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.


TOP STORY – END TO TRUCKING PROTESTS

End of crippling N3 blockade in sight as government reaches agreement with employers and stakeholders on road freight plan

BL Premium reports that after five years of the SA economy taking a battering from blockades on the strategic N3 arterial trade route, the government has struck a breakthrough agreement with stakeholders in the freight and logistics industry. SA truck drivers have been blocking the main trade routes demanding that employers should not employ foreign truck drivers while hundreds of local drivers are without jobs. A task team comprising industry employers, drivers and organised labour agreed on an 11-point plan of implementation. It includes proper enforcement of visa requirements and compliance, a driver training programme and consideration of the introduction of operating licences. The latter was a controversial point for the Road Freight Association (RFA), with the association’s CEO Gavin Kelly saying: “This is a clever move by someone to capture the industry. We will not accept that.” However, the association accepted the other 10 points of the plan. The agreement was signed by the interministerial committee, the RFA, the Truckers Association of SA, the All Truck Drivers Forum, the Road Freight Bargaining Council, the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union and the Motor Transport Workers Union. “Each organisation participating in the process will be represented by two delegates and monthly report meetings will be held by the interministerial committee to review progress on actions being implemented, said the interministerial committee chair Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, . Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula described the outcome as a “milestone”, and sent a warning to truck drivers: “There is no need for anyone to block roads, [as] the compact provides a channel of communication through the task team.” All Truck Drivers Forum president Siyabonga Dlamini welcomed the signing, saying it was what his organisation wanted. “This will go a long way to address our concerns,” he stated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mary Papayya at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read too, Ministers devise action plan to address trucking challenges after N3 blockage chaos, at Fin24. And also, Here’s government’s action plan to end protests in trucking industry, at The Citizen

Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi says truck drivers not a scarce skill in SA

TimesLive reports that Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) Minister Thulas Nxesi indicated on Monday that there was no shortage of skilled truck drivers in the country. He said this finding was made after inspections by the DEL and the Department of Home Affairs. Nxesi was giving an update on issues in the trucking industry, in particular the engagements of the road and freight interministerial committee. Presenting the committee’s report, Nxesi said while some operators have asserted that SA lacked skilled truck drivers, the inspections and law enforcement operations found that truck driving was an abundant skill in SA and therefore not a scarce skill as purported by some.   “The department of home affairs reported they had conducted more than 21 joint multidisciplinary law enforcement operations and inspections to assess the extent of use of foreign and at times illegal truck drivers,” he pointed out. Nxesi also advised that multidisciplinary and joint enforcement operations conducted across the country had seen 213 arrests of foreign truck drivers found to be in contravention of immigration laws, with 19 of those in possession of fraudulent documentation. He noted that the protests which have taken place in the form of blocking national roads have compromised the country’s economic activities and left the affected parts without access to services.   To deal with the grievances of the truck drivers, Nxesi said the committee had come up with a plan to address the concerns of drivers.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Belinda Pheto at TimesLive


MINING LABOUR

Numsa members employed by three Implats contractors embark on a strike

Mining Weekly reports that according to the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), it has served three contractors supplying services to platinum group metals producer Impala Platinum (Implats) with notice to embark on an “indefinite” strike. On Tuesday, Numsa members will apparently gather to strike near Shaft No 8 in Freedom Park, Rustenburg. The 4,000 Numsa members associated with the strike are contract workers and the union says these contractors are “exploiting” workers by paying them a “fraction of what their permanent colleagues earn, for doing exactly the same job”. In particular, Numsa says the management of two of the companies refuse to bargain with it. According to the union, it has submitted wage demands, but the contractors concerned do not want to engage with the union. Numsa claimed it was a recognised union with a third contractor, but that the management of Implats was refusing to grant the union access to the workplace or enable Numsa to represent members or hold meetings there.

Read the original of the report in the above regard at Mining Weekly. Read too, Implats confirms strike by Numsa members employed at Rustenburg mine contractors, at Miningmx

David Brown, well known in the mining sector, passes away

BL Premium reports that David Brown, lead independent director at Vodacom and chairman of Northam Platinum, passed away on Sunday.   Brown, who was 59, was well known in the mining sector. He had been a former CEO of Impala Platinum (Implats), MC Mining and Zimbabwe’s Kuvimba Mining House. One of Vodacom's longest serving directors, Brown joined the board in January 2012.   He had been expected to retire from Vodacom’s board after its AGM on 18 July. Brown was born in Wales in 1962. He matriculated at Bishop’s in Cape Town in 1980 and, after obtaining a BCom and CTA from the University of Cape Town, graduated as a chartered accountant in SA in 1988. He served as CFO of Implats from January 1999 before being appointed CEO in 2006.   He subsequently retired from Implats in 2012, before joining the Vodacom board. He had a hands-on management style and liked leading from the front. His notable achievements at Implats included securing the Royal Bafokeng Nation as the anchor empowerment partner for the group. He also had a hand in Impala’s accommodation strategy, seeking to create sustainable human settlements and access to decent accommodation for all employees residing in informal structures. He was independent non-executive chairperson of the Northam Holdings Board and Northam Platinum Board, having joined the platinum group metals company in November 2017.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mudiwa Gavaza at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). See too, Companies pay tribute to David Brown, at Mining Weekly


SOCIAL COMPACT / YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

Ramaphosa’s new social compact talks stall, with no meetings since Sona announcement

Sunday Times reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa's ambition of reaching a social compact to grow the economy and create jobs has hit a snag. Participants have yet to reach a consensus, well after the 100-day deadline the president announced in February. One of the social partners, the Black Business Council (BBC), has accused Ramaphosa and his government of not being “genuine” in their talks on fixing the economy. Business leaders said the government had not set up a meeting since Ramaphosa made the announcement in February. “We met the president on January 28 because the state of the nation address (Sona) was coming up. At that meeting we discussed setting up a four-a-side and he appointed four ministers – Thulas Nxesi, Mmamoloko Kubayi, Enoch Godongwana and Mondli Gungubele,” BBC president Elias Monage indicated. The four-a-side set-up was meant to shape a framework for engagements between business and the government, but Monage said a follow-up meeting between the ministers and business never took place. Ramaphosa conceded last week that the process had stalled and that the 100 days target might have been an unrealistic target.   Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi said there had been a few bilateral meetings, but added: “We feel what matters is the substance of the social compact, not a deadline. We must rather allocate sufficient time and engage in substantial matters with real concrete actions included.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Amanda Khoza at Sunday Times (subscriber access only)

Youth unemployment in need of a united focus, says Business Leadership SA

Engineering News reports that according to Business Leadership South Africa CEO Busi Mavuso, youth unemployment, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, was a “national crisis” that required a clear focus if it was to be resolved. She pointed out that, although the challenges that led to June 16 being marked as Youth Day had been different, current challenges posed to the youth required urgent focus. “The statistics are often talked about, which makes them somehow feel more normal.   But there is nothing normal about the fact that 65% of youth aged [between] 15 to 24 were unemployed in the first quarter [of this year],” Mavuso indicated. She noted that even among young graduates, the unemployment rate was 33%. However, according to Mavuso, many people were seized with the challenge of addressing the youth unemployment crisis, such as the Presidency’s Youth Employment Initiative, which was tackling the problem on multiple fronts. The business sector was also working with government through the Jobs Fund and the Youth Employment Service, while the employment tax incentive provided a tax benefit for companies that employed young people. Voluntary efforts, such as Business for SA, have also been key to supporting government in the fight against the pandemic and now in determining priorities for future reform. “These are all worthwhile endeavours, but the numbers remain shockingly high, exacerbated by the number of young people joining the labour force every year,” Mavuso lamented. But, she also indicated some hope: “While our young people face an economy that is not providing space for them, I have some hope that we are beginning to turn the situation around. We need to keep intensely focused on following through on those structural reforms, repairing the state and getting the economy growing. If we get that right, we will be able to start seriously changing the outlook for our youth.”

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


HEALTHCARE

Report by civil rights groups on healthcare calls for urgent reform

SowetanLive reports that citing the slow progress in the past decade, researchers have warned that SA’s health system is in need of an urgent overhaul. This is according to a new report released on Sunday by civil rights groups Section 27 and Concentric Alliance. The report, titled ‘Health Reform: Perspectives and Proposals’, indicated that while there is slow progress in achieving change, many citizens continue struggling to access quality health services while medical professionals suffer from burnout. The researchers also cite mistrust and disagreements among key stakeholders as part of the reason behind delayed change. However, the findings also show there is hope if key players in the health sector act urgently. All of the participants interviewed, which included health regulators, government, medical aid schemes, civil society, the pharmaceutical industry and hospital groups, agreed that that there was an urgent need for change. The report recommends that stakeholders in healthcare look past their differences and start pushing for implementation, focusing on areas where they already share consensus. Section 27 spokesperson Sasha Stevenson said debates had gone on for too long while implementation suffered. “We have been talking about NHI (national health insurance) for so many years. The system is buckling but we are still talking about legislation. You need more than legislation to change things,” she stated. Participants also expressed their views on NHI. The report found that although there were profound disagreements, the different parties agreed that access to health care should form the foundation of the system and urgent reform was needed.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Zoë Mahopo at SowetanLive. Read too, No need to wait for NHI to improve health system, says Section 27 report, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)

Solidarity demands withdrawal of controversial health regulations prior to court hearing, failing which penalty costs will be sought

Solidarity reports that it has sent a letter to the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaala, demanding that the controversial new health regulations be withdrawn and says that should the Minister not do so, the trade union will request a punitive costs order. Solidarity's application requesting that the regulations be declared invalid will be argued in court on 25 to 27 July. It has demanded that the regulations be withdrawn before that date.   The application of other organisations such as AfriForum will be heard on the same days. Solidarity’s demand for the withdrawal of the regulations came after the Minister’s record in the case had been filed. According to the union, the government’s own record confirmed that the regulations were unlawful.   According to Solidarity Chief Executive Dr Dirk Hermann, the regulations are clearly substantively and procedurally unlawful. Defending the controversial regulations in court was going to waste taxpayers' money and the court’s time, he said.   According to Solidarity, the Minister ignored his own advisory committee. The committee indicated that wearing masks outdoors could not be scientifically justified, and that the unconditional wearing of masks indoors would also not pass the legal test.   “These regulations are not about masks, but about power and exerting control. Through these regulations the Minister wants to convert the temporary Covid-19 control measures into permanent control measures,” Hermann claimed.

Read Solidarity’s press statement on this letter and view its letter to the Minister at Solidarity News


UNPAID WAGES

Broke Masilonyana Municipality in Free State to pay workers with food vouchers

OFM News reports that the cash-strapped Theunissen-based Masilonyana Municipality in the Free State is to give workers food vouchers following the non-payment of their salaries for May 2022. The municipality has sent staff a communique informing workers that they would receive R1,000 food vouchers to be used at one of the local food retailers. According to the communique, the vouchers are limited to food stock, but could be used for other important commodities such as the purchase of prepaid electricity. Workers, including councillors, were set to access these vouchers from Friday, 17 June until Wednesday, 22 June 2022. Workers were not been paid for May due to cash flow issues. The decision to give workers food vouchers was taken following a meeting with workers’ unions to mitigate the effects of the delayed May salaries. However, in a second letter sent to workers in relation to the payment of salaries, the Acting Municipal Manager, Lungile Mokoteli, said the municipality was working towards speeding up the process of trying to have salaries paid as soon as possible. According to the Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke, Masilonyana is among three Free State municipalities which failed to account for how they spent their money.  

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


PENSION FUNDS

Public Protector overstepped her authority in pension complaint, Treasury argues in court

GroundUp reports that the Minister of Finance and the National Treasury will be seeking to set aside Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report on the termination of Mzunani Roseberry 'Rose' Sonto's Special Pension in the Pretoria High Court on 28 June. Earlier this month, it was reported that the Public Protector (PP) had ordered that the Minister should apologise to Sonto and set up a judicial review of the Appeal Board's decision to terminate his pension.   Special Pensions are administered by the Government Pensions Administration Agency (GPAA). In an affidavit deposed by Director-General Dondo Mogajane, the National Treasury asks the court to suspend the remedial action and monitoring provisions in the Public Protector's report.   According to the Treasury, the PP overstepped her authority. Mogajane's affidavit describes the PP’s circuitous route to finding that the Minister was ultimately responsible for the conduct of the Special Pensions Appeal Board. According to Mogajane, the National Treasury was only made the focus of the report well into its writing. As such, Treasury only submitted its response to the PP’s section 7(9) notice on the same day as she released her report. Mogajane seemingly does not deny that the Appeal Board may have been mistaken in its consideration of Sonto's appeal, which was lodged well outside of the statutory 60-day period of appeal. Instead, he argues that while the Appeal Board may have acted under a mistaken belief in the extent of its powers, "such action does not amount to improper conduct or maladministration". As such, the remedial action that seeks to hold the Minister accountable for the Appeal Board's decision is "misplaced and irregular". Mogajane argues that the PP’s finding against the decision of the Appeal Board is "beyond the remit" of her office. He says that the power to review a decision of the Appeal Board is held by a court of review only. The PP has not indicated yet whether the action by the National Treasury will be opposed.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by James Stent at Fin24


UNFAIR DISMISSAL

Stellenbosch Municipality loses case against bargaining council reinstatement decision

Cape Argus reports that the Labour Court has ordered the Stellenbosch Municipality to compensate a former employee, after the municipality failed to overturn a review of a finding by the SA Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) to reinstate her. In March 2018, Revonah Anthony, who had been employed by the municipality since 2006, appeared before a disciplinary hearing, after the municipality investigated allegations that she had misrepresented facts surrounding her matric certificate. Anthony was found guilty of misconduct and dismissed. She appealed the dismissal and the presiding officer at the appeal found that, while she was guilty of the complaints against her, a final written warning operative for 12 months with salary increments withheld for a period of a year would be a more appropriate sanction.   He took into account her personal circumstances and her submissions regarding stress and depression she had experienced and ordered that she be reinstated and allowed to return to work on 1 August 2018. But, the municipality decided to uphold Anthony’s dismissal. The matter then went for arbitration at the SALGBC, where the arbitrator found that the municipality’s HR manager had conceded that the dismissal had been procedurally unfair. Labour Court Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker said her judgment took into account the procedural unfairness of Anthony’s dismissal which arose due to the municipality’s disregard of the collective agreement to which it was bound. “I am of the view that Anthony must be compensated for her unfair dismissal in an amount equivalent to 10 months of her salary at the time of her dismissal,” she ruled.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mwangi Githahu at Cape Argus


SEXUAL ABUSE

Axed SANParks boss’ sex accuser told ‘no one will believe her’

Cape Times reports that according to a police report, the woman who accused disgraced SA National Parks (SANParks) chief executive officer Fundisile Mketeni of assault and sexual harassment was allegedly told that no-one would believe her. Mketeni was dismissed from the top job earlier this month after an internal probe by SANParks found him guilty of six charges brought against him.   The process was chaired by an independent professional and resulted in a ruling and recommended sanction being delivered to the board in May 2022. In an incident which is said to have occurred in May last year, Mketeni is alleged to have invited a woman and her friend to his house at Skukuza staff village, in the Kruger National Park. In the bedroom, Mketeni allegedly closed the door and started touching the complainant inappropriately. After she pushed Mketeni away, he allegedly started insulting her.   She managed to open the door and run outside where everyone was. One of the guests allegedly told her to not even think of reporting Mketeni because he was a man in power and he worked with the police so no one would believe her.   Mketeni and his co-accused were prosecuted and were found not guilty of the offence at the Bushbuckridge Magistrate’s Court last year. According to sources close to the woman, she was very grateful that SANParks was able to undertake a proper investigation, and justice was served.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Siphokazi Vuso at Cape Times


OTHER HEADLINES OF INTEREST

  • Government challenged in court over termination of Zim special permits, at IOL
  • Understanding the Zimbabwean permit case, at GroundUp
  • Good season forecast as hospitality industry shows signs of recovery, at Sunday Times (subscriber access only)
  • The pandemic changed the future of work and the hybrid work model is here to stay, say experts, at Business Times (subscriber access only)
  • Pandemic forces re-evaluation of employee benefits – survey, at Personal Finance

 


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