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, 12 February 2019.


COSATU NATIONAL STRIKE ON WEDNESDAY

Cosatu plans to bring eight provinces to a standstill on Wednesday

The Citizen reports that Cosatu plans to bring economic activities in eight provinces to a complete halt on Wednesday to highlight the plight of workers.  The labour federation indicated that the national shutdown had intentionally been planned to take place ahead of the finance minister Tito Mboweni’s budget speech to enable him to respond to labour’s concerns about job losses, which should guide his distribution of resources.  The march in the Western Cape will not take place tomorrow, but on the date of Mboweni’s budget speech, namely 19 February.  Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said they were expecting thousands of workers to take part in the mass action tomorrow.  Some would participate by simply staying at home and not going to work, while others would join picketing in major cities in eight provinces.  He indicated that the point of the strike was to bring everything to a halt and cause as much inconvenience as possible, affecting both the public and private sector.  Pamla said that top on their priority list of demands was a moratorium on retrenchments in the mining sector, adding that the sector should come on board and discuss ways to assist struggling businesses.

Read Sipho Mabena’s report in this regard in full at The Citizen. See the schedule of arrangements for each province here


NEHAWU TVET STRIKE ON THUSDAY

Higher education department to plead with Nehawu not to embark on TVET shutdown on Thursday

The Citizen reports that the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) hopes to engage with the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) to reconsider its national strike at TVET and community education and training (CET) colleges.  Lecturers affiliated to the union are expected to embark on a national shutdown on Thursday at 50 TVET colleges across 264 campuses and CET colleges across more than 3,000 community learning centres.  According to general secretary Zola Saphetha, their members were exploited and subjected to “horrible” working conditions.  The grievances included stagnant salaries of college personnel, who apparently earned much less than staff at public institutions, non-deduction of pension benefits for staff at CET colleges and victimisation of Nehawu shop stewards.  DHET spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said:  “We will try to speak to Nehawu to reconsider its decision as it will adversely affect the smooth running of institutions of education, especially TVET colleges.  We will see how best we can deal with the issues they are raising.  We will do everything we can to avert the strike.”

Read Rorisang Kgosana’s report on the strike in full at The Citizen. Read too, Nehawu announces national strike, wants higher education DG Gwebinkundla Qonde fired, at The Citizen


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Red flags at deadly Bank of Lisbon building ignored, public protector asked to investigate

The Star reports that staff complaints about the derelict state of the Bank of Lisbon building in downtown Joburg weeks before a blaze engulfed it were dismissed as “delinquent”.  A Gauteng Department of Health (DoH) employee has asked the Public Protector (PP) to investigate a number of issues believed to have been ignored.  In a complaint lodged last week, the employee asked the PP to investigate which senior officials had continuously ignored complaints from staff regarding the building which housed thee provincial departments.  But the DoH has denied allegations that senior officials had not taken steps to deal with complaints regarding safety issues at the building.  Three firefighters lost their lives on duty when the building caught fire in September 2018.  “We see this as a case of complete negligence and disregard for people’s lives.  Our members cautioned about the unsafe building but were dismissed but after we appealed, they were reinstated.  Even after they returned to work, they would raise issues about the unsafe working conditions,” said Gracia Rikhotso of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu).  Gauteng government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said the Public Prosecutor would have to deal with matters raised in the complaint, as investigations into the cause of the fire were ongoing.

Read Sibongile Mashaba’s full report on this story at The Star


MINING LABOUR

Sibanye-Stillwater signals prospect of 5,000 job cuts at Driefontein if profits cannot be restored

Miningmx reports that precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater has apparently signaled to unions that it might cut up to 5,000 jobs at its struggling Driefontein operation in the gold sector.  This prospect was raised in so-called “Future Forum” discussions with unions.  Sibanye spokesman James Wellsted said in response to questions about the 5,000 number at Driefontein that:  “There is a possibility that if we don’t find a solution to losses at certain shafts, that there may be restructuring of that nature.”  But he stressed that nothing was set in stone at this stage.  Lay-offs are politically sensitive in SA, where the unemployment rate is over 25%.  Tensions are also running high at Sibanye’s gold operations, where the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has been on a wage strike for 13 weeks against the backdrop of escalating violence.  Driefontein’s woes are well known to the market.  The operation employs almost 11,000 employees, according to the company’s latest annual report.

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

Gupta mine cable ‘thief’ released, rescue bid for those underground still halted by unpaid workers

Sowetan reports that a sixth suspect involved in the cable theft at the Gupta-owned Gloria Coal Mine in Mpumalanga has been released as police conduct further investigations into the matter, as directed by the public prosecutor.  This came as employees at the mine continued to halt the search and rescue operation for the remaining trapped cable thieves underground.  “The rescue operation won’t continue today [Monday] because we have the employees who won’t permit us to continue the operation until they are paid their salaries‚” business rescue representative for the mine Mike Elliot said on Monday.  The disruption started late last week.  Elliot indicated that there was no money to pay the disgruntled employees.  The Gloria mine forms part of the Optimum Coal assets bought by the Gupta family in 2016.  Their companies were put into business rescue early last year.  Several thieves stripping cables were trapped underground after a gas explosion on Wednesday at the Gloria mine‚ which has been closed for months.  The bodies of five suspected thieves have been recovered.  An unknown number of people remain trapped.

Read more of Iavan Pijoos’ original report on this story at SA Labour News

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining


LABOUR MARKET / EMPLOYMENT

Unemployment rate eases from 27.5% to 27.1% in fourth quarter due to holiday season hiring

BusinessLive reports that SA’s unemployment rate improved in the fourth quarter, as is usually the case for a quarter that brings a temporary hiring boost thanks to the holiday season.  Unemployment from September to December fell by 0.4 of a percentage point to 27.1%, Statistics SA indicated in its quarterly labour force survey released on Tuesday.  The data showed that the working-age population increased by 149,000 in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to the previous quarter, while the number of employed increased by 149,000 to 16.5-million.  The number of unemployed decreased by 70,000 to 6.1-million.  But, employment gains in the fourth quarter are usually temporary and reversed in the following quarter.  Absa senior economist Peter Worthington commented:  “Employment creation remains weak, reflecting sustained periods of poor investment growth.  The long-run trend is probably for SA’s unemployment rate to keep rising gradually.”

Read Sunita Menon’s report on the unemployment data in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Unemployment rate drops marginally to 27.1% at end of 2018, at Fin24


JOBS AT RISK

With 350,000 jobs at risk, desperate sugar cane farmers send SOS to Ramaphosa

Business Report writes that sugar industry growers have called for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s intervention in an effort to help save the multibillion-rand sector from imminent collapse.  SA Cane Growers’ Association chairperson Graeme Stainbank said on Monday that the sugar sector was in an unprecedented state of crisis.  He indicated that the R14bn industry was at risk of collapse, along with the 350,000 jobs it provided and the one million people it supported.  “Sugar cane growers, emerging farmers, farmworkers and surrounding communities could soon disappear if government fails to take urgent action,” Stainbank warned.  He indicated that the problems facing the industry were numerous and included unsteady rainfalls and the effects of a three-year drought.  “These challenges are coming together in a perfect storm.  If we don’t do something, they will kill the sugar industry – a sector that contributes close to R14bn to the South African economy,” Stainbank said.  He called on the government to grant the industry tariff protection to shield it from cheap imports, to tighten restrictions to prohibit sugar that wasn't subject to duties from entering the country and to invest in innovations including ethanol production.

Read Luyolo Mkentane’s report on this story in full at Business Report. See too, Ramaphosa said ‘sweet nothing’ about scary state of sugar sector, at BusinessLive. Read the Cane Growers Association’s press statement in this regard at Politicsweb


BASIC EDUCATION

Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie throws its weight behind teacher in Sans Souci slap video

News24 reports that the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAOU) has pledged its support for the Sans Souci Girls' High School teacher who was caught on video slapping a pupil.  "The SAOU wishes to emphasise that we support our member and her labour rights," the union said in a statement.  In video footage circulated on social media last week, the teacher and pupil are shown in an apparent verbal disagreement which escalates.  The pupil shoves the teacher who retaliates by slapping the teenager across the face.  Both the teacher and the student face disciplinary hearings and 14 February has been set for the pupil's hearing.  "While the teacher concerned is a member of the SAOU, she is employed by the school's governing body and as such, the immediate processes of enquiry into the case and its resolution fall within the auspices of the governing body," the union indicated.  In addition to the disciplinary hearings, criminal cases have also been opened by both parties.  SAOU said it would provide legal representation for the teacher "if permitted to do so" and that a legal team had been appointed.

Read Kamva Somdyala’s full report on this story at News24


SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / TRAINING / QUALIFICATIONS

Ekurhuleni firefighters first in SA certified for international qualification

The Citizen reports that the first group of technical rescuers in Africa to be accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) studied through the City of Ekurhuleni’s training academy.  The academy is the only training provider accredited by the Southern African Emergency Services Institute for full technical rescuers qualifications in line with IFSAC requirements.  Twenty-five firefighters were chosen from different fire stations across the city and were successful in all 17 technical rescue modules including rope, confined space, structural collapse, trench, swift water, vehicle, machinery and technical.  The students are the first in the country to have qualified as full IFSAC accredited technical rescuers.  William Ntladi of Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services commented:  “Placed strategically across the city, their skills will assist in minimising loss of life and damage to property in the shortest possible amount of time.  The programme is continuous and new groups of firefighters are already in class for the 2019 academic year.

Read this report in full at The Citizen


RETIREMENT FUND INVESTMENTS

Parliament’s finance committee adopts PIC bill aimed at bolstering accountability

BusinessLive reports that a bill aiming to strengthen the corporate governance, accountability and transparency of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) was adopted by parliament’s finance committee on Tuesday.  It will be debated in the National Assembly next week and then be referred to the National Council of Provinces.  The PIC manages more than R2-trillion in assets on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the Compensation Fund, amongst others.  The need to strengthen corporate governance has been highlighted over the past year by the disclosure of suspect investments in which the PIC was involved.  The bill requires that the PIC invest in projects that benefit depositors, and act in accordance with their instructions.  It “must seek” to invest in projects that further the developmental objectives of the country, as specified.  A report reflecting all investment of deposits whether listed or unlisted would have to be submitted to the applicable minister for tabling with the annual report of the department and published on the PIC's website.

Read Linda Ensor’s report on the PIC Bill in full at BusinessLive


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

ConCourt turns down Tom Moyane's application for leave to appeal against his dismissal

Fin24 reports that axed SA Revenue Service (SARS) boss Tom Moyane has lost his bid at the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) for leave to appeal regarding his dismissal.  Moyane's legal team filed the court papers for leave to appeal in December after the North Gauteng High Court on 11 December upheld his dismissal and ruled that a permanent SARS commissioner could be appointed in Moyane’s place.  In a brief court order, dated 4 February, the ConCourt stated that after considering Moyane's application for leave to appeal, it concluded that it should be dismissed as it "bears no reasonable prospect for success".  The court opted not to award costs.  The report of the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into the administration of SARS recommended that Moyane be sacked, among other things.  Moyane went to court several times to challenge the Nugent inquiry, its report and his dismissal, but without success.  

Read the original of this report in full at Fin24

Limpopo Health MEC sacks Tshilidzini Hospital's entire management team

Health e-News reports that shocking mismanagement at Tshilidzini Hospital has prompted Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba to remove the facility's entire management team.  The hospital, which is based in Vhembe, serves a large community.  Problems include dilapidated buildings, poor service and long queues of people who wait for hours, only to be sent home without receiving help.  When Ramathuba visited the hospital recently, several patients complained, with some telling her that they waited for hours but that no one was willing to assist.  Though most patients complained about a shortage of nurses and doctors, the MEC observed:  "There is no shortage of nurses nor doctors here, which surely shows us that the problems lie with the management.  So we have taken the decision to remove them and introduce a new management which will be put under administration for a period of 100 days."  When Tshilidzini was declared a National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot hospital, it was identified as a facility that needed to be demolished and rebuilt.  But nothing has been done.

Read Ndivhuwo Mukwevho’s full report on this story at News24

 


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