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 South African
labour-related reports.


UP WAGE STRIKE

University of Pretoria seeks court order to restrict disruptions during wage strike

News24 reports that the University of Pretoria (UP) is seeking a court order to restrict striking employees from disrupting teaching and learning at the institution. On Thursday, UP confirmed it had served striking employees with a notice informing them it had approached the court to "maintain order and safety" for the premises, students and non-striking employees. It intends to implement 10 measures, including restricting the strike to the demarcated area of the university's Hatfield Campus' Engineering Gate, prohibiting protesters from demonstrating in non-designated areas, preventing striking staff from intimidating non-striking employees and temporary staff, and preventing cars from entering and leaving the university. UP said on Thursday that it was committed to resolving labour disputes through constructive dialogue and within the framework of the law. Aggrieved employees have been striking over wage increases since last Thursday. Trade union Nehawu is seeking a 7% wage increase, a 13th cheque, and a once-off bonus, among other demands. However, the university has offered less than 4%.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Cebelihle Bhengu at News24


MINING LABOUR

Unions slam the ‘co-ordinated’ job cuts of mining companies

BL Premium reports that organised labour has criticised the swathe of job cuts looming in the mining sector, saying the retrenchments appeared planned and co-ordinated as producers sought to reduce costs amid falling commodity prices and persistent power cuts. The unions called on the government to attend to the electricity and infrastructure challenges to avoid pushing thousands of mineworkers into unemployment and poverty. Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) announced on Monday it had started talks that were likely to result in 3,700 workers (about 17% of the workforce) losing their jobs, while contracts with 620 service providers would also be reviewed. On Tuesday, Kumba Iron Ore, which is also part of the Anglo American stable, said 490 workers were at risk and contracts with service providers were under review.   In December, Sibanye-Stillwater announced it had concluded retrenchments at its Kloof 4 gold mine shaft in Gauteng, which resulted in 1,057 workers accepting transfers to its other SA gold operations while 550 at Kloof 4 were granted voluntary severance packages and 348 across its SA gold operations took early retirement packages. Several other mining companies, including Glencore, Seriti and Impala Platinum, also issued notices of retrenchment in 2023. Narius Moloto of the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) said the job cuts were “very unfortunate” and added: “It appears decisions are made [by mining houses] before they consult ... the trade unions. The process will only be a formality, which is unfair. It is clear that the retrenchments are pre-planned and co-ordinated.” The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it was perturbed and disappointed by the “evil and anti-worker posture” taken by Amplats and Kumba. Labour analyst Michael Bagraim said job cuts in the sector were expected to “carry on throughout the year” because the government was making it more difficult to invest in the industry.

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

Saftu opposes restructuring at Amplats that could see 3,700 job cuts

SABC News reports that the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) says it is opposed to the restructuring process proposed by Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), which could see some 3,700 jobs being shed across the platinum producer’s South African operations.   According to Amplats, the proposed job cuts could affect 17% of its workforce. Saftu spokesperson Trevor Shaku reacted: “These planned retrenchments at Amplats come at a critical time just before the elections and amid an already staggering unemployment rate of 32.1%. The impact of these potential job losses will be devastating, affecting families and leading to increased poverty. The need to delink from a capitalist system based on profitability at the expense of our society’s basic needs has never been more blatant and urgent. Amplats plans to retrench workers simply because it wants to maximise its profits.” On Monday, the mining company announced that its annual profits had plunged by a staggering 71%.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by SABC News

Anglo American achieves its best ever safety record, but reiterates commitment to zero harm

Mining Weekly reports that mining major Anglo American achieved its lowest ever total recordable injury frequency rate of 1.78 in 2023, down from 2.19 in 2022, along with the company’s lowest ever monthly rate of 0.91 in December. This was revealed by CEO Duncan Wanblad during the company’s 2023 financial year results presentation on 22 February. Despite these achievements, three workers – out of more than 100,000 employees globally – were killed during the year in two separate incidents in Chile and South Africa. “With those fatalities and the other accidents that we've had during the year, we know that we have more work to do. I'm very enthusiastically positive about the journey and the progress we are making, but it is never going to be enough, and it's never going to be okay, until there are zero injuries, and certainly zero fatalities,” Wanblad said.   He added that the improvement in the company’s safety record was an important indicator for the company in terms of how it was performing in terms of operational excellence.

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


COST OF LIVING

Average household food basket decreased slightly in February

Moneyweb reports that the latest insights from the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group’s (PMBEJD’s) household affordability index reveal a slight decrease in the price of the average household food basket in February. The index, released on the same day as Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s 2024 Budget Speech, showed a decrease of R47.56 in the average household food basket.   This 0.9% decrease brought the basket price down from R5,324.77 in January to R5,227.30 in February. Core foods, such as maize meal, rice, samp, potatoes, onions, which are prioritised and purchased first in the household food basket, account for 53% of the total cost. “At an average cost of R2,810.24 in February 2024, these foods are relatively very expensive in relation to the total money available in the household purse to secure food. These foods must be bought regardless of price escalations,” the PMBEJD’s report pointed out. In reviewing the PMBEJD report, Moneyweb says it is evident that although there has been a slight decrease in the average household food basket and some increases in certain grants and the national minimum wage, these changes are not significant enough. “Millions of South Africans continue to struggle, with many still hovering precariously below the upper-bound poverty line and the food poverty line.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Terri-Ann Brouwers at Moneyweb


UNEMPLOYED DOCTORS

Treasury investigating the exact number of unemployed doctors, Godongwana tells MPs

IOL News reports that according to Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, National Treasury was still waiting for the Department of Health to give it more information on the doctors who needed to be absorbed by the State. This followed protests by doctors who have not been able to find jobs within government.   It has been reported that there were 800 doctors that were unemployed, but Godongwana said different numbers had been given to them. Godongwana was answering questions in parliament when he and senior officials from National Treasury appeared to give more details on the national budget.   Chairperson of the standing committee on appropriations, Sifiso Buthelezi, said the State had invested a lot of money training hundreds of doctors and it would be an injustice if they were not employed by the same government. However, Godongwana said they were still trying to establish the exact number of unemployed doctors because there were conflicting figures.   “Let me come to the issue of the doctors, there is a dispute about the number. The number that has been circulating on social media is 800. You, chairperson, you are saying it’s 350 and health department has got a different number. However, in the allocation we have given to health for personnel, Dr Phaahla was convinced that that will also alleviate that problem. We will await the health department to come back to us on that issue. But that is where things stand at the moment,” Godongwana told the committee.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Siyabonga Mkhwanazi at IOL News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Financial relief for health workers, teachers, at SowetanLive


CHE REPORT ON VICE-CHANCELLORS’ PAY

University of Johannesburg failed to account for R12.8m payment to a former vice-chancellor

News24 reports that the University of Johannesburg (UJ) failed to properly account for a large payment of R12.8 million in 2017 to one of its former vice-chancellors, as well as other incentives and benefits that were made. This is one of the "significant concerns" highlighted in a long-awaited report commissioned by Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande in January 2020 and undertaken by Council on Higher Education (CHE). The CHE was tasked to investigate the salaries earned by vice-chancellors and other senior executive managers since 2005.   The report recommended that the minister should develop guidelines and policy frameworks "with an eye to capping executive remuneration." The report was due to be discussed by Nzimande’s department during a parliamentary briefing on Wednesday, but he requested that the discussion be postponed, saying he wanted to first formally hand it over to the chairpersons of the university councils. Although the document does not mention the UJ vice-chancellor by name, it was apparently referring to Professor Ihron Rensburg, who was at the helm of the institution between 2006 and 2017. "After a limited investigation, which did not cover the VC's full term of office, some of this money was recovered from the VC and outstanding taxes were paid to SARS, but the bulk was written off or not recovered," the report indicated. Meanwhile, the University of Pretoria was also slated for "failing to divulge fully" the millions of rands paid to its executive managers in retention agreements. It also partly misrepresented what it did divulge. Another "significant" concern highlighted in the report was an unused paid leave of R1.5 million in 2018 by University of Limpopo vice-chancellor, Professor Mahlo Mokgalong.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Prega Govender at News24


MANAGEMENT BONUS ‘NOT UNFAIR’

Nehawu loses challenge to ‘unfair’ bonus granted to management of Northern Cape legislature but not to members

BusinessLive reports that the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has lost its court bid over a once-off bonus awarded to management in the Northern Cape provincial legislature but not to its members. Nehawu argued the payment was “unfair”. The Cape Town Labour Court on Wednesday ruled that the provincial legislature’s speaker, Newrene Klaaste, had not erred in awarding the once-off bonus in 2020. In December 2019, the speaker and Nehawu signed a wage agreement that provided members with an increase to remuneration and a cost-of-living increase.   However, the office of human capital in the legislature later recommended that the cost-of-living increase for all workers be implemented retroactively to April 2019. Management, which did not receive any increase or cost-of-living adjustment, received a once-off 8% bonus. Nehawu took the matter to the CCMA, which in dismissing allegations of unfairness pointed out that “management did not receive an increase at all as there was not enough funds available in the budget”. To compensate for this “the speaker awarded to management an 8% one-off bonus”. Nehawu appealed to the Labour Court, where judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker on Wednesday dismissed the union’s appeal She said that none of the grounds for challenging the CCMA’s award offered by Nehawu “stand up to scrutiny”.

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


‘TWO POT’ PENSION SCHEME

Race is on for implementation of two-pot retirement scheme in September

Fin24 reports that government and fund managers are in a tight race to ensure that the two-pot retirement system is implemented in September. With the introduction of the two-pot system, retirement contributions will be split into one-third for the savings component and two-thirds into the retirement component. Members will be allowed to withdraw from their savings component without formal resignation in financial emergencies. During his budget speech on Wednesday, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said progress had been made since last year to meet the anticipated deadline, with National Treasury confident that the system would be implemented this year. However, government is increasingly under pressure to ensure that all legislation is promulgated before implementing the retirement system. According to the budget speech, Treasury will aim to "finalise the legislative process rapidly in the next few months to ensure that industry and regulators can prepare for implementation".   National Assembly recently passed the Revenue Law Amendment Bill, formally introducing the two-pot system.   However, it has yet to consider the Pension Law Amendment Bill (PLAB) that will allow for the amendment of retirement rules, as regulations governing pension funds for government employees also need amendments. Old Mutual’s Michelle Acton commented: “This process has been turmoil. It is tight. There's a lot of work that needs to be done, but work is getting done [...] We need the legislation finalised, we need to be able to get rules for funds put through and our tax finalised [with guidelines from SARS].”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Na'ilah Ebrahim at Fin24


SABC PRESENTER NOT DISMISSED

SABC slams report of Lesedi FM Thuso Motaung’s dismissal

TimesLIVE reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has rubbished claims that presenter Thuso Motaung has been fired from Lesedi FM. This followed a City Press report on Wednesday alleging Motaung had been dismissed with immediate effect. A statement shared on Thursday revealed that the radio personality had merely been “unscheduled” and would be back on air after a two-week break. It stated:   “Mr Thuso Motaung has been temporarily unscheduled for operational reasons and will be back on his programme after two weeks. Mrs Mamontha Motaung is also not dismissed nor is she suspended as has been falsely reported. The SABC would like to reiterate that while the corporation is accountable to the public on various corporate issues, it is imperative to note that it will not discuss any matters pertaining to the employer-employee relationship in the media and public space.”

Read the original of the full report in the above regard by Joy Mphande at TimesLIVE


QUESTIONABLE EMPD PROMOTION

Political parties raise questions over ‘tainted’ senior Ekurhuleni metro cop’s promotion

SowetanLive reports that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) still has to decide whether or not to prosecute controversial Ekurhuleni senior metro cop Julius Mkhwanazi, who has just landed a new role as deputy chief of police. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) confirmed that it was still waiting for feedback from the director of public prosecutions on whether to prosecute Mkhwanazi, who is facing allegations of corruption, abuse of power and gross dishonesty. He allegedly committed these offences when he was still director of specialised services at the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EMPD). Mkhwanazi was suspended last year for just three months after he allegedly dished out blue lights services to security firm CAT-VIP Protection and entered into questionable and unapproved deals with the company on behalf of the city. An internal investigation found that he should be charged with abuse of power and six charges of gross dishonesty, all linked to his relationship with CAT-VIP Protection. The Ipid handed the docket over to the NPA in November. Despite facing serious charges, Mkhwanazi was promoted to his current position in December last year. His appointment has irked some political parties, which have asked for an investigation into his appointment. ActionSA’s Siyanda Makhubu said he had written to the MMC for community safety and city manager asking why Mkhwanazi was shortlisted.   “Why would they want to keep Mkhwanazi in his job? This is a promotion, from one rank to the next. We want his recruitment process document to be made public. We want to know how he got through,” he pointed out.

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


FRAUD / WORKPLACE CRIME

Municipal worker who conned two RDP homeseekers out of R13,000 gets house arrest

TimesLIVE reports that a Mpumalanga municipal worker who defrauded two people seeking RDP houses out of R130,000 was on Wednesday sentenced to two years' house arrest and ordered to pay back a portion of the money she stole.   The Middelburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court imposed the sentence on Sylvia Nyandeni, 41, after finding her guilty of fraud, theft and money laundering.   A Hawks spokesperson indicated:   “It is alleged that during October 2018, the accused was an employee of the Steve Tshwete local municipality and she defrauded two victims who were in need of houses. The accused misrepresented that she is authorised by the municipality to receive money for the low-cost houses that were to be built in Rockdale, Middelburg.” After the victims had been conned out of R130,000, the matter was reported to the Hawks and the accused was arrested in July 2020. The accused was sentenced to five years in jail for fraud and theft, wholly suspended for five years. For money laundering, she was sentenced to 24 months' house arrest for the full duration of the correctional supervision. The accused was ordered to repay the victims R30,000 each.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at TimesLIVE


OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST

  • Social wage bill consumes R1.2 trillion of government revenue, at Mail & Guardian
  • Tiger Brands appoints MDs for six newly-organised business units, at Engineering News
  • Retired employee must pay R2m back to University of Fort Hare for tenders awarded to her son, at The Citizen (subscriber access only)
  • Northern Cape Education places official on suspension over rape allegations, at SABC News

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page