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 roundup of weekend news, see
summaries of our selection of South African
labour-related stories that appeared since
Friday, 8 February 2019.


TOP STORY – ESKOM SPLIT-UP

Eskom split not about ‘privatising’, claims Ramaphosa, as Numsa vows to take to the streets

The Citizen reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa has denied that splitting Eskom up into three state-owned entities was about “privatising” the struggling power utility.  Instead, the president claimed the aim was “balancing operations to make the entity more efficient”.  But, Irvin Jim, general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has expressed strong disagreement, saying his union was preparing to take to the streets in protest over the proposed split.  In his view, the proposed split was “not about the future of Eskom”, but rather about “preparing” the utility for privatisation and a bid to introduce independent power providers (IPPs) “at all costs”.  Speaking during his state of the nation address (Sona) last week, Ramaphosa acknowledged that Eskom was in crisis and posed a significant risk to the economy.  “To bring credibility to the turnaround and to position South Africa’s power sector for the future, we shall immediately embark on a process of establishing three separate entities – Generation, Transmission and Distribution – under Eskom Holdings,” said Ramaphosa.  In the short term, Ramaphosa said the state-owned entity would need to reduce its costs, and raise revenue through tariff increases that were also affordable for South Africa.  He also hinted at another possible bailout for the struggling company.

Read the report on this story in full at The Citizen. Read too, Numsa to Ramaphosa: We'll meet you in the streets over Eskom, at Fin24

NUM vows to fight plans to break up Eskom 'tooth and nail'

ANA reports that labour unions on Friday condemned plans announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa to split state power firm Eskom into three entities.  In his State of the Nation Address (Sona) to Parliament on Thursday evening, Ramaphosa said cash-strapped Eskom would be divided into Generation, Transmission and Distribution entities as part of a new business model to help turn it around.  Numsa’s general secretary Irvin Jim reacted by saying that the plans to break up Eskom and sell "non-core assets" of state-owned enterprises in general were "nothing more than privatization through the back door", which the union would fight.  The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) also vowed to fight the Eskom plans "tooth and nail", saying they would ultimately only benefit the rich.  "If the government wants to save costs at Eskom, they must cancel the 27 Independent Power Producers (IPP) agreements signed by (then) minister of energy Jeff Radebe that are costing Eskom  The NUM is not against renewable energy, we are saying that IPPs must stand alone and compete with Eskom," the union indicated.  The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said it rejected any attempts to unbundle Eskom, a move it also fought in the late 1990s.

Read the original of the report in the above regard in full at Business Report

NUM vows to fight Eskom unbundling and reiterates that lay-offs ‘will not happen in our lifetime’

In a letter to the editor of Business Day on Friday, Luphert Chilwane, media officer at the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), wrote that splitting Eskom into three entities would mean its mandate of producing reliable electricity at an affordable rate would be replaced by an emphasis on productivity at whatever cost.  He reckoned that the unbundling of Eskom would be a costly exercise as there would be three boards, three CEOs and three CFOs, which would just add to the financial problems.  Noting that rumours were abounding that there would be a large number of staff retrenchments at Eskom, Chilwane reported that at the recently held NUM national shop stewards’ council, workers expressed anger towards Eskom and reiterated the union’s position that retrenchments at Eskom “will not happen in our lifetime.”  He added that the unbundling of Eskom was “clearly motivated by greed and continued corrupt activities within the power utility.  This move will also weaken the unity of workers, as workers will be divided into three businesses.”

Read Chilwane’s letter in full at BusinessLive

Government to engage with labour and stakeholders over Eskom unbundling, says Gordhan

Fin24 reports that Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan will meet with Eskom's board as a priority to map a way forward for the entity, following President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement that the power utility would be unbundled.  Ramaphosa on Thursday announced in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) that Eskom would be split into three entities – generation, transmission and distribution.  All three companies will fall under Eskom Holdings.  According to a statement issued by the Department of Public Enterprises on Friday evening, in addition to meeting with the board, a public consultation process with stakeholders, particularly organised labour, will also start "as soon as possible".  The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), one of three recognised unions at the power utility, has strongly rejected the unbundling of Eskom.  The union has expressed concern that the unbundling would lead to the privatisation of Eskom, which would lead to job shedding.  Labour federation Cosatu in turn has called for the president to make a commitment that the restructuring would not lead to job losses.  "We appreciate the President’s commitment to a just transition.  But he did not say what exactly does that mean.  Workers only want one thing.  Job security," Cosatu parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks said in a statement.

Read Lameez Omarjee’s original report on this story in full at Fin24. Read too, Ramaphosa promises ‘meaningful consultation’ as he confirms split of Eskom into three units, at Mining Weekly

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • NUM tells Ramaphosa to scrap Eskom split plan, Numsa calls for strike, at Moneyweb
  • Unions slam plan to split Eskom, at Independent News
  • Editorial: Unions’ arguments against Eskom reforms fail the logic and history test, at BusinessLive
  • Eskom needs to be sorted out or beneficiation will suffer, Mantashe warns, at Engineering News


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Parys police officer killed on Friday in suspected accidental shooting by fellow officer

News24 reports that a police officer was shot and killed in the early hours of Friday, allegedly by his colleague, in an apparent accidental shooting.  The officers were in pursuit of suspects thought to be involved in truck hijackings when the shooting occurred.  Free State police said Simon Nkala, 41, of the Parys crime prevention unit was shot in both thighs.  He later died in a Sasolburg hospital.  Two suspects were arrested and charged with possession of suspected stolen property.  Another two suspects remain at large.  The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is investigating Nkala's death.

Read the original of this report in full at News24

Naked body of DUT employee found in his room at campus residence

News24 reports that the naked body of a Durban University of Technology *DUT) employee was found in his room in a campus residence on Sunday morning.  The staff member was later identified as Dr Euvette Taylor, a 30-year-old staff member and residence advisor in one of the university’s student residences.  Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said the discovery was made when a friend of the man alerted security of being unable to reach him.  The man was found naked on his bed.  He had not suffered open external wounds and his cause of death has yet to be determined.  His car had been stolen, but it was later recovered in Umlazi.  No arrests have yet been made.  Meanwhile, operations were due expected to resume at DUT on Monday after protests and the death of a student resulted in its closure last week.  Mlungisi Madonsela was shot during an altercation with security guards at one of DUT's campuses and later died in hospital from a gunshot wound.

Read Tammy Petersen’s original report on this story in full at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Pilot injured while pursuing suspected poachers at Kruger National Park, at News24


MINING LABOUR

Labour Court rejects Sibanye-Stillwater’s repeat application to halt Amcu gold strike

Mining Weekly reports that Sibanye-Stillwater on Friday indicated that the Labour Court had rejected its second application to stop the ongoing wage strike which the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) commenced upon at its gold operations in November 2018.  The reason given by the court was res judicata, namely that the matter had already been judged upon.  Sibanye’s first application in December argued that the agreement signed with three other unions at its operations, namely the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and Uasa, could be extended to Amcu members as the other unions together a majority of employees in the bargaining unit.  Amcu had argued that a proper verification would prove that it remained the biggest at the gold operations, and it therefore could continue with its protected strike.  A verification process was ordered by the Labour Court on 21 December.  The company again applied to the court for an order to halt strike while the outcome of the verification was under way, arguing that Amcu had been causing ongoing delays to the process.  Following the dismissal of the second attempt to interdict the strike, the company stated:  “We respect the court's ruling, but are disappointed that the merits of our case were not heard, and the ruling was made on a legal technicality.”  CEO Neal Froneman added:  “We will continue to pursue various avenues, without compromising other stakeholders, to bring an end to this strike as soon as possible."

Read the original of this report in full at Mining Weekly. Read too, Amcu strike gets the nod as Sibanye stalemate drags, at City Press. Read Sibanye’s press statement at Moneyweb

Workers at the Gupta Gloria coal mine not paid for four months

ANA reports that a number of people who claimed to be workers of the Gloria coal mine near Middelburg in Mpumalanga said on Friday they had not been paid their salaries for four months.  Tumelo Pule, a truck driver for the Gloria coal mine, was among a group of about 20 men and women who got free meals and drinks on the premises of the mine on Thursday.  They said the meals were donated to them by an unnamed organisation.  “I cannot even get another job elsewhere while I’m still employed here.  I come here every day with the hope of getting paid.  My children are starving,” said Pule.  Gloria coal mine, which is owned by the Gupta family, was placed under business rescue a year ago and its workers were put on special leave in December last year, business rescue representative Mike Elliot advised.  He said the business rescue team was working hard to sell the mine so that funds could be generated to pay the workers.  Meanwhile, rescue workers last week retrieved the bodies of five people suspected to be copper cable thieves from the mine’s underground area.  A sixth person was brought to the surface alive, but later died in hospital.  Some 22 other people are thought to be still trapped underground.

Read the original report on this story in full at Business Report

Drones could be the next frontier in mine safety

Miningmx writes that when a mine disaster strikes, sending in rescue teams can be fraught with danger.  One solution that the Wits Mining Institute (WMI) has been working on is the development of a drone to check whether or not it is safe to send humans to the scene.  According to Fred Cawood, WMI’s director, the institute has now built two prototypes that are being tested at its mock mine facility.  Six post-graduate students are working on the project with funding being provided by the Mine Health and Safety Council.  Cawood pointed out that drones could be used for a number of purposes on the safety front.  First of all when it came to disasters, to see what was happening before people were sent down.  Compliance was another potential use, to make sure support systems, for example, me,et industry standards.  “Another use is to use it as a canary so you can detect gases and poor air quality,” Cawood said.  It could also conceivably also be used to detect illegal mining activity underground, complimenting drones that were being deployed for that purpose above ground.

Read Ed Stoddard’s report in the above regard in full at Miningmx

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Opinion: How mining companies' relationship with government affects communities, at Independent News
  • 'We want our voice on the table', says Alternative Mining Indaba, at Fin24


FARMING LABOUR

Growing need for skilled people in agricultural sector

The Mercury writes that experts predict that advances in science and technology will keep farmers and agriculture professionals on their toes.  By 2020 there will be an even higher demand for skilled people in the agricultural sector, with top careers including technologists, hydrologists, food scientists, agricultural communicators and precision agriculture technologists.  While the spectrum of opportunity is said to be vast, the role of soil scientists, particularly in Africa where farmers are faced with serious health issues, remains critical.  The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that more than 50% of Africa’s agricultural land has serious soil problems, including nutrient depletion, soil acidity and erosion.  According to the National Development Plan, the agricultural sector is expected to create about one million jobs by 2030.  This means there is a need and scope for innovative and motivated young people to become part of the agricultural sector, which continues to be an important pillar for economic growth for South Africa.

Read the report on the above in full at The Mercury


VACANCIES / RECRUITMENT

Notwithstanding overwhelming interest, less than 10 candidates to be interviewed for top Sars job

BusinessLive reports that while there was an overwhelming interest in the post of SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner, fewer than 10 candidates will be interviewed for the post.  Finance minister Tito Mboweni has appointed a seven-member team headed by former finance minister Trevor Manuel to conduct the interviews and compile a shortlist for President Cyril Ramaphosa, who will make the final appointment.  The new Sars commissioner will face a mammoth task after the ruinous leadership of former tax boss Tom Moyane, who culled critical skills from the institution and neutralised its capacity.  The Treasury advertised the post in December and applications closed on 18 January.  The panel will consider recommendations made by the chair of the Sars commission of inquiry, retired judge Robert Nugent.  Officials were tight-lipped last week about the identity of the contenders for the post.  Meanwhile, Moyane’s lawyer, Eric Mabuza, said he was waiting for feedback from the Constitutional Court, where the former commissioner is challenging his axing.  Moyane approached the court in late 2018 after the high court denied his application to be returned to his post.

Read Natasha Marrian’s report on this story in full at BusinessLive


REMUNERATION / SALARY ADMINISTRATION

Remaining batch of unpaid Gauteng intern doctors to be paid on Monday

News24 reports that according to the Gauteng Department of Health, it will on Monday pay the last batch of medical interns who failed to receive their January salaries on time.  Department spokesperson Khutso Rabothata indicated on Friday that 803 medical interns received their salaries on Wednesday and the remaining 409 interns would be paid after the weekend.  EWN reported at the end of January that according to several Gauteng medical interns and community service doctors, they had not received their salaries on 28 January, as expected.  News24 previously reported that Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa intervened after the medical interns were not paid, following which 1,337 community service doctors received their remuneration.  Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesperson for health in Gauteng, Jack Bloom, said he was "appalled" at the delay.

Read the original of the report on this story at News24

Motsoaledi disappointed and distressed over non-payment of intern doctors' salaries

EWN reports that Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says he is disappointed and highly distressed that some interns and doctors who started work last month have still not received their January salaries.  The SA Medical Association (Sama) had reached an agreement with the administrations of health sectors in various provinces that salaries would be paid by this past week, however, some doctors have still not received their payments.  Sama has since warned that the approximately 222 doctors in Gauteng alone who have been affected would not report for duty until they received their salaries.  This move is set to put more pressure on an already strained public health sector.  The Gauteng Department of Health missed the deadline to pay new doctors on 31 January, claiming there had been a delay in processing their details.  But, Motsoaledi said he did not understand how something like that could have happened.  “The issue of the payment of salaries should not be a complex one.  All that was left was to capture the details of each and every doctor in each province and start paying them.  We are so disappointed,” he commented.

Read the original of Michael Pedro’s report in the above regard at EWN


BASIC EDUCATION

Valhalla primary school teacher on sexual assault charges stays in jail

TimesLIVE reports that the case against a teacher accused of sexually assaulting as many as 23 pupils at Valhalla Primary School in Centurion has been postponed to 13 February.  After a brief court appearance in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Friday, it was determined that the teacher would remain behind bars.  The teacher, who was arrested on Thursday, told the court he had no prior convictions or pending cases against him.  The state indicated that it was prosecuting seven counts of sexual assault against the teacher, but police investigations were continuing.  The accused was removed from the school on Wednesday after the department acted on allegations that pupils had fallen prey to him.  A team of officials from the district, as well as the department’s psycho-social unit, had gone to the school following reports that parents were planning a meeting and had threatened to pull their children out of the school.

Read the original of Nico Gous’ short report on this story at TimesLIVE


NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE (NHI)

NHI Bill will soon be ready to go to parliament, says Cyril Ramaphosa

BusinessLive reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa promised in his state of the nation address (Sona) on Thursday that the long-awaited National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill will soon be submitted to parliament.  However, he did not state that the fiercely contested bill had been approved by Cabinet, which suggested that further work might still be done on it before it was considered by SA’s legislators.  “This year, we will take a significant step towards universal access to quality healthcare for all South Africans.  After extensive consultation, the NHI Bill will soon be ready for submission to Parliament,” Ramaphosa told MPs.  The bill is significant because it is the government's first piece of enabling legislation for NHI.  But, even if the bill is soon tabled in parliament, MPs will not have enough time to process it before the upcoming election in May, as it will have to be considered by both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.  Both houses of parliament are expected to hold public hearings on the bill.

Read Tamar Kahn’s report on the NHI Bill in full at BusinessLive


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

Medical Schemes Council suspends its top compliance officer following tip-offs about alleged corruption

ANA reports that the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) has suspended its general manager of compliance and investigations, Stephen Mmatli, “following tip-offs related to his conduct in the affairs of the regulator”.  The CMS indicated on Sunday:  “A whistle-blower alleged that Mmatli deliberately misled the regulator of the medical schemes industry to take decisions in favour of certain organisations.  He allegedly benefited financially in return.  The seriousness of the allegations warranted his suspension as a precautionary measure to enable the regulator to conduct the investigation without any interference.”  CMS acting registrar and CEO Dr Sipho Kabane added that he had served Stephen Mmatli with a letter of precautionary suspension with full pay “pending the outcome of investigations into serious acts of misconduct.  As we intend to investigate these allegations, I believe a precautionary suspension is in the best interest for both parties.”

Read the original of this report in full at The Citizen


OTHER MISCELLANEOUS NEWS HEADLINES

  • Metals, engineering sector set for third consecutive year of growth, says Seifsa, at Engineering News
  • Education challenges remain an impediment to South Africa’s growth, at Engineering News
  • WeWork to open its first SA location in Johannesburg, at Business Report

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page