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


TOP STORY

Agri SA warns looming shutdown of Tiger Brands’ canning factory ‘disastrous’ and puts over 4,500 jobs on the line

Moneyweb reports that agricultural association Agri SA has warned that the closure of Tiger Brands’ Langeberg and Ashton Foods fruit canning factory in the Western Cape will have disastrous implications for the province’s farming communities by threatening more than 4,500 jobs and disrupting crucial value chains. According to Agri SA’s Christo van der Rheede, the food producer has given notice to stakeholders of its intentions to close the 70-year-old fruit canning factory located in the small town of Ashton. The factory supplies fruit for Tiger Brands’s well-known Koo brand.   Van der Rheede indicated: “The impact of the announcement is already being felt as labour brokers report that their teams are sitting at home as producers stopped pruning after the announcement. The factory is the life support of the Ashton community and without it the community faces socioeconomic disaster. The Langeberg and Ashton factory is also the biggest single source of income for the Langeberg Municipality.” The move to shut down the factory – if successful – will reportedly leave about 300 peach, apricot and pear farmers without a market to sell their produce. In a statement, Tiger Brands said it was currently in consultation with affected permanent and seasonal workers regarding the future of the factory.   Initially, in 2020, Tiger Brands had decided to divest from the factory, and a consortium of 160 producers expressed their interest in buying the business. However, with the factory’s price tag reportedly set between R200 and 300 million, raising the funds was a challenge for the consortium.   Tiger Brands has, according to Van der Rheede, given the consortium 60 days to raise the necessary funds or the food producer will continue with its plans, jeopardising the jobs of 250 permanent workers and about 4,300 seasonal workers.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Akhona Matshoba at Moneyweb. Read too, Farmers fear fallout of Tiger Brands’ looming closure of canning factory, at BusinessLive


RETRENCHMENTS / JOB LOSSES

Competition Appeal Court rules that Coca-Cola retrenchments in 2019 breached merger conditions

Fin24 reports that the Competition Appeal Court has ruled that there was a breach of merger conditions when Coca-Cola Beverages SA retrenched 368 bargaining unit employees in 2019. The ruling, which relates to two mergers involving Coca-Cola, could result in merger approval being revoked – or in an administrative penalty or an order of divestiture if the firm and the Competition Commission cannot agree on a plan to remedy the breach. The two mergers included conditions intended to protect employees who were members of the bargaining unit from retrenchment as a result of the mergers. The first merger, between SABMiller, the Coca-Cola Company and Gutsche Family Investment, was approved by the Competition Tribunal in 2016, resulting in the formation of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA). The next merger transaction took place a just over a year later in 2017, when Coca-Cola acquired SABMiller’s CCBA stake. In 2019, the beverage maker’s local subsidiary, Coca-Cola Beverages SA, retrenched the 368 employees in the bargaining unit. The Competition Commission then issued a Notice of Apparent Breach, which was set aside by the Competition Tribunal last year on the grounds that it believed CCBA had complied with the conditions of the merger. The CCBA had argued that the retrenchment process was necessary at the time due to macroeconomic challenges, the government’s implementation of the sugar tax and raw material price increases. The commission then approached the appeal court, which last week upheld the commission’s appeal that CCBA had breached merger conditions. It also granted a cost order against CCBA.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard compiled by Penelope Mashego at Fin24

Saftu’s Vavi asserts that River Club developers to blame for job losses

Weekend Argus reports that the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) has called on the developer of the controversial River Club in Cape Town to take responsibility for job losses and lack of consultation with indigenous people following the Western Cape High Court interim interdict that halted construction. According to the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT), about 750 construction workers' short term contracts were suspended after the high court ruling in March halted the development backed by Amazon. However, Saftu criticised the Trust for "blaming" environmental and civic activists, the Khoi and San people for the job losses.   General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi noted that in its ruling the high court had pointed out that the Trust took the decision at its own risk to continue with construction even though the matter was scheduled for litigation. The Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Traditional Indigenous Council and the Observatory Civic Association had lodged an application with the court, challenging the development on a site regarded as "sacred". Vavi said workers were now being forced to pay the harshest price for "the greed and recklessness of private capital".   He described the developers move as "scapegoating" and said the workers were not the "enemy of marginalised indigenous Khoi and San groups, who are merely fighting for their fundamental right to dignity and respect". The Trust has filed an application for leave to appeal the interim interdict at the Supreme Court of Appeal. The developers also announced this week that work was to resume at the site to ‘protect’ the existing structures and some jobs.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Bulelwa Payi at Weekend Argus


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY

Security company offers R1m reward for information on guard's killers

News24 reports that a security company has offered a R1-million reward for information about the murder of one of its security guards.   The G4S Cash Solutions security guard was murdered during a cash-in-transit heist in Johannesburg on Monday evening. The guards were collecting cash at a filling station in Mohlakeng when they were attacked. The driver of the cash van was shot during the attack and was found still behind the wheel, having suffered gunshot wounds and showing no signs of life.   His two colleagues were ordered to lie down and robbed of their service pistols. The van was then blown up, and an undisclosed amount of money taken. Camera footage of the robbery captured an image of one of the perpetrators.   The company is offering a R1-million reward for anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of the perpetrators. "We are making it a priority to ensure these criminals are held to account," said Renso Smit, regional cluster director for G4S Southern Africa. Smit said cash-in-transit heists were becoming increasingly violent, putting the lives of employees at risk.

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Brand breek uit by Chris Hani Baragwanath-hospitaal, by Maroela Media
  • Clover-aanvalle: Borgtog van drie beskuldigdes vorder, by Maroela Media


COVID-19 REGULATIONS

Health Minister cancels mandatory Covid-19 face masks and travel certificates

TimesLive reports that Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has repealed Covid-19 regulations governing the use of face masks and requiring that people leaving SA or coming to SA must produce full vaccination certificates. In a government gazette on Wednesday, Phaahla repealed regulations 16A, 16B and 16C of the regulations relating to the surveillance and the control of notifiable medical conditions in their entirety. He said the repeal of the regulations concerned would come into operation upon their publication in the gazette. A leaked memorandum from Phaahla dated 20 June showed he was calling for an end to all remaining Covid-19 restrictions. The memo pointed out that the regulations on mask wearing, indoor gatherings and travellers into the country having to be tested and vaccinated were implemented during a specific and extreme phase of the pandemic. With a major decline in infection numbers, hospitalisations and deaths, these measured were not appropriate, the minister argued. Fedhasa head Rosemary Anderson, on behalf of the hospitality industry, said on Tuesday the organisation welcomed the department of health’s recommendation to repeal the regulations.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at TimesLive. Read too, No more masks! – All Covid regulations officially scrapped, at The Citizen

Solidarity welcomes the lifting of health regulations

On Wednesday, Solidarity welcomed the lifting of the controversial health regulations by the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla. This after the trade union submitted a letter to the Department of Health on Monday indicating that it would apply for a punitive costs order against government if the regulations were not lifted before Solidarity’s pending court case. Solidarity, AfriForum and other interest groups have taken government to court over the disputed regulations. The lifting of the regulations in question will put an end to the compulsory wearing of masks indoors, to the limitations of numbers in stadiums and theatres, as well as travel restrictions to SA. According to Solidarity, the government had no choice but to withdraw the regulations before the court hearing. The union noted that this was the second time that the government suddenly lifted regulations before being challenged in court by Solidarity. Dr Dirk Hermann, Chief Executive Officer of Solidarity, explained: “Just like the state of disaster, these regulations were also irrational and unlawful. And just like the lifting of the state of disaster on 5 April 2022, government realised it and wanted to avoid the court case at all costs. The regulations were procedurally and substantively unlawful. Naturally we welcome the withdrawal thereof, but the regulations should not have been there in the first place. We trust that government has finally learnt its lesson in terms of the consequences that the unreasonable restriction of citizens’ rights have.”

Read the full original of Solidarity’s press statement regarding the above at SA Labour News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Herroeping van regulasies nodig, maar dalk nie einde van litigasie nie, by Maroela Media
  • Regering kan nie maskermandaat wetenskaplik steun, by Maroela Media


INDUSTRIAL ACTION

Ambulance services grind to a halt in Eastern Cape districts as paramedics down tools

GroundUp reports that more than 200 paramedics and other emergency medical staff, who are meant to serve the Amathole District as well as the Raymond Mhlaba Local and Buffalo City municipalities, have been reporting for duty but have not worked for two months. They are demanding better working conditions and adequate equipment. In May, the health department obtained a court order to end the unprotected strike but most workers still refused to work. The department then took the National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) to the Labour Court in Gqeberha last Friday. But judgment was reserved and the work stoppage is continuing. Regional Nehawu coordinator Mzamane Mgwantashe, a paramedic based at Fort Beaufort Hospital, said: "We feel the pain of our communities, but we can't gamble with people's lives in ambulances not conducive to transporting patients. Should anything happen to the patient, our members would be held accountable." Mgwantashe added that workers were still receiving their monthly salaries.   Health department spokesperson Mkhululi Ndamase condemned the ongoing unprotected strike in the strongest words possible, but said talks with union representatives had deadlocked.   Meantime, the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) in Fort Beaufort has called on Eastern Cape Health MEC Nomakhosazana Meth and Premier Oscar Mabuyane to intervene and end the ongoing work stoppage. Ndamase advised that the department would be using private ambulance services to respond to life-threatening calls in affected communities.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mkhuseli Sizani at News24


WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Eskom wage talks deadlock after management ‘declares dispute and stages walkout’

BL Premium reports that unions negotiating for higher wages at state-owned power utility Eskom are set to meet to chart a way forward after talks between labour and the employer reached a deadlock. The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) accused the utility’s management of walking out of wage talks after declaring a dispute on Tuesday. “We must not be surprised if Eskom imposes a below-inflation increase again, as it did last year,” Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said in a statement on Wednesday. But in response, Eskom said: “The media statement of Numsa does not reflect what transpired at the CBF [central bargaining forum]. It is fraught with sensationalisation, inaccuracies and falsehoods … We have, under the current economic conditions and our financial constraints, proposed a decent offer which on average amounts to 4.7%.” Numsa, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and Eskom met on Tuesday at the CBF for what would have been the fourth round of talks that were scheduled to end on Wednesday. Numsa and NUM, which represent most of Eskom’s workforce of about 42,300 workers, had initially been demanding a one-year, 15% pay rise across the board, while Solidarity was demanding a 5.5% overall increase.   However, Numsa’s spokesperson said last week that the union had reduced its demand to 12%. In a document seen by Business Day last week, Eskom is offering a one-year pay hike deal for increases of 5.3%, 4.5% and 4% for its 28,374 employees in the bargaining unit, who are spread across different salary scales. On Wednesday, Jim said Numsa and other unions submitted their revised demands and the expectation was that “we would engage in a final round”. He went on to claim that “after Numsa made its opening remarks, instead of engaging, Eskom management responded by declaring a dispute and then it walked out of the venue.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Luyolo Mkentane at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read too, Eskom walks out of wage negotiations with union, at Moneyweb

Eskom confirms deadlock in wage talks, with any party now free to declare a dispute at the CCMA

Fin24 reports that Eskom has confirmed a deadlock with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) during wage negotiations at the Central Bargaining Forum (CBF), which has brought the process to a close.   This came after Numsa released a fiery statement on Wednesday morning, claiming that Eskom management declared a dispute at the beginning of the fourth round of wage talks after the union tabled its revised demands. Eskom’s general manager for people relations, Thulane Ngeleat, gave a briefing about the dispute on Wednesday and indicated: "We have reached a deadlock. And salary negotiations are closed." Ngele advised that any party, be it Eskom or organised labour, had the option of declaring an official dispute with the CCMA.   "If there is no agreement, the matter can be referred to arbitration," Ngele pointed out, while noting that Eskom was an essential service and hence there could be no strike action at the entity. Numsa advised in its statement: "We successfully demonstrated to the Central Bargaining Forum last week that primary energy costs were collapsing Eskom. We were able to show that Eskom can afford to pay workers increases, but they choose not to.” The union said its representatives at the CBF negotiations asked why Eskom was "taking [what is] meant for workers, and using it to pay billions to diesel suppliers, owners of coal contracts, and IPPs". According to the statement, instead of answering questions from organised labour about its cost drivers, Eskom representatives staged a walkout. Numsa said it would consult members on a way forward.

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


CONSUMER INFLATION

At 6.5%, consumer inflation in May breached upper level of Reserve Bank’s target range

BL Premium reports that Stats SA announced on Wednesday that the consumer price index (CPI) rose 6.5% year-on-year in May, thus breaching the Reserve Bank’s upper limit of 6% amid relentless increases in food and petrol prices. This was the highest reading since January 2017, when the inflation rate was 6.6%, and well above market expectations of 6.2%. Core inflation, which excludes prices of food, nonalcoholic beverages, fuel and energy, also quickened to 4.1% in May 2022, the highest since August 2019, from 3.9% the previous month. The main contributors to the 6.5% inflation rate were food and nonalcoholic beverages (an increase of 7.6% year-on-year); housing and utilities (4.9% year-on-year); transport (15.7% year-on-year); and miscellaneous goods and services. Stats SA said fuel in particular remained a major contributor to inflation.   “Without the impact of fuel from the CPI reading in May, the headline rate falls to 5.1% from 6.5%,” Stats SA indicated. Diesel prices jumped by 8.1% between April and May, taking the annual rate to more than 45%. Petrol prices moderated between April and May, edging lower by 0.7%. Despite that decline, petrol was almost 27% more expensive than it had been in May 2021.

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category


HEALTHCARE WHISTLE-BLOWER

Top health professionals want probe into targeting of whistle-blower doctor

BL Premium reports that an influential group of health professionals has called for an end to all disciplinary action against paediatrician Tim de Maayer and an inquiry into the officials who targeted him for raising the alarm about the desperate state of the hospital in which he worked. De Maayer was placed on precautionary suspension earlier this month by Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital CEO Nozuko Mkabayi after he wrote an open letter about the deteriorating conditions at the facility and other public hospitals, which he said were contributing to child deaths. His previous attempts to raise his concerns with management had fallen on deaf ears. De Maayer’s suspension was lifted after a public outcry, but he now faces a disciplinary process that could lead to his dismissal. Now 137 leading figures in the health sector, including activists, scientists, doctors, academics, former high-ranking health department officials and senior executives from private hospital groups have written an open letter to health minister Joe Phaahla and Gauteng premier David Makhura, condemning the treatment of De Maayer. The conditions of service that prevented public health sector employees from speaking out about its deficiencies were reminiscent of apartheid-era practices to stifle dissent, they said. “Victimisation of healthcare professionals who expose the profound administrative deficiencies plaguing public health facilities is accelerating the outward migration of health professionals who can no longer endure the moral injury caused by working in conditions that violates their ethical obligations,” the group warned.

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


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT

Prasa says it needs at least R3bn to beef up security on vulnerable rail network

BL Premium reports that the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) has brought out the begging bowl, telling a parliamentary committee that it needs at least R3bn in state funding over the next three years to protect its vulnerable rail network. Prasa acting CEO David Mphelo told MPs on Wednesday: “Prasa security needs the funding support of the department of transport, as well as National Treasury, to operationally fund the security plans. This would allow the take-back of Prasa infrastructure and the necessary resources deployed with an oversight of command and control.” Prasa, battling to stay afloat with expenses that far outstrip revenue, has for years been weighed down by vandalism and theft of its critical infrastructure, which threaten to derail economic recovery since rail is crucial for productivity and growth. It is also an affordable and preferred mode of transport for millions of working-class South Africans. Any request for additional funding by Prasa will test the National Treasury’s determination to wean parastatals from the fiscus and make them commercially viable. Yet, Mphelo suggested that some of the money to boost security could be drawn from the budget meant to modernise infrastructure and by raising train fares, which have not been reviewed in seven years. “Rehabilitating the network without investing in security would be pointless. We are dealing with syndicates ... we need boots on the ground and technology,” Mphelo stated. The DA-led City of Cape Town has been pushing to take control of the train system in the city to avert its collapse.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Bekezela Phakathi at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read too, Zuma, Ramaphosa and ANC stood by while Prasa was plundered, says Zondo, at TimesLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Train service to resume in parts of Eastern Cape, at GroundUp


OTHER HEADLINES OF INTEREST

  • Night shifts introduced at the Port of Cape Town to boost efficiency, capacity, at Cape Argus
  • Safa dangles big bonuses for Banyana Banyana ahead of African tournament, at Sunday World
  • Who wants to be a millionaire? Get a top-paying government job, at Daily Maverick
  • How executives’ salaries for listed companies are structured, at Mail & Guardian

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page