Vinpro said it was extremely disappointed at the Western Cape High Court’s ruling on Tuesday dismissing the wine industry body’s application against the liquor bans.   The non-profit organisation, which represents close to 2,600 SA wine producers, cellars and industry stakeholders, launched its application when the liquor ban was put in place in January.   However, its application was heard only in August. In its challenge, Vinpro argued that the national government was the wrong level of the state to deal with decision-making regarding the sale of liquor during the state of disaster and that the decision should be taken by provincial governments. Vinpro also argued the implementation of the nationwide bans was too broad, unnecessary and unjustified. On Tuesday, the High Court found that the wine industry body’s application was moot, as the regulations have since changed. Expressing his disappointment, Vinpro MD Rico Basson commented: “The [wine] industry has not only lost more than R10bn in sales revenue, but also seen significant job losses and suffered international reputational damage. The only way for wine-related businesses to recover and rebuild is by creating an enabling environment for sustainable growth.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ernest Mabuza at BusinessLive


PPE CORRUPTION

Cyril Ramaphosa to get final Covid-19 corruption report from SIU by Friday

BusinessLive reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa will receive the final Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report on alleged widespread corruption related to Covid-19 procurement by the end of the week.   On Tuesday, SIU head Andy Mothibi told the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) the report would be handed to the president on Friday. Ramaphosa had signed a proclamation for the SIU to start the investigation after reports emerged of widespread procurement corruption related to Covid-19. Alleged Covid-19 corruption was uncovered in 2020 in Gauteng when Ramaphosa’s former spokesperson, Khusela Diko, was implicated through a company owned by her late husband, Thandisizwe Diko. His company, Royal Bhaca, scored multimillion-rand tenders from the Gauteng department of health for the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE). Diko has since lost her job as the president’s spokesperson after a disciplinary hearing. Mothibi told Scopa that Covid-19 expenditure was at R138bn and that they were probing contracts of about R14.8bn. About R1.91bn worth of contracts found in the investigations to be irregular have been referred to the Special Tribunal to set the contracts aside and to recover the losses state institutions would have suffered.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Aphiwe De Klerk at BusinessLive


TRUCKING PROTEST ACTION

Police investigating motive behind N3 blockade by truck drivers on Friday

EWN reports that the exact motive for the blockade of the N3 highway at Van Reenen’s Pass last Friday is still unclear. Twelve truck drivers appeared in the Ladysmith Magistrate’s Court on Monday after blocking the N3. They were remanded in custody and will re-appear on 13 December 2021 to make formal bail applications. The 12 have been accused of blocking the highway and taking the keys of other truck drivers and have been charged with contravening the Road Traffic Act.   Traffic was disrupted for hours as the police cleared the scene. This was the latest in a number of blockades in the area this year.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nhlanhla Mabaso at EWN


MINING LABOUR

SA mine deaths rise for second straight year

Bloomberg News reports that deaths in SA mines has risen for a second consecutive year. The industry, which employs more than 450,000 people and accounts for about 8% of the economy, had previously over several decades seen declining fatalities.   The toll so far in 2021 was 69, up from 48 a year-earlier, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said in a statement on Monday. In 2019, 51 people died over the whole year, the lowest number of fatalities on record, before climbing to 60 last year.   Miners were looking to improve safety practices to address the falls of ground and transport-related accidents that were the leading causes of death as the sector, the ministry said in its statement, which was jointly issued with the Minerals Council SA.   "This is the second consecutive year of regression in fatalities and the industry’s stakeholders have committed to urgently address the unacceptable situation," they stated.     Sibanye Stillwater reported on Friday that four workers had died in two separate incidents at its platinum and gold mines, raising the 2021 death toll at its operations to 18. Impala Platinum also reported four fatalities in recent days after two incidents at its mines in Rustenburg.

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

Solidarity expresses shock and dismay over deaths at Sibanye-Stillwater

On Tuesday, trade union Solidarity expressed its condolences to the families and next of kin of the Sibanye-Stillwater employees who died in two separate incidents on Friday. Three people died at the Beatrix Mine near Welkom, and a fourth died at the Khusuleka Shaft in Rustenburg. Solidarity General Secretary Gideon du Plessis reacted: “It was with shock and dismay that we took note of the dangers to which miners at Sibanye-Stillwater’s mines are exposed.   The death toll at Sibanye-Stillwater’s mines currently stand at 15 for the year and it seems that the safety of their staff and the prevention of possible loss of life is not really a priority. The attitude of the company, which also comes to the fore in salary negotiations, indicates that the company does not value its employees.”   In the accident at Welkom, an out-of-control load haul dump machine hit and crushed three people. Earlier on Friday, an employee died at the Khuseleka Shaft in Rustenburg. Solidarity said the investigation currently being conducted by the chief inspector of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, David Msiza, had its full support and Du Plessis called on Msiza “to employ stringent measures if proof is found of any violations of the prescribed health and safety legislation.”

Read the original of Solidarity’s press statement in the above regard at Solidarity News

NUM concerned about ‘deepening crisis’ in South Africa

Mining Weekly reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has expressed concern about the “deepening crisis” in SA, saying it felt that the “gains of the 1994 democratic breakthrough were fast withering away under the weight of deepening inequality and mass unemployment”.   During its national executive committee (NEC) meeting earlier this month, the attendees noted that while the union “did not need Covid-19 to lay bare the depth of the social, economic and political crisis facing South Africa”, the pandemic had made everything more stark. “No country or State can sustain a society where almost 50% of people eligible to work are unemployed. Nor is it possible to talk of a united, single nation where just 10% of the super-rich own 90% of the wealth. And no society can develop where a woman is raped on average, every 25 seconds or is killed on average every eight hours by an intimate partner,” the union said in a statement issued on Tuesday. The NUM stressed that a “spiral of economic decline” was under way and that it might precipitate social collapse on an unprecedented scale. Moreover, the union lamented that “billions of rands are lost to corruption and other forms of profit shifting, including the central role of ‘western civilised’ transnational corporations”. Meantime, the NUM will be marching to Eskom’s head office in Megawatt Park on 11 December as part of a rolling programme of mass action directed at stopping the unbundling and privatisation of Eskom. The NUM called on all trade unions, trade union federations and broader society to join the march to Megawatt Park, where it intends to demand the disbandment of the Eskom board, as well as the resignation of the CEO, the resignation of the COO and for the conditions of service of its members to be reinstated.

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


STAFF RETRENCHMENTS

Following resolution of strike, Massmart reopening posts for retrenched workers

EWN reports that Massmart has indicated that it would be reopening some posts for retrenched workers to reapply, which follows resolution of three weeks of strike action. Members affiliated to the SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) went on strike in November over a wage dispute and other issues. The strike was called off on Monday and workers returned to their posts on Tuesday.   Earlier this year, Massmart announced that it had retrenched over 400 workers at Game stores around the country.   The group thereafter made offers for workers to be reemployed, but Saccawu advised against it. Massmart senior vice-president Brian Leroni now indicated: "Obviously some of those positions have been filled because we can't keep them open indefinitely and so now we have to go through a process of identifying how many positions we have available and then to map previously retrenched employees back to those positions." Saccawu's Sithembele Tshwete said the deal that was initially offered by Massmart had simply not been fair. "There were offers that were significantly varied downwards because it benefits them," said Tshwete. Saccawu confirmed Massmart’s agreement to place workers at different posts in the business.

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Kgomotso Modise at EWN


INTERN PLACEMENTS

SA Medical Association Trade Union bemoans discrimination against Cuban-trained doctors in intern placements

News24 reports that the SA Medical Association Trade Union (Samatu) has written to Health Minister Joe Phaahla, bemoaning his department's continued discrimination against Cuban-trained South African doctors.   In an e-mailed letter dated 5 December 2021, the union, through administrative officer Simon Madini, said it had noticed a tendency by the department to implement discriminatory practices in preference of certain South Africans. "To be precise, this refers to a practice where Cuban-trained South Africans are placed at the tail end of the placement list and treated like outcasts in their own country," the email claimed. The union's complaint came after it emerged last week that the national Department of Health did not have funding for 644 community service and 384 interns at government health facilities for 2022.   For the most part, the lack of funding is expected to affect 600 Cuban-trained South African doctors, compared to 64 South African-trained junior doctors.   In total, the department needs R824 million to place all 1,028 junior doctors and it has since approached National Treasury for a once-off bailout. Samatu described the ongoing doctor placement crisis as self-made.   "It is indeed cause for concern that the department continues to outplay its incompetence time and time again, every time when it is supposed to place doctors in various hospitals.   We need to bring it to your attention that the placement of doctors in internship and community service is a statutory obligation,” the email indicated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Juniour Khumalo at News24


OTHER HEADLINES OF INTEREST

South African Association of Freight Forwarders opens training academy, at Engineering News

Aircraft technical skills impacted by Covid-19 disruption, at Engineering News

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page