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, 12 September 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Numsa wants in on RDM munitions blast probe as it wants to know what happened

News24 reports that the Western Cape wing of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) will be writing to the Department of Labour to be part of the formal inquiry into the deadly blast that took place at Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) in the Western Cape last week.  Regional general secretary Vuyo Lufele said:  "We are concerned that a company which is partly owned by Denel should experience such a tragedy.  We are concerned about the safety of workers at that plant and we are wondering whether all safety procedures were followed."  He said the union's occupational health and safety specialist was hoping to visit RDM's human resources head on Wednesday to find out what had happened and to obtain information about the workplace.  The union also wants to be included in the current investigation and wants a full inquiry to be triggered in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).  "We know they are going to give us their story.  But we want to know what happened," said Lufele.  Although Numsa does not have representation at the Somerset West RDM plant, it has representation via Denel at a national level.  Eight people were killed in a blast at one of the more than 400 buildings at the property, near Macassar, last Monday afternoon.

Read this report by Jenni Evans & Tammy Petersen in full at News24. Read Numsa’s press statement at Polity

Zwelinzima Vavi says Joburg firefighter deaths were avoidable

The Star reports that according to Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), the deaths last week of three firefighters at the Bank of Lisbon Building in central Johannesburg could have been avoided.  Vavi was amongst hundreds of mourners who gathered at Ellis Park Arena on Wednesday for the official memorial service for the fallen heroes.  Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba was also one of the many who attended the ceremony.  Simphiwe Moropane, Mduduzi Ndlovu and Khathutshelo Muedi died at the building after having been dispatched there as a result of a fire on the 23rd floor.  “What is making us angry is that this thing shouldn’t have happened.  The building didn’t have fire extinguishers.  How can people work in such a building?  We are going to sue them,” Vavi said.  The commemoration event started with a wreath-laying ceremony outside the building that claimed the men's lives.  Family members of the late firefighters also attended, with some crying for their loved ones.  Photos of the firefighters were placed next to the stage with candles and their colleagues celebrated them in song.

Read this short report by Sthembiso Sithole at The Star. Read too, He told me he was going to die, fiancé of firefighter killed in JHB blaze laments, at News24. And also, Joburg firefighters lay wreaths on Wednesday to remember fallen colleagues, at The Star

Gauteng government doing all to ensure service delivery won't suffer after evacuation of nine unsafe buildings

EWN reports that the Gauteng government says it is doing everything possible to ensure there is no impact on service delivery in the province after nine government buildings were vacated over compliance issues.  Last week, three firefighters died trying to extinguish a blaze at the Bank of Lisbon building, which was being used by provincial public servants.  Before the tragedy, labour unions had warned the that the building failed to meet safety standards.  Government staff members who spoke to Eyewitness News said they have been told to work from home until maintenance has been completed at their workplaces.  However, Gauteng spokesperson Thabo Masebe said the majority of staff would work from other government facilities.  Tahir Maepa of the Public Servants Association (PSA) said the situation could have been prevented if government had acted faster.  The PSA has also questioned how government spent money earmarked for maintenance.

A short report by Mia Lindeque is at EWN

Msimanga shuts down Poyntons Building in Pretoria, which houses correctional services HQ

ANA reports that Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga and a contingent of senior Tshwane emergency services officials on Wednesday ordered the immediate evacuation of the Department of Correctional Services’ head office Poyntons Building for “serious breaches” of fire and emergency evacuation regulations.  Msimanga said at the high-rise building in Pretoria’s CBD:  “Following what we picked [up] last week in Johannesburg (where three firefighters died due to a government building catching fire), we felt that it is important for us to start our own inspections of buildings, especially those that we have previously warned.  When we walked in here, we have seen things that are shocking.”  He went on to say:  “Where they are storing files, you have lights that are sparking.  That’s where you have a whole lot of papers that are in the building.  The escape routes are locked shut, which means people have to go through smoke or through fire because the escape doors are shut.  These are some of the things we have communicated to the company [running the building] here in 2016.”  He pointed out that 1,600 people used the building, which also accommodates members of the SA National Defence Force.  As Msimanga walked away, several officers in correctional services crowded around him, thanking him for the intervention.  The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) was equally elated.

Read this report in full at The Citizen

Durban construction worker dies in sandbank collapse

Timeslive reports that a man was killed when a sandbank collapsed on him at a construction area in Chatsworth‚ south of Durban, on Tuesday.  Rescue Care’s Garrith Jamieson said the man‚ a construction worker believed to be in his twenties‚ was working on a site of a house‚ at the corner of Westcliff Drive and Presley Avenue‚ when a sand bank collapsed onto him on Tuesday.  He indicated that the man died at the scene.  The police were called and removed the body of the deceased.

This short report by Lwandile Bhengu is at Timeslive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Crosses of valour for Joburg's fallen firefighters, at Timeslive
  • Firefighters recall the pain, horror of Joburg fire, at The Star


MINING LABOUR

Amcu declares wage dispute with three gold mining companies, but not with AngloGold

Mining Weekly reports that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Tuesday warned gold miners Sibanye-Stillwater, Harmony Gold and Village Main Reef of an imminent strike, should they fail to meet the demands of mineworkers.  Wage negotiations in the gold sector started in mid-July, and Amcu and the three gold mining companies have been unable to reach an agreement, leading to a deadlock in negotiations.  Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said at a media briefing that the union has referred the matter to the CCMA, with a meeting to be held on 12 September, when a strike certificate might be issued, to which the miners would have 48 hours to respond.  He commented that during the negotiating sessions, AngloGold Ashanti had had the most "progressive" approach and had made tangible offers.  Mathunjwa added that the union believed its quest of achieving a minimum wage of R12,500 a month was possible in the next three years.  The lowest paid employee working underground in the gold sector currently earns a basic salary of R6,900 a month, whereas the same employee in the platinum sector earns R11,000.

Read this report in full at Mining Weekly. Read Mathunjwa’s address at a media briefing on Tuesday at Amcu News

Postings on mining charter / transformation

  • Collaborative conversation between government, stakeholders needed to drive mining industry transformation, at Mining Weekly


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Cosatu weighs election support for ANC in 2019, and possibly for the SACP in future

BusinessLive reports that according to proposed resolutions to be discussed at Cosatu’s national congress next week, the labour federation will support the ANC in the 2019 national election.  But it might also decide to throw its weight behind the SA Communist Party (SACP) as it works to build a popular front to potentially contest future elections.  The proposed resolution on the SACP has been put forward by three of Cosatu’s largest unions, namely Nehawu, Sadtu and the NUM.  Adopting the proposal could mean a long-term shake-up of SA politics.  The SACP resolved last year to look into ways to build a popular front to contest future elections.  It said it would look into whether it would contest elections on its own from within or outside the alliance.  "Cosatu must work with the SACP in building a popular movement through a joint political programme to educate and mobilise the working class … the SACP should take a decisive, unambiguous step on the question of state power," the political report for the Cosatu congress reads.  The SACP is set to have a special congress after the Cosatu congress.  In the proposed resolutions, Cosatu said if the SACP decided to contest the 2019 polls it too would convene a special conference to discuss whether to support the party.  Cosatu’s national congress will kick off on Monday next week.

Read this report by Natasha Marrian in full at BusinessLive


STAFFING / RECRUITMENT

Police service has a 'deficit' of 62,000 police officers, says national commissioner

News24 reports that National Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Khehla Sitole said on Tuesday as he and Police Minister Bheki Cele presented the crime statistics for 2017/18 that the police service has a deficit of 62,000 officers.  Cele, addressing the media after a presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Police, described the statistics as "scary figures".  Cele indicated that in 2010 there had been 200,000 police officers, while there were currently about 190,000.  Moreover, the population had grown from about 54 million in 2010 to about 57.3 million presently (not including the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country).  According to the United Nations' best policing practice, there should be one police officer for every 220 citizens, while in SA there was a police officer for every 383 people.  Sitole pointed out that, according to the business case they have developed for the police, there was a "deficit" of 62,000 officers.  He said the intake of officers had been increased from the planned 3,000 in this financial year to 5,000 after some consultation with Cele.  The country's police colleges could take up to 7,000 entrants, and that that was what the service would consistently aim for until the gap was closed.

Read this report by Jan Gerber in full at News24

Popcru says tackling crime an ‘impossible burden’ with resources at hand

Timeslive reports that the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), which represents the majority of SA’s police officers, has described tackling crime in the country as an “impossible burden".  The union said in the wake of the release of the annual crime statistics on Tuesday that there simply weren’t enough resources to protect the country’s citizens.  "Considering that the SAPS is constituted by 191‚000 police officials‚ a significant part of which are office-based within the bloated national and provincial managerial offices‚ who have to safe-keep a growing population of 57-million‚ it has become an impossible burden to tackle the challenge of crime accordingly‚" said spokesperson Richard Mamabolo.  He indicated that police officers were strained and stressed – and that morale was low.  "Much as the national police commissioner promises to increase the number of trainees to 7‚000 per year‚ we know very well that senior government officials have recently been flirting with the idea of cutting down public service jobs‚ with claims that the public wage bill was too high.  This real threat to jobs has seen the demoralisation of many within the public service‚" said Mamabolo.  The crime statistics revealed that 85 police officers had been killed in the last financial year.  While most of those did not die in the line of duty‚ Mamabolo said calls for the police ministry to deal with cop murders had fallen on deaf ears‚ especially since some of those killed had been murdered in police stations.

Read this report by Naledi Shange in full at Timeslive. Read too, Police colleges to increase intake, at Cape Times. And also, Most cops killed while off-duty, at Timeslive

Survey shows conservative hiring intentions by employers in the last quarter of 2018

Engineering News reports that South African employers have conservative hiring intentions, across all industries nationally, for the fourth quarter, the ManPowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey (MEOS) has found.  This as the economy continues to be weighed down by slower-than-expected economic growth, which translates into employers being cautious about hiring and spending-related activity.  Fourteen per cent of employers expect to increase staffing levels, 8% forecast a decrease and 78% anticipate no change.  Opportunities for job seekers are expected to be strongest in the agriculture, hunting, and forestry and fishing sectors, with a net employment outlook of 18%, and weakest within the construction sector, with an outlook of a 7% contraction.  Wholesale and retail trade expects an outlook of 16%, transport, storage and communication sector employers expect an outlook of 10%, while some workforce gains are anticipated in both the restaurants and hotels and the mining and quarrying sector, with outlooks of 8% and 6% respectively.  Provincially, employers in KwaZulu-Natal report the strongest hiring intentions for the last quarter of the year, while employers in the Eastern Cape report the weakest hiring intentions.  Hiring intentions are unchanged when compared with the third quarter of the year, and remain relatively stable when compared with the fourth quarter of last year.

Read this report in full at Engineering News. Read too, Manufacturing sector shows good growth in the third quarter, at BusinessLive


RETIREMENT AND OTHER EMPLOYEE FUNDS

AG gives Department of Labour’s Compensation Fund a disclaimer for 2017-2018 statements

BusinessLive reports that Auditor-General (AG) Kimi Makwetu has, once again, had to issue a disclaimer on the financial statements of the Compensation Fund, which provides compensation for workers injured or made ill at work.  The finances of the fund have been in a disarray for several years with the AG’s report reflecting this again.  The report is included in the fund’s annual report for 2017-2018, which was tabled in Parliament this week.  For several years, the fund has been the target of complaints about tardy payments of claims to beneficiaries and medical practitioners alike, but Commissioner Vuyo Mafata has embarked on a turnaround strategy to restore the organisation to health.  However, the AG’s findings indicate that the strategy has not yet had an impact on financial management.  The fund, which generates income from levies imposed on employers, had revenue of R11.7bn for the year and incurred expenditure of R9.2bn.  The AG said he had been unable to obtain sufficient audit evidence for revenue and receivables, while management did not maintain proper accounting records and adequate controls over assessment of revenue and debtors.  Management did not implement adequate internal controls to maintain records of the benefits claimed and there was insufficient audit evidence for the R12bn provision for outstanding claims.  There were other shortcomings as well.

Read this report by Linda Ensor in full at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Transkei civil servants to sue state for pensions, at DispatchLive


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION / SUSPENSIONS

Suspension of 48 firefighters having no impact on Ekurhuleni services

SABC News reports that according to the Ekurhuleni metro municipality, the suspension of 48 female firefighters has had no impact on the rendering of emergency services to communities.  The municipality indicated that the firefighters were suspended for staging an illegal march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in full uniform.  Their march was protest against their working conditions.  The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), which represents firefighters, has accused the municipality of not having followed proper procedures when suspending its members.  Ekurhuleni spokesperson Themba Radebe said the matter was currently under investigation and Ekurhuleni was working very hard to make sure that it was brought to a closure.  He pointed out that the metro’s firefighters helped to deal with the recent Bank of Lisbon blaze in Johannesburg and emphasised that the suspensions “did not have any bearing in the services of the emergency services hence we were even able to assist in the City of Johannesburg.”

Read this report by Ditaba Tsotetsi in full at SABC News

Tshwane city manager not suspended pending probe despite warning about his ‘untenable’ presence

BusinessLive reports that Tshwane’s city manager, Moeketsi Mosola, has not been suspended by the metro’s council pending an investigation into procurement irregularities.  This was despite a confidential report from executive mayor Solly Msimanga’s office warning that his presence in the workplace could be detrimental to the stability of the municipality.  The council dealt with the report on Monday in a special meeting, and, after hours of negotiating, agreed to have an investigation into the alleged procurement irregularities, but not to suspend Mosola pending the outcome of the independent probe.  The investigation will be in relation to a tender granted to engineering consultants GladAfrica, which would have managed the city’s infrastructure budget over a three-year period through a Project Management Unit (PMU).  It emerged from the confidential report that Msimanga’s office believed that Mosola’s presence in the workplace would, under the circumstances, be "untenable and not conducive for an unhindered investigation".  The DA had pushed for Mosola to be suspended pending the investigation, while the EFF and the ANC was finally in support of an investigation, but not to have him suspended.  According to the report, Mosola indicated that he had at all times given his full co-operation and would continue to do so.  He stated that he had done nothing "wrong or untoward", and had nothing to hide.

Read this report by Claudi Mailovich in full at BusinessLive


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Former civil servant entrusted with land claims goes to prison for 10 years for stealing farm

GroundUp reports that a former state official entrusted with land claims and redistribution has been sent to prison for 10 years for stealing a farm and livestock that had been awarded to a labour tenant family.  Ten years after the Shabalalas were awarded the Ladysmith farm where they had lived and worked all their lives, they are still waiting for the government to transfer ownership to them and to provide assistance, in line with land reform policy.  Former Department of Rural Development and Land Reform official Patrick Masoka was found guilty earlier this year of fraud and two counts of theft amounting to R5.3 million.  The court heard that in working for the department as a project manager in northern KwaZulu-Natal, Masoka had devised a corrupt scheme whereby he and his family took over ownership and control of a commercially viable farm, Kuickvlei, near Ladysmith.  In terms of the land claim settlement, the Shabalala family were to not only become the rightful owners of the commercially viable farm, but should have also got grants and assistance in line with government’s objective to support emerging farmers.  Instead, Masoka took over the farm and proceeded to remove cattle and sheep as if they were his own.  He did this by creating a trust deed that omitted the Shabalalas as the new owners.  Magistrate Judy Naidoo said the case highlighted the extent to which corrupt officials have easily been able to manipulate the land reform process in defrauding rightful beneficiaries.

Read this report by Fred Kockott & Thabiso Goba in full at GroundUp

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Probe into PIC CEO Dan Matjila finally gets off the ground, at BusinessLive
  • Twenty traffic cops in Limpopo court for corruption, at The Citizen


WORKPLACE ABUSE / WORKPLACE VIOLENCE

Case of Durban man accused of setting domestic worker alight transferred to regional court

News24 reports that the criminal case of a man accused of setting alight a domestic worker has been transferred to the Durban Regional Court.  Dustin Govender, 28, accused of attempted murder, made a brief appearance in the Durban Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.  He allegedly set Zinhle Mchunu alight on 21 May at Govender's father's garage, where he sells cars, in Durban.  His case was postponed to 21 September and the Regional Court is expected to set a trial date.  Govender allegedly poured liquid, which smelt like petrol, at Mchunu's feet and told her he would burn her.  He then allegedly took out his lighter and threw it at the liquid on the floor.  Mchunu's leg caught alight from the resulting flames.  After the incident, Govender reportedly drove Mchunu to a pharmacist who gave her painkillers and attempted to treat the wound.  She was later admitted to Addington Hospital, where she stayed for a week.  Govender is currently out on R7,000 bail.

A short report by Mxolisi Mngadi is at News24

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page