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
Thursday, 8 November 2018.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Cause of blaze at Bank of Lisbon building still a mystery two months after deadly tragedy

ANA reports that two months have passed since the fire at the Bank of Lisbon building claimed the lives of three firefighters and the cause of the blaze is still not known.  On Wednesday, the Johannesburg Emergency services (EMS) said it was still investigating the cause of the fire at the 23-storey building which housed three government departments.  EMS spokesperson Nana Radebe said:  “The investigation is still underway.  The City of Joburg EMS will give a full report as soon as the process is done.”  She did not say when it would release the full report.  The Democratic Alliance (DA) recently called for the resignation of Infrastructure Development MEC Jacob Mamabolo and Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa on the grounds that they failed to heed multiple warnings that the building was a health hazard.  The DA said that staff should have been moved elsewhere.

Read the original of this short report at IOL News

Police at Hout Bay station traumatised after on-duty cop kills wife, then himself

Cape Times reports that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) has launched a probe after a Hout Bay police officer shot and killed his wife before turning the gun on himself at the police station.  The incident took place on Wednesday following an apparent domestic argument between the couple.  The 41-year-old sergeant was on duty when his 36-year-old wife visited him at the police station.  A murder case and a death inquest case docket have been registered.  The Hout Bay Community Policing Forum (CPF) advised residents that the police station would be closed temporarily.  CPF member Anthony Chemarly said the officer was known in the community and was a long-serving member.  “This has been a traumatic event for his colleagues who were on duty at the time.  Their identities would not be released at this time, and out of respect for the police and the immediate families, I would suggest you wait until they themselves issue a statement,” he stated.

Read the full original report by Dominic Adriaanse at Cape Times. Read too, SAPS urged to beef up wellness programme after Hout Bay cop kills wife, himself, at EWN


MINING LABOUR

Little room for manoeuvre in gold producer Sibanye-Stillwater’s wage negotiations

BL Premium writes that Sibanye-Stillwater is the last of four gold producers represented by the Minerals Council SA still in talks with unions around wages, with no end in sight.  Settlements have been reached between the unions and AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold and Village Main Reef.  Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman set the stage for what could be a bruising encounter with the unions negotiating wage increases at its gold mines by saying that one of the reasons for the dismal state of SA’s gold mining industry was the repeated capitulation of companies in granting above-inflation wage increases during wage talks.  With the cost of labour making up half or more than half of the costs of producing gold, one of the few levers left to pull in correcting the cost-to-revenue balance is the reduction in labour.  In fact, employment in SA’s gold sector has fallen to 112,000 from 400,000 people in 1994, while production dropped to 138 tonnes from 583 tonnes.  While the workforce cannot be expected to subsidise their employers with lower wages or below-inflation increases, Froneman’s stance is that there has to be a fair settlement that will sustain mining for years to come.  Given the pressure on the unions from their members for more money, the dismal employment levels in SA and demands for profits from shareholders, there seems to be little room left to manoeuvre.

Read the full original of this report at BL Premium (paywall access)


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Eastern Cape EMS workers demand outstanding overtime pay

GroundUp reports that Eastern Cape emergency medical services (EMS) workers embarked on a strike on Monday demanding outstanding overtime pay.  Some workers claimed they had not been paid their overtime pay since 2003.  The strike has been declared unlawful by officials who have promised to take disciplinary action against employees who participated in it.  Provincial health MEC Helen August-Sauls stated:  "We are disappointed that the workers have embarked on an illegal strike knowing that they are employed as essential services and therefore are not to be on strike.  The department will undertake internal processes for on duty employees involved in this illegal strike."  She indicated that her department was busy processing overtime payments from 2015 to 2018.  An ambulance driver who has been employed for nearly 10 years said the state had very few ambulances and was understaffed, adding that they were overwhelmed by calls and ended up working overtime.  Another driver said he was owed "a lot of money for the past two years".  The department said private ambulances would be used to respond to life-threatening cases during the strike.

Read the full original report by Joseph Chirume at GroundUp

Bargaining council mediator assigned to resolve strike after more MyCiTi bus torchings

Cape Times reports that the City of Cape Town has turned to the SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council (Sarpbac) to intervene in a dispute between striking MyCiTi employees and their employers.  The service has been interrupted since the strike started nearly a month ago.  The employees are seeking to be directly employed by the City and better working conditions.  The strike has turned violent, with the striking employees allegedly intimidating their non-striking colleagues and setting buses alight.  A bus was set alight in Milnerton on Tuesday and the service was suspended in Khayelitsha on Wednesday after yet another bus was torched.  City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said that Sarpbac had made available a senior commissioner to facilitate the negotiations to resolve the impasse between the aggrieved employees and the companies contracted by the City to operate the MyCiTi service.  MyCiTi operating company Kidrogen said 10% of its employees had not returned to work, but no drivers had been dismissed as yet while an investigation was in progress.

Read the full original report by Okuhle Hlati at Cape Times. Read too, Another MyCiTi bus torched in Cape Town, at News24

Samwu vows to bring West Rand to a standstill over salary payments

News24 reports that residents of the West Rand should brace themselves for a lack of service delivery if the financial situation at the West Rand District Municipality in Randfontein is not resolved.  The SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) has threatened to bring the entire region to a standstill.  This follows last month's failure by the district municipality to pay salaries.  The municipality has invested R77m in the controversial VBS Mutual Bank, leaving it with serious financial woes.  Municipality speaker Nonkoliso Tundzi said they were waiting for a report from a task team Premier David Makhura had appointed to intervene in the matter, but she believed that a solution would be found.  Samwu regional secretary Siseko Siyothula said they were planning to bring services in the entire region to a halt.  The union is currently lobbying Merafong, Mogale City and Rand West local municipalities to stand in solidarity with their affected colleagues at the district municipality.  Workers are also planning to march to the office of the premier.  Last week, workers staged a sit-in at the municipal chambers and held the entire executive leadership, including opposition parties, hostage, demanding their salaries.  The impasse lasted for hours until promises were made in the early hours of the morning.  By Friday, salaries were paid, but not allowances.

Read the full original of this report by Ntwaagae Seleka at News24


NSF PROMOTIONS

‘Veterans’ up for police promotion were still in nappies during apartheid‚ says Solidarity

SowetanLive reports that documents in the possession of Solidarity show that many of the more than 600 officers said to have fought the apartheid state were at the time actually still in nappies or playing on primary school fields.  The trade union revealed at a press conference on Wednesday that many of the former non-statutory forces (NSF) members‚ whose promotions began this month‚ were in fact children when they claimed to be fighting apartheid forces.  The union placed the SAPS on legal terms this week‚ demanding that the promotions be halted.  Solidarity's CEO Dirk Hermann said it was clear that the NSF project was being used to skip ranks in the promotion of policemen and women to senior positions.  "They are being classified as war veterans and in some cases promoted by five ranks to senior officer positions‚" Hermann stated.  He went on to point out that there were thousands of other police members‚ including the union's own members‚ who were of the same age group as those being promoted.  But they had "missed the promotion bus" and had spent years in the ranks battling to be promoted‚ without any success.  On Tuesday, the police failed to meet a deadline from the union to stop the promotions‚ which began on 1 November.

Read the full original report by Graeme Hosken at SowetanLive. Read Solidarity’s press statement in this regard at Solidarity News


OUTSOURCING

Government commissions study into impact of outsourcing in national and provincial departments

The Star reports that more than three years after resolving to consider insourcing several key functions, the government has finally appointed a service provider to conduct an independent impact study into outsourcing and also the effects of using outside companies to provide services.  The Regen Group will conduct research into the number of outsourcing contracts that each national and provincial government department has entered into between 2014 and last year.  According to the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), cleaning, catering, security, gardening and laundry services are among the job categories that will be the focus of the review.  The resolution to review outsourcing was taken at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) in February 2015.  Government departments now have until next Friday to submit the information required for the independent impact study.  In terms of the resolution, the PSCBC also wanted to find out the extent of wastage and corruption related to the awarding of tenders and payments made to private companies for their services compared to when these functions and services were performed by the government.  The review will find out the number of private companies that benefited as a result of outsourcing.  It will seek details of the pitfalls and successes of outsourcing, including costs savings recorded as a result of outsourcing, the number of jobs lost and created in each department and the value of the contracts.

Read more of this report by Loyiso Sidimba at SA Labour News


EXECUTIVE PAY

Major windfall for senior Discovery managers as R336m in bonuses get approved

Business Report writes that Discovery's senior managers are set for a major windfall after the group’s remuneration committee (Remco) approved R336.6 million bonus payments for the directors and management incentives.  The details were laid out in the company’s annual report released on Wednesday.  The annual bonus pool payment for the 2018 financial years rose by 33% from the prior year’s pool.  A total of seven directors will share R15.8m, while a pool of 1,134 managers will share a R265m bounty and 203 people will share a R85.1m profit pool.  Remco chairperson, Sonja de Bruyn Sebotsa, said the surge in bonus payments was due to targets having been exceeded.  She explained:  “This increase is due to the profit pool paying out at 98 percent of target in the financial year 2018, versus only 69 percent target in the financial year 2017 due to performance conditions.”  The annual report also revealed that the company’s CE, Adrian Gore, took home R19.8m in the year, including a performance bonus of R7.7m.  Gore’s second-in-command, the group’s financial director, was paid R10m.  Discovery Life chief executive Hayton Kallner emerged as the highest paid executive in the group, taking home R29.2m, mainly due to a R17.6m long-term incentive payment he received.  The head of Discovery Invest, Kenny Rabson, was paid R13.7m, while the chief executive of Discovery Health Jonathan Broomberg was paid R12.1m.

Read the full original of this report by Kabelo Khumalo at Business Report


STATE-OWNED ENTERPRISES (SOESs)

Numsa opposes government selling a stake in Denel and salary cuts

Reuters reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has voiced its opposition to the government selling a stake in struggling state-owned arms manufacturer Denel.  The union also said on Wednesday that it would fight attempts to force through salary cuts.  Denel is battling to stay afloat after reporting a R1.7bn loss.  President Cyril Ramaphosa said last week that it was “ripe” for joint venture partnerships after Saudi Arabia offered to take a stake in the firm.  Numsa’s Jerry Morulane reacted:  “When you bring in an equity partner, there is always a likelihood that there will be jobs lost, so we, as Numsa, are opposed to any form of privatisation.  We also reject salary cuts for ordinary workers at Denel.  They should find other ways to guarantee the future of the company.”  Numsa and trade union Solidarity account for roughly half of Denel’s workforce of 4,000 people.  Earlier this week Solidarity rejected a proposal to cut Denel salaries by around 20% from the end of November, but said it thought selling an equity stake was the only way to save the company.

Read the original of this report by Alexander Winning at BusinessLive. Read too, Saudi Arabia makes $1bn bid for partnership with South African defence group Denel, at Engineering News


RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS

BCX initiates staff retrenchment process which could affect 790 employees

MyBroadband reports that staff at the Business Connexion Group (BCX) have received an email from the company’s CEO, Jonas Bogoshi, informing them that the information and communications technology company has started a “section 189 process”.  A section 189 process refers to the retrenchment of staff due to operational requirements.  The e-mail states:  “Today, we have served the unions with Section 189 notice which invites the unions to attend the first CCMA facilitated consultation session meeting set for the 21st November 2018.”  It goes on to indicate that “many discussions and various considerations” for alternatives took place, but strategies in place to mitigate declining voice revenues will “not substitute for the decline as the replacement technologies and new revenue streams are at lower margins”.  In a separate document addressed to labour unions, the retrenchment process is said to affect approximately 790 BCX employees.  The notice to staff follows two significant sets of events at BCX and Telkom, BCX’s parent, in recent months.  At BCX, there has been an exodus of top executives this year.  At Telkom, the company announced in September it would start offering voluntary separation packages and voluntary early retirement packages to staff.

Read the full original of this report at MyBroadband

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Planning for life after a retrenchment payout, at The Star


SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / TRAINING

Volvo in new truck driver training programme in SA

BusinessLive reports that Volvo Trucks has embarked on a new programme in SA to develop unemployed commercial vehicle drivers through the newly-established Volvo Group Driver Learnership programme.  Supported by Volvo Group brands, Volvo Trucks and UD Trucks, the product-specific training is being delivered by the brand’s skilled driver trainers.  With an investment of R1.9m for the training of 20 unemployed commercial vehicle drivers, the qualification, which is approved by the Transport Education Training Authority and based on both theoretical and practical modules, saw the first intake of drivers start training in July 2018.  It’s a 12-month learnership that ends in June 2019 and a National Certificate in Professional Driving from the Transport Seta recognised Commercial Transport Academy (CTA) in Bredell will be conferred on successful graduates.  Additionally, the learners will spend a minimum of 400 hours driving over four seasons and across nine provinces.  “With an acute need for qualified and skilled drivers, we believe this programme will start to address this industry-wide problem in a practical yet impactful way," said Marcus Hörberg of Volvo Group Southern Africa.

Read the full original report at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Why on-the-job upskilling and training is so vital now, at BL Premium (paywall access)


MEDICAL SCHEMES / NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

Public servants must benefit from consolidation of state medical schemes, PSA cautions

BusinessLive reports that the Public Servants Association (PSA) has welcomed a call by the Government Employees Medical Scheme (Gems) to carefully consider the process of consolidation with other schemes for public servants.  Gems principal officer Guni Goolab sounded a note of caution about the government’s plans to merge Gems with other medical schemes for public servants, saying consolidation would require careful planning and consultation with unions.  The proposal is contained in the government’s policy on National Health Insurance (NHI), and is also contained in a discussion document released in September by the Council for Medical Schemes.  “The PSA supports the call by Gems as this cannot be a one-sided decision.  All stakeholders must be involved to ensure that the consolidation benefits all public servants,” the PSA’s Ivan Fredericks said on Wednesday.  The PSA said it supported the government’s push for NHI, and recognised the importance of Gems in this initiative, but remained concerned about Gems’ operational capacity.

Read the full original of this report by Tamar Kahn at BusinessLive


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Former Gauteng police commissioner granted bail in R80m tender fraud, forgery case

TimesLive reports that former Gauteng police commissioner Deliwe de Lange and four other people implicated in a tender fraud relating to the supply of police blue lights were granted bail by the Joburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday.  De Lange‚ Vimpie Phineas Manthata‚ Ramahlaphi Johannes Mokwena‚ James Ramanjalum and Nombhuruza Napo are accused of procurement irregularities amounting to more than R80m.  They face charges of fraud‚ forgery and uttering.  The offences are said to have occurred between 1 January and 30 April 2016.  All accused‚ except Manthata and De Lange‚ are currently in the employ of the SA Police Service (SAPS).  De Lange retired last week after more than 35 years of service.  She told EWN that it was a voluntary decision.  Manthata was the supplier of police warning lights‚ commonly referred to as blue lights.  Mokwena is a lieutenant-general involved in supply chain‚ Napo is the Gauteng deputy police commissioner and Ramanjalum is a brigadier in supply chain.  All the accused indicated in their affidavits‚ which were read out in court‚ that they will plead not guilty to the charges.  They claim to have no knowledge of the charges preferred against them.

Read the full original report by Nomahlubi Jordaan at TimesLive. Read too, Ex-police commissioner Deliwe De Lange granted bail over fraud scheme, at The Star

Two former Hawks officials jailed for false R850 travel and subsistence claims

News24 reports that two former Mpumalanga Hawks officers, who were convicted of fraud, forgery and uttering in connection with the submission of false travel and subsistence claims worth R850, have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment.  The Middleburg Regional Court sentenced Richard Lekotswane Nkwanyana, 48, and Peter Mathekanyana Molapo, 58, to five and six years behind bars respectively.  Hawks (Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation) spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi indicated:  "The two accused had claimed that they booked into a guesthouse for two nights, yet [the] Hawks' investigations revealed that they only stayed for a single night."  He added that each of them submitted claims of about R850 in 2006 and that the dates on the invoices had been altered.  It emerged during the trial that a letterhead and a special manager's discount had been falsified.  A handwriting expert had also testified and confirmed that the invoices had indeed been forged.  Mulaudzi added that Nkwanyana had separate cases pending against him involving allegations of theft and defeating the ends of justice.

Read the full original report by Sesona Ngqakamba at News24

NEWS BRIEFS

  • Gender parity still lacking on JSE-listed companies’ boards, at Engineering News
  • Don’t risk having stoned staff, at The Citizen
  • Gautrain wants to raise funds to extend its reach, at BusinessLive

 


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