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 – WAGE NEGOTIATION TURMOIL AT ESKOM

Eskom extends record power cuts to fourth day due to “unlawful and unprotected” strike

Bloomberg reports that Eskom extended the worst blackouts on record to a fourth day as the state-owned power utility struggled to recover from a strike that prevented as many as 90% of staff at some power plants from going to work. The company cut 6,000 megawatts, known as Stage 6, from the national grid from 2pm until midnight on Thursday and will do so again from 5am until midnight on Friday. It has apparently raised its wage offer to unions to 7% in an attempt to break a negotiation deadlock that led to workers going on a rampage, torching homes of senior officials and blocking entry into plants. While Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said two days ago that staff would return to work from Wednesday, “high levels of absenteeism and intimidation of working employees in some of the power stations is still rife,” Eskom indicated. “Due to the unlawful and unprotected strike, which has caused widespread disruption to Eskom’s power plants, Eskom is still unable to return some generators to service,” the company said. The utility plans to cut a minimum of 4,000 megawatts of power continuously over the weekend. Unions are expected to meet managers on Friday morning about a pending wage agreement, according to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Rene Vollgraaff, Paul Burkhardt & Colleen Goko at BusinessLive. See too, Stage 6 load shedding kicks in again as absenteeism, intimidation at Eskom still 'rife', at Fin24. En ook, Fase 6 nou vroeër ingestel, by Maroela Media

Unions have not rejected Eskom’s 7% wage offer yet, says Numsa

The Citizen reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) says it has not rejected Eskom’s wage offer of a 7% wage increase yet, despite reports which suggested otherwise. Reports emerged on Thursday morning that Numsa and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had rejected the parastatal’s revised offer.   Numsa initially demanded 15% across the board at the start of the wage battle, but revised its demand downward to 12%. NUM’s wage demands currently range between 8% and 10%, while Solidarity, which condemned the recent protests, has made a demand of 5.9%. In a tweet, Numsa said it noted the very reckless report claiming that workers at Eskom has rejected the 7% wage offer. “This kind of reckless reporting has the potential to jeopardize wage talks. We will be meeting with Eskom in the CBF to respond to the wage proposal,” Numsa said it another tweet. Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan on Tuesday prematurely said an agreement had been reached with unions to bring the illegal industrial action by Eskom employees to an end. The unions reacted: “We have not come to any agreement with Eskom, an offer was tabled which members are engaging on.” Wage bargaining is expected to resume on Friday.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Faizel Patel at The Citizen. Read too, NUM says formal unveiling of Eskom offer still to happen, at BusinessLive. And also, NUM, Numsa deal with divisions, allege 'fake news' as some members reject 7% increase, at Fin24

No protest planned at Eskom’s headquarters on Friday says Numsa, but utility taking precautions just in case

Moneyweb reports that National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola has denied that the union is part of plans to hold a protest at Eskom’s Megawatt Park headquarters in Joburg on Friday. This was advised after a 29 June memo, bearing Numsa’s and the National Union of Mineworkers’ (NUM’s) logos as well as signatures of senior union officials, began circulating, along with calls for a picket at Eskom’s head office on Friday. The memo also called for the resignation of Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter, chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer and general manager of people relations Dr Thulane Ngele.   Hlubi-Majola said that the statement “is not [an] official communication from Numsa” and went on to add:   “There is no Numsa picket at Megawatt Park on Friday. We are focusing on the talks (wage) which are happening at the Central Bargaining Forum (CBF) from tomorrow with Eskom.” The NUM’s energy sector coordinator Khangela Baloyi, however, did not deny the veracity of the memo, saying that it was passed on by branches of the union. “This letter is from branches in Lephalale [in Limpopo]. The branches are divided on this issue,” Baloyi advised. In the joint memo, union members also called on their unions to provide transportation to Eskom’s head office on Friday, so that workers could air their grievances to their bosses.   Meantime, Eskom indicated that it would be taking precautionary measures should a picket materialise on Friday.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Akhona Matshoba at Moneyweb

Business leaders beg Ramaphosa to show some urgency and fix 'national crisis' at Eskom

Fin24 reports that as Eskom and trade unions sit down on Friday to discuss a deal that it is hoped will end a week of labour unrest and intense load shedding, business leaders have written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to say his government's efforts are not enough and more must be done to address the crisis. Criticism is mounting that government doesn't have the urgency to deal with the electricity supply shortfall. And although it appears likely that an end to the strike is on the cards, it has damaged labour and political relations. The latest suggestions on how new energy generation could be expedited come from CEO of Business Leadership SA (BLSA) Busisiwe Mavuso and CEO of Business Unity SA (BUSA), Cas Coovadia, who have appealed to Ramaphosa to urgently "debottleneck regulatory processes" to assure security of supply. “Urgent action is now required, and we appeal to you as President of the country to act firmly and decisively to address this national crisis," said the letter. The regulatory processes relate to the registration of private or embedded generation projects by businesses, mines, farms and industry, but even if they are short-circuited and public procurement expanded, it will be 18 months to two years before new projects are built and ready to deliver power.   Meanwhile, as Eskom management and unions return to the Central Bargaining Forum (CBF) on Friday and resume wage talks, tension over interference, high absenteeism, and continued intimidation make for a difficult negotiation environment.   Unions were visibly annoyed by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan who prematurely announced on Tuesday that an agreement had been reached in the wage dispute before the CBF had even sat. Numsa demanded that the minister withdraw his statement and accused him of "jeopardising talks" by "preempting the outcome". It also became clear on Thursday that some union members were not ready to settle on Eskom’s revised 7% offer and wanted to continue the fight.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Carol Paton & Khulekani Magubane at Fin24 (subscriber access only). See too, Small businesses are taking a hammering as Eskom power cuts bite, at Business Report

DA accuses Gordhan of ‘conveniently’ pinning load shedding on striking workers

EWN reports that sabotage and the recent labour unrest have been placed at the centre of the latest Eskom power cuts, but opposition parties in Parliament are not convinced. They said on Wednesday that the labour force should not be made a scapegoat for Eskom's woes. On Tuesday, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said the country was subjected to stage 6 load shedding due to unlawful strike action at its plants.   But opposition parties have placed the blame solely at Gordhan’s door. Democratic Alliance (DA) public enterprises spokesperson Ghaleb Cachalia said unions Numsa and NUM were not responsible for all the problems currently plaguing Eskom, adding that it was a convenient excuse for Gordhan. “You can’t just scapegoat labour. That’s a convenient excuse at the moment and there might be some truth to it. There are as I pointed out a host, a plethora of other issues which actually must be placed at minister Gordhan’s feet and he must address this."   Herron argued that Eskom’s real crisis was a failure of skills and leadership, adding that the country could not afford the merry-go-round of unsustainable excuses. He said SA’s joint security structures should urgently address incidents of sabotage. Meanwhile, GOOD Party MP Brett Herron said SA was captured by a monopoly that could not deliver on its mandate. He further called for diversification in the energy sector and the introduction of an independent supply of power.

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Babalo Ndenze at EWN. Read too, DA, UDM demand Ramaphosa address the nation on load shedding crisis, at EWN


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY

One dead, 13 injured as taxi transporting night shift workers collides with truck on R102 in KZN on Wednesday

The Mercury reports that one person died and 13 were seriously injured when a taxi transporting night shift workers to work collided with a truck on the R102 near Darnall in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday. IPSS Medical Rescue spokesperson Dylan Meyrick said IPSS and other emergency services responded to the scene of a collision between a taxi and a truck early on Wednesday evening. When paramedics arrived on the scene they found that a fully laden taxi carrying night shift workers to work in KwaDukuza (Stanger) had collided with a sugar cane truck. “IPSS Medical arrived at a chaotic scene with 13 patients sustaining critical to serious injuries. IPSS Medical advanced life support worked to stabilise five patients, who were transported to a nearby facility for further care,” Meyrick reported. Eight patients were treated and transported to hospital. Unfortunately, one person sustained fatal injuries and was declared dead on scene.   Meyrick thanked KwaDukuza Municipality Fire Department and other services for the great teamwork.

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Karen Singh at The Mercury


BARGAINING COUNCILS

MEIBC parties vote to extend 2021 wage deal to non-parties

Engineering News reports that parties to the Metals and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) have voted to extend the three-year agreement reached in the metals and engineering sector in October 2021 to non-parties. The collective main agreement concluded for the period 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2024 will now be forwarded to the Department of Employment and Labour with a request for the Minister of Labour to gazette the agreement and make it legally binding on all employers and employees falling within the scope of the council. Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) CEO Lucio Trentini advised that the employer organisations supporting the extension represented 71.57% of all employees employed by employer organisations registered with the MEIBC. The 18 Seifsa-affiliated employer organisations, along with the Plastics Converters Association of South Africa the Consolidated Employers Organisation, voted in favour of the extension. At the MEIBC meeting, the five trade unions that are party to the council, namely the Metal and Electrical Workers' Union of SA, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA, the SA Equity Workers Association, Solidarity and Uasa all supported the extension.

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


JOB CUTS

Budget cuts mean over 3,000 SANDF soldiers to leave army over the next two years

News24 reports that the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has been allocated R1 billion to fund a "mobility exit mechanism" (MEM) that would result in more than 3,000 uniformed soldiers leaving over the next two years. In response to a written parliamentary question, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise explained the personnel cuts at the SANDF as follows:   "In light of the reduced defence budget allocation and the conclusion that the compensation of employees (COE) allocation will be further reduced for the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) and also that relief to secure sufficient funding will not be forthcoming, the Department of Defence (DOD) was forced to implement human resources cost-savings measures to reduce HR cost pressures. The National Treasury has allocated R1 billion to fund the mobility exit mechanisms during the financial year 2022/23 and R800 million for the year 2023/24 in order to assist the DOD to fit in the COE allocation. This will translate into the planned exit of approximately 3,048 uniformed members through MEM over the indicated financial years." Modise added that with the implementation of the interventions to reduce cost pressures, the department aimed not to exceed the average planned human resources strength of 73,000 over the MTEF. According to the department's 2020/21 annual report, the planned average human resource capacity was 75,000 for the year ended 31 March 2021, while the actual human resource capacity as at that date was 72,322. Modise commented that further budget cuts would negatively impact the SANDF's mandate.

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


ABSA EXECUTIVE APPOINTMENTS

After facing criticism, Absa overhauls executive to diversify management

Bloomberg reports that Absa Group, SA’s third-biggest bank, has made sweeping changes to its executive committee to diversify management as part of the finance industry’s push to be more representative of the communities in which it operates. Punki Modise will become chief strategy and sustainability officer as of 1 July, as Absa looks to increase its focus on environmental, social and governance opportunities. The lender is also breaking up its retail and business-banking division, which has been its biggest driver of revenue. The changes will “create an organisation that is much closer to our customers,” CEO Arrie Rautenbach claimed in a briefing on Thursday.   The bank has faced criticism from investors about diversity after the unexpected departure of its first black CEO last year. The subsequent appointment in March of Rautenbach raised further questions about the bank’s commitment. At its annual general meeting earlier this month, Absa conceded it had regressed on diversity and committed to making changes that would demonstrate significant progress within the next two years. Among five other executive committee appointments announced on Thursday, Thabo Mashaba becomes interim people officer. “If you look at the broader African, Indian and Colored perspective, that jumps to close to 50% off the back of these changes,” Rautenbach pointed out.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Adelaide Changole at Moneyweb. Read too, Absa shakes up the way it operates, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). And also, Absa shareholders to get their say on pay, at Business Report


UIF

Sluggish economy and pandemic payouts depleting UIF coffers

TimesLive reports that if SA's economy continues to suffer, workers who lose their jobs could in future have less to fall back on as the Unemployment Insurance Fund's (UIF’s) kitty gets depleted.   UIF commissioner Teboho Maruping said this on Wednesday, adding that Covid-19 Ters payouts had undoubtedly dented the fund's coffers in the past two years. Since early 2020, the relief scheme, intended to replenish the incomes of employees who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, has paid out about R61bn. At a media briefing on Wednesday to unpack the priorities of the fund during the 2021/2022 financial year, Maruping said the UIF had recovered millions fraudulently or mistakenly paid to recipients. Maruping reported that the UIF coffers had dipped from R160bn before Covid-19 to about R120bn presently. Asked if he was concerned about the effect of the sluggish economy on the fund, he indicated: “I’m concerned. If the economy continues not to pick up in terms of creating jobs, creating entrepreneurs and companies surviving, it is going to affect the UIF kitty. Sooner or later the UIF will run out of funds.   It is a concern on which we and the executives engage.” But on a positive note, Maruping said UIF contributions were picking up again after a dip during the pandemic. The increase was observed over the past six months. “Somewhere our contributions are picking up slowly, but there is a loss of jobs [too]. There are certain markets that are creating jobs and others are losing jobs. So there is a balancing factor that we have not really analysed,” Maruping noted.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sipokazi Fokazi at SowetanLive

UIF gets back R3.4bn in TERS monies, Phase 2 of Follow the Money project to start in July

Engineering News reports that according to Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) commissioner Teboho Maruping, R3.4-billion has been voluntarily returned to it by employers who irregularly benefitted from the Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (TERS). The first phase of the UIF's ‘Follow the Money’ project determined that R14.1-billion was disbursed through Covid-19 TERS, of which R12.8-billion was deemed as accurate payments. The audit process of the ‘Follow the Money’ project entails checking whether an employer exists, verifying that workers are employed by the company that claimed funds and ensuring proof that the Covid-19 TERS monies reached the intended beneficiaries at the right time. The audit also checked the accuracy of the claims information, whether information used on the application was manipulated and whether Covid-19 TERS monies were abused or misused by employers. The UIF has appointed six forensic auditing firms to conduct Phase 2 of the ‘Follow the Money’ project, which starts in July and is expected to conclude within 12 months.

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


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT

Gautrain ridership recovers to 42% of pre-Covid numbers

Engineering News reports that according to Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) communication and marketing senior executive manager Dr Barbara Jensen, ridership on the Gautrain has recovered to 23,358 average weekday rail trips, which is 42% of pre-Covid-19 numbers. Average weekday bus trips are currently at 8,681, which is 46% of pre-Covid numbers. In August 2020 as the pandemic hit the country, the GMA reported that weekday Gautrain rail ridership had fallen to 7,478 passenger trips a day, which was about 14% of pre-Covid-19 levels. Bus ridership at that time was at 16% of pre-Covid-19 levels, at 2,974 passenger trips a day.

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


OTHER HEADLINES / ARTICLES OF INTEREST

  • Another fuel price shocker expected for struggling consumers, at The Mercury
  • Enorme tariefverhogings kan Goudstad-skole knou, by Maroela Media
  • Court misapplied law, says controversial PPE businessman Hamilton Ndlovu as he appeals order to repay R158m, at Sunday Times
  • Over R2m recovered from labour non-compliance cases in Western Cape, at The Citizen
  • Social Justice Coalition (SJC) staff lay charges of theft and fraud against suspended leader Xolani Klaas, at GroundUp
  • Voormalige FNB bankbestuurder in Kwaggafontein tronk toe ná miljoene voete kry, by Maroela Media
  • Khutsong community residents near Carletonville mines see little benefit from riches underground, at SowetanLive
  • Pumping of acidic mine water on East Rand delayed — again, at Mail & Guardian

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page