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, 11 July 2018.


TOP STORY

New record set in 2017 for industrial action

BusinessLive reports that Department of Labour’s annual strike analysis painted a grim picture on Tuesday of the country’s state of labour relations, with strikes having reached a high in 2017.  The report, drawn up from data collected from employers and trade unions after strikes and lockouts, showed that the number of strikes rose 8% from 122 in 2016 to 132 in 2017.  Labour department director-general Thobile Lamati said the increase was the “highest recording in the history of our strike monitoring”.  There was, however, a silver lining, in that the majority of the strikes were protected, meaning trade unions were beginning to abide by the law by seeking strike certificates before embarking on industrial action.  The number of working days lost increased by 1.5% to 960,889 from 946,323 in 2016.  Disputes over wage demands, bonuses and other compensation benefits were listed as the main reasons behind the strikes.  Not only was 2017 a record year for the number of strikes, but far more people were also involved in strikes than before.  Labour analyst Tony Healy indicated his concern about the “perception” that industrial action was worth the price that “needs to be paid” when evidence suggested the opposite, namely that workers lost out on wages more than they gained.

Read this report by Theto Mahlakoana in full at BusinessLive. Download the full report at DOL Online


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Two firefighters treated for smoke inhalation after fire broke out at Roodepoort scrap yard

News24 reports that two firefighters were injured after a fire broke out at a building in car scrap yard in Roodepoort on Wednesday morning.  Emergency services spokesperson Nana Lindiwe Radebe said the firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation after they battled to extinguish the blaze.  Details of what caused the fire were still unknown and preliminary investigations aimed at establishing the cause were expected to be conducted, Radebe indicated.  She added that it had been difficult to extinguish the fire because there had been car parts in the yard, but everything was under control and that they were doing everything they could to prevent the blaze from flaring up again.  No one was in the building when the fire started at around 01:00.  

Read this report by Sesona Ngqakamba in full at News24


MINING LABOUR

Illegal miners fingered in gun battle with police at Lily Mine

The Star reports that a fatal shooting outside the closed Lily Mine in Barberton, Mpumalanga, has raised suspicion that illegal miners have invaded it.  Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said on Monday that a man died after being shot during a gun battle with police outside the mine.  Another man who was wounded was hospitalised.  Police arrested two suspects, who were due to appear in court on Tuesday.  Hlathi said the shooting had been preceded by some high drama the previous day, involving accomplices and security guards at the mine.  The guards had arrested a man with a high-calibre firearm, but were later confronted with a group of armed men who manhandled them and released the suspect.  Police operations got under way there from Saturday and on Sunday a gunfight ensued in which two people were wounded, one of whom died.  Police suspect the men were trying to gain access to Lily Mine for illegal mining.  The gold mine has been closed since the April 2016 incident that claimed the lives of three workers.

Read this report by Bongani Nkosi in full at The Star. See too, Illegal miners remanded in custody over Lily Mine shoot-out, at SABC News

NUM demands changes to mining legislation after latest fatality

SABC News reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has demanding changes to mining legislation after yet another miner was killed, this time at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu mine in Carletonville.  The miner died underground after a seismic event hit the site on Tuesday.  NUM pointed out that this brought the number of fatalities at mines this year to above 45.  The union’s health and safety secretary, Sipho Mungwe, said:  “There must be amendments in the Mine Health and Safety Act because we have observed that there are many incidents that are happening and the employers are getting away with it.  There must be this amendment, so that they can be prosecuted.”

A short report is at SABC News

Rio Tinto says Richards Bay Minerals shut by community protests

Reuters reports that Richards Bay Minerals, which is run by Rio Tinto, has been closed since Friday due to violent community protests that saw a security guard killed earlier this week.  "Due to the escalation in activity around the blockades on the access roads, staff were sent home on Friday.  Our highest priority is the safety of our people," a Rio Tinto spokesperson said on Wednesday.  Mzi Zakwe, the regional secretary for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), said the union's 900 members were on forced leave because of the violence, which he said was rooted in grievances between the company and contractors.  Unrest has previously hit the area, which is near SA’s main coal terminal.

Read this report in full at Mining Weekly


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS

Striking CWU members bedevil Post office grant payments

The Citizen reports that a number of SA Post Office (Sapo) branches across the country were closed on Tuesday due to a strike, leaving hundreds of social grant recipients having to find other alternatives.  This was just the latest in a string of events hampering the smooth roll-out of the SA Social Security Agency’s (Sassa’s) new payment programme involving Sapo.  Last week, the Communication Workers Union (CWU), SA Customs Union, and the Democratic Postal and Communications Union went on a go-slow to demand higher wages.  On Monday, the CWU declared a national shutdown of Sapo after wage talks broke down.  Workers were demanding 12%, while the employer went from offering 0% to 10% as negotiations intensified at the CCMA.  Sapo argued it could not afford a 12% wage hike, but the workers were digging in their heels after two years without a salary increase.  Meantime, Sapo spokesperson Johan Kruger said on Tuesday that the majority of branches across the nation were open for business.

Read this report by Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni in full at The Citizen

Tshwane Mail Centre shuts down as wage strike hits hard

Pretoria News reports that the shutdown due to strike action of the Tshwane Mail Centre has resulted in major consequences for mail delivery in and beyond the city.  The Tshwane centre is the third largest mail sorting centre in the southern hemisphere after Witspos in Joburg and Cape Mail in Cape Town.  It serves as the distribution centre for the Tshwane region, as well as the North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.  As employees continued their picket for wage increases, Kodisang Bokaba, speaking outside the sorting head office on behalf of unions and workers, said the whole service had started to unravel.  “From the Mail Centre here, the mail is not being transported to various places such as provinces north, west and east of Tshwane.  The longer the strike continues, the more dire the consequences,” he pointed out.  Workers at the Tshwane Mail Centre joined thousands of workers at Sapo and Telkom last week when they downed tools on 6 July to demand better pay.  They are seeking a 12% wage increase, but the Post Office insists it can only afford 6%.  Also at issue are housing allowances, pension and medical aid subsidies and loan deals.

Read this report by Matlhatsi Dibakwane in full at Pretoria News. Read too, Post Office, Telkom workers to continue picketing on Wednesday for salary increases, at EWN

Labour dispute halts fire services in Emfuleni until further notice

The Citizen reports that a media statement was issued on Tuesday by Stanley Gaba, manager of communications in the Emfuleni Local Municipality, regarding the suspension of fire services in the municipality.  The statement reads:  “The municipality has noted with concern the temporary suspension of fire services.  We have been inundated with calls from residents following reports in the media that our firefighters were not available to assist during emergencies.  Due to an alleged labour dispute, our fire services have been suspended until further notice.  Management of the fire department and municipal officials are currently engaging with affected workers to find lasting solutions to this impasse.  Therefore, we advise all residents that the municipality is receiving assistance from the fire department of the Midvaal Local Municipality and Arcelor Mittal in case of emergencies and disasters in the interim.”  The grievances of the employees concerned apparently relate to unpaid monies

Read the Emfuleni statement in full at The Citizen

Security guards at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital down tools over conditions and wages

SABC News reports that security guards at the Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in Mdantsane, Eastern Cape, have downed tools, citing poor working conditions and low wages.  The workers allege that their employer, Xhobani Security Company, pays salaries ranging from R1,900 to R2,200 for a month of 12 hour shifts.  They have further alleged that some supervisors force female security guards to sleep with them.  Secretary of the African Security Congress, Vuyo Nqantosi, said no security officer would work in that hospital until the matter was resolved.  Health Department spokesperson, Lwandile Sicwetsha, said that the safety of staff and patients was guaranteed and advised:  “We have notified the security company that this matter is between the company and its employees.  They must remove those employees and bring in security personnel that will be able to do their work and guard the hospital and the patients.”

Read this report by Yanga Funani at SABC News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Nehawu wants to protest near Fort Hare despite interdict, at SABC News


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Wage talks between Sassa and PSA expected to get underway on Wednesday

EWN reports that wage negotiations between the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) and employees represented by the Public Servants Association (PSA) were expected to start on Wednesday.  This would be a day before a court requested progress on the talks.  Last week, the Labour Court struck off the roll an application by Sassa aimed at interdicting the strike and ordered all parties involved to begin negotiations within seven days.  The PSA's Tahir Maepa said that while they welcomed Sassa finally starting negotiations, they were worried about having enough time to discuss all their issues.  Maepa said that the union would be demanding a wage hike of between 13% and 15%, as well as increases in the medical subsidy and the housing allowance.

Read this report by Thando Kubheka in full at EWN

Protesting KZN horse grooms in limbo over wage demands

Timeslive reports that KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) horse grooms are still in limbo as they wait to hear about their demanded salary increase.  Following a big protest on Wednesday‚ which saw close to 700 grooms picket outside the entrance to Summerveld‚ a premier horse training facility‚ a wage negotiation meeting was set to take place on Tuesday.  But this was postponed due to the unavailability of a labour union representative.  The agreement that a meeting would be held in effect prevented a strike from affecting the Durban July‚ which took place just three days later.  The meeting was set to discuss the demands made by the grooms‚ which included a wage increase to R25 per hour.  The trainers had offered R20 an hour for a guaranteed minimum 40-hour week - or 80 hours in a 14-day cycle - which amounted to R3‚500 per month‚ excluding any overtime.  The date for a new meeting has not yet been set.

A short report by Lwandile Bhengu is at Timeslive


LABOUR MARKET / JOBS

Illicit tobacco trade a threat to jobs, warns Fawu

Fin24 reports that the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) warned on Tuesday that illicit traders were a direct threat to thousands of jobs in several industries, including the tobacco industry.  The union issued a statement relating to the latest illicit tracking study by market research firm Ipsos, which was released last week.  It revealed that the SA Revenue Service (SARS) would lose over R7bn this year as a result of illicit tobacco trade and also showed that illicit traders could have made more than R15bn over the past three years.  Fawu’s Katishi Masemola called on government to put pressure on SARS to take a tougher stance on illicit traders who manufactured and sold cheap, unregulated products as they did not pay excise duties or VAT.  He added:  “Every South African can feel the pinch of the recently increased VAT – so it is unacceptable for illicit traders to evade what citizens pay for on a daily basis – right under the nose of SARS.”  Last week SARS Commissioner Mark Kingon said they were looking into reestablishing teams to focus on illicit trade in sectors such as tobacco, alcohol and fuel.

Read this report by Lameez Omarjee in full at Fin24


APPOINTMENTS / RECRUITMENT / STAFFING / VACANCIES

Another jobs-for-pals scandal at SA Council for Educators

City Press writes that the SA Council for Educators (Sace) is embroiled in yet another job-for-pals scandal.  Controversy surrounds the appointment of a senior SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) member as corporate services manager at the regulatory body for teachers.  In a statement, the organisation did not respond to specific questions relating to Raphasha’s appointment.  Raphasha was apparently appointed to the post despite not meeting key requirements, which included an appropriate degree or equivalent, at least five years’ experience in human resource (HR) management and administrative or management experience.  One of the other candidates is known to have the requisite qualifications and experience.  At the time of his appointment at the council in September last year, Raphasha was Sadtu’s secretary in Limpopo.  Meantime, an investigation by the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, into alleged nepotism at Sace is nearing completion.  Raphasha’s appointment does not fall within Mkhwebane’s investigation because he was appointed after it was initiated.

Read this report by Msindisi Fengu in full at City Press. Read too, Sadtu denies member got senior position thanks to jobs-for-pals network, at EWN

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Mpumalanga health department faces ‘sex but no jobs’ scandal, at The Citizen
  • Free State’s Pelonomi Hospital gets 26 nurses to fill 91 posts, at The Citizen

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page