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 – CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS

Health Minister recommends that last remaining coronavirus restrictions be dropped

BL Premium reports that Department of Health (DOH) Minister Joe Phaahla has proposed scrapping the coronavirus regulations that require mask wearing indoors, limit the size of gatherings and stipulate testing and vaccination requirements for travellers to SA.   These last remaining regulations have been heavily criticised by the tourism and leisure sector for continuing to affect businesses struggling to regain a footing after more than two years of restrictions. In a leaked memo to health MECs, dated 20 June, the minister said SA had exited the recent spike in cases, or fifth wave, which the current regulations were promulgated to mitigate. The regulations, published in the Government Gazette on 4 May, were brought in at a time when new cases were rising rapidly and the status of the epidemic was “very concerning and unpredictable”. The latest epidemiological analysis indicated that as of mid-June there was a decline in the key indicators monitored by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. The DOH consulted the national coronavirus command council on 20 June and proposed that the regulations no longer needed to be in place.   The recommendations would be discussed with the cabinet in the next 48-72 hours, Phaahla indicated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tamar Kahn at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). See too, Health Minister Joe Phaahla recommends scrapping Covid-19 regulations as SA exits 5th wave, at News24. En ook, Covid-19-regulasies dalk binnekort laat vaar, by Maroela Media

Teacher unions adamant that dropping of masks in classrooms must be based on scientific evidence

News24 reports that the third term of the school year could look a lot different for pupils becaise the Department of Health (DOH) is considering scrapping mandatory mask wearing. On Tuesday, it was reported that Health Minister Joe Phaahla was recommending that regulations making it necessary to wear masks in public indoor areas be dropped as there had been a decline in "critical indicators" such as new cases, hospitalisations and deaths related to Covid-19. The President's Coordinating Council (PCC) on Covid-19 is expected to consider ratifying the recommendations when it meets on Wednesday. SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) spokesperson Nomusa Cembi commented: “If the decision is informed by science and based on a decrease in the number of infections, we would not have a problem with lifting the mask mandate. We have said from the beginning of the pandemic that we believe science should dictate what is happening."   However, Cembi added: “We worry about schools in townships and rural areas which are overcrowded. If the restrictions are lifted, they may become super-spreaders. Ideally, we'd like to see more classrooms being built to reduce overcrowding.” But, National Teachers’ Union acting president Sibusiso Malinga said removing the mask mandate would compromise teacher and pupil safety: "We are still in the Covid-19 era and we can't diverge from safety regulations in place to protect educators and learners. This is a very bad decision. We've already compromised on social distancing and now we're putting the lives of teachers and learners at risk." Withdrawing the mask mandate would most likely be a "huge relief" to some teachers and pupils, said Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools (Fedsas) CEO Jaco Deacon.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nicole McCain at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Covid-19 update: 1,087 new cases confirmed with 7.8% positivity rate and 20 deaths, at The Citizen
  • Pandemic forces re-evaluation of employee benefits – survey, at Personal Finance


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY

Security guard shot dead, two others disarmed in cash-in-transit heist at Engen garage in Randfontein on Monday

News24 reports that a G4S security guard was shot and killed, while two other security officials were disarmed, during a cash-in-transit robbery in Gauteng, which saw the robbers flee with an undisclosed amount of money. The security guard, who was also the driver of the cash van, was shot several times in the upper body by the gunmen at an Engen garage in Randfontein on Monday night.   According to Gauteng police spokesperson, Colonel Athlenda Mathe, the security guards were busy with their day-to-day duties of collecting and dropping off money when they were attacked at the garage. Mathe indicated further: “Reports from the scene indicate that the cash van was attacked by suspects who were driving in a blue Mercedes-Benz, a white BMW, and a Mazda BT 50 double cab.   The Mercedes-Benz was used to ram into the cash van, causing it to come to a halt. Thereafter random shots were fired." The guard who was shot succumbed to his injuries in the cash van. Two other security officials were ordered to lie down and disarmed of two service pistols, before the cash van was blown up. No arrests have been made and police have launched a manhunt for those involved.

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

Truck overturns in Western Cape on Monday, leaving 35 farm workers injured

Cape Times reports that thirty-five Western Cape farm workers were injured on Monday morning when the truck they were being transported in overturned. The vehicle was travelling on the R45 between Klapmuts and Simondium near Groot Simonsvlei, transporting workers employed on different farms in the surrounding areas. According to ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring, their teams and the provincial Metro EMS arrived at the incident site at about 7.30am, where they found the truck on its side on the side of the road. “Medics assessed the patients and found that one man had serious injuries while 34 others had minor to moderate injuries.   Fortunately, no fatalities were found,” Meiring reported. The injured persons were treated on site and the seriously injured man was provided with advanced life support before being transported to nearby hospital for further medical care. The incident has once again ignited calls for stricter regulation over the transport of farm workers. Labour federation Cosatu claimed the government and farm owners have done nothing to protect the vulnerable farmworkers who must travel every day in dangerous conditions. “How many people must die before the farmers, provincial and national government are going to intervene to ensure that farmworkers are treated as human beings and transported in safe modes of transport,” Cosatu asked.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Okuhle Hlati at Cape Times

Two Limpopo paramedics killed when ambulance crashes into stationary truck

TimesLive reports that two Limpopo paramedics were killed on the N1 near Codrington during the early hours of Tuesday when their ambulance crashed into the back of a stationary truck. Limpopo department of transport & community safety spokesperson Mike Maringa said both the driver and passenger were killed on impact. Limpopo MEC Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya conveyed her condolences to the families of the two emergency personnel. She added:   “It is disturbing to wake up to the sad news of the passing of emergency workers who died in the line of duty. These are the same people we rely on to save lives on the roads. We call on our drivers to be extra cautious and drive within the limits.” The cause of the crash is unknown.

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Shonisani Tshikalange at SowetanLive. Lees ook, Twee paramedici verongeluk, by Maroela Media


TRUCKING PROTESTS

Firms hire private security to protect freeways, but road freight boss warns it’s a risk

BL Premium reports that the Road Freight Association (RFA) has warned that Durban businesses paying private security teams to guard the N2 and N3 could lead to more volatility. Fed up with debilitating truck blockades on major freeways, some companies are going that route. It’s a move prompted by last week’s protest action on the N3, an important corridor between Johannesburg and Durban, where truckers parked their vehicles, causing major traffic backlogs, severe delays in the delivery of goods and the loss of more than R300m. Their main gripe was the employment of foreign drivers by transporters. Gavin Kelly, Road Freight Association CEO, said: “It’s very worrying that private companies need to resort to hiring their own security, especially in the manner in which they are ... having well-armed security forces to ensure they can operate their businesses.” He went on to comment: “One understands why they are doing it, but it is not a good thing. That role really rests with the police, whether we like that or not. If something happens and these private security firms take action, what are they going to do? Once the first shot is fired that is going to escalate into something that is going to be very difficult to stop.” Glen Naidoo, head of KZN VIP Protection, one of the companies providing security, said “certain business entities” had hired private firms to ensure the smooth transporting of goods and security of their drivers. He did not reveal the identity of his clients because of safety concerns. Meantime, the government is finalising a policy to help regulate the extent to which foreigners can be employed in SA.

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

Trucking sector warns of more highway protests if government and police fail in their duties

EWN reports that many involved in the trucking and logistics industries have warned that disruptive protests on the roads are likely to occur again if the police and government fail in their duties. Last week, disgruntled truck drivers blocked the N3 and other highways in the country. They were complaining that South African truck drivers were being overlooked for job opportunities in favour of foreign nationals because the latter were easier to exploit. An 11-point action plan to address the impasse within the trucking industry has been formulated following a meeting between government representatives, employers and employees in the sector. Siyabonga Dlamini from the All Truck Drivers' Forum said that government must ensure that all employers complied with labour laws as envisaged in the action plan to avoid further demonstrations. Gavin Kelly from the Road Freight Association agreed:   “Those who willingly want to break the rules in the country and not comply with the labour legislation or transport legislation, we need to deal with them.” A task team which includes the Transport Department, Home Affairs, police as well as the Department of Labour and Employment is expected to meet monthly to monitor the progress of the action plan.

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Nkosikhona Duma at EWN


MINING LABOUR

Numsa doubles down despite Labour Court granting Implats contractor interdict against strike

Fin24 reports that despite one employer contractor being granted an interim interdict against strike action at the operations of Impala Platinum (Implats), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said it would see its legal campaign through to ensure all members could down tools for better wages. The Labour Court granted Reagetswe Mining Group an interdict preventing Numsa members at the company from embarking on industrial action until a final determination has been made on the status of the broader strike.   Numsa wants contractor employees to earn salaries consistent with the wages of permanent workers. Rock drill operators earn a minimum of R17,000 a month, while Numsa claims contractors earn little more than R5,000. Numsa has been trying to get workers at Reagetswe and two other Implats contractors – Triple M Mining and Newrak – to strike.   Reagetswe and Numsa went to the Labour Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday, where an interim interdict against a strike at Reagetswe was granted. Numsa’s Phakamile Hlubi-Majola commented: "It’s an interim interdict. It does not mean that it is permanent. The judge wanted time to process some of the arguments.   We will be returning to court at a later date to argue whether that order should be made final." She added that the interdict only applied to workers at Reagetswe and did not affect Triple M and Newrak and that the union would continue to agitate for the right to strike for its members at all three contractor companies.

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

Implats claims Numsa strike at contracted companies won’t have much effect

BL Premium reports that Impala Platinum (Implats) says a strike by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) over the use of contract workers at its operations is unlikely to have much effect on output.   Numsa members employed by Newrak, Reagetswe Mining Group and Triple M Mining downed tools on Monday in protest at alleged exploitation by the mining services companies contracted to Implats. The matter is now before the Labour Court in Johannesburg. “The court granted Reagetswe an interim court interdict ... We will be returning to court at a later date to argue about whether that order should be final,” Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola indicated. Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said on Tuesday that members who were employed by the three contractors were paid a fraction of what their counterparts directly employed by Implats earned. Implats spokesperson Johan Theron said Numsa “represents around 3,000 contract workers out of a total workforce of around 45,000 (full time employees plus contractors). Contractors mostly provide support services and mining at two end-of-life small shafts.”   The impact on the business was “therefore likely to be marginal as these services can be secured from alternative resources”. Theron commented that the Numsa strike was “clearly positioned to grow their presence and relevance in the mining industry which is their legitimate right, but if the space is already occupied by another union holding a bigger position then they have to follow due legal process in collaboration with all the other stakeholders”.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Luyolo Mkentane at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read too, Impala Platinum says Numsa is trying to strong-arm contracting companies, at EWN

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Chieftaincy dispute in minerals-rich Richards Bay community flares up again, schools closed after threats, at IOL
  • SA not getting full slice of commodity boom, at Moneyweb
  • West Coast breakthrough: environment activists and Mineral Sands Resources reach agreement, at GroundUp


WAGE INCREASES FOR PUBLIC OFFICE-BEARERS

ACDP calls for 3% pay rise for public office-bearers to be forfeited to help economy

SowetanLive reports that while the ACDP has called for the halting of the latest salary increases for public office-bearers (POBs), the party has stopped short of saying its own public representatives would not be accepting the pay hike. The party said the increases must be put on hold until the economy improved. “The ACDP is not unsympathetic to the needs of public office-bearers who, like millions of other workers, have gone without salary increases for at least two years while inflation has continued to grow,” the political party said on Tuesday. But, it added: “Furthermore, the ACDP is cognisant of the economic challenges facing our nation, such as low GDP growth, a high debt to GDP ratio, massive unemployment, inconsistent energy supply (Eskom), collapsing SOEs and municipalities across the country, to mention a few. It is against this background that the NEC of the ACDP has made the call to halt the 3% increase for POBs”. When asked whether the party’s public representatives would forgo the 3% increases, ACDP leader, Kenneth Meshoe, said they had not discussed that and had only looked at the global picture. Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa accepted recommendations to increase the salaries of politicians and other POBs by 3%.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Andisiwe Makinana at SowetanLive. See too, Outcry over bigwig pay hike, on page 6 of The Citizen of 21 June 2022


ALLEGED CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Home Affairs official who issued fraudulent passport granted bail

News24 reports that a Department of Home Affairs (DHA) official, who allegedly issued a fraudulent passport to a man from Bangladesh in the name of Lebogang Ndlovu, was granted R5,000 bail in the Benoni Magistrate's Court on Tuesday. DHA spokesperson Siya Qoza said Sibongile Simelane was arrested during an operation by the department's Counter Corruption Branch, the Hawks and other law enforcement agencies on Monday. Simelane was based at the Benoni office. She is on suspension and has a disciplinary hearing scheduled for this week. The case made headlines last month after Fahim Kazi was arrested when he allegedly tried to flee the country. At the time of his arrest, DHA Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the alleged corrupt official who issued the fraudulent passport had been on the radar of the Counter Corruption Branch. "We are determined to root out corruption in all its forms in Home Affairs.   We will stamp out the use of fraudulent documents by people who do not deserve them. We will continue to arrest citizens and non-nationals who engage in the production of fraudulent documents," Motsoaledi said this week.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Iavan Pijoos at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Whistleblowers in SA have some protection but gaps need fixing, at EWN


SEXUAL ASSAULT

Cape Town teacher gets five years for sexually assaulting a learner, with name to be added to offenders register

GroundUp reports that Ayanda Ntuthu, who sexually assaulted a boy at Thandokhulu High School in Mowbray, Cape Town in 2017 has been sentenced to five years in prison. His name will also be added to the National Register for Sex Offenders. This came more than five years after the assault and for most of that time he has continued teaching at the school.   Ntuthu was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault on 18 March. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment for each count, which will run concurrently. While delivering the sentence, Wynberg Magistrate Nontuthuzelo Ralarala said the court needed to regard Ntuthu’s personal circumstances, the seriousness of the offence, and the interests of society. “The crimes are serious and the nature and prevalence cannot be overlooked. The aggravating factor is that you did not only sexually assault a child, but you did it in your capacity as an educator in a school environment. You abused your position as a teacher,” Ralarala noted.   A report by a probation officer recommended that Ntuthu’s sentence be suspended “because he does not pose a threat to society and is not affiliated with any gang.” But, Ralarala stated: “The court cannot agree with this. Although a suspended sentence and rehabilitation are recommended, the court finds that it will not fit the nature of the crime. Imprisonment will fit the crime, the interests of society, and make you (Ntuthu) a better citizen and better role model for your child.” Ralarala also recommended that the judgment be sent to the Department of Basic Education.   Outside of the court, the learner and his aunt expressed their joy at the sentencing.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Marecia Damons at GroundUp

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • “I am innocent”- suspended employee who worked under Fritz breaks silence, at Weekend Argus

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page