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 South African
labour-related reports.


HEALTHCARE FUNDING

Health professionals urge finance minister to reverse healthcare budget cuts

BL Premium reports that more than 1,000 healthcare professionals, including dozens of department heads from the Western Cape’s public hospitals, have signed an open letter to Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana calling for a reversal of the “catastrophic” budget cuts imposed on the public health system. The letter was also sent to Western Cape premier Alan Winde and provincial finance MEC Mireille Wenger. It came on the heels of Western Cape hospital doctors sounding the alarm last week over the impact of the budget cuts on patients and staff, and an admission from Health Minister Joe Phaahla on Monday that the state could not afford to hire all the doctors it needed. Godongwana is expected to table his next budget on 21 February.   “Over the last 12 months, national and provincial Treasury budget cuts have driven health services in the country and the province into crippling austerity. An initial budget cut at the beginning of the financial year was exacerbated midyear by a further unplanned reduction driven by the underfunded public sector wage increase. These cuts have affected healthcare services in the entire country,” the letter warned. The letter’s signatories said cutting budgets for health and education affected the poorest and most vulnerable people in SA society. “Continued austerity at this level cannot be mitigated with creative planning or improved efficiency. It will result in suffering and deaths amongst the people you have committed to serve. It will irrevocably damage a health system that has taken many decades to build,” they lamented.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tamar Kahn at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read too, ‘Prioritise health’: unemployed doctors call out government for misallocation of funds, at TimesLIVE

About 100 Cuban doctors working in SA, even though over 1,000 qualified local doctors are unemployed

The Citizen reports that according to Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla, there are about 100 Cuban doctors working in SA. This is despite there being more than 1,000 qualified doctors in the country who are unemployed, according to the SA Medical Association Trade Union (Samatu). Speaking on the 702 radio station on Tuesday, Phaahla confirmed that Cuban doctors were working across the country in the public health system.   “They are recruited on a particular skill … All of them will be in rural areas where they are unable to attract people with a particular special training,” he indicated. When challenged on whether these positions could be better filled by unemployed South African doctors, Phaahla said they were in rural areas providing specialist services. He alluded to local medical professionals not being keen to working in such environments: “They have been advertising those particular specialities over a period of time and have not been able to attract local doctors to come.” Phaahla attributed the high number of unemployed doctors who have successfully completed the statutory community service program to budgetary constraints and an excess of medical graduates in the field.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Faizel Patel at The Citizen

No January wages for hospital guards as Eastern Cape health department fails to pay security company

GroundUp reports that about 100 security guards at healthcare facilities across Nelson Mandela Bay municipality have not been paid for January. Some of the workers embarked on a brief protest last week. On Monday morning they returned to guard the healthcare facilities under a month-to-month contract for a different company. A guard at the Laetitia Bam Day Hospital in KwaNobuhle, Kariega, reported that their contract with Xhobani Security Services, which was due to continue until the end of February, ended at the end of January. He and three colleagues were only told of the early termination on 1 February. By Monday, he and his colleagues were working for Tekhu Security, but were still waiting for their January salaries from Xhobani Security. He asked that the health department employ the guards directly. Xhobani Security Services general manager Carl Lonn said the Eastern Cape Department of Health (DoH) owed them more than R4-million. As a result, the company had informed the DoH in mid-January that they would not be able to pay workers’ salaries for the month and could not render services through February.   National Education, Health, and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) regional secretary Samkelo Msila said they had warned the DoH that if Nehawu members were affected they would take legal action.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Thamsanqa Mbovane at GroundUp

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Why the health department can’t employ more doctors, at Mail & Guardian
  • Minister se reaksie oor werklose dokters is ‘oneerlik’, by Maroela Media


MINING INDABA

SA mining fatalities climbed 22% in 2023, but Minerals Council claims industry is getting safer

Fin24 reports that SA's mining industry recorded a total of 55 fatalities during 2023, a 22% increase from the number of deaths in the previous year. But the Minerals Council SA (MCSA), which was previously known as the Chamber of Mines, said on Tuesday the 45 deaths reported in 2022 had been a record low for the industry, and despite the increase in 2023, there were signs safety and health practices were improving. A major incident in November at Impala Platinum killed 13 mineworkers, derailing what should have been a year of fewer deaths. "We were on course for the safest year on record until that unfortunate accident," said CEO Mzila Mthenjane on Tuesday at the Mining Indaba. The council said 15 employees died in "general" accidents, 14 in rockfalls or fall of ground incidents, while 13 died in conveyance incidents. Another eight died as a result of "transportation or mining" incidents. Other safety and health measures improved during the period, including a 36.5% decline in the total number of occupational diseases reported by the mines.   Last year, 677 occupational diseases were reported to the council, down from the 1,065 reported a year earlier.   About half of the diseases were reported by the gold mining sector, followed by the 209 reported by the platinum industry.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sikonathi Mantshantsha, at Fin24

Noise-induced hearing loss now highest priority mining health condition, Mining Indaba hears

Mining Weekly reports that noise-induced hearing loss has displaced tuberculosis (TB) and silicosis as the top priority health threat in the SA mining industry. “I’m emphasising noise-induced hearing loss because the other diseases have gone down markedly whereas noise-induced hearing loss has not gone down as much,” Minerals Council SA health department head Dr Thuthula Balfour revealed on day two of the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town. Of concern are the significant numbers of mine employees who continue to be exposed to noise levels above 85 decibels and key interventions to eliminate noise at the source are said to be under way.   Balfour urged companies to desist from supplying equipment with excessive noise levels as the earmuffs meant to be worn to shield employees from loud sound tended to not be worn efficiently, especially during high-humidity and high-temperature conditions. Being targeted in particular are noisy rockdrills held close to the ear and drills that emit far less noise are emerging. Coincidentally, the less noisy rockdrills on offer are also considerably lighter in weight, which has opened the way for women to become rockdrill operators.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Mining Weekly

NUM welcomes Optimum Colliery settlement, calls for rail allocation to be restored

Mining Weekly reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has welcomed the settlement agreement under which Liberty Coal has agreed to pay R461.7-million to the State in exchange for the Optimum Coal Mine’s business, assets and compromised liabilities to be transferred to Liberty Coal. All remaining links with the Gupta family will be cut. Liberty Coal will make an immediate R100-million payment to the State, with the balance of funds to be paid over two years. Liberty Coal will gain ownership of the mine and its export arm the Optimum Coal Terminal. According to the NUM, the settlement agreement reached by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Liberty Coal will save more than 500 jobs at Optimum Colliery, in Mpumalanga. The NUM called on the Richards Bay Coal Terminal board to immediately restore Optimum’s train allocation so as to allow for the resumption of Optimum’s export capacity, which would ensure that the re-opening of the mine could forged ahead unhindered. “The NUM calls for Liberty Coal to re-employ all the employees who lost their jobs during the time when Optimum Coal Mine was placed under business rescue,” said NUM Highveld regional chairperson Bizza Motubatse.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Mining Weekly

RBM murders linked to “control of procurement” and not community trust monies, says MD

Miningmx reports that the assassinations of two top executives at titanium producer Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) were linked to “control of procurement issues” and not money due to community trusts from which the group had at one stage been holding back R130m in payments. RBM MD Werner Duvenhage told the media on Monday at the Mining Indaba that the latest information obtained by the group clearly indicated the reason for the assassinations was procurement. RBM GM Nico Swart was shot to death in May 2021 on his way to work. This followed the earlier assassination in 2016 of RBM human resources general manager Ronny Nzimande. Following the death of Swart, RBM released some R130m in dividends due to local communities and trusts that – in some cases – had been held back since 2015 because of RBM management’s concerns over governance issues surrounding the trusts. RBM paid the money out after getting an agreement with the communities that they would commit to negotiations to reform the trusts and that, until the reforms were finalised, money would not flow directly to individuals. “We paid the money out and the communities straightaway reneged on the agreement so we have been taking it further through the courts since then,” Duvenhage indicated. Asked if he was concerned about the safety of his executives given this situation he replied: “We are taking that extremely seriously. The majority of the senior leaders at RBM travel to work in armoured vehicles with close protection officers. Until we have dealt with this situation we just don’t know.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Brendan Ryan at Miningmx

Poor community resettlement plans weigh on critical minerals production, experts tell Mining Indaba

Business Times writes that mining companies’ failure to conduct, develop and implement thorough resettlement plans for affected communities came with risks, including protracted litigation, reputational damage and delays in sourcing critical minerals needed for the energy transition. This was the consensus of mining bosses and a leading consulting firm in the mining land resettlement space during a panel discussion at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Tuesday. Anglo American land access and resettlement manager Karien Lotter-Dogru said the importance of successfully addressing the challenge of land access could not be overstated as it held implications for individual projects and the mining industry as a whole. “Securing land for new projects often involves a resettlement process to manage physical and economic displacement impacts of the local community. If these displacement impacts are not managed deftly, they stand a high chance of becoming a significant barrier to the timely and successful production of the minerals we are after,” she advised. Lotter-Dogru explained that the fallout from poorly planned or poorly implemented resettlement plans often led to community resistance and litigation that could sap financial resources from mining groups or affect their public image negatively.

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


COST OF LIVING/ PRICES

Fuel price increases – what you will pay from Wednesday

TimesLIVE reports that the Automobile Association (AA) has warned SA’s to brace for fuel price hikes on Wednesday, which will come on the back of significant cuts experienced over the past few months.   The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has confirmed the price increases to be implemented, and in the case of petrol and diesel they will be higher than initially expected.   Thanks to rising international oil prices and a weakening rand, both grades of petrol (93 and 95 ULP) will increase by 75c/litre. The wholesale price of high-sulphur 0.05% diesel will be raised by 73c/l, with low-sulphur 0.005% diesel following suit at 70c/l. The wholesale price of illuminating paraffin will increase by 53c/l.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at TimesLIVE. Read too, Petrol and diesel prices adjusted upwards by 70-75c from Wednesday, at Moneyweb. En ook, Motoriste gaan weer sente moet omdraai, by Maroela Media

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • National minimum wage: Can you survive on less than R5k per month? at The Citizen


APPOINTMENTS

Ramaphosa extends Kieswetter’s stay in office for ‘orderly transition’ at SARS

TimesLIVE reports that SA Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Edward Kieswetter will not leave SARS when his term ends on 30 April. This follows an agreement that President Cyril Ramaphosa reached with Kieswetter to extend his tenure beyond the end of his term to enable an orderly transition in the organisation, the Presidency said in a statement on Tuesday.   In March 2019, Ramaphosa appointed Kieswetter for a five-year term that started on 1 May that year.

Read the original of the short report in the above regard at BusinessLive

Asisa appoints industry veteran Adrian Burke as acting CEO

Fin24 reports that the Association for Savings and Investment SA (Asisa) has appointed industry veteran Adrian Burke as acting CEO of the body that represents SA's investment and life insurance industry.   This follows the surprise announcement in early December 2023 that former Asisa CEO Busisa Jiya had opted to leave by mutual agreement at the end of 2023 to pursue other opportunities.   Jiya's departure came less than two years after he joined Asisa. "The Asisa board is prioritising the recruitment of a new CEO, but we expect that finding the candidate may take a couple of months. We have therefore decided to appoint an acting CEO until a permanent appointment can be made," Anton Pillay, who chairs Asisa and is also CEO of Coronation Fund Managers, indicated in a statement.   Burke, who is a fellow of the Actuarial Society of SA, retired in November 2020, after nearly 40-years in long-term insurance.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Garth Theunissen at Fin24


NHI CHALLENGES

Solidarity in court this week over NHI staff appointments

Solidarity reported on Tuesday that the first of a series of court cases in 2024 against the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill will start this week. The trade union has asked the High Court to review a decision by the Department of Health to advertise and fill senior NHI posts prior to the system having been approved by Parliament. According to Anton van der Bijl, Solidarity’s deputy chief executive for legal matters, the advertising of the jobs in August 2022 was illegal in itself. “By having done this, the government has shown just how much it wants to steamroller the NHI through without heeding its consequences – or heeding people’s strong opposition to it. Even Pres. Ramaphosa has already said that the NHI will happen, whether we like it or not. This must be challenged. Legal processes are in place that must be followed, and jobs cannot be advertised for a scheme that does not exist yet, and may, legally, not exist,” Van der Bijl said. Solidarity intends to stop the NHI in its entirety even though President Ramaphosa’s signature is all that is now being required for it to become law.   Solidarity Chief Executive, Dr Dirk Hermann, indicated that this week’s court action was only the first of a series of legal actions in relation to the NHI that Solidarity would pursue in 2024.

Read Solidarity’s press release in regard to the above at Politicsweb

Western Cape Health MEC considering court action over NHI Bill 'if necessary'

News24 reports Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo has raised concerns about the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill being signed into law. According to Mbombo, the provincial government did not support the bill in its current form as it lacked clarity - and it would challenge the bill in court "if necessary". She indicated: "We support the objectives of universal health coverage and the development of a mechanism to reallocate resources from both public and private sectors in order to equitably address the total population's health needs without there being financial hardship at the point of care." However, Mbombo said she was concerned with how the NHI would affect the health system.   "Specifically in relation to the centralisation of power, governance and accountability of the NHI Fund, the role of provinces, legal concerns and the potential for the NHI to prevent the creation of a unified health system that is strategically aligned," she stressed. The bill was passed by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in December.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Marvin Charles at News24


PENSION FUND REFORM / SAVINGS

Treasury looking at a second phase of pension fund reform to give retrenched workers greater access to their funds

BL Premium reports that a second phase of retirement fund reform is envisaged by the Treasury, to allow retrenched workers access to some of their retirement funds after the planned introduction of the two-pot system on 1 September. In terms of the first phase, which is in the process of being legislated, workers will only have access to their retirement funds on retirement, not before. Treasury director of financial sector development Alvinah Thela told MPs on Tuesday that the aim of the proposed reform would be to allow retrenched workers (and not workers who left their jobs voluntarily) access to their retirement fund without depleting it completely. Without this change, workers would only have access to the full amount of the vested component and savings component of the two-pot regime when retrenched, but not the retirement component. “We still need to work out how the retrenched member can access the retirement component, because you are subjecting it to preservation. That will be the second phase of the reform to ensure that someone who gets retrenched — not someone who resigns out of their own voluntary will — can access the retirement component without depleting the retirement savings completely,” Thela said. A possible solution would be to allow the retrenched worker to access the retirement component in tranches or income streams rather than in a complete lump sum.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Linda Ensor at BusinessLive

Nearly half of South Africans have no retirement plan whatsoever

Moneyweb reports that the latest 10X Retirement Reality Report paints a grim picture of retirement savings by South Africans, with roughly half having no savings plan whatsoever. “The last five years have seen little meaningful change in South Africans’ inclination or ability to plan for retirement, according to the survey results from 2019 to 2023. Roughly two-thirds of adults are either not saving at all for this purpose or their retirement plan is vague. The remaining third have a relatively solid grasp of what is necessary to fund their retirement years,” the report indicates. A key reason for SA’s abysmal savings rate is affordability, with 70% of survey respondents saying they cannot afford to save as they have nothing left at the end of the month. There’s also a large disconnect between younger and older South Africans on the subject of retirement because younger respondents expect to retire earlier, while those aged 55 believe they will retire later. The survey also highlights some difference in retirement preparedness between men and women, with 49% of women indicating they do not have a retirement plan, against 43% of men. Another worrying feature of the survey is that working people routinely cash in their retirement savings when changing jobs. Unsurprisingly, 71% of respondents were “partially or strongly” of the view that they would need to continue earning a living after their formal retirement date.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ciaran Ryan at Moneyweb


TRAVEL ALLOWANCE REPAYMENT

Tshwane deputy mayor pays back R10,000 travel allowance for Saudi Arabia trip she did not take

News24 reports that City of Tshwane deputy mayor Nasiphi Moya has paid back a R10,000 subsistence and travel allowance that she owed the city from a trip to Saudi Arabia she did not take. On Tuesday, ActionSA Gauteng provincial chairperson Funzi Ngobeni said Moya had been "proactive in addressing this matter" and had reimbursed the funds "without any prompt from the city".   Speaking in January following a council sitting, Moya said the issue of the R10,000 allowance for a work trip that was cancelled, occurred in the beginning of 2020. At that time she said she needed to “go back to my records because I only heard of this on my way here in the morning." On Tuesday, Ngobeni said Moya had no control over the travel arrangements or the subsequent cancellation, "thereby dispelling any insinuations suggesting impropriety on the part of the deputy mayor". He added:   "Crucially, following the cancellation of the trip, the City did not make any formal request for Dr Moya to return the amount paid, which can be attributed to the standard nature and purpose of a travel allowance advance payment." Moya offered to pay interest on the amount repaid, but the city could not accept it, after which Moya donated the interest to charity.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Aphelele Mbokotho at News24


OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST

  • Basic Income Grant (BIG): Government considering funding options, says Lindiwe Zulu, at The Citizen
  • Youth must grab employment opportunities created for them, says Ramaphosa, at SABC News
  • Crackdown on graft sparked Fort Hare killings, says State, as case heads to High Court, at News24

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page