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TODAY'S LABOUR NEWS

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This 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. The postings for the current month are below, while those from previous months can be accessed in the Archives section.

Last Update -Wednesday 23 April 2014, 11:12

‘Guilty farmers will pay’ when ANC comes into power in Western Cape: Fransman

ancChelsea Geach reported on Tuesday that Western Cape provincial ANC leader Marius Fransman told farmworkers at an election rally near De Doorns on Monday that Apartheid still reigned in the Cape farmlands.  Land reform was the hot topic in his address to the farming community of Orchard.  The wineland district of De Doorns erupted in violence in late 2012, with wildcat strikes for better wages and working conditions.  Despite a rise in the minimum wage and no further strikes, it was to the same issues that Fransman appealed.  “Twenty years into democracy, land still belongs to those who oppressed us.  What justice is there when we must pay millions for farms that were stolen from us?” he asked.  Fransman also spoke of continuing assaults, evictions and wage struggles facing farmworkers and claimed that too many farmers were not paying the minimum wage and were instead deducting money for water, electricity and farm shop purchases.  “When the ANC comes to power in the province, guilty farmers will pay,” he stated.  Fransman lashed out at the Democratic Alliance (DA), accusing the provincial ruling party of siding with farm owners instead of workers.  “Why do farmers give so much money to the DA?  Because they want to keep apartheid in the Western Cape.”

  • Read this report at Cape Argus
  • Read too, Fransman's comments in De Doorns disgraceful, says DA, at Politicsweb

'I do not owe Numsa': Vavi

vavi1Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has indicated that he does not owe Numsa for its support to have him reinstated at the trade union federation, The Star newspaper reported on Wednesday.  "It is wrong to say the resolution of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) must bind Vavi... and Numsa is not [so] arrogant to tell me I must abandon Cosatu.  It does not work like that," he was quoted as saying.  Vavi addressed about 500 shop stewards at the Western Cape Cosatu office in Cape Town on Tuesday.  He returned to work at Cosatu House this month after eight months of being on suspension, following a ruling by the High Court in Johannesburg's setting aside his suspension.  Vavi pledged to work for unity within Cosatu.  "My role is to ensure we pick up the pieces... that have fallen all over.  Without the unity of workers, everything else becomes impossible.  Without the numbers united behind a principled federation, all is lost," Vavi was quoted as saying.

  • This short report is at Sowetan Live
  • The original report, Outspoken Vavi pledges to work for Cosatu unity, is on page 6 of The Star of 23 April 2014

Rousing welcome for Vavi at Cosatu Western Cape shop stewards council meeting

vavi1Marianne Merten reports that Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi received a rousing welcome when he walked into the Western Cape meeting of the labour federation's Shop Stewards Council meeting on Tuesday evening.  Shouts of “Vavi! Vavi! Vavi!” erupted as he arrived, sometime after Housing Minister Connie September started addressing about 500 shop stewards at Cosatu’s head office in Cape Town.  Quick intervention with calls for discipline from the podium quietened the audience, but as September was set to continue outlining government’s housing delivery record, shouts in support of Vavi again interrupted.  It was Vavi’s first public Cosatu engagement since returning to office over two weeks ago after the Johannesburg High Court ruled his suspension in August 2013 as unlawful and invalid.  Vavi was suspended over an extra-marital office affair with a junior employee, but when charges were finally brought earlier this year, they included counts of financial mismanagement.  Vavi was due to address the shop stewards on developments in Cosatu.

  • Read this report at IOL News
  • See too, Outspoken Vavi pledges to work for Cosatu unity, on page 6 of The Star of 23 April 2014

Commander admits police failure at Marikana

marikanacommissionPolice interventions to curb violent striking Marikana mineworkers in August 2012 failed, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Tuesday.  The Commission is investigating the deaths of 44 persons at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, including the deadly shooting of 34 protestors by police on 16 August 2012.  North West public order policing (POP) commander Lt-Col Joseph Merafe was being cross-examined by evidence leader Charles Wesley.  "If you measure the success of the operation in terms of cost, damage to property, injuries to people and loss of life, do you consider what happened there a success or a failure?" Wesley asked Merafe.  Merafe responded: "What happened on the 13th [August 2012] wasn't a success for the police…  at all."  The senior policeman was at Marikana on 13 August, but was not on the scene on 16 August.  Two police officers were hacked to death on 13 August, in a confrontation between the protesting mineworkers and police close to a railway line at Marikana.  Three mineworkers were also killed in the clash.  Merafe said there had been random acts of violence before 13 August and that the unsystematic incidents were a build-up to the major clash between police and the protesting mineworkers on 16 August.

Metrorail fires 131 illegally striking train drivers concerned by irate commuter attacks

metrorail thumb medium90 92Nce Mkhize reports that Metrorail and the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) are at loggerheads after 131 train drivers were fired on Monday for joining an illegal strike.  The strike, which affected some Durban train routes, began at the start of the Easter weekend.  The train drivers said they feared for their lives after some of their colleagues were assaulted by angry train commuters on Wednesday night, when commuters ran amok on a train heading for Umlazi after their trains were delayed for several hours because of cable theft.  Commuters turned their anger on train drivers and guards, attacking them and blaming them for the delay.  On Thursday, Satawu train drivers refused orders to drive trains after Metrorail reportedly could not guarantee Satawu that train drivers would not be attacked.  Satawu president June Dube said the union was still in negotiations with Metrorail, which he accused of playing to the media by announcing the firing of workers.  On Tuesday, Metrorail spokesman Zama Nomnganga was adamant that it was decided to give the workers notice of their dismissal after they failed to heed warnings to return to work.  He said the workers went on strike despite Metrorail’s agreement with Satawu and other unions that security would be increased to protect workers from unruly commuters.

Transnet pensioners get a further R178m in bonuses, but Freedom Front Plus case continues

transnetlogoTransnet pensioners are set to receive 13th cheques to a total value of R178 million, the parastatal announced on Tuesday.  "This takes the total of bonus payments made by the pension funds and Transnet to around R2.5 billion since 2007," Transnet said in a statement.  It went on to indicate that about 67,000 pensioners belonging to the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund (TSDBF) and the Transnet Sub-Fund of the Transport Pension Fund (TTPF) would receive bonus payments or 13th cheques totalling R178m by the end of April.  This will take the total paid to pensioners in ad hoc bonuses to R356m over the last six months.  The bonus payment for each beneficiary will equal 8.3% of their annual individual benefit.  But, the Freedom Front Plus, which has spearheaded a class action lawsuit against Transnet, said the bonuses would not affect their court case.  "These ad hoc bonuses do not come from Transnet," FF Plus MP Anton Alberts said.  "When they pay out their bonuses, they are actually paying pensioners from the funds itself."  About 66,000 pensioners are involved in the civil claim to recover about R79bn, which they claim Transnet plundered from their pension funds.

Web links to labour articles on Tuesday, 22 April 2014

weblinksOur links page provides references to South African labour news articles we have come across on the internet on Tuesday, 22 April 2014.  The list was most recently updated at 24h00 on Tuesday.

Samwu Eastern Cape gives ANC ultimatum to address members’ issues or lose its support

samwuIf the ANC does not address municipal workers' issues, the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) will reconsider its support for the party in the future, the union in the Eastern Cape indicated on Tuesday.  It said in a statement: "In line with our congress resolution we will support the ANC in the coming elections…  [But] we are not prepared to compromise on them, and unless they are properly addressed, we will critically evaluate our support for the ANC at the next national congress of this union, and within our federation."  Among the issues listed were: doing away with outsourcing and privatization; filling of vacant funded positions; finalisation of job evaluation and wage curve; doing away with e-tolls; banning labour brokers; abolishing the youth wage subsidy; and full implementation of the Freedom Charter.  It was stated that, until these issues were taken forward, Samwu in the province would not be able to campaign for the ANC wholeheartedly.

Wage offer 'not the final one', so not being taken to members: Amcu shop steward

Reuters reports that, as far as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) is concerned, the latest salary package offer by strike-hit platinum producers’ was "not the final offer" and so the union did not immediately plan to take it to members for a vote, Amcu shop steward Siphamandla Makhanya said on Tuesday.  The CEOs of Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin were due to meet the leaders of Amcu on Tuesday at an undisclosed location for talks in a bid to find an agreement to end the longest and most costly strike on South Africa's mines in living memory.  Tuesday's talks were to be facilitated by the Department of Labour.  Around 70,000 Amcu members downed tools on 23 January.  The producers' latest offer, made last Thursday, was for annual wage hikes of up to 10% and other increases, which would take “cash remuneration” to R12,500 rand a month by July 2017.  Initially Amcu demanded an immediate doubling of the basic wage for entry-level workers to R12 500 a month.  It has since indicated that it would accept annual increases of around 30% that would reach this goal in three years' time.

Marikana inquiry could still face hurdle over testimony of ‘Mr X’

marikanacommissionDudu Dube writes that the Farlam Commission of Inquiry could face another hurdle if the 270 miners who were injured and arrested in Marikana in 2012 decide not to accept the conditions under which testimony is given by the police witness known as ‘Mr X”.  The Commission is investigating the deaths of 44 persons during strike-related violence at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in August 2012, including the deadly shooting of 34 protestors by police on 16 August of that year.  The Chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, ruled last week that Mr X could testify through video streaming, but with the miners and families of the deceased present at the commission hearings.  Lawyers for the miners said they were yet to consult with their clients since most of them had gone home for the Easter holidays, but their decision could go either way.  Lawyer Simon Tlhatlha stated: “The ruling was a victory because we will know the identity of Mr X and our clients will be allowed full access.  We are still going to consult with them and they could say that they want him to take the ‘hot seat’ like all the other witnesses.  If that is the instruction, we will have to take the ruling into [on] review.”  Mr X was among the 3,000 Lonmin strikers in 2012.  He has agreed to be a police witness and is expected to incriminate a large number of his colleagues in his testimony.

  • Read more on page 2 of The New Age of 22 April 2014

Platinum mining job cuts inevitable with new wage offer: labour analyst

implatsheadgear smlThe new wage offer by Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and Impala Platinum (Implats) to striking workers in Rustenburg is destined to lead to job losses, well-known labour analyst Michael Bagraim has told Mineweb.  He said the latest offer should serve as a wakeup call to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which has been on strike at Amplats, Implats and also Lonmin since 23 January.  Bagraim reckons the higher wages now on offer would, if they goes into effect, result in hefty job cuts by Amplats at some of its SA platinum operations.  “They have opened their books and made offers that they can ill afford.  And they will cut down the numbers of staff.  We will see about 30% retrenchments of staff,” he estimated.  While Anglo American could not immediately be reached for comment on the issue of job cuts, last week it noted in statement that the platinum producer could "ill afford" the wage increase offered.  It is not clear if that means possible job cuts.

  • Read more at Moneyweb
  • Read too, Outcry to save jobs and North West province’s mining, on page 5 of The New Age of 23 April 2014

Suspended GEPF head wants independent report to be made public in interests of transparency

gepfJohn Oliphant, suspended executive principal officer of the R1.2 trillion Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), says he wants the forensic report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which reportedly indicated that he breached GEPF policy by approving an increase in the fee for an advertising contract with advertising agency Mother Russia from R531,555 to R2m, made public in the interests of transparency.  “An amicable resolution of the dispute should include making public the PwC report, the initial charge sheet, the amended charge sheet and my response to the charges,” Oliphant said on Tuesday.  He adding that “while an amicable resolution still eludes us, we are perplexed now that the report has been leaked. Transparency is important, the GEPF is a public-interest institution.”  Oliphant’s disciplinary hearing is due to start on Wednesday and is scheduled to run until 25 April.  He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

MCCF, North West police partner to protect non-striking miners

SABC News reports that North West police say they are faced with a mammoth task of ensuring the safety of non-striking mine workers in Rustenburg.  Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have been on a wage strike at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin since 23 January.  The strike has been marred by incidents of violence, intimidation and arson.  Provincial Police spokesperson, Thulani Ngubane, reports that the Mining Crime Combating Forum (MCCF) is assisting police and mine workers.  “Majority of people that have gone back to work, have been assisted by the MCCF, [where] we have been able to come up with efforts, we came up with strategies like pack-and-ride.”  The only challenge for police is apparently to provide security for non-striking miners in the deep informal settlements.

SAPS whistle-blower gains redeployment after unfair transfer following uncovering of corruption

saps thumb100 The Labour Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday ordered the police to redeploy Colonel Kobus Roos to a similar position in the crime intelligence unit which he had previously held and to compensate him in an unfair labour practice case.  "The respondents [SA Police Service] are obliged to give preference to Roos in any application for appointment or promotion in a post reasonably acceptable to him..." Judge Robert Lagrange said in his judgment, continuing that the respondents must pay Roos compensation in the amount of R156,250 within 14 days of the date of the judgment.  The police were also ordered to pay Roos' costs of suit, including the costs of two counsel.  The case was brought by Solidarity, which said the SAPS conceded before the court in February that it had acted unfairly against Roos and that he was entitled to be placed in a position similar to the one he had previously occupied.  Solidarity said Roos, who had been acting head of the internal audit department in crime intelligence, was transferred to another effectively defunct position by former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli after Roos uncovered alleged corruption in crime intelligence.  

Amcu lukewarm over new salary offer by platinum producers

boardroomtableKarl Gernetzky reports that negotiations between strike-hit platinum producers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) over the former’s revised wage offer concluded on Tuesday with no sign that the union was in a hurry to take it to its members.  The CEOs of Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin met Amcu leadership on Tuesday to discuss their offer that would see monthly "cash remuneration" for entry-level underground workers reach R12,500 over five years.  That still falls short of Amcu’s demand of a basic salary increase to R12,500 a month over four years, with cash allowances, such as housing and holiday pay, remaining frozen.  It seems that Amcu’s national leadership has not yet met to discuss the offer ahead of convening mass meetings with members.  Implats spokesman Johan Theron said there had not been any formal feedback from Amcu by Tuesday evening, but the resumption of negotiations was an encouraging sign.  Hanre Rossouw of Investec Asset Management believes the strike could last until after the 7 May general elections because for Amcu “if there’s any political platform that they want to use, it would be senseless to give it up before the elections."  Negotiations are expected to continue on Wednesday.

  • Read more at BDLive
  • See too, Platinum mining job cuts inevitable with new wage offer, at Moneyweb

Solidarity declares platinum belt partial disaster area as a result of strike

solidarityhelpinghandMining Weekly Online reports that union Solidarity has declared the platinum belt a partial disaster area and has sent in its helping-hand organisation to assist its non-striking members in the towns of Rustenburg, Brits and Mooinooi.  “Non-strikers also lose a substantial part of their income and struggle to meet their financial obligations, without being responsible for the situation in any way whatsoever,” said Solidarity CEO Flip Buys, who explained that much of the remuneration of platinum company employees was production-linked.  “Therefore, when production is suspended it’s not only the strikers who lose their income,” he said, adding that also hard-hit were many of the employees of companies that have had their contracts terminated as a result of the strike.  The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s (Amcu’s) damaging strike, which commenced on 23 January, has already seen 26% lopped off yearly earnings of rand-and-file mineworkers, who lose 2% of their salary for every week that they are not at work.  Solidarity has, meanwhile, contributed R100,000 to an emergency fund that has already resulted in food and other essential provisions being distributed to some 170 Solidarity members.  Solidarity Helping Hand CE Danie Brink describes as urgent the need for nappies and infant formula.

Talks between platinum producers and Amcu to continue on Wednesday

platinumbarTalks between platinum producers and union Amcu to resolve a 12-week-long wage strike were expected to continue on Wednesday, the Chamber of Mines said on Tuesday.  “There is no update... the meeting is expected to continue tomorrow [Wednesday]," spokeswoman Charmane Russell indicated.  The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) was in a meeting on Tuesday with Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin at an undisclosed venue following revised wage offers tabled by the employers last week.  The proposals would see the minimum cash remuneration (comprising basic wages and holiday, living out and other allowances) for entry level underground employees rising to R12,500 per month (R150,000 per annum) by July 2017.  Union president Joseph Mathunjwa and chief negotiator Jimmy Gama could not be reached for comment on Tuesday as their cellphones went unanswered.

Platinum strike violence: Amcu member arrested

handcuffsA member of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has been arrested in connection with strike-related violence in Rustenburg, North West police said on Tuesday.  The 27-year-old man had been on the run from police since last month, said spokesman Brigadier Thulani Ngubane.  On Friday, 28 March at about 6pm, the suspect and a group of other Amcu members allegedly attacked two fellow Impala Platinum workers outside a scrapyard in Boitekong.  A 35-year-old woman and a 38-year-old man were stabbed with spears.  Ngubane indicated that police arrested Khayalethu Mzimela at Sunrise View in Boitekong on 15 April.  The accused has appeared in the Bafokeng Magistrate's Court facing charges of attempted murder.  The case was postponed to 24 April for further investigation.

Mid-morning roundup of labour news on Tuesday, 22 April 2014

news shutterstockIn our Tuesday roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour
stories that have appeared since mid-
morning on Thursday, 17 April 2014.

Numsa’s call for Zuma to step down annoys his Cosatu supporters

numsaGeorge Matlala reports that supporters of President Jacob Zuma in labour federation Cosatu are peeved with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) after it emerged over the weekend that the affiliate had reiterated its call for the president to step down.  Senior Cosatu leaders opposed to Numsa said even the ANC’s mediation efforts were set to hit a brick wall because of Numsa’s rebellious public comments and its combative posture.  They believe the affiliate is advanced in its preparations for a life outside of Cosatu.  It is understood that ANC officials will this week start meeting with individual Cosatu affiliates to try to prevent a split in the federation.  But one Cosatu central executive committee member said: “The divisions are at the stage that they are not reconcilable.”  Another senior Cosatu leader said: “We are going to deal with them after the elections.”  Meantime, all eyes will be on Numsa’s close allay Cosatu’s general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi on May Day next week in Polokwane to see whether he will clearly campaign for the ANC.

  • Read this report on page 5 of Sowetan of 22 April 2014
  • Read too, Numsa plans special congress, at Fin24

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