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
Tuesday, 8 January 2019.


Labour warns of looming jobs bloodbath in 2019

Business Report writes that labour has warned of a jobs bloodbath this year, following implementation of the much-touted national minimum wage on 1 January.  And industry stakeholders have warned that this could affect the struggling SA economy battling a 27.5% unemployment rate.  Labour analyst Michael Bagraim said 2019 was set to be an eventful year with mass retrenchments:  “It’s going to be bad.  It’s going to be a bloodshed of the year.  People must protect their jobs and not resign or cause trouble.”  Patrick Craven of the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) said labour was anticipating a very difficult year.  “The signs are there that more jobs will be lost, that unemployment will continue to rise and that we will remain the most unequal society in the world,” said Craven.  He indicated that Saftu would embark on a huge stay-away in March “to show that we need a completely new economic policy focused on job creation, developing the manufacturing industry in South Africa and the raising of living standards through the minimum living wage that people can live on.”  Fedusa’s Godfrey Selematsela said labour federations would hold their Nedlac labour school in late January covering, among other things, the monitoring of implementation of the minimum wage and the creation of jobs flowing from the 2018 Jobs Summit.  Nactu’s Narius Moloto said labour ended 2018 on a very bad note as there had been retrenchments across all sectors.  “We are expecting to see some resistance to the minimum wage implementation and the continued laying off of workers,” he observed.

Read the original report by Luyolo Mkentane in full at Business Report


State declines to prosecute Hartbeespoort store owner for alleged assault of employee

News24 reports that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has declined to prosecute the owner of Food Lover's Market and Spar franchises in Hartbeespoort in the North West in connection with the alleged assault of an employee.  "We declined to prosecute, as there were no reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution," a NPA spokesperson explained.  Chris Giannakopoulos was supposed to appear in the Pretoria North Magistrate's Court on Monday, but the case did not proceed because the State declined to prosecute.  He was accused of assaulting Jacob Vurayai, who claimed that the accused used a wooden palette to beat him in August 2018 and caused injuries all over his body.  A female employee also opened a case of common assault against Giannakopoulos in October 2018.  Issues with witness statements and a lack of supporting medical records were among the reasons that apparently led the State to decline to prosecute.  Vurayai, who had been waiting in court, said he was disappointed, but would continue to fight for justice to be served.  The Hartbeespoort Community Development Initiative (HCDI), which has been assisting Vurayai, said they were also disappointed, but would work hard to ensure the matter was reviewed and returned to court.

Read the original report by Sesona Ngqakamba in full at News24


Amcu’s Sibanye wage strike continues as union membership verification process is adjourned

ANA reports that Sibanye-Stillwater advised on Monday that the mediator of the ongoing strike at its SA gold operations would approach the Labour Court to seek guidance about the process of verification of union membership.  This was because Sibanye and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) were at odds about the terms of reference for the process.  Last month, the court ordered the CCMA to facilitate a union membership verification process at the mines within three days, and report back to the court on progress by 7 January 2019.  This was after Amcu had opposed Sibanye’s extension of a wage agreement with three other unions to all employees, including Amcu members.  Sibanye had earlier approached the court seeking to interdict Amcu’s wage strike at Kloof, Beatrix and Driefontein mines on the basis that it had legally extended the existing collective agreement to all employees in the bargaining unit, including Amcu members, because the membership of the signatory unions had increased to over 50% of employees.  Sibanye’s James Wellsted said the CCMA had commenced with the union membership verification exercise on Thursday, but the process had had to be adjourned over the terms of reference.

Read the original report in this regard in full at The Citizen

Sibanye-Stillwater unable to absorb impact of Amcu wage strike indefinitely, analyst warns

Miningmx reports that Sibanye-Stillwater could not absorb the impact of a strike by the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (Amcu) for a protracted period, according to Hurbey Geldenhuys, an analyst for Vunani Securities.  James Wellsted, head of investor relations for Sibanye-Stillwater, earlier commented that production from their SA gold mines affected by the strike, including Kloof and Driefontein, west of Johannesburg, had been inconsistent.  “There will be an impact on revenue.  There is some production taking place, and obviously we try to ensure we produce as much as possible, but it’s not consistent,” Wellsted told Bloomberg News.  While the strike won’t force a restructuring of the affected mines, there could be a review if the impact was severe, he stated.  Workers allied to Amcu started a strike on 21 November and the union has vowed to continue with the stoppage after refusing a wage deal agreed to by three other unions.  This has come at a time when the producer remains under pressure to reduce debt.

Read this report by David McKay if full at Miningmx. See too, Sibanye counts hit to earnings as strike at gold mines drags on, at Moneyweb

NUM says 15 houses and six cars burnt during Amcu strike at Sibanye gold mines

SABC News reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has condemned the escalation of attacks on its members, allegedly by striking members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) in Carletonville, west of Johannesburg.  Amcu members embarked on a wage strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations on 21 November 2018.  According to the NUM, 15 houses and six cars have been burnt in the action.  Livhuwani Mammburu, NUM national spokesperson, indicated:  “We can confirm on record that since the Amcu strike started last year November, there have been killings and attacks on our members.  As we speak at Blybank Township in Carletonville, 15 houses and six cars belonging to our members have been burnt since the strike started and as the NUM the law enforcement agencies don’t seem to do anything to arrest the perpetrators.”

The original of a short report is at Moneyweb

NUM deeply angry over nonpayment of salaries to Optimum, Koornfontein employees

Mining Weekly reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Monday expressed its ‘deep anger’ over the nonpayment of employees’ salaries for the past two months at the Optimum and Koornfontein coal mines.  NUM members and other workers will be entering their third month without being paid salaries, NUM Highveld regional secretary Tshilidzi Mathavha said, adding that “the business rescue practitioners (BRPs) gave unlawful instructions that employees should not report to work, which goes without saying that come end of the month, employees will not be paid their salaries”.  Mathavha went on to state:  “What is of great concern is the fact that the BRPs always gave false hope to the union as if the situation was under control only to find that there is no money.”  The NUM further questioned the BRP’s stance that there was no cash flow to sustain the business, in the light of their commitment that for as long as there was production the business could be sustained until the process of rescuing the business was finalised.  The union said it remained unconvinced that the BRPs were working in the interest of rescuing the business from the current financial constraints.  The NUM has engaged with the Department of Mineral Resources regarding a possible way forward, as well as with the BRPs regarding the payment of salaries to employees.

Read the original report in full at Mining Weekly. Read the NUM’s press statement in this regard at NUM News

Rescue of Shiva Uranium resumes after months of delays, employees get full month’s salary

BusinessLive reports that the rescue of the Gupta’s embattled Shiva Uranium has sprung back into life after months of delays.  According to business rescue practitioner Christopher Monyela, Shiva workers, who had not been paid since July, received a full month’s salary in December.  Further, a section 189 retrenchment process was completed.  “The purpose is not entirely to retrench the employees.  It’s also to enable the workers to get UIF [Unemployment Insurance Fund] as well as their provident funds,” explained Monyela.  If Shiva can be sold as a going concern, these employees will be given first right of refusal, meaning the new owners must consider the former employees before hiring new workers.  The process of medical exit examinations has also now begun at Shiva.  In February 2018 Shiva and eight other Gupta-affiliated businesses were placed into business rescue, but the process has been hamstrung by disputes in recent months (as outlined in report).  Advertisements inviting prospective buyers for Shiva to come forward will be placed in February.

Read the original of the report by Lisa Steyn in full at BusinessLive


Metalworkers union Limusa slams Denel for appointing a white CEO

ANA reports that the Liberated Metalworkers Union of SA (Limusa) on Monday rejected the appointment of Daniel du Toit as the group CE of state-owned arms manufacturer, Denel.  It said that the Public Enterprises Minister must implement employment equity recommendations.  The Department of Public Enterprises last month announced Du Toit as the new group chief executive after Cabinet approved the appointment.  He is expected to assume duty on 14 January 2019.  Siboniso Mdletshe, Limusa’s general-secretary, said they found it "disgusting and very irresponsible" for a state-owned entity like Denel to ignore the findings of the Hoefyster Employment Equity Compliance Assessment (HEECA) report and to employ a white male as the group chief executive.  "One of the recommendations in the HEECA report which we fully support is that Denel must immediately stop the appointment and employment of white males in important positions," Mdletshe pointed out.  Mdletshe said they had learnt that the Black Management Forum was legally challenging Denel on the appointment of Du Toit and said that Limusa was going “to support any action that seeks to challenge the employment equity injustices that happens in Denel.”

Read this report in full at Engineering News

Denosa may take KZN health department to court over failure to absorb 190 newly-qualified nurses

The Mercury reports that the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) has threatened to take the KwaZulu-Natal health department to court for not permanently employing about 190 nurses after four years of training, including community service.  Mandla Shabangu, Denosa provincial secretary, said the department had this year not hired a single fully qualified nurse, despite the dire shortage of nurses in health facilities around the province.  Shabangu indicated that normally trainee nurses entered into an agreement with the department stipulating that they would be employed, once their training was completed, for a period equal to the time they spent training.  According to Shabangu, the department informed the nurses at the last minute that they were not going to be employed.  The union has given the department until 11 January to make its intention known.  An alternative to employing the nurses, claimed Shabangu, was for the department to release the nurses from their obligation to pay the department for funding their studies.  A KZN health department spokesperson said the department has not employed the nurses because they were identifying vacant and funded posts.

Read more of this 8 January 2019 report in The Mercury by Karen Singh at SA Labour News


Minimum wage implementation and land will top agendas of government and parliament this year

The Citizen reports that wages, land and free education will be at the centre of several key implementation and legislative processes expected to dominate government and parliament this year.  Not least of these is the implementation of the National Minimum Wage Act, which was signed into law last year.  Taking effect from last Tuesday, the Act requires all employers to adhere to the prescribed minimum wage of R20 per hour, with the exception of domestic workers and farm workers, who will have to be paid R15 and R18 an hour respectively.  Labour federation Cosatu’s parliamentary officer Matthew Parks observed that there will be fines for failure to adhere to the wage rate:  “The department of labour can take action against the employer and for that offence there will be a fine to the amount of 100% of the wage owed; for the second offence, the fine will be 200% plus interest and from there on it will escalate.”  But employers can apply for an exemption, which allow them to pay 10% less than the prescribed minimum wage.  Parks said Cosatu was concerned that the labour department did not have enough labour inspectors to provide the necessary oversight in respect of implementation and enforcement of the law.  He said:  “We hope that the government will attend to this and that the capacity will be created because even in the labour court as it stands, it can take as much as two years to get a court date.”

Read the original report by Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni in full at The Citizen

Minimum wage regulations gazetted, permitting exemptions to pay 10% under stipulated rate

The Star reports that Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has issued regulations permitting the exemption of employers who are unable to pay the national minimum wage that was passed by the National Assembly last year.  The regulations, which came into effect on 1 January, are contained in a notice published in a government gazette in line with the new legislation.  “An exemption may be granted if the delegated authority (director-general) is satisfied that the employer cannot pay the minimum wage and if every employee representative trade union representing one or more of the affected workers has been consulted or, if there is no such trade union, the affected workers have been meaningfully consulted” Oliphant indicated.  Exemptions can be granted only from the date of application and the period of exemption may not exceed 12 months.  The exempted employer would be required to pay no less than 90% of the stipulated national minimum wage.  The director-general may withdraw the exemption if satisfied that the employer provided false or incorrect information when applying for the exemption, or if the employer’s financial position has improved.  The director-general is expected to publish an annual report detailing the number of applications made, granted and refused; the number of employers and workers subject to exemption; the withdrawal of exemptions and sectors affected.

Read more of this Independent Media report by Mayibongwe Maqhina at SA Labour News


Rescuers work to free passengers in deadly Pretoria train crash on Tuesday

TimesLive reports two people (later reported to have risen to three) have been killed and dozens injured in a train accident on Tuesday near Pretoria's Mountain View train station.  Two persons sustained critical injuries and had to be flown to hospital via helicopter.  The accident is believed to have occurred when two trains collided during the early morning rush hour commute.  “Emergency services are trying to reach the injured who are trapped inside the carriages," a Pretoria police officer indicated later in the morning.  Netcare 911 spokesperson Shawn Herbst said their paramedics were alerted shortly before 10am on Tuesday.  In addition to the fatalities and cases of serious injury, approximately 200 other patients sustained minor injuries, Herbst said.  Circumstances leading up to the collision have yet to be established.

Read this original report by Graeme Hosken in full at TimesLive. Read too, Pretoria train crash death toll rises to three, at EWN


ANCYL targets security company’s business contracts after supervisor strips then sacks guard

SowetanLive reports that the small town of Bronkhorstspruit east of Pretoria was expected to come to a standstill on Tuesday.  Residents planned a shutdown to protest a security guard having been stripped down to his underwear and forced to walk 3km in the rain.  Residents were angered after a video of the dismissed Charlie Mabuza, 36, walking around town with a yellow rubbish bag wrapped around his waist surfaced on social media last week.  Mandlakayise Mahlangu from the ANC Youth League said the march had been organised to react to the long-standing incidents of racism committed by Mabuza's former employer, GEW Secure Security Company.  Mahlangu said businesses which used GEW to render services would not be allowed to operate in the town as they “will be seen as being funders and indirect perpetrators of racism, and will be dealt with in the same manner as GEW Secure.”  Mabuza said he was left humiliated after his supervisor instructed him to take off his uniform before firing him and kicking him off the premises on New Year's Day.  This was after he had been found to be sleeping and smelling of liquor while on duty.  GEW has offered Mabuza his job back, but Mabuza has not responded to the offer.  Police are investigating but no arrests have been made.

Read the original report by Tankiso Makhetha in full at SowetanLive


  • Opinion: SA needs to change its economic status by reskilling the entire adult population, at Daily Maverick
  • From domestic worker to law graduate: 'I had to do what I had to do to get money', at TimesLive
  • Students warned to beware of bogus institutions of higher learning, at Pretoria News
  • Meet the woman who manages one of the busiest toll plazas on the N3, at SowetanLive


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page