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


TOP STORY - COVID-19 LOCKDOWNS

Scientific study finds that lockdowns had little effect on stemming Covid-19 deaths

BL Premium reports that a study published in the latest edition of the SA Journal of Science concludes that SA’s coronavirus restrictions had little effect on Covid-19 deaths after the initial hard lockdown because the measures were too blunt and timed too late to dampen provincial surges. Up to 280,000 people died from Covid-19 during SA’s first four waves of coronavirus infections, about three times more than official statistics showed, the researchers estimated. “This places SA among the worse-suffering countries after allowing for the youthfulness of our population,” noted study co-author Rob Dorrington, a researcher at UCT’s Centre for Actuarial Research. The government imposed a series of lockdowns shortly after SA’s first Covid-19 case was identified in March 2020 in an attempt to slow transmission of the virus and protect the health system. Its periodic restrictions on schools, businesses, travel and alcohol sales had a devastating effect on the economy and led to an estimated 2-million job losses. These interventions, according to the study, were either too late or ineffective at limiting the cumulative number deaths from Covid-19. “The timing of tightening and relaxing lockdowns at a national level does not appear to have been ideal from a provincial point of view. However, it is not clear that trying to implement changes at a subnational level would be either practical or effective,” said Dorrington. He went on to indicate: “Also … it is hard to argue that lockdowns did much to prevent infections if more than 80% of the population has been infected, many more than once.” The most recent seroprevalence survey estimated almost everyone in SA had antibodies to Covid-19 by mid-March, from either vaccination or infection or both, and only 10% had antibodies from vaccination only.

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Covid-19 update: SA reports 2,970 new cases and 31 deaths, at The Citizen


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY

Sadtu in North West says schools no longer safe for teachers and learners

The Star reports that the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) in North West Province has expressed its shock at the news of the shooting and murder of a 45 year old female educator at Rutanang Primary School.   The horrific incident happened just outside the school in Geelhout Park near Rustenburg on Tuesday. The union called on law enforcement to make arrests. Sadtu’s provincial secretary George Themba said: “This incident confirms our long-standing view that our schools are no longer safe for teachers and learners We continue to call on every member of the society to protect teachers, learners, and education workers.” He implored the community at large to support their campaign of ‘I am a school fan’ that seeks, amongst other objectives, to denounce violence in schools. North West Department of Education MEC Mmaphefo Matsemela condemned the incident.   Education activist Hendrick Makaneta urged the government to implement stringent measures at all institutions of learning and to tighten up its grip on such criminal activity as it left children growing up without parent. “We demand the safety of all educators as a matter of urgency in all institutions of learning. We urge the government to protect teachers and learners. Such incidents have been happening in our country and they are a manifestation of gender-based violence where woman and children are affected,” he urged.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ntombi Nkosi at The Star

Labour department closes Musina primary school due to large bat infestation

SA Gov News reports that a Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) inspector has closed a school following a proactive inspection that took place on Friday at Sigonde Primary School in Musina, Limpopo. In a statement on Monday, the DEL said the school was found not to be compliant with the OHS Act of 1993. The Act specifies that if the state of a building threatens or is likely to threaten the health and/or safety of persons then the building should be prohibited with immediate effect from being occupied or continued in use. Among the reasons for the building being prohibited was that a number of classes had bats on the classroom roofs, which posed a danger to the health and safety of persons and might cause sickness, diseases and possible death. When conducting the inspection, the inspector learned that 50 learners had been absent from school on 24 May 2022 as they had reported being ill due to the infestation resulting from the bats. Educators alleged that snakes were killed on a weekly basis as they were attracted by the bats in the classrooms. The department said that a mobile classroom utilised by the Grade 2 learners was the only class that was still functioning and that the school would remain closed until corrections are made.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at SA Gov News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Nursing union demands removal of Covid tents after fire at Steve Biko hospital, at EWN
  • Nurses, staff complain of theft, issues at Leratong, at The Star


PUBLIC SECTOR WAGES

Government and unions to meet again next week after failing to agree on public sector pay increases

BL Premium reports that parties to the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) are to meet again next week after failing this week to broker a wage hike deal for the 2022/2023 financial year.   Public service unions and government representatives met at the PSCBC on Tuesday to continue with negotiations.   This followed the employer’s rejection on 19 May of labour’s demands for a 10% pay hike across the board, tabled at the bargaining council on 4 May. The state rejected most of the unions’ demands and instead proposed the extension of the R1,000 after-tax cash gratuity to the more than 1.3-million employees and a 1.5% pay progression hike, which is linked to years of service and is always pencilled into the budget. PSCBC general secretary Frikkie de Bruin said in a statement: “The employer tabled various scenarios on the possible distribution of the R20.5b available within the fiscal framework. These scenarios included a proposed 4.5% increase across the board, a proposed sliding scale distribution from 6% for level 1 [lowest-paid employees] to 3.5% for level 12 [senior management], and a sliding scale scenario from 15.4% for level 1 to 1.5% for level 12.” He went on to indicate: “Labour rejected the scenarios presented by the employer and proposed a further two scenarios for consideration based on an 8% [for senior management] and 9% [for lowest-paid employees] increase on the base line across the board.”

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

MPs hear from unions that 'meagre' salaries, promotion woes and low morale affecting police officers

News24 reports that according to the leaders of policing unions, police officers cannot continue to be grateful to merely survive, while management structures are bloated and high-ranking officers idle in over-resourced, airconditioned offices. They laid bare the concerns of their members before parliament's Portfolio Committee on Police on Wednesday, briefing the committee on a litany of issues affecting officers on the ground. Union leaders and police management also gave feedback on the findings of the SAPS organisational climate survey. Mosadiwamaje Mokokong of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Pocru) told MPs it was evident that salaries were a direct cause of the demoralised SAPS personnel. "Despite the meagre salaries they earn, our members would still be expected to work uncomfortable hours and not be fairly remunerated or payment is unreasonably delayed in some instances. This occurs mostly when members are deployed to quell sporadic public unrests, like the ones experienced in July 2021, in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal," she said. Mokokong pointed out that the so-called danger allowance had remained at R400 since 2001 and said unions wanted it to be retrospectively increased to R1,500.   The SA Policing Union (SAPU) argued that the survey highlighted the dissatisfaction with promotions and career opportunities. The Independent Policing Union of SA said several management changes had added to the already low-level of morale and pointed out that for the past 14 years police management had been unstable. "Senior managers [are] constantly re-deployed and the unending restructuring created inconsistency and uncertainty. Lateral appointment at senior police rank designations and placement, without due competency requirements, affected confidence and performance. Concentrated delegation of power is centralised, especially for resources deployment and infrastructure capacity," the union stated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jason Felix at News24 (subscriber access only)


SARS STRIKE

Public Servants Association suspends wage strike at SARS until end of the week

Fin24 reports that the Public Servants Association (PSA), which represents around half of the employees in the bargaining at the SA Revenue Service (SARS), has put its strike on hold as it waits for the employer to respond to its demands. A national strike at SARS is ongoing following a deadlock with the PSA and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) over wage increases. PSA spokesperson Ruben Maleka indicated on Wednesday that the union would give SARS until the end of the week to respond to its demands, with its members to return to duty for the time being. "We are waiting for the employer to respond to our memorandum. We are meeting on Friday ... It is basically the same demand," said Maleka. Picketing at SARS began in the middle of May and the strike officially kicked off last week. According to SARS, it could not afford unions’ demands of CPI inflation plus 7%, but it was willing to channel savings from 2021 towards meaningful salary increases. SARS claims its operations are going on as planned despite the strike. Meantime, the National Treasury reaffirmed in Parliament that any increases SARS received in allocation from the fiscus must be used to tighten up the tax authority's operations, rather than going towards wage increases.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Khulekani Magubane at Fin24


MINING LABOUR

Sibanye-Stillwater says recent gold wage talks “constructive” as AMCU and NUM call meeting to weigh offer

Miningmx reports that Sibanye-Stillwater has described wage discussions with unions as “constructive” ahead of a mass meeting on Friday called by the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (AMCU) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), its coalition partner.   In a short video clip distributed on social media, AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa can be heard calling for the meeting, controversially to be held at Pretoria’s Union Buildings, the official seat of the government. “All members of the AMCU/NUM ‘Numco’ to give feedback of an offer from an employer tomorrow,” Mathunjwa stated. The wage strike by the two unions is now in its third month. Referring to recent mediation by the CCMA in an effort to bring the strike to an end, Sibanye’s James Wellsted said: “We have had constructive engagements. The commissioners have made proposals that are being considered.” He declined to say if Sibanye had adjusted its wage increase offer upwards or changed its structure which was last at R850/month for entry-level employees for a three year agreement. The offer amounted to a 7.8% increase to the basic wage in year one, 7.2% in year two and 6.8% in year three. AMCU and NUM are demanding a R1,150/month improvement in wages.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by David McKay at Miningmx

AMCU and NUM leaders to update workers on Friday at Union Buildings about Sibanye wage strike

BL Premium reports that the two striking unions at Sibanye-Stillwater's gold operations are expected to brief their members at the Union Buildings on Friday on progress made in trying to hammer out a pay hike deal. The unions and the mining bosses have been meeting under the auspices of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) since last Thursday to try and resolve the industrial action, which resulted in Sibanye’s gold operations grinding to a halt in March and striking workers losing more than R1.2bn in wages. Following yet another meeting on Wednesday, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) president Dan Baipile said: “We have just concluded our meeting with Sibanye management, under the auspices of the CCMA. We are not going to divulge anything for now, we are going to be meeting our members on Friday to share the information with them. That’s as far as we can go.” On Thursday, Sibanye’s James Wellsted said he was not able to give information on any figures discussed during the meetings, but added:   “Engagements have been very constructive. We have not made any formal offer and the unions have not changed in their demands.”   Some of the striking workers have been camping outside the Union Buildings for more than a week, calling for President Cyril Ramaphosa's intervention in the wage impasse.   Sibanye’s gold operations employ 31,000 workers of which 25,000 are jointly represented by Amcu and NUM.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Luyolo Mkentane at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read too, ‘We are hungry and being on strike is painful’, at SowetanLive

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Exxaro, TotalEnergies SA donate funds to communities for education, at Mining Weekly


MARIKANA MASSACRE

Marikana miners start court battle for compensation of R1b as well as an apology and reconciliation from Ramaphosa

TimesLive reports that an attorney for miners wounded and arrested during the “Marikana massacre” in August 2012 is hoping their civil suit for almost R1bn in compensation ends with an unconditional apology from President Cyril Ramaphosa. They are also seeking an undertaking that he will participate in a reconciliatory process with them. Speaking outside the Johannesburg High Court before proceedings started on Thursday, the miners’ legal representative, Andries Nkome, said he hoped the court would rule in favour of the miners. The civil case for damages against Ramaphosa, Sibanye-Stillwater and the government was initially brought to court last year, but was postponed when it emerged that presiding judge Colin Lamont owned R225,000 worth of shares in Sibanye-Stillwater. Lamont later recused himself. Sibanye-Stillwater bought Lonmin, the former owner of the Marikana mine where the shootings took place, in June 2019. Ramaphosa was a director of Lonmin at the time of the shootings. The proceedings held virtually are continuing.

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Phathu Luvhengo at BusinessLive


COMAIR BUSINESS RESCUE

Numsa to picket outside Comair’s offices, wants CEO to resign and end of business rescue process

The Citizen reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) says it’s “shocked and surprised” by the latest developments at Comair and its decision to suspend all of its operations. The airline, which operates British Airways and Kulula flights in SA, announced on Tuesday that it had been forced to suspend all its flights with immediate effect due to a lack of funding. Meanwhile, its business rescue practitioners (BRPs) are trying to raise capital. The union met on Thursday with the management team of Comair and its CEO Glenn Orsmond to discuss the fate of the airline. However, the meeting left Numsa with more questions than answers.   General secretary Irvin Jim said the meeting had been very frustrating because Orsmond was at times evasive or unwilling to respond directly to certain questions. These questions related to whether employees would be paid their salaries during the period of the suspension and how much money Comair needed in order to be financially sustainable, among other matters.   Because of this, Jim said Numsa members would picket outside Comair’s offices in Johannesburg, to call for Orsmond to step down and for the immediate end of the business rescue process.   Jim commented further: “It is clear that the future of the airline remains very uncertain and we remain doubtful that Orsmond can assist us to find a long-lasting resolution. We also have questions about the role of the BRP which have been in charge for almost two years. They were paid exorbitantly and were seemingly unable to foresee this financial hurdle.” Numsa represents about 700 Comair workers.

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


FUEL PRICES

Solidarity’s legal team urgently considering legal action over high fuel prices

On Thursday, Solidarity announced that its legal team was urgently investigating various legal routes in order to combat rising fuel prices. According to the trade union, the government and especially Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe “are still playing a significant role in the recent record increase in fuel prices”. Theuns du Buisson, economic researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), explained: “Although we realise that turbulent world markets and other factors such as the exchange rate still have the greatest impact on the price of fuel, this does not mean that we can forgive the government for their role in forcing prices even higher with inefficient regulations. It is precisely in such disastrous times that action is most needed.”   Solidarity argued that the temporary relief in the form of an extension of the rebate on the fuel levy recently announced by the Minister would be insufficient, short-sighted and even harmful in the long run. The union contended that through its regulatory and administrative decisions, the government exercised an excessive and unlawful influence on the determination of the fuel price at the expense of ordinary South Africans as it was forcing prices up artificially. “Despite undertakings given in Parliament and in the media to deregulate the Department has not kept its word. We now have to turn to the courts for solutions to persuade the government to take action,” Du Buisson indicated.

Read Solidarity’s press statement on this matter at Solidarity News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • 'We are literally living in hell’ — SA reacts to fuel price increases and unemployment stats, at TimesLive


DISMISSALS

SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni fired after disciplinary inquiry

News24 reports that the CEO of SA National Parks (SANParks), who was acquitted on charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm in October last year, has been fired. Fundisile Mketeni was axed following the conclusion of a disciplinary inquiry, which was initiated in July 2021. SANParks said in a statement that the board had, on Wednesday, deliberated on the outcomes of the disciplinary process and on the recommendation of the independent senior counsel and had "determined that the relationship between the CEO and SANParks will be terminated with immediate effect, as of June 1 2022". The board went on to indicate: "Notwithstanding the outcome of the criminal proceedings against the CEO, the board decision was based on the CEO being found guilty of six of the seven charges levelled against the CEO based on his having breached the code of ethics and business conduct policy and the disciplinary policy and procedure of SANParks." Mketeni was initially placed on special leave following allegations of sexual assault, which were laid in Skukuza in the Kruger National Park. However, the State decided to withdraw the sexual assault charge. Mketeni then requested special leave until the matter was resolved legally due to the seriousness of the allegations.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jeanette Chabalala at News24. Lees ook, SANParke-hoof afgedank ná aantygings, by Maroela Media


SUSPENSIONS

PIC refuses to give details on suspension of COO Vuyani Hako

BL Premium reports that the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has refused to give reasons for the precautionary suspension of its COO Vuyani Hako, although it did say the matter was not linked to the resignation of two other senior executives announced on the same day.   The precautionary suspension raises concerns about impropriety at the state-run asset manager, which oversees about R2.3-trillion in assets on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund, the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the Compensation Fund. The PIC said in a brief statement on Thursday that Hako had been suspended after allegations of misconduct were made against him. The PIC announced in the same statement that Sholto Dolamo, executive head of research and project development, and Lusanda Kali, acting executive head of developmental investments and private equity, had resigned with effect from 30 June. PIC spokesperson Sekgoela Sekgoela declined to comment on whether the allegations against Hako were of a financial nature, but he did say that the resignations of Dolamo and Kali were not linked to Hako’s suspension. The PIC has been embroiled in a series of controversies and allegations of poor governance that culminated in a judicial commission of inquiry chaired by former judge Lex Mpati. The commission found “substantial impropriety” had occurred at the PIC.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Garth Theunissen and Nic Gous at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Standard Bank accused of duplicity over suspended employees who allegedly used their own funds to activate client bank accounts illegitimately, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)


OTHER HEADLINES OF INTEREST

  • Dimension Data’s CEO Werner Kapp steps down, company veteran Alan Turnley-Jones to take over the reins, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)
  • Presidency unveils new B-BBEE advisory panel, at SowetanLive
  • Só lyk president se adviesraad vir swart bemagtiging, byMaroela Media
  • Eskom ‘incompetence’ at some plants not insurmountable, says board chair, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)
  • Some Gauteng officials are refusing promotions so as to avoid being vetted, at SowentanLive
  • MPs hear of harsh treatment of farm dwellers by farmers and mines, at BusinessLive
  • Former Denel CEO - booted out during state capture - is back as restructuring boss, at Fin24
  • Man sterf toe lamppaal op hom val tydens gewelddadige betogings in die Oos-Kaap, by Maroela Media

 


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