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, 17 June 2022.


TOP REPORT

Unisa Nehawu leader warns of mayhem, with ‘nyaope boys’ available for hire to inflict gender-based violence and petrol-bomb cars

City Press reports that in a leaked audio recording, Thembani Baloyi, National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) branch secretary at the University of SA (Unisa), alleges that for only R200, young, vagrant drug addicts desperate for money for their next hit – known as nyaope boys – were available for hire to molest and sjambok women members of staff at the university. Baloyi was addressing protesting workers affiliated with the union at the university’s main campus in Pretoria last week. Unisa has been embroiled in a dispute with the union since March over salary increases and the suspension of five Nehawu members, who were allegedly at the centre of a strike. What seemed to have irked Baloyi was Unisa’s decision to implement a no work, no pay rule for days in March when striking workers failed to perform their duties. In the recording, Baloyi alleged that the Unisa management had implemented the rule without informing the affected employees. Nehawu national spokesperson Lwazi Nkolonzi said the union was still investigating the matter and a statement would be issued after its probe had been finalised. In the recording, Baloyi could be heard saying: "You must tell them: ‘It might not be Baloyi, but there are a lot of nyaope boys who want the R200. They’re going to come and molest you.   These [are] things we’re going to do to them and not care, because people are putting our lives in danger without caring. We’re going to make an example [of them] next week. There’s going to be gender-based violence in this institution next week. You’ll see and we won’t care. You’ll hear that a nyaope boy sjambokked a woman coming to work.” Baloyi added that the cars belonging to staff members would be torched, including that of Vuyo Peach, a professor of law and Unisa’s head of legal services, who was a member of the team dealing with strike-related matters. Apparently, Peach has opened a criminal case against Baloyi, who is allegedly on the run.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Msindisi Fengu at City Press


TRUCKING PROTESTS

Sunday meeting of interministerial team with trucking employers and All Truck Drivers Forum in bid to end blockades of N3

BL Premium reports that in a further effort to bring an end to economically crippling blockades on the N3 freeway, an interministerial committee held urgent talks with employers in the trucking, freight and logistics industry on Sunday. Truckers organisation the All Truck Drivers Forum (ATDF), which has been leading the protests and marches calling for stricter laws to force employers in the trucking and freight industry to employ only South Africans, attended the talks in Pretoria. The deliberations led by employment & labour minister Thulas Nxesi was attended by home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi, police minister Bheki Cele and transport minister Fikile Mbalula. The robust meeting lasted several hours and included various government proposals in response to the truck drivers’ demands. A public briefing on the outcome is expected Monday. The road freight and logistics industry contributes about R480bn to the economy and employs more than 300,000 people. Last Thursday angry drivers used trucks loaded with heavy cargo to block the N3 between Durban and Johannesburg. Police arrested four men aged between 40 and 59 in relation to the protests and expect to make more arrests.   Condemning the actions of the protesting drivers as “deliberate sabotage”, organised business wants a visible law enforcement presence along the route to prevent any repeat of the blockades. Indicating that his organisation did not support vandalism, ATDF secretary Sifiso Nyathi commented: “We are here for the drivers wanting jobs, not politics. Hundreds of drivers are sitting at home with licences but they are overlooked by employees because foreigners can just walk in and get preferential treatment. Driving is not a scarce skill. We have been asking for five years. Recently a trucking company wanted to hire 20 drivers and 500 turned up at the gates.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mary Papayya at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read too, Blocking national roads is organised crime and economic sabotage, says Thulas Nxesi, at IOL

State unable to charge four arrested for N3 blockade

Sunday Times reports that four men arrested for their alleged involvement in the disruptive N3 truck blockade last week have walked away scot-free as the state was unable to provide enough evidence to have charges of economic sabotage and obstructing a national route stick. The four, aged between 40 and 59, were arrested at Van Reenen’s Pass on Thursday.   The hiring of foreign drivers was at the heart of the blockade. Police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said the suspects were detained on suspicion of obstructing a national route, damaging or interfering with essential infrastructure, and economic sabotage. They appeared in the Ladysmith Magistrate’s Court on Friday where the case against them was not enrolled. “The matter was not enrolled due to insufficient evidence linking the accused to the commission of the offence,” said National Prosecuting Authority provincial spokesperson Natasha Kara.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Orrin Singh and Suthentira Govender at Sunday Times (subscriber access only)


LABOUR MIGRATION POLICY

Labour migration policy nearing completion, claims Nxesi

Engineering News reports that the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) was finalising policy that would help to regulate the extent to which foreign nationals could be employed in SA, Minister Thulas Nxesi said on Friday. His comments came as trucker drivers last week intensified their national strike against the employment of foreign nationals, blocking the N3 in both directions on Van Reenen’s Pass and at the Tugela Plaza, in KwaZulu-Natal. Nxesi said government was committed to addressing their issues in a way that ensured the long-term viability of interventions, some of which would require a longer runway, owing to legislative changes. For example, government in February formulated a National Labour Migration Policy (NLMP), aimed to effectively manage the rapid expansion of international migration flows. The department has concluded its consultative process for the NLMP and was in the consolidation phase. "The department intends to complete synthesising the recommendations by the end of June this year, and then present a consolidated document at Nedlac for a formal consultation with social partners,” Nxesi reported. The proposed NLMP aims to address South Africans’ expectations regarding access to work opportunities, given worsening unemployment and the perception that foreign nationals are distorting labour market access. The NLMP, together with proposed legislation, will introduce quotas on the total number of documented foreign nationals with work visas that can be employed in major economic sectors. The NLMP goes hand-in-hand with a proposed Employment Services Amendment Bill, which provides a policy framework and the legal basis to regulate the extent to which employers can employ foreign nationals in their establishments while protecting the rights of migrants.

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

Thulas Nxesi reveals government spent over R308m on Cuban doctors, engineers

News24 reports that the government has spent more than R308 million to pay Cuban doctors and engineers. This is according to a response from acting Public Service and Administration Minister Thulas Nxesi to a parliamentary question from Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Mimmy Gondwe. She had asked how many Cuban teachers, engineers, nurses and doctors were currently employed in SA and the total cost of their employment.   According to Nxesi's response, based on information extracted from the Personal and Salary System as at 30 April, there were no Cuban teachers or nurses employed by the state. However, there were 65 engineers who cost the state R50,394,855 in remuneration and 229 doctors, costing the state R257,917,774.   Gondwe said in a statement the DA would apply in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act for the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) to provide copies of the skills transfer plans for the Cuban doctors and engineers, as required by the Employment Services Act of 2014. She said the DEL must prove it had been actively fulfilling its mandate in ensuring compliance with skills transfer requirements with regard to the Cuban doctors and engineers. "With over a quarter of a billion rand having been spent thus far paying the salaries of these Cuban doctors and engineers, it raises the important question of whether they have been given permanent contracts in lieu of the skills transfer pans required by law," said Gondwe. She went on to comment: "It is curious that at a time when government continues to implement measures aimed at tightening our immigration laws and regulations, Cubans continue to find employment in the public service system with the aid of the ANC government.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jan Gerber at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Zimbabwean Exemption Permit: 'Attempts to intimidate and harass us is alarming and scary', says Helen Suzman Foundation, at News24
  • Eight trying to enter SA illegally caught at OR Tambo airport, at News24


COVID-19

Calls to reinstate former Heathfield High principal who was axed for refusal to reopen the school amid 2020 Covid-19 infection peak

Weekend Argus reports that urgent calls have been made to reinstate Heathfield High ex-principal Wesley Neumann to avoid a crisis at the school. On Friday, Neumann approached the Education Labour Relation Council to state his case prior to the council making a finding concerning his conduct. The outcome will be known in due course. Neumann was formally dismissed as principal in May after he refused to reopen the school amid the Covid-19 infection peak in 2020. Last week, the ANC in the Western Cape legislature called for the reinstatement of Neumann after the provincial head of education, Brent Walters, in a letter warned the school’s leadership about high absenteeism, pupil tardiness and loitering, which has caused much stress and anguish among teachers and parents.   The letter caused an uproar among pupils, teachers and colleagues. The ANC’s Mohammed Khalid Sayed commented: “We warned about the unfair targeting and unjust dismissal of Neumann from the very onset. We appeal for calm and call on the new MEC and head of department to engage the learners and parents to listen to their grievances and find an amicable solution to the ongoing turmoil.” Pupils have also reached out to the education department, calling on Walters to visit the school to listen to their grievances. A spokesperson for Education MEC David Maynier said that the MEC had no authority in law to reconsider the dismissal decision taken by his predecessor. A spokesperson for the Western Cape Education Department indicated that Neumann’s post had not been advertised yet.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tracy-Lynn Ruiters at Weekend Argus

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Government’s R7.6 billion loan to repay Covid-19 vaccines slammed, at Weekend Argus
  • Victims of bogus UIF ters claims desperate for answers, at Sunday Independent


WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Numsa signs above inflation 7% wage increase with Gautrain operator Bombela

Engineering News reports that according to the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), it has signed an above-inflation wage increase of 7%, effective 1 July, with the Bombela Operating Company (BOC), the agency which operates the Gautrain. In a statement, the union indicated that it had been engaging the employer since 29 April in wage talks. The one-year agreement, which will run from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023, entails a 7% across-the-board increase; an increase in the transport subsidy from R50 to R100 per shift worked; and an increase in the night shift allowance from R30 to R32 hourly. “The increase in the transport allowance will definitely make a positive difference in the lives of members, given the rapid rise in transportation costs," Numsa commented.

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

Unions, government trust deficit a key issue in current pay talks

In an opinion piece, Reuban Maleka of the Public Servants Association (PSA) notes that public service wage negotiations for 2022 started against the backdrop of the government’s failure to honour the last leg of a negotiated 2018 three-year wage agreement, and growing financial pressures on public sector employees.   The PSA took this non-compliance to the Constitutional Court, but the court sided with the government and public servants were denied their negotiated wage increase, leaving them frustrated and creating mounting concern about the future of collective bargaining in SA. For the latest round of negotiations, all unions pressed for a single-year agreement, as there was no trust in government to uphold longer term agreements.   The PSA and other unions tabled a consolidated wage demand at a special Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) meeting last month. Parties agreed on a negotiation process and schedule, with the aim of concluding negotiations by the end of June. Labour is demanding a 10% salary increase across-the-board on the baseline because the costs of electricity, food, fuel and public transport are driving expenditure beyond the CPI. The abolition of salary level one to three is also sought, as is access by public servants to their pension fund monies to alleviate financial hardship.   Labour is further demanding that 12% of basic salary should be offered during disasters, such as Covid-19.   Medical aid is to increase by 2.6% over and above the Medical Price Index. Community health workers, teachers’ assistants, and reservists should be employed permanently. According to Maleka, essentially the government’s current offer only continues the current cash gratuity for the 2022/23 financial year and equates it into a pensionable increase, with different permutations. It has not given any increase over and above what employees already have under PSCBC Resolution 1/2021. According to Maleka, labour has stressed the importance of the gratuity and an improvement on the pensionable increase for all salary levels and has demanded that the government revise the budget of R20.5 billion to improve employees’ conditions of service. Failure to do so will make it difficult for parties to find one another because the PSA is adamant that the union will not consider any offer below inflation.

Read this opinion piece in full at IOL


PROTESTS / MARCHES

March by domestic workers for decent pay and benefits in Pretoria on Thursday

GroundUp reports that over a hundred domestic workers dressed in bright uniforms and carrying irons and mops marched through the streets of Pretoria on Thursday to mark International Domestic Workers Day.   The marched to the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) with a memorandum of demands, but no officials were there to receive the memo. The protesters included local and migrant female domestic workers and some male gardeners who worked in suburbs across Gauteng. The march was supported by the United Domestic Workers of SA (UDWOSA), the SA Domestic Workers Union (SADSAWU), Zimbabwe Isolated Women of SA (ZIWISA) and Izwi Domestic Workers Alliance. The workers said they wanted decent working and living conditions for those who lived on their employer’s premises. They were also demanding to be registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and for Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases (COIDA) regardless of citizenship and other employment benefits. Workers complained of being manhandled, mauled by employers’ dogs, racism, xenophobia and sexual harassment at work. Ethel Musonza from ZIWISA said the termination of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) meant many domestic workers were facing an uncertain future and the DEL “must intervene.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Kimberly Mutandiro at GroundUp

Picket by rural Eastern Cape nurses on Wednesday demanding payment of special allowance

GroundUp reports that hundreds of nurses picketed outside the provincial Department of Health call centre in East London on Wednesday.   They were from among 5,000 enrolled nurses and nursing assistants at hospital and clinics in rural areas who claim the department owes them a special rural allowance. “For the past three years we have been at the forefront of the fight against Covid without salary increments … Pay the [Rural Allowances] due to us,” said Thembinkosi Qwakanisa from the Amathole Region.   According to the nurses, the rural allowance of 8% to 12% was part of an agreement made between unions and the provincial health department at a 2019 bargaining council meeting. They accused health department head Dr Rolene Wagner of ignoring them. Thandile Tshabalala, chairperson for enrolled nurses and nursing assistants, said that the allowance was paid to all nurses working in rural areas until it was stopped in 2007. “We then fought for years for its reinstatement, but it was only reinstated for other categories, like the professional [staff] nurses only.   We continued the fight which was led by Nehawu until in 2019 when the department conceded in the bargaining council that we were entitled to this allowance. But it was poorly implemented in five regions because only few nurses were receiving it,” she claimed.   The department head and senior officials plan to meet union representatives this week to find a solution to the dispute.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Johnnie Isaac at GroundUp

Cosatu in KZN calls on government to be reasonable and suspend fuel hikes

EWN reports that Cosatu in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has urged the government to be reasonable and find ways to suspend the current fuel price hikes. On Friday, the trade union federation held a march to the provincial government offices, complaining about high costs. The organisation said people were really suffering, especially with the already crippled economy. Wage increases were also one of Cosatu’s worries. It indicated that workers were not given sufficient salary increases – while the government did not intervene. Cosatu provincial secretary Edwin Mkhize said price hikes should be met with salary increases and commented that “we are saying to the government and those that control the market forces, we are worried that as you are increasing fuel price and the cost of living, you are the same ones that say workers don’t deserve their salary rise.” The provincial government promised it would raise the matter with national government.

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


MINING LABOUR

Mantashe’s artisanal mining policy is ‘sheer fantasy’ – decisive intervention to stop criminality needed instead

In a hard-hitting opinion piece, Hulme Scholes & Francois Sieberhagen write about the draft Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Policy 2021, which was published in the Government Gazette on 5 May 2021 for public comment. Various quarters raised concerns with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), but “Comrade” (Cannot Organise Mining, Renewable Energy, Administration, DMRE and Electricity) Mantashe effectively ignored all comments. On 30 April 2022, he published the final policy – , effectively a carbon copy of the draft – in the Gazette. The authors say the policy is a fantasy. “With a stroke of the legislature’s pen, it intends to magically create vast valuable open cast areas where artisanal miners can profitably mine, as previously mined areas are excluded to prevent artisanal miners from attracting environmental liabilities. It also assumes that platoons of Zama Zamas will miraculously stop their illegal activities overnight, undertake formal training, use PPE and pay taxes and royalties. This is like allowing drug dealers to continue selling drugs if they obtain pharmaceutical qualifications and pay tax on their earnings – it just won’t happen.” According to the authors, the clumsy policy can have only one outcome, namely, “the responsibility to train, equip and accommodate artisanal miners will rest with mining companies who will be expected to tolerate artisanal miners in their mining areas.” A further consequence of the policy is said to already be apparent, namely that an expectation has been created with communities that mining companies are now obliged to include them as artisanal miners in existing mining areas.   Instead, it is argued, a start should be made to intervene decisively to stop criminality in the mining sector.

Read the full original of the above opinion piece by Hulme Scholes & Francois Sieberhagen at Miningmx

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Rate of ‘catastrophic’ mining waste failures rising across the planet, at Mail & Guardian
  • With government decades behind schedule, 6,000 health and environmental ‘time bombs’ still to be defused, at Daily Maverick


OTHER HEADLINES OF INTEREST

  • Polisieman veg om lewe ná aanval op hoofweg, by Maroela Media
  • Werknemer ontvoer toe transaksie skeefloop, by Maroela Media
  • Toyota can’t say when it will reopen its Durban plant, suspended for more than two months due to flood damage, at Moneyweb
  • Tax implications of working ‘remotely’ in SA for a foreign company, at Moneyweb
  • Whistleblowers in SA have some protection but gaps need fixing, at Moneyweb
  • Opinion: There’s an urgent need to demilitarise the SAPS, at IOL
  • Office of Chief Justice to review procurement process after report of former officials improperly benefitting from a contract, at Moneyweb
  • Officer accused of murdering a homeless man is still employed by City of Cape Town, at GroundUp
  • Nuwe Struisbaai-skool die ‘toekoms van opleiding in SA’, by Maroela Media

 


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