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 roundup of weekend news, see summaries of our
selection of South African labour-related stories
that appeared since Friday, 9 January 2018.


TOP STORY – MARIKANA MASSACRE

Police witnesses to slaughter by colleagues of miners at Marikana Scene 2 come forward

City Press reports that Constable Itumeleng Ntsileng from the police’s K9 Unit and two of his fellow officers have related how on 16 August 2012 at least one of their colleagues and others from the police’s special task force shot striking Marikana mine workers who had surrendered and were begging for their lives.  Ntsileng and his partners were positioned at Scene 2, where officers pursued and killed the workers minutes after their colleagues gunned down workers at the koppie, which was later referred to as Scene 1 during the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.  He recalled how a special task force officer killed a mine worker who had been hiding behind some rocks.  “The mine worker begged the officer not to kill him.  He called out to the officer, saying: ‘Ungangibulali baba, ungangibulali baba [Don’t kill me sir, don’t kill me].’  But he was shot at close range with an R5 rifle while cowering behind the rock, begging for his life.  There was no need for that guy to die like that,” sobbed Ntsileng.  It has been six years since the Marikana massacre, during which 34 mine workers died and 112 were injured in a single day.  Ntsileng, who is involved in a labour dispute with his bosses at the police bargaining council, has decided to speak out because he wants the truth to be known.  He and two of his former colleagues have yet to be interviewed by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).  The Farlam Commission of Inquiry’s report found no evidence that anyone was killed or injured at Marikana by officers attached to the special task force.

Read this report by Vicky Abraham in full at News24


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Driver in case of deaths of two Joburg traffic cops at roadblock denied bail

The Citizen reports that the man who allegedly drove into and killed two Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) officers was denied bail on Friday by the Alexandra Regional Court.  Albert Pretorius, 41, is alleged to have driven his double-cab bakkie into a JMPD policing operation on Witkoppen Road under the influence of alcohol on Monday last week.  Two police officers were killed and several motorists seriously injured.  He is facing two counts of culpable homicide and one of driving under the influence of alcohol.  Pretorius’ attorney claimed that he was on medication which had contributed to his high alcohol levels.  But the court ruled the speed limit signage had been visible, the road was straight and there was sufficient lighting for the accused to have clearly seen the officers.  Proceedings were postponed until 29 March 2018.

A short report by Chisom Jenniffer Okoye is at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Durban police call on Uber and Taxify drivers to meet them about attacks, at SowetanLive


MINING LABOUR

Mbalula pleased over breakthrough arrests in North West platinum belt killings

ANA reports that six more people have been arrested in connection with the recent spate of killings on the Rustenburg platinum mining belt.  This brought the number of people arrested to nine, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula told journalists on Sunday.  "Last night [Saturday] we have taken down [the] brains behind the killings.  We still have few to chase," he said, explaining that those arrested were three suspected masterminds behind the killings and the other six were believed to have been the gunmen.  Mbalula indicated that those arrested were union leaders and "some politicians".  They were arrested in the Eastern Cape and in Marikana near Rustenburg.  Mbalula said there would be more arrests.  The six arrested on Saturday night were expected to appear in the Brits Magistrate's Court on Monday.  Union members killed in the North West platinum belt include Tholakele "Bhele" Dlunga, Mvelisi Biyela, Zingisa Mzendana, Mohahu Daniel Maseko, Mpeke Nonyana, and Mawethu Steven, among others.  Three men were arrested last year in connection with the attempted murder in July of Malibongwe Mdazo, the branch chairman of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at Western Platinum.  Two have been released on bail, while the bail hearing of the third is still continuing.

Read this report in full at by Molaole Montsho in full at IOL News. See too, Six more arrested for North West platinum mines killings, at IOL News

NUM calls on workers to report unsafe working conditions in mines

ANA reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Friday called on its structures in the mines to confront management and employers whenever there were health and safety deviations or substandard working conditions.  In a statement, the NUM said that workers must exercise their right to refuse to work in a dangerous workplace and must not be victimised for doing so as they were empowered by the Mine Health and Safety Act.  Peter Bailey, NUM chairperson for health and safety, said that the union was very disappointed by the recent incidents and accidents at Sibanye-Stillwater mines after two workers died in a fall-of-ground accident at Kloof gold mine on Wednesday and about 1,000 were trapped underground as a result of power failure at Beatrix gold mine.  Bailey said that the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) inspectorate must pull up its socks and pay consistent visits to the mines to ensure compliance in a bid to save lives.  He applauded those mining houses that were able to mine for 12 months or more without a fatality.

Read this report in full at Mining Weekly. Read too, Revival of interest in robotics to increase safety in South African mines, at Mining Weekly

Postings on Mining Charter

  • Mining Charter battle is damaging for all, says mining entrepreneur Bridgette Radebe, at Fin24


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Patients suffer as nurses strike at Limpopo clinic near Mokopane in Limpopo

Sowetan reports that patients were last week turned away from a clinic near Mokopane in Limpopo because nurses were on strike.  Pregnant mothers and others in need of medical healthcare at Tshamahansi clinic had to be carted by bakkies a further 8km away to Mosesetjane clinic.  An employee at the clinic said the situation was dire.   Nurses went on strike on Wednesday, allegedly because they were owed money.  According to Dan Makhubela, chairman of Tshamahansi Traditional Council, the nurses were owed R1,300 each.  Provincial health department spokesman Thabiso Teffo said the strike was “illegal” and went on to state:  “Apparently, the operational manager has failed to submit documents for claims to be paid to the nurses.  But we are saying this [strike] should not come at the expense of the community.  We sympathise with the nurses ... but we cannot tolerate a situation where the lives of our people are put at risk.”

Read more of this report by Frank Maponya at SA Labour News


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Cosatu, SACP reiterate calls for Zuma to step down

EWN reports that there were strong calls from the ANC's alliance partners for President Jacob Zuma to step down just moments before party president Cyril Ramaphosa was to address the Nelson Mandela centenary celebrations.  Labour federation Cosatu and the SA Communist Party (SACP) pulled no punches as they addressed the crowd gathered at the Grand Parade in Cape Town on Sunday.  Thousands chanted, blasted vuvuzelas and cheered as Cosatu representative Zingiswa Losi called on Zuma to listen to South Africa’s workers and step down as the country’s president.  "We must listen to workers who are saying that for as long as we keep the president of the republic in power, the ANC's brand becomes damaged."  The SACP’s Benson Ngqentsu echoed the call, saying:  "The longer you keep President Zuma, the worse it is for our people."

A short report by Graig-Lee Smith is at EWN

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Samwu wants Zuma gone so it can start working with the ‘new ANC leadership’, at BusinessLive
  • Jacob Zuma lacks discipline, says NUM, on page 4 of Sowetan of 9 February 2018


STAFFING / RECRUITMENT

DPSA Minister Faith Muthambi 'will support' investigation into jobs for family and friends

News24 reports that Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi will provide the Public Service Commission (PSC) with "all the support and documents as they may require" in its investigation into allegations that she had expanded her private office with 40 staff members - including family members and friends.  Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Desiree van der Walt laid a complaint a week ago and by Tuesday, PSC chairperson Richard Sizani responded with a letter, stating that they would investigate whether the posts were legally filled.  According to Muthambi's spokesperson, Joe Makhafola, the minister "welcomes the approach undertaken by the Democratic Alliance to approach the Public Service Commission to investigate the many spurious allegations levelled against her.”  He went on to say:  “The ministry has consistently argued that there was nothing of substance in the allegations.  Repeating them ad Infinitum did not make them true."

Read this report by Jan Gerber in full at News24


BASIC EDUCATION

KZN sexpest teacher gets another school job

Timeslive reports that a KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) school is planning to fire a teacher it recently employed after discovering that he allegedly sexually abused a young boy while at a previous school.  Police arrested the teacher at Amajuba High School in Newcastle last Wednesday following two alleged sexual assaults on the boy, the first when he was a 12-year-old pupil at Dannhauser Primary Full Service School in August 2016.  The chairperson of Amajuba High’s governing body confirmed that a letter would be forwarded to the teacher's attorney asking him to provide reasons why he should not be dismissed.  Dannhauser Primary Full Service School dismissed the teacher last year, but declined to say if that was linked to the sexual assault allegations.  He subsequently found a teaching job at a school in Nquthu, outside Dundee, before he was appointed at Amajuba High.  The circumstances surrounding the teacher's employment at the Nquthu school and at Amajuba High have raised serious questions about whether schools were screening and conducting background checks on teachers before employing them.

Read this report by Prega Govender at Timeslive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • The writing's on the wall if rampant illiteracy persists, at BusinessLive


RETIREMENT FUNDS

Nehawu and PSA at odds with their union federations over PIC’s loan to Eskom

BusinessLive reports that Nehawu and the PSA are at loggerheads with their mother bodies over the Public Investment Corporation’s (PIC’s) decision to advance R5bn to Eskom.  While federations Cosatu and the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) supported the move, Nehawu (National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union – a Cosatu affiliate ) and the PSA (Public Servants Association – a Fedusa affiliate) were opposed to it, fearing it would set the tone for other state-owned companies experiencing cash flow problems as a result of mismanagement and corruption.  The PIC and the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) announced on Monday that they would advance the funds to Eskom for operational costs until the end of March.  Public sector unions and their federations had at the end of 2017 started talks on how to form a united front to protect workers’ pensions that are managed by the GEPF and invested by the PIC.  They also complained about not being consulted about the Eskom loan, although the PIC has since apologised for the oversight.  Cosatu argued that there was a bigger picture to take into consideration as Eskom was critical to the economy.  Cosatu’s Sizwe Pamla commented that they understood the individual unions had to look after their members’ interests while their remit was much broader.  The PSA, which forced Fedusa to retract a supportive statement it issued on Monday, accused Cosatu of "playing politics"

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Why are trade unions peeved by the PIC’s bailout of Eskom? at Moneyweb

Public Servants Association issues letter of demand to GEPF over R5bn Eskom bailout

ANA reports that the Public Servants Association (PSA) has issued a letter of demand to the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) following a R5 billion bailout extended to Eskom.  The PSA’s attorneys on Friday issued a letter detailing the union’s demand to the GEPF’s principal executive officer.  PSA general manager Ivan Fredericks said:  “The PSA is alarmed that the GEPF agreed with the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to grant a R5 billion bridging loan to Eskom, despite an agreement between the PSA and other unions with the GEPF and the PIC that no GEPF funds would be used to bail out any state-owned company or entity before agreement had been reached that their governance had improved sufficiently.”  The union is requiring, among other things, disclosure of the full terms of the agreement under which the bridging loan was provided, including date of payment, interest payable, and terms and date of repayment.  In addition, the PSA, which represents more than 237,000 public servants, wants the names of persons who concluded the agreement on behalf of the GEPF, and under what authority this was done.  The PSA has given the GEPF until 16 February 2018 to provide the information requested.

Read this report in full at IOL News. Read the PSA’s press statement in this regard at PSA online

Battle with FSB over cancellation of ‘orphan’ pension funds to be heard by ConCourt

Mail & Guardian reports that the battle over the cancellation of thousands of “orphan” pension funds — believed to total more than R20-billion — by the Financial Services Board (FSB) will now be taken up by the Constitutional Court.  Former deputy registrar of pension funds Rosemary Hunter claims that a mass deregistration of orphan funds — shell funds left without any members or assets or dormant funds without boards — from 2007 to 2013 was unlawful and potentially prejudicial to pensioners and other beneficiaries.  In July 2014, Hunter filed a whistle-blowing report to the board of the FSB alleging the mishandling of the deregistration process, which saw the cancellation of 4,600 funds, without — Hunter said — proper oversight by the FSB.  This matter has a long history of investigations, reports and court cases, which is detailed in this report.  The rules for cancelling funds, as set out by the Pensions Fund Act, will be key to the dispute at the Constitutional Court this week.  Hunter’s counsel will argue that the FS’s reading of the Act disregards the duty of the registrar to check the compliance of trustees with the Pensions Fund Act.  The registrar cannot cancel merely on the say-so of “unlawfully” appointed representatives, says Hunter.

Read this report by Sarah Smith in full at M&G

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Did the PIC break the rules with its R5 billion bridging loan to Eskom? at Fin24
  • PIC could be Steinhoff’s largest shareholder after Christo Wiese cuts stake, at BusinessLive


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION / CORRUPTION

SANDF members alleged to have committed torture and assault in DRC

News24 reports that some of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) members serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been accused of assault and torture.  SANDF spokesman Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi said in a statement on Sunday:  "The SANDF has been alerted to reports of torture and assault in the Democratic Republic of Congo allegedly committed by some of its members deployed under the United Nations mission in that country.  The allegations are understood to have been reported by citizens of the DRC."  SANDF Chief, General Solly Shoke has instituted a formal investigation into the reports "in order to establish their veracity and take the necessary corrective actions against those involved".  National investigating officers will liaise with the UN offices in the DRC to pursue the matter.

A short report is at News24


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT SERVICES

Extra security for Cape Town train commuters with dedicated enforcement unit

ANA reports that the City of Cape Town, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and the Western Cape government have agreed to establish a dedicated enforcement unit to focus on the safety and security of Metrorail commuters and infrastructure.  Details about how the unit would be funded, established, and managed will be addressed in a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the principals.  It was foreseen that the MOA would be finalised and signed within the next few weeks.  The cost to establish and operate the unit for a period of 12 months has been estimated at R45-million.  "I am grateful that we have agreed on a starting point to address the safety and security issues to stabilise the urban rail service in the short-term.  A lot still needs to happen, but I think we have achieved our goal for the summit (held last week) by agreeing on a plan of action that can be implemented as soon as possible," mayoral committee member for transport and urban development Brett Herron said.  Metrorail Western Cape regional manager Richard Walker welcomed the landmark addition of surveillance technology to increase the rate of conviction of vandals and criminals in the Western Cape region.

Read this report in full at eNCA. Read too, Millions to be spent on fixing crime-ridden rail system in Cape Town, at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • City of Cape Town cries sabotage after two MyCiTi bus stations vandalised, at EWN


OTHER REPORTS

Brian Molefe’s military career on hold, for now

City Press reports that the military career of former Eskom boss-turned-Colonel Brian Molefe is over – for the present.  The defence force confirmed last week that his call-up period ended on 17 November 2017.  Defence force spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said Molefe was not paid for his “specialist services” during his tenure from 23 August to 17 November.  But when the furore over Molefe’s military aspirations first came to light last year, Dlamini said:  “Colonel Molefe is considered a member of the reserve force and is reimbursed accordingly.”  The defence force staff database, the Persol system, indicated at the time that his salary was R57,000 a month.  Molefe will remain as a dormant member of the reserve force.  He is also still an honorary colonel of the SA Irish regiment.  Trade union Solidarity filed charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering against Molefe and former Eskom board chairperson Ben Ngubane last Tuesday.  The two had worked out a R30m illegal pension deal for Molefe when he “resigned” from Eskom.

Read this report by Erika Gibson in full at News24

 


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