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 South African
labour-related reports.


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY

Kidnapped City Power technician found, search for utility’s vehicle continues

News24 reports that a City Power technician, who was hijacked and kidnapped in Lenasia Ext. 4, south of Johannesburg on Wednesday, has been found. The technician was one of three employees who had responded to a call. City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena advised that the police were continuing their search for the Toyota Hilux bakkie in which the employees had been driving, as well as for the unknown armed attackers. He added that psychosocial support was being provided to the victims of the hijacking. City Power CEO Tshifularo Mashava expressed his outrage at the kidnapping.   According to Mangena, the utility had conducted a safety assessment about whether to deploy its employees in the area, but with about 2,000 outages on average daily, it was difficult to make sure that each of these had a Joburg Metro Police Department JMPD escort. He added that the utility could withdraw services in unsafe neighbourhoods.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Cebelihle Bhengu at News24. Read too, ‘We are outraged,’ says City Power CEO says after technician kidnapped in Lenasia South, at The Citizen

Rand Water beefs up security for its executives following fatal shooting

SowetanLive reports that the murder of Rand Water executive Teboho Joala has sparked fears at the bulk water provider's offices, with management rushing to beef up security. Board chairperson Ramateu Monyokolo said that Monday's mysterious attack on Joala had caused anxiety and that plans had been made swiftly to protect people in strategic positions at the company. He added that a team would be doing a security assessment that would guide them on other potential threats. "Nobody knows who is next – for now we will remain vigilant and be cautious wherever we go and in whatever we do [and] just to keep looking over our shoulders,” Monyokolo indicated. Joala, a chief shared services officer at Rand Water, was gunned down during a back-to-school event organised by the entity at Zakariyya Park, south of Johannesburg, on Monday. He and his protector died after a group of men entered a hall where he was handing over school uniforms and shoes to pupils from different schools. City of Joburg chief whip Sithembiso Zungu was among the wounded and is recovering in hospital. Monyokolo said to his knowledge, nobody from the water utility had ever got death threats because of the work they did. Asked why the executives needed bodyguards, Monyokolo said it was based on a security assessment. According to Rand Water's spokesperson Makenosi Maroo, its executives only started having bodyguards less than a year ago. Maroo said she did not know what had brought about the decision.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jeanette Chabalala at SowetanLive

Cosatu in Gauteng worried about violence after deadly Rand Water shooting on Monday

SABC News reports that the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in Gauteng has added its voice to growing calls for police to act swiftly in arresting those involved in Monday’s fatal shooting at the Zakariyya Park community hall in Johannesburg. Rand Water executive Tebogo Joala, and his bodyguard, were shot dead when gunmen stormed the hall where a back-to-school event organised by the water entity was being held. City of Joburg Chief Whip, Sithembiso Zungu, was among the three other people injured in the incident. The motive for the shooting has yet to be established and Rand Water has since beefed up security for its officials. Cosatu Gauteng chairperson, Amos Monyela, racted: “We are worried about the state of violence in our province.   And we are hoping that law enforcement will do their best to apprehend the perpetrators. We are calling on the MEC of Community Health and Safety to ensure that our communities are safe and peaceful, taking into consideration that we have appointed wardens to ensure community safety.”

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Bheki Cele, Ronald Lamola attend Groblersdal case against father and son who allegedly set dog on worker, at IOL News


MINING

Implats restarts operations at tragedy-hit shaft amid sharp earnings fall

Fin24 reports that Impala Platinum (Implats) indicated on Wednesday that it would complete repairs at its Rustenburg 11 shaft during February and use the following weeks to ramp up to full production capacity during April. The shaft was closed following a fatal accident in November that killed 13 people when a cage hoisting employees plunged down the shaft. Implats' mining crews at the shaft have been back at work since the second week of January following government approvals, while surplus labour has been deployed across the platinum group metals (PGM) producer’s mines in Rustenburg. The accident took fatalities at Implats' operations to 16 in its six months to end-December, from two in the prior comparable period, with the company describing the incident as "devastating". All mining operations at Implats' Rustenburg complex were suspended for a week following the accident, which occurred when cables hoisting the elevator snapped, plunging the container with 86 employees who had just finished their shift down hundreds of metres. Employees were given a further two days to attend ceremonies to mourn their lost colleagues. Implats lost about 60,000 ounces of PGMs owing to the tragic accident. Amid lower prices, it expects earnings to least be 20% lower than the R14 billion it reported in the year ended December 2022.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sikonathi Mantshantsha at Fin24 (subscriber access only). Read too, Implats warns of ‘at least’ 20% drop in interim profit on weak metal prices, at BusinessLive

Zimbabwean teen among a total of 10 suspects arrested in Limpopo for illegal mining

IOL News reports that a total of 10 people were arrested in connection with illicit mining activities in Limpopo over the past few days.   The arrests formed part of Operation Vala Umgodi, a police imitative to combat illicit mining activities and sustain stability in all mining areas. A majority of the persons arrested were foreign nationals.   Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Malesela Ledwaba reported that in the first incident on Monday night, a total of seven men, aged between 22 and 44, were arrested in Sekhukhune District.   He indicated: “The two male Mozambique nationals were arrested under Mecklenburg policing area for contravention of immigration act while the five Zimbabwean nationals male suspects were nabbed while digging chrome underground in a yard in the middle of the night in Apel Village.” On Tuesday, police arrested a 17-year-old Zimbabwean national allegedly in the act of digging gold underground at Muchipisi Village. He is expected to appear before the Malamulele Magistrate's Court soon.   Two men arrested on charges of illicit mining of sand appeared in the Thabamoopo Magistrate's Court on Monday.   The duo were released on bail and their case was postponed to next month for further investigation.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jolene Marriah-Maharaj at IOL News

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Service provider finally appointed to design new mining cadaste system, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)


JOB LOSSES

SA’s metals and engineering sector has shed 40 jobs every day since 2008

BusinessTech reports that SA’s metals and engineering sector has suffered major job losses over the last fifteen years, with worries that continued stagnation in the country’s economy could lead to another jobs bloodbath. According to Tafadzwa Chibanguza, Chief Operating Officer at the Steel and Engineering Industries of Southern Africa (SEIFSA), the sector currently employs 362,871 people – a massive drop from the 577,507 people employed in 2008.   This equates to 214,636 jobs losses over the period – or 40 jobs per day. “Considering the steel sector’s induced economic multiplier of 2.7 times, the employment multiplier of 6 times and the dependency ratio of between 7 to 10 people relying on each formal job, the sectors employment trends spell wide scale social and economic disaster,” Chibanguza pointed out. The steel and engineering sector is essential to SA’s industrial base and is also key for exports. Nevertheless, the sector is not realising its potential, with ArcelorMittal SA (AMSA) announcing in November last year that it would close its long steel operations in Newcastle and Vereeniging. “The prospect of this development materialising is a major cause of concern which will only add to exacerbating the downward spiral to employment in the sector,” Chibanguza said. However, in an update, AMSA said it had held talks with various stakeholders, including the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel, Transnet, the IDC and organised labour, which had been “productive”. The group said that it would make a further announcement over the potential closures in the near future.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Luke Fraser at BusinessTech


COST OF LIVING / SALARY INCREASES

Shisa Nyama Index shows SA food inflation may have peaked in January

Bloomberg reports that the cost of a traditional South African braai increased moderately in January after a sharp drop the prior month, confirming the SA Reserve Bank’s (SARB’s) forecast that beleaguered consumers may continue to see elevated food prices ease.   Bloomberg’s Shisa Nyama Index shows the average price rise of a backyard braai was 6.2% this month on an annual basis, the same as December but significantly less than the 10% recorded in November. That compared with 8.5% year-on-year increase in food prices in December, as measured by Statistics SA. SARB forecasts food inflation to average 5.7% this year. The gauge, crunching data from the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity group, tracks the prices of 14 key ingredients in braais consumed in South African townships. Onions, cooking oil and samp were the biggest contributors to the index remaining steady as they eased. Sticky food prices have been a key driver of overall inflation and have contributed to the central bank’s monetary policy committee retaining interest rates at a 2009 high of 8.25% since July.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ntando Thukwana at Moneyweb

No real inflation-related salary increases over past three years

The Citizen reports that ongoing economic challenges hampered the ability of companies to pay inflation-related salary increases over the past three years. These challenges included significant increases in the operating cost environment partly due to the impact of load shedding, as well as global factors.   However, the BankservAfrica Take-home Pay Index (BTPI), which tracks the average nominal take-home pay of approximately 4 million salary earners in SA, ended the 2023 year on a slightly better note, as salaries and private pensions performed slightly better than in the year before. “The average nominal take-home pay was 5.6% higher at R15,409 in December 2023 compared to the R14,596 recorded in December 2022,” BankservAfrica’s Shergeran Naidoo reported. But the average nominal take-home pay in 2023 was only slightly better than the averages noted in 2022 and 2021, suggesting a sideways movement over the past three years. With inflation on the rise during this period, salary earners were worse off in real terms for the third consecutive year, Naidoo pointed out. After declining for three consecutive months, annual growth in the average real take-home pay was flat in December 2023.   The real take-home pay at R13,732 in December 2023 was slightly higher than in November, but for the year, average real take-home pay dropped by 4.7% compared to 2022, suggesting significant ongoing erosion in the purchasing power of salary earners. In 2023, the average private pension of R10,657 was 6.8% higher on a year-on-year basis, signalling that the purchasing power of pensioners had endured even in the high inflation environment.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ina Opperman at The Citizen


STAFFING / VACANCIES

Officials raise alarm over hiring freeze at Western Cape’s two largest hospitals

GroundUp reports that health workers at Groote Schuur Hospital and Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town are starting to feel the effects of an ongoing freeze on the hiring of critical medical staff.   According to senior officials at these hospitals, the situation has reached a point where managers are struggling to fill shift rosters. An impact on patient care and waiting times is said to be inevitable. According to a senior hospital manager at Groote Schuur, almost half of medical officer (doctor) posts in the medicine department are vacant, in addition to hundreds of other nursing and operational posts.   A senior official at Red Cross indicated that “critical medical posts” are being left vacant, including medical officer, registrar (doctors in training for a speciality), and specialist posts. At the start of 2023, large cuts were made to the conditional grants that fund these hospitals. And then in the middle of the year, National Treasury announced significant austerity measures. In August last year, a letter by National Treasury to provincial governments recommended several “cost containment” measures for the 2023/24 financial year and suggested a freeze on hiring of new employees. Each province’s health department is dealing with the “cost containment” measures in different ways. In the Eastern Cape, for example, hiring freezes have been implemented but not for clinical staff. According to hospital officials at Groote Schuur and Red Cross, there has been a lack of clarity from the provincial department on how long hiring freezes will last and whether there will be a permanent reduction in medical posts.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Daniel Steyn at GroundUp

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • The IT skills in demand in South Africa, at TechCentral
  • Demand for SA software developers slows amid global tech layoffs, at ITWeb
  • SA Rugby poised to announce key Bok coaching staff, at BusinessLive


DISCRIMINATION

Five years later, SANDF reinstates employee after HIV discrimination

Mail & Guardian reports that a woman has been reinstated by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) after she was denied employment because of her HIV status. The woman, who was recruited in 2017 into the Military Skills Development System (MSDS) on a two-year fixed-term contract, was discriminated against by the defence force after she tested positive for HIV during a health assessment in 2018. Despite years of taking her antiretroviral treatment, maintaining good physical health and doing well in her training, she was not offered a contract in the Core Service System (CSS) after the completion of her MSDS training in December 2018. The other recruits who completed the MSDS programme were offered full-term contracts.   In September 2021, the woman approached the public interest law centre, Section27, for legal assistance.   Section27 said it had been in talks with the SANDF since 2021 and only made progress in April 2023 when the defence force said it would look into re-employing the woman. After threatening the defence force with litigation, Section27 said its client was offered an employment contract in the CSS in December 2023. “While we welcome the decision of the SANDF to re-employ our client in this case, she should not have had to spend five years unemployed because of the SANDF’s disregard for the law and her rights,” Section27’s Pearl Nicodemus noted.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Umamah Bakharia at Mail & Guardian (subscriber access)

Nzimande challenged by ATM over alleged discrimination against black local academics at SA universities

The Citizen reports that the African Transformation Movement (ATM) has raised questions about the exclusion of black local academics from university posts and the party’s president, Vuyo Zungula, has written a letter to Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande complaining about this. “From observation and dialogues with both black South Africans and non-South Africans in the higher education and learning space, my attention was drawn to the presence of highly qualified and skilled black South African academics,” he pointed out. But according to Zungula, black South African professionals were given mediocre positions such as administrators and technical staff despite being highly qualified. He noted that some steps had been taken by the Higher Education Department to ensure that positions which were mostly reserved for white males were occupied by black males. However, he claimed that there seemed to be a preference for foreign national black academics over South African black academics, which posed another challenge.   Zungula claimed it was clear that there was a deliberate and concerted effort to systematically exclude black South Africans from maximum participation in academia. “South African universities and other institutions have a responsibility to contribute to addressing unemployment by prioritising the employment of qualified Black South African citizens,” Zungula argued.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Itumeleng Mafisa at The Citizen


RETIREMENT

Many employees forced to stop working earlier than planned, survey shows

BL Premium reports that according to a recent survey, the number of people who are forced into taking retirement when they wish to remain working has increased, indicating a worsening situation for SA’s older people. This is according to the Retirement Reality Report 2023/24, commissioned by financial services firm and pension fund manager 10X. In the sixth and most recent report, more than 14,000 people earning R6,000 or more a month were asked about their retirement savings.   The survey also asked 3%, or just more than 420 retirees, how they experienced retirement. It showed that only 60% of people said they chose to retire when they reached mandatory retirement age. In the 2021 survey, 70% of employees said they could retire when they wanted to. The mandatory retirement age differs from company to company, but is usually 60-65, though some firms may permit retirement at 67. The recent results mean that 40% of retired staff surveyed were unlikely to have retired willingly, but were expected to leave as their companies wanted to employ younger and cheaper staff or reduce employee numbers. Companies may also increasingly be asking people to take early retirement, which is usually enacted three years before the company’s mandatory age. People are asked to retire despite few South Africans having enough money to see them through retirement. The survey data shows that nearly 30% of people over 50 have no retirement plans in place.

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


OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST

  • Opinion: Bosses must spell out all the workplace rules, at BusinessLive
  • SAPS, Hawks visit KZN municipality as politicians fight over 'irregular' appointments, at News24 (subscriber access only)
  • Teacher arrested for alleged rape of 11-year-old girl at elite girls' school in Pretoria, at News24 (subscriber access only)
  • SAPS bids farewell to Gauteng police commissioner Elias Mawela, at TimesLIVE

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page