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 afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Wednesday, 16 May 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Contractor killed and two burnt in transformer explosion at Shoprite Cape Town warehouse

Timeslive reports that an electrical contractor was killed and two colleagues seriously burnt when a transformer exploded and caught fire during an inspection at a Shoprite warehouse in Cape Town on Tuesday.  The explosion happened at the Cilmor Distribution Centre in Brackenfell.  The Shoprite Group said:  “An electrical contractor tragically lost his life this morning in an explosion while inspecting an electrical transformer... Two other contractors suffered serious burn injuries and were rushed to hospital.  A further four people are being treated for smoke inhalation.”  The fire was contained in a small area and was extinguished within an hour.  Trauma counselling was provided to those who witnessed the accident.  A full investigation is under way to determine the cause of the explosion and extent of the damage.

Read this report by Petru Saal in full at Timeslive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Security guards wounded in cash-in-transit heist long Ontdekkers Roas in Wilro Park, at EWN


MINING LABOUR

NUM ‘deeply concerned’ after eight union members arrested at Optimum Coal Mine

ANA reports that eight National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members were due to appear in court on Wednesday after they were arrested outside Optimum Coal Mine in Mpumalanga.  Recounting the events that led to the arrests on Tuesday, NUM Highveld regional chairperson Nelson Ratshoshi said union members had “peacefully raising their frustration” about salaries and bonuses that have not been paid by the Optimum Coal Mine management.  He went on to state:  “The NUM strongly condemns the action and attitudes of the Hendrina police who had randomly fired rubber bullets and physically assaulted our members who were protesting peacefully outside Optimum Coal Mine in Mpumalanga yesterday afternoon…  The NUM is extremely disappointed at the action of the Hendrina police.  We call on the police to stop assaulting and shooting our members for protesting peacefully.”  Ratshoshi said union members would not be intimidated by the police.   NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said the union was “deeply concerned.

Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read too, Gupta coal mine turns into war zone over unpaid salaries, at The Citizen

Mantashe to rope in police minister to help tackle illegal mining

ANA reports that Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday that he intended to have discussions with the police minister in a bid to curb illegal mining.  Tabling the Department of Mineral Resources’ (DMR’s) R1.9 billion Budget Vote in Parliament on Tuesday, Mantashe said that illegal mining caused leakage and cost both the industry and the economy greatly, thereby robbing government and the people of South Africa of the benefits that should accrue from mining.  "Illegal mining is a serious challenge and a danger to society. It places the health and safety of communities at risks, particularly where public infrastructure is threatened by its activities,” Mantashe said.  He went on to add:  "We will meet with the industry to solicit its views on this matter. As we explore ways to regulate artisanal mining as means to enable ordinary South Africans to participate in mining, we intend having discussions with the minister of police on strengthening approaches to dealing with the scourge of illegal mining."

Read this report by Siphelele Dludla in full at IOL News. Read too, DMR to roll-out legalisation of artisanal mining throughout SA, at Miningmx

Safety hits take shine off golden boy of Sibanye-Stillwater Neal Froneman

Business Times writes that Neal Froneman, hailed as the saviour of SA’s ageing and decrepit gold mining industry and well regarded by investors, now faces the challenge of rising fatalities at his Sibanye-Stillwater operations.  On 3 May, a seismic event trapped 13 miners, and eventually led to the death of seven at the company's Carletonville operations.  The accident comes a few months after three workers died at other Sibanye operations, and 1,100 workers were trapped underground for more than 20 hours at its Beatrix operation in the Free State.  The deaths bring to 67 the number of fatalities at Sibanye since the mining house bought Gold Fields KDC and Beatrix gold mines some five years ago to create SA’s biggest mining house that employs 65,000 people.  Sibanye's best year for safety was 2015, when seven miners died.  Over the past two years, the miner has regressed to double-digit figures.  This year may be its worst yet, given the lives lost already.  At Sibanye's Driefontein operation, mineworkers said the pressure put on them to make sure that production targets were met was behind the increase in fatalities in recent years.  Adding further pressure, according to some, was the fact that Sibanye has undertaken a massive restructuring programme that centres on job cuts.  Sibanye spokesman James Wellsted said the company constantly prioritised safety and compliance, but with the thousands of workers going underground "it's very difficult to monitor everybody and every area".  What is clear is that Froneman and his team will have to pay greater attention to the safety concerns of the producer’s operations.

Read more of this report by Lutho Mtongana, which originally appeared in Sunday Times Business Times of 13 May 2018, at SA Labour News. See too, Unions take on ‘unsafe’ mining sector, at Mail & Guardian

Postings on Mining Charter

  • SA aims to finalise Mining Charter in June, mines minister says, at Moneyweb


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Public sector wage talks remain deadlocked, with another meeting scheduled for Thursday

BusinessLive reports that the government and its employees have once again failed to reach a settlement in crucial wage talks that will have a decisive effect on the state of SA’s public finances.  On Tuesday, trade unions and employer facilitators resolved to adjourn negotiations to give the government time to number-crunch various options after a lengthy horse-trading session failed to reach resolution.  The government’s latest offer made on 4 May proposed pay increases of 6% to 7% for 2018-19 and consumer price index (CPI) plus 1% and CPI plus 0.5% for the successive two years of a three-year deal.  Unions have demanded CPI plus 2% for the lowest levels and CPI plus 1% for the highest.  The Independent Labour Caucus’s Basil Manuel said on Tuesday that members were "growing impatient".  According to some leaders however, the unions, which had collated their demands at the start of talks, were no longer ‘on the same page’.  According to sources, they have gone their separate ways in the bargaining council as they pursue competing interests within the broader public service.  Meantime, the Public Servants Association (PSA) is also engaged in conciliation talks on the sidelines of the negotiations after it declared a dispute over delays in the talks.  Another meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, when the government is expected to present a reviewed offer.

Read this informative report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive


UNION NEWS / STRUCTURES / ORGANISATIONAL REPORTS

NUM strenuously denies that general secretary David Sipunzi is ‘flirting’ with Saftu

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) issued a statement on Tuesday strenuously denying the “lies or fake news that are being peddled by the mainstream media” that its general secretary David Sipunzi was “flirting” with the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu).  Saftu is a rival federation to Cosatu, with which the NUM is affiliated.  The union has apparently been informed that a senior journalist from a Sunday newspaper will be publishing this allegation this coming Sunday.  “This is part of a smear campaign by faceless sources that feed media with lies or fake news that if a particular leader emerges at the upcoming NUM National Congress the NUM will join SAFTU”, the statement reads.  It goes on to note that “the NUM will never join SAFTU without a mandate from its members in mining, energy, and construction.”  According to the NUM, the journalists involved with such stories have refused to interview the NUM general secretary, but are nonetheless willing to publish the “fake news”.  “We expect journalists, as they are workers themselves, to report factually about worker issues and refrain from journalism which is sensational and only serve to further divide the workers,” the union stated.

Read the NUM’s press statement at NUM News


LABOUR AND POLITICS

KZN killings linked to ANC conferences, claims Cosatu

ANA reports that labour federation Cosatu says there is a link between political killings in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the regional and provincial conferences of its African National Congress (ANC) alliance partner.  Edwin Mkhize, Cosatu provincial secretary, said on Tuesday in a press statement that “these killings can be blamed [on] the persisting factionalism in the movement”.  He added that blame could also be apportioned to “the build up and post branch, regional and provincial conferences” held throughout the province.  “To some extent they can also be blamed [on] the alleged corruption and maladministration in provincial state departments and municipalities,” he opined.  The province is currently holding regional conferences in preparation for its ANC provincial conference, at which new leadership will be chosen.  However, former ANC spokesperson and current head in the office of the presidency, Zizi Kodwa, countered that it was too early to speculate that the killings were linked to regional conferences.  Kodwa said the problem was complex and the lack of arrests and convictions of perpetrators added to the complexity.  Over 30 ANC members have been killed in the province since 2016.  Provincial premier Willies Mchunu established the Moerane Commission in late 2016 to investigate political killings in the province.  Its final report is awaited, although it remains unclear if it will be released to the public.

Read this report in full at IOL News. Read Cosatu’s press statement at Cosatu News


LABOUR MARKET / JOBS

Over two-thirds of active work seekers have been looking for work for more than a year

BusinessLive reports that SA’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 26.7% in the first quarter of 2018, Statistics SA indicated in the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), released on Tuesday.  The number of people employed advanced by 206,000 to 16.4 million, while those without jobs rose 100,000 to 5.98 million.  There were increases in six of the 10 industries, with a 95,000-job increase in community and social services, 58,000 in the manufacturing sector and 40,000 in construction.  Declines were seen in transport (41,000), mining (14,000), utilities (6,000) and agriculture (3,000).  Statistics SA pointed out that 68.5% of unemployed people still actively seeking work had been looking for employment for a year or more.  The expanded unemployment rate, which includes discouraged workers and economically inactive citizens, grew by 0.4 percentage points to 36.7%.  The number of discouraged workers increased by 249,000.  The unemployment rate among the youth was higher, irrespective of education levels.  For people between the ages of 15-24 years, the unemployment rate of was 52.4%.  

Read this report by Sunita Menon and Tammy Foyn in full at BusinessLive. Read too, SA’s jobless rate persists near a 15-year high, at Moneyweb. And also, Over 52% of SA’s youth jobless, at Business Report


STATE-OWNED ENTERPRISES

Solidarity welcomes resignation of Denel Group CEO

Engineering News reports that trade union Solidarity on Tuesday welcomed the resignation of Denel Group CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe.  It also expressed support for recently appointed board chairperson (Ms) Monhla Hlahla, complimenting her for the changes she has already made at the State-owned defence industrial group.  “This resignation follows constant pressure by the trade union against Ntshepe and other corrupt management in Denel.  Solidarity won’t hesitate to uncover other corrupt persons in management positions.  Corrupt persons in Denel won’t be able to sleep peacefully at night anymore,” Solidarity deputy general secretary Deon Reyneke asserted.“  The union had, since December, made various disclosures about wrongdoing at the group.  In April, it published a dossier showing cases of financial mismanagement and revealing that a R1.2-million bursary had been awarded “unlawfully” to the son of North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo.  According to the union, this dossier was “the final nail in Ntshepe’s coffin”.  Solidarity asserted that Ntshepe’s resignation was not the end of the matter.  Reyneke called for a thorough forensic investigation and, if criminal wrongdoing was found, that appropriate action, including the pressing of criminal charges, be taken.

Read this report in full at Engineering News. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News. Read too, Denel CEO resigns after six months at the helm, at IOL News. And also, Denel chief opts to resign amid bursary claims, at BusinessLive


EXECUTIVE PAY / WAGE GAP

No salary increases or bonuses for Eskom top management

BusinessLive reports that Eskom has frozen all new appointments as well as pay increases and bonuses for senior management as it battles to reduce its crippling operating costs.  Cost cutting is something that the new management team under acting CEO Phakamani Hadebe and the new board are grappling with as they attempt to turn around the state-owned power utility.  The freeze on salary increases and bonuses for top management was communicated to staff in an internal memo last week.  Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said there was still the possibility of small increases for lower-level staff as a result of the wage negotiations that kicked off last week.  However, Eskom chairman Jabu Mabuza said at a media briefing on Tuesday that Eskom would stress in its negotiations with employees that they needed to understand that the entity was experiencing difficulties.  Mabuza emphasised that nothing had been said so far about retrenchments, though he conceded that Eskom was too top heavy.  Even though pay scales and conditions of service of those in the upper ranks needed to be looked at, this did not mean that those at the lower ranks should lose their jobs as a result.

Read this report by Linda Ensor in full at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Steinhoff will ‘bonusse terugeis’, at Netwerk24 (limit on free access)


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE / LIVING WAGE

Wits think-tank roasts labour department for undermining national minimum wage bill

BusinessLive reports that a labour think-tank at Wits University said on Tuesday that the Department of Labour was undermining the draft legislation on the national minimum wage (NMW) by ignoring instructions from the parliamentary portfolio committee.  This would not be the first time the department has bungled the drafting of the critical legislation.  Earlier in 2018, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant described the exclusion of agreements on the bill reached by organised labour, the government and business at Nedlac as an "erroneous oversight" by state lawyers.  The portfolio committee referred the bill to the department in April for corrections after public submissions.  However, experts at the Wits University National Minimum Wage Research Initiative said the department had not effected the changes, resulting instead in the dilution of the bill.  The weakened sections included the reinstatement of the role of sectoral determinations and an agreement to include a two-year deadline by which domestic and agricultural worker levels must be raised to the minimum wage level, the think-tank said.  But the department has described the concerns as "incorrect and misleading", without providing the basis thereof.  The portfolio committee is scheduled to interrogate each clause of the bill on Wednesday.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category


RETIREMENT AND OTHER EMPLOYEE FUNDS

Brian Molefe takes fight over pension repayment to Supreme Court of Appeal

BusinessLive reports that former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe has approached the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein in a bid to overturn a ruling that ordered him to repay R11m he received from the power utility’s pension fund.  In April, the High Court in Pretoria dismissed Molefe’s application for leave to appeal against its January ruling that he pay back part of his "unlawful" pension payout and also the costs for counsel in the legal battle.  The court found he had been unlawfully awarded a R30m early retirement pension benefit by the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund after his resignation from Eskom in 2016.  It also dismissed his application to be reinstated as CEO of Eskom.  Molefe’s fight-back plan includes an argument that the court that heard and dismissed his application for leave to appeal had not been properly constituted.  Molefe is also maintaining an argument made to the court in the past that although he said he had decided to "leave" his employ with Eskom in November 2016, this indicated nothing about his resignation.  Trade union Solidarity, which is one of the five respondents in the matter, said it had instructed its legal team to oppose the petition.  Solidarity added that it would ask for a further cost order against Molefe.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Keeping bosses' hands off workers’ pension savings, at BusinessLive
  • Vultures waiting for Transnet pensioners, at Moneyweb


MEDICAL SCHEMES / NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE / SOCIAL SECURITY

Calls to scrap Government Employees Medical Scheme (Gems) growing

Daily News reports that calls by private doctors and private ambulances and emergency services to have the Government Employees Medical Scheme (Gems) scrapped is gaining momentum.  The Educators Union of SA (Eusa) was the first to raise concerns about the scheme, and now the union’s call has been strengthened by the involvement of the National Healthcare Professionals Association (NHCPA) and the SA Private Ambulance & Emergency Services Association (Sapaesa).  The bone of contention is that medical aid claims are not being paid timeously, and members’ funds are exhausted within two months, without explanation.  On Thursday, Eusa members held a national picket outside Gems offices and, following this, private doctors and ambulance services joined the action.  Eusa president Scelo Bhengu said they wanted government employees to be afforded their constitutional right to choose which medical aid they wished to belong to.  In a six-hour meeting with Gems principals, the union demanded answers regarding delays in the payment of service providers and shortfalls, with some members being forced to pay a portion of their medical bills.  Some doctors require Gems members to pay cash up front.  Oliver Wright of Sapaesa claimed Gems was extremely disorganised in paying claims.

Read this report by Sne Masuku in full at Daily News

National Health Insurance Bill ready for president’s scrutiny, says Motsoaledi

BusinessLive reports that Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Tuesday that the long-awaited National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill was ready for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s scrutiny.  Delivering his budget speech, Motsoaledi sought to assure Parliament he was making progress in realising the ANC’s promise of universal healthcare.  He indicated that he had planned to present the bill and a related Medical Schemes Amendment Bill to a cabinet committee on Tuesday morning.  But as President Cyril Ramaphosa had been absent and he had taken a special personal interest in the NHI, only the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill was presented to the committee.  "The two bills will be released together as soon as the NHI Bill has been dealt with, with the president leading from the front," said Motsoaledi.  The ANC resolved to implement NHI before Motsoaledi became health minister in 2009, but progress has been slow.  At its heart, NHI is a set of health-financing reforms that aim to provide everyone with healthcare services that are free at the point of delivery.

Read this report by Tamar Kahn in full at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Clicks chief sets example with staff health plan, at BusinessLive
  • SA's centrist medical schemes strategy will bring higher costs and poorer quality, at BusinessLive
  • How SA-Cuban doctor training transforms poor bright sparks into success stories, at BusinessLive


MISCONDUCT / CRIME / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Taxpayers won’t pay Tom Moyane’s legal bills for disciplinary hearing, Ramaphosa insists

EWN reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa has taken a hardline approach with suspended SA Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane.  He has rejected a demand that the state should pay for Moyane’s legal bills in respect of his disciplinary proceedings.  Ramaphosa has also refuted a claim by Moyane that the inquiry against him was unfair.  The president suspended Moyane in March pending disciplinary proceedings headed by retired judge Kate O’Regan.  In a letter from the president’s legal team to Moyane, the president does not budge on any of the demands made by Moyane, making it clear that Moyane would face the inquiry without taxpayers footing the bill.  He also rejected the assertion that the process of conducting the inquiry without oral representation would be unfair, as claimed by Moyane.  Moyane faces various charges of misconduct.

Read this report by Qaanitah Hunter in full at EWN. Read too, Ramaphosa rejects all of suspended SARS boss Tom Moyane’s demands, at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Hawks nab two Durban detective for alleged corruption, at Timeslive


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT SERVICES

Metrobus commuters protest at Ghandi Square over amended bus schedules

SABC News reports that Metrobus commuters protested at Ghandi Square in the Johannesburg CBD on Wednesday morning, reportedly over changes to the bus schedules.  According to the protestors, the changes were causing them to be late for work.  The situation was said to be tense.  Johannesburg Metro Police (JMPD) spokesperson Wayne Minnaar commented:  “The damage to property I cannot confirm at this stage, but I can confirm a protest at Ghandi Square.”  He added that officers had been sent to bring the situation under control.

A short report by Tshepo Phagane is at SABC News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Dysfunctional train service keeps Cape Town in the remedial class, at Weekend Argus

 


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