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.


TOP STORY – GEORGE BUILDING COLLAPSE

Gruelling weekend in store for rescue crews at collapsed building site in George

Cape Argus reports that rescue crews working to locate construction workers trapped beneath the rubble of a collapsed building in George are in for a long and challenging weekend. The multi-storey apartment in Victoria Street collapsed on Monday. It was initially reported that 75 workers were on site when the building collapsed, but that number has been revised to 81. More than 70 hours after the tragedy first occurred, 37 people have been retrieved from the rubble while eight were found deceased. On the day of the tragedy, there were electricians, painters, and construction workers present, including several female cleaners.   Seven of the surviving workers were roped in to assist the authorities on where everyone was on the day as well as the type of clothing they were wearing. A total of 3,000 cubic tons of concrete must still be removed from the site in the ongoing rescue response. More than 200 rescue personnel from the City of Cape Town, Breede Valley and Worcester, including volunteers, are still searching for the remaining workers. Colin Deiner of Western Cape Provincial Disaster Services said on Wednesday that heavier equipment was being brought in. “We are moving away from rescue equipment to demolition equipment. It doesn’t mean we are moving from rescue to recovery, but we have to change the equipment to the conditions of the building,” Deiner explained. Once the slabs are lifted, sniffer dogs will come in and assist with the search and rescue.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Byron Lukas at Cape Argus. Lees ook, Minder hande, meer masjiene, maar soektog duur voort, by

George building collapse: Hope is fading fast, but rescuers refuse to give up

News24 reports that seventy-two hours after a structural collapse, the survival rate for those trapped under the rubble drops to around 33%. After that, in the space of just one day, the survival rate of those who have been trapped for four days is 19%. These are the odds rescue workers, combing through a collapsed construction site in George, are up against. On Thursday at 15:00, which marked 72 hours since the building collapsed, 44 people were still unaccounted for, presumed trapped under the rubble. The chief director of Western Cape Disaster Management, Colin Deiner, said the "golden window" of the first 72 hours was only a guideline, and he remained hopeful more survivors would be found. "We want to get into the basement. That's the area that is the least destroyed. There's quite a bit of stability. We're already down to the third floor now and we're not finding anybody. That means that people could be on the first floor in the basement. We're going to stay in rescue mode for a while longer," he advised. Deiner said it was inevitable that the operation would move to recovery and added:   There must come a time when you have to accept that there is no hope of life. But we know, realistically, that for three days a person could be trapped with access to water and could survive. We've made full use of that time." Deiner said morale among the rescue teams remained high.

Read the full original of the extensive report in the above regard by Nicole McCain, Marvin Charles, Salette Litago & Siviwe Feketha at News24. Read too, No contact any more with entrapped workers: hope fading at collapsed George building site, at Sunday Times Daily (subscriber access only)

Thulas Nxesi emphasises workers’ rights over nationality in George building collapse

Mail & Guardian reports that rescue workers are continuing to work around the clock in an attempt to rescue survivors at a mangled apartment building in George, Western Cape, after eight workers died in the collapse earlier this week. The George municipality confirmed on Thursday afternoon that 37 people had been rescued from the rubble at 75 Victoria Street, leaving 44 still unaccounted for, after the multi-storey building collapsed shortly after 2pm on Monday. The number of workers at the site was revised from the initial 75 people reported on Monday to 81, after records were received from the project developer.   On Tuesday, George mayor Leon Van Wyk confirmed that the project developer for the building was the Neo Victoria Development Group, which employed Liatel Developments as the contractor. At this stage, it is “not about foreign nationals but about the rights of workers”, said Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi after speculation in the media about whether the workers were foreigners. “It is not about foreign nationals or nationals – it is about the human beings whose rights have to be protected, regardless of their nationality,” Nxesi said at a briefing. Although the minister refrained from answering questions about the nationality of the workers, he said his department would be engaging with the Mozambique, Malawian and Zimbabwean consulates. Nxesi also said a compensation fund for the workers would be discussed after the investigation by the police and the labour department had been completed.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Umamah Bakharia at Mail & Guardian. See too, Number of workers in collapsed building was 81, not 75, says George municipality, at HeraldLive

George building developer breaks silence, says it be cooperating with authorities during the investigation into the collapse

News24 reports that property developer group Neo Victoria Developments, which was contracted to build the five-storey apartment building that collapsed on Monday in Victoria Street, George, has indicated that it would be cooperating with the authorities during the investigation.   Of the 37 people retrieved from the rubble, eight are dead. According to authorities, there are still 44 people stuck under the heavy rubble.   In a statement on Thursday afternoon, the developer said they were informed early on Monday afternoon of the "horrific" event that occurred. "The news of the most unfortunate event reached not only the community but worldwide and the development team with total disbelief and utmost shock. This new building, almost at a stage of completion, was the workplace for many construction workers, many of whom got trapped in the implosion. The safety and rescue of workers are the main concern and priority. It was clear that nothing said and done afterwards could undo the tragic disaster," said the developer. "Buildings are not built with the purpose to collapse.   The project team of specialists are appointed to execute the planning, design and management of [the] construction process and quality of work. As landowners and developers, we have committed to work with the investigating teams to analyse and evaluate whatever is needed as soon as practically possible," the company indicated. The Department of Employment and Labour said on Thursday it would explore its legal options to compel the developer of the construction site to engage with it.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lisalee Solomons at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • George community holds vigil for artisans trapped under collapsed building, at EWN
  • George-tragedie: ‘Dit was die donkerste week in ons lewe’, by Maroela Media
  • Talle hondehelde help ook soek, by Maroela Media


HEALTH & SAFETY

Prayer session held at Sassa’s Mkhondo office after staff traumatised by ‘rituals’

The Citizen reports that the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) offices in eMkhondo (formerly Piet-Retief), Mpumalanga, have been reopened after being closed for just over two weeks. The closure of the offices followed investigations of rituals recorded on camera after workers at the regional office complained about finding needles scattered on the floor almost daily. The footage allegedly showed two Sassa officials and three unknown men, believed to be traditional healers, in the office after hours. This prompted the temporary closure of the Mkhondo office, with employees having to use an alternative working venue in the Mkhondo community hall. Mpumalanga MEC for Social Development Lindiwe Ntshalintshali has since held a “massive” prayer session at the Mkhondo offices.   The area’s church leaders and faith based organisations attended the session. Sassa Mpumalanga spokesperson Senzeni Ngubeni advised that fumigation and deep cleaning of the offices had been conducted and everything went “back to normal” on Monday after the prayer session. While the spokesperson did not confirm if any action was taken against the two Sassa officials, he said the matter was still under investigation. Additionally, the agency is offering free counselling services to employees through a wellness programme.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Enkosi Selane at The Citizen

E-hailing driver accused of stabbing Cape Town two women arrested

SowetanLive reports that police have arrested a Bolt driver who allegedly stabbed two women in Table View, Cape Town, at the weekend following a dispute over their destination. Western Cape police spokesperson Capt FC van Wyk said the man, aged 39, was arrested on Wednesday in Milnerton after the women, aged 21 and 20, opened a case on Tuesday. The suspect is expected to appear in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Friday facing a charge of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. According to reports, Van Wyk said a group of friends arranged for a Bolt driver to pick them up in Monte Vista and drop them off in DuNoon (Milnerton). The driver wanted to drop them off at a fuel station near the entrance to DuNoon, as he said it was unsafe for him to go into DuNoon. Payment was made after money was withdrawn from an ATM. When the victims asked for change, the driver drove to Table View SAPS, where he was told to take the clients to their destination. The driver left the station with the passengers, but still didn’t take them to DuNoon. Van Wyk reported that an argument ensued which resulted in two women being stabbed.   Bolt has since confirmed that it blocked the driver from the e-hailing platform while they investigate the allegations.

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Wanted police killer nabbed in Bellville on Wednesday, IOL News


VISA BACKLOG

Home Affairs saddled with visa backlog of over 92,000

Cape Times reports that as at the end of January 2024, the backlog of visa applications had, in a space of about five months, increased by 20,000 from 74,309 recorded in August 2023 to 92,157.   This emerged in Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s response to parliamentary questions from DA MP Angel Khanyile. But, Motsoaledi advised that the critical skills, business and general work visas that formed part of the annual performance plan had had no backlogs as at 31 January. “Majority of the delays and backlogs are on two visa categories. They are section 11(6) and section 18 visas for spouse and relatives respectively,” Motsoaledi reported. He explained that the department experienced challenges concerning the legitimacy of relationships being claimed and cited in the applications.   “It must be noted that some foreign nationals have taken advantage and followed corrupt methods to legitimise themselves, family members, friends and others. The backlog stands at 79,916. Eighty-five percent of the backlog falls under these two categories where massive corruption and collusion was detected,” the Minister stated.   Yet, Khanyile said the increase in visa backlogs went against what Motsoaledi had told the home affairs portfolio committee in March. “The committee was told that the Department of Home Affairs would be appointing officials with the necessary qualifications to assist with the backlog, yet the backlog just keeps getting worse,” she pointed out.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mayibongwe Maqhina at Cape Times


SAPS RETENTION

Elite police forces secure a 250% danger pay hike

News24 reports that the SA Police Service (SAPS) has increased danger pay allowances for Special Task Force (STF) members from R6,000 to R21,000, before deductions, marking a 250% increase. This is in a bid to stem the number of police officers leaving such elite units for the private sector. Duties of STF members include escorting dangerous criminals, escorting hazardous cargo, containment of hostage situations and kidnapping, protecting VIPs, as well as combating illegal mining. Earlier this year, Police Minister Bheki Cele advised that training each STF member cost the country R1.1 million, and he expressed concern about the "exodus" of elite police operatives. On Thursday, Brigadier Athlenda Mathe, the national police spokesperson, confirmed that the danger allowance increase was part of a retention strategy. Mathe refused to divulge the number of active STF members, citing security concerns, but she confirmed that the number of officers who had left the units was concerning. Mathe pointed out that the private sector offered higher salaries to specialised officers, but the state would never be able to match such salaries. She urged members to understand that policing was a "calling and about passion, dedication and commitment".   Apparently, many former STF members earn as much as R80,000 net per month in the private sector, whereas their average net police salary had been R35,000 per month. Earlier this week, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) lamented what it called a "brain-drain", which had reached critical levels within the police.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nkosikhona Duma at News24. Read too, These police officers are getting a R17,000 ‘danger pay’ increase, at BusinessTech

Popcru welcomes danger pay hike for Special Task Force (STF) members, but has reservations

News24 reports that on Thursday, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) welcomed the increase in danger pay allowances for Special Task Force (STF) members of the SA Police Service (SAPS), but the union added that it still had reservations. Earlier in the week, Popcru lamented what it called a "brain-drain", which had reached critical levels within the police. In a statement, Popcru's president, Thulani Ngwenya, said that "highly skilled and specialised members of the STF and NIU divisions are exiting these units at an alarming rate, leaving the country's borders vulnerable, and posing a significant risk to safety and security". But, Richard Mamabolo, the union's spokesperson, said they were concerned that the decision to increase the allowance was taken outside the bounds of recognised platforms, such as the bargaining council, “once again demonstrating the continued unilateralism on the part of SAPS - and, by implication, an attack on collective bargaining.” He added: "In the same vein, we are of the view that all members within the employ of the SAPS perform dangerous tasks at all levels, and this prompts for a holistic discussion in which all specialised units, including the STF, the NIU, the Tactical Response Team, CAT, Forensics and Public Service Act members, are accommodated." Mamabolo said the union wanted the entire salary structure of the police to be revamped.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nkosikhona Duma at News24 (scroll down)


LABOUR COURT RULES

New rules for labour courts published in government gazette

BusinessTech reports that new Labour Court and Labour Appeal Court rules, including changes to holiday-time and restraint of trade litigation, have been published in the Government Gazette.   According to Chloë Loubser and Ayanda Nkabinde from Bowmans, the new rules include major procedural changes and technical advancements. These aim to ensure that matters in the courts are handled efficiently, which should help clear the backlog. The effective date for the new rules has not yet been published. An addition to the rules is the introduction of dies non (a day where no legal business may be done) over the Christmas period. In the past, the time periods for filing court processes still occurred uninterrupted during the festive period, meaning that litigants had to remain on-call. Review applications are one of the most common applications on Labour Court rolls, and the new rules state that these applications must now contain no more than a concise statement of the grounds of review. An answering affidavit must also be concise regarding why the application is opposed. The time periods for filing the record and subsequent process in the review are also now clearly stated. The new rules also include a procedure that a party seeking to enforce a restraint of trade through an urgent interdict must follow. The new rules also formally make provisions for virtual hearings on request by one or more parties or by direction by the presiding judge. Media access to proceedings is also now regulated in the new rules.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Luke Fraser and download the new rules at BusinessTech


DISPUTED DISMISSAL

Pretoria teacher claims dismissal after 20 years’ service was due to pro-Israel views

Cape Times reports that a now former teacher at the Laudium Secondary School in Pretoria, who claimed he was dismissed after nearly two decades at the school because of his pro-Israel sentiments, turned to the Labour Court in Johannesburg as he felt that he was given the boot unfairly. But the school’s governing body claimed this was not the reason for his dismissal and said his term of employment simply came to an end. The applicant referred a dismissal dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), in which he claimed that he had been dismissed unfairly because he had a reasonable expectation of renewal of his contract. He also alleged that his dismissal was automatically unfair because the reason for his dismissal, according to him, was his religious and political beliefs. The CCMA, however, failed to enrol the dispute for conciliation and issued no certificate of the outcome of conciliation. The applicant then referred a dispute to the Labour Court in which he alleged that he was unfairly dismissed and discriminated against.   He said that he had a reasonable expectation that his contract would be renewed because he was a good teacher and he had been employed for more than two decades on a fixed-term basis.   But, before his grievances could have been determined by the court, the governing body raised preliminary issues such as challenging the court’s jurisdiction. The judge, however, overturned the bulk of the special pleas raised by the governing body and ruled that the matter should go on trial before the Labour Court, so that the applicant could be given the opportunity to give evidence and the court could determine whether his dismissal had been unfair or not.

Read the full original of the detailed report in the above regard by Zelda Venter at Cape Times


SUSPENSIONS

Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) suspends acting vice-chancellor and another senior official

Daily News reports that the uMlazi-based Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) has placed two senior officials on precautionary suspension pending the outcome of an investigation. The decision to suspend Professor Marcus Ramogale, who is the acting vice-chancellor and principal, and Gona Govender, acting senior manager in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, was announced in a memo on Thursday. The university's administrator, Professor LR van Staden said the decision to suspend the duo was as a result of serious allegations, “that have been brought to light, suggesting possible detrimental activities to the university”.   He added: “It is imperative that such allegations are thoroughly investigated to protect the integrity and sustainability of the university, as well as uphold the principles of transparency and accountability within our institution. The decision was made in the best interest of the university, and to ensure the integrity and impartiality of the investigation process.” Van Staden stressed that the suspensions were not determinations of guilt. “It is unclear why they were suspended, but the rumours abound that they were involved in corrupt activities. But it’s unclear at this stage,” said a staffer who spoke strictly on condition of anonymity.

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

Suspended Msunduzi municipal manager to seek urgent high court interdict order to return to work

The Witness reports that suspended Msunduzi manager Lulamile Mapholoba is heading to the High Court seeking an urgent interdict so as the return to work after the mayor told him to remain at home until there was an outcome in the disciplinary hearing against him.   Mapholoba had returned to work for a short period on Tuesday and Wednesday following a recent Durban Labour Court judgement, which found his suspension in February had been unlawful.   However, on Tuesday he was informed of the council’s decision to suspend him again – on full pay. On Wednesday, Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla explained that Mapholoba would remain suspended in accordance with a recent council resolution, which was informed by a report based on the outcomes of an independent investigator. The investigator apparently found that Mapholoba had allegedly committed several transgressions that compromised the municipality. At Wednesday’s press conference Thebolla said the Labour Court judgment had been noted, but the decision to suspend stood as the concerns about the initial suspension had been “fully ratified” by the council at its meeting on 2 May. Mapholoba said he would dispute the council’s resolution and indicated that he had not been given the report tabled at the council for his perusal. “I will not be returning [to work] until the high court clarifies this situation. I have instructed my attorneys to file an urgent interdict and the outcome will determine my next move with regards to returning to work,” he indicated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Chris Ndaliso at The Witness


OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST

  • SA mines minister Gwede Mantashe has no legal powers over Anglo American takeover, at Miningmx
  • Remote Namaqualand diamond town of Koingnaas battles dust and neglect, at GroundUp
  • Polisiekaptein in bedrogsaak op borgtog vrygelaat deur Springbok-landroshof, by Maroela Media
  • Bloemhof polisieman in hof oor veediefstal, by Maroela Media
  • Fort Hare fraud case: Accused agrees to have cellphone accessed after 42 days of 'hide and seek', at News24
  • Amptenaar vas oor diefstal van 51 horings, by Maroela Media

 


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