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, 12 April 2019.


TOP STORY

Seventh Day Adventist wins dismissal case against former employer over not working on Sabbath

The Saturday Star reports that a recent Labour Appeal Court (LAC) ruling has sent a stern warning to employers to be more tolerant of their employees’ religious beliefs.  The court ruled in favour of Deidre Beverley Faris, who took her employer, TDF Network Africa, to court over what she deemed was an unfair dismissal over her unavailability to work over her Sabbath.  The court agreed that the Seventh Day Adventist member, who abstains from work from Friday evenings to Saturday evenings for religious reasons, was dismissed unfairly and awarded her 12 months’ compensation.  Faris told the LAC that the company was aware when she observed the Sabbath and that this prohibited her from working during this time.  But TDF Network Africa went on to fire her from her managerial position at the company for “incapacity”, arguing that it was an inherent requirement for someone in her position to participate in the company’s stocktaking.  That duty was a requirement of the logistics and transport service provider and the task was conducted once a month, on a Saturday.  The court found that the employee would not have been dismissed had it not been for her religious beliefs, and that the employer had discriminated against her for complying with those beliefs.  It emphasised that a legitimate commercial rationale was not sufficient to demonstrate fair discrimination, and went on to highlight the need for religious tolerance in the workplace.  The Saturday Star report goes on to indicate the implications of the judgment for employers.

Read the full report on this ruling at Saturday Star


MINING LABOUR

Sibanye-Stillwater builds war chest against possible platinum strikes by raising another R1.75bn

BL Premium reports fresh from a rights placement for R1.7bn, Sibanye-Stillwater is to raise a similar amount by selling future gold production to Citibank, giving it protection from a potential platinum sector strike.  Amid the current protracted industrial action at its SA gold mines, the precious metals producer is reinforcing its balance sheet in case of a strike at its SA platinum division, as well as to prepare for any external events.  Sibanye’s increasingly bitter relationship with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which is in the fifth month of a gold strike at Sibanye, could well spill over into local platinum group metals (PGM) businesses when wage talks start in June.  Nedbank analysts Leon Esterhuizen and Arnold van Graan commented:  "We believe there is an increasing risk of a strike at Sibanye’s SA PGM operations.  This is one of the biggest risks to the balance sheet, in our opinion.  Importantly, this move will give the company a stronger footing when it heads into PGM wage talks, as the unions won’t be able to exploit a weak balance sheet position to push for higher wages."  Combined with the issue of shares, the forward sales will give Sibanye undrawn facilities of R10bn.  Meanwhile, Sibanye is potentially a few weeks away from approaching the Labour Court to declare the strike at its gold mines unprotected.  The strike has cost Sibanye about R1.5bn so far.

Read the full original of Allan Seccombe’s report on this story at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read too, Sibanye raises another R1.75bn, reinforcing its balance sheet, at BusinessLive

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Norman Mbazima retires from Anglo American after 18 years, at BusinessLive
  • Former Exxaro boss Sipho Nkosi to replace retiring Sasol chair, at BusinessLive
  • Exxaro reaffirms health, safety goals at its Sustainability Summit, at Mining Weekly

Postings on mining charter / transformation

  • Industry’s challenge to mining charter is against progress, says Gwede Mantashe, at BusinessLive

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • SA’s gold production sector on its knees, at Business Report
  • Minerals Council calls for delay of at least five years in carbon tax implementation, at Mining Weekly
  • Mantashe urges continued investment in clean coal technology, at Mining Weekly


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Numsa anticipating difficult wage negotiations in various sectors in coming months

EWN reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) says it’s anticipating a difficult wage negotiations season as it prepares to bargain in several sectors in the coming months.  The union held a collective bargaining conference last week where it discussed strategies on how to approach negotiations in the auto, aviation and security sectors.  Negotiations mostly get underway during the winter season and are not infrequently followed by strike action.  Among the list of issues Numsa said would make this year’s negotiations tough for workers were the recently amended strike and picketing laws.  Trade unions have been given until just after June to change their constitutions in line with the amendments in the Labour Relations Act that require leaders to ballot their members on whether or not to embark on strike action.  Numsa has been one of the greatest critics of the new provisions, describing them as anti-worker.  The Labour Registrar has warned that unions which fail to effect the changes could be deregistered.

Read the original of Theto Mahlakoana’s report in the above regard at EWN


PROTESTS / MARCHES

Numsa’s planned march to AMSA on Friday cancelled because of threatened interdict

ANA reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) on Friday cancelled its planned march to ArcelorMittal SA (AMSA) in Johannesburg.  "This is because the company is threatening to interdict the march if we proceed.  It is in the best interests of our members to protect the strike and ensure their demands are met, therefore the march today has been cancelled," the union indicated in a statement.  Numsa had planned to march to the headquarters of AMSA in Sedibeng, south of Johannesburg, as part of its campaign to intensify its five-week strike at the steel manufacturing company.  At least 2,000 permanent employees and contract workers have been on strike since 12 March.  The union wants all contract workers to become fully in-sourced by AMSA and earn the same salary and benefits as other permanent workers.  It also alleges that employees work under unsafe working conditions and that the company's management has failed to adhere to health and safety regulations.  AMSA has denied that employees are at risk at the company and has proposed a process to in-source some workers with critical skills over a three-year period.

Read the full original of the report on the above at Engineering News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Saftu calls on the working class across the country to intensify the service delivery protest actions!, at Saftu News (press statement)
  • Nehawu Gauteng march to DPSA in Pretoria on 12 April to deliver a memo of demands to the Minister, at Nehawu News (press statement)


INSOURCING

Mayor Mashaba announces Johannesburg finalising next phase of staff insourcing

ANA reports that mayor Herman Mashaba said on Sunday that the City of Johannesburg was finalising the insourcing of remaining outsourced security guards and cleaning services staff in line with its May 2017 commitment to insource those services.  In 2018, 2,800 security guards at various city departments were insourced.  In this process the city was able to increase their take-home pay by a minimum of 50%, while offering them employee benefits, stable employment, and containing the city’s escalating security costs, Mashaba indicated in a statement.  "I am pleased to announce that the City of Johannesburg is poised to deliver appointment letters to the remaining security guards employed at the time of the announcement in May 2017, to be insourced effectively on 1 July 2019," he stated.  Through engagements with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the programme had been successful in "moving the profit margins previously enjoyed by politically connected security companies and using this to insource security personnel", the mayor said.  The city is similarly concluding its assessment of cleaning services and is readying itself to proceed on the insourcing of cleaners.  The objective is to see cleaning services insourced effectively on 1 July 2019, with the families of around 1,500 cleaners to benefit from this program.

Read the full original of the report on this story at Independent News. Read Mayor Mashaba’s press statement at Politicsweb


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

Labour department to post names on its website of employers failing to comply with national minimum wage

News24 reports that Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant says government will name and shame employers who fail to comply with the national minimum wage (NMW).  The National Minimum Wage Act came into effect at the beginning of this year and stipulates that employers should pay employees a minimum hourly rate of R20 (farm and forestry workers R18 per hour; domestic workers R15; extended public works programme (EPWP) workers R11).  Speaking at an International Labour Organisation (ILO) event last week, Oliphant said her department was on a national blitz to "assess levels of the National Minimum Wage Act in businesses with over 1,300 inspectors assigned to monitor compliance".  Indicating that government intended to ensure tough enforcement of the implementation of the NMW, Oliphant went on to state:  "Already the department is in the process of naming and shaming employers who fail to comply by publishing them on the department’s website."  She added that her department was aware of a new tactic that was gathering traction, namely “firing workers to undermine the labour laws that seek to address unemployment, inequality and poverty".  The department would stop these tactics in their tracks, Oliphant warned.

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

Labour minister cautions employers against the latest trend in shady labour practices

The Citizen reports that Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has strongly cautioned employers who have recently adopted the practice of dismissing workers en masse only to re-employ them and pay them wages at the rate of the national minimum wage (NMW), or even less.  Speaking on Thursday, the minister said that government was aware of a new tactic that was quickly gaining traction amongst unscrupulous employers, namely firing workers to undermine the labour laws that sought to address unemployment, inequality, and poverty.  According to Oliphant, the government’s political will was to ensure tough enforcement of the implementation of the NMW and she vowed that her department would stop such tactics in their tracks in an effort to fulfil that mandate.  The government aimed to strengthen the monitoring roles of the labour inspectorate and the CCMA and was looking at increasing the budgets of those entities, Oliphant indicated.  Over 1,300 inspectors have been assigned by the department to monitor compliance with the NMW Act at businesses all over the country.

Read the full original of Kaunda Selisho’s report on the above The Citizen


HOURS OF WORK / OVERTIME

SAMA commissions PE Corporate Services to investigate levels of overtime worked by public service medical practitioners

The SA Medical Association (SAMA) indicated on Friday that it had commissioned management consultancy PE Corporate Services to conduct an investigation into the levels of overtime worked by medical practitioners in the public service.  Dr M Thandrayen, SAMA General Manager, advised that:  A key objective of the study is to establish the relative equity of current National Department of Health overtime pay arrangements, and formulate recommendations on how any inequities should be addressed.  This investigation forms part of a broader study into the remuneration and working conditions of medical practitioners in South Africa.”  Dr Thandrayen went on to indicate that as part of the exercise, PE Corporate Services needed to gather current data on overtime hours worked by medical practitioners, and the impact of this on career and lifestyle goals.  SAMA member were invited to participate by completing and returning a questionnaire.  All the responses received would be collated and reported on in the form of aggregated analyses of overall trends and statistics.  

More details and the questionnaire can be accessed at SAMA News


SUSPENSIONS / DISMISSALS / CONSTRUCTIVE DISMISSALS

SANDF clarifies the discharge of 35 trainee medics who went AWOL in Cuba

ANA reports that the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) on Friday released details about the administrative discharge of 35 of its members who went on absent without leave (AWOL) in Cuba.  In a statement two weeks ago, the SANDF said it had discharged 35 of its members for going AWOL for more than 30 days while they were on course in Cuba.  The members were sent to Cuba in 2018 to study medicine and had been on AWOL since February 2019.  On Friday, the SANDF said that it would not tolerate any ill-discipline within the force and drastic action would be taken against any member who brought the defence force into disrepute.  It went on to indicate:  “The SANDF wishes to make it clear that by deserting classes, the members were in direct contravention of the Defence Act of 2002 and Military Disciplinary Code.  Numerous interventions were undertaken to address members’ concerns.  Unfortunately, the SANDF had no other option but to administratively discharge the members.”

Read the full original of the report on this story at The Citizen. See too, 35 SANDF members discharged for going AWOL in Cuba, at Cape Argus

'Protect me from yourself ' IT boss at SARS heads to CCMA over alleged bullying to get her to resign

News24 reports that SA Revenue Service (SARS) IT head Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane, of ‘Protect me from yourself’ fame, has approached the CCMA, claiming she is being bullied to resign from the tax body.  In her dispute submission form, Makhekhe-Mokhuane states that:  "I am currently being bullied to accept a separation without any charges being put against me.  The employer has placed me on discretionary leave since the 14th of January when I was due to come back to work.  The employer sent me back home saying I must reflect on a mutual separation.  Since then I have not been informed what is the basis of a mutual separation.  If I don't accept the separation, I would face a disciplinary action.  Therefore, the employer has already concluded that I cannot be permitted to return to work as per his numerous letters in this regard."  Makhekhe-Mokhuane has been on "discretionary leave" since October last year.  Apparently SARS has offered her a four-month settlement to step down, which she has refused.  In October, a video of Makhekhe-Mokhuane, speaking to Sakina Kamwendo on Morning Live, went viral.  At one point, Kamwendo asked what needed to be done to fix the tax body's IT infrastructure and Makhekhe-Mokhuane responded:  "Ma'am, can you give me protection from yourself?"

Read the full original of Jeanette Chabalala’s report on this story at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Employers must abide by their own disciplinary codes, at BusinessLive


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Corruption at HPCSA a symptom of government’s incompetence

On Thursday, the Solidarity Occupational Guild for Health Practitioners strongly condemned alleged corruption at the Health Professions Council of SA (HPSCA), which it said could lead to unqualified doctors and nurses unlawfully getting accreditation.  The trade union’s occupational guild put forward the view that uncertainty regarding qualifications would continue until private medical training and accreditation become possible.  Bhekisisa reported earlier in April that the government’s Special Investigating Unit (SIU) was awaiting the president’s go-ahead to investigate allegations that HPSCA employees might have taken bribes in exchange for medical registrations and board exam passes.  Hennie Bierman, Head of the Guilds at Solidarity, welcomed an investigation by the SIU, but said stronger steps were needed to prevent such corruption in future.  He commented that investigation would merely tackle the symptoms of a dysfunctional system instead of determining its cause.  “The fact is that the current system wherein training and accreditation is practically exclusively done by the state, simply does not provide the necessary incentives and liabilities to stop such misconduct even before it happens.  We must therefore take precaution rather than aftercare,” said Bierman.

Read Solidarity’s press statement in the above regard at Solidarity News. Read too, Did the Health Professions Council trade cash for qualifications?, at Bhekisasa


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT TO AND FROM WORK

Improve reliability of trains and cut down on cancellations, transport minister Nzimande orders Prasa board

ANA reports that Transport Minister Blade Nzimande has instructed the board of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) to improve the reliability of trains by 60% and improve train cancellations by 41%.  This was indicated following a meeting Nzimande held with Prasa, prompted by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s first-hand experience of the difficulties regularly experienced by commuters when using Metrorail trains.  When the president boarded a train from Mabopane to the Tshwane CBD recently, the train was delayed by two hours.  Nzimande said the board had been tasked with the responsibility to secure trains, passengers and assets by deploying security personnel on trains, and also to erect fencing or walling in depots in all regions.  He said the board furthermore had to address the lack of consequence management, following the Mountainview crash near Pretoria in January which claimed four lives and left 620 injured.  “I have also escalated the vandalisation and torching of trains to the security cluster of Cabinet so that government deal decisively with this criminality,” Nzimande advised.  He said he would be working to change laws so that torching of trains would be declared a serious crime of arson.

Read the original of the report on this story at The Citizen

Government faces ‘radical action’ to declare commuter rail system 'a disaster'

Weekend Argus reports that as Metrorail’s woes continue to hit train commuters hard, calls for the rail system to be declared a disaster have been amplified ahead of national elections in May.  Civil society group #UniteBehind has vowed to embark on demonstrations to force President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande to make the declaration so that the failed rail system can be fixed.  Ramaphosa unveiled two new trains with much fanfare in Cape Town last week and promised a punctual, safer and more convenient service.  A total of 35 new trains will be rolled out by the end of next year.  But frustrated commuters were unconvinced as they continued to experience delays with the service.  “We are giving the president, Minister Nzimande and the ANC notice that #UniteBehind will embark on peaceful and radical action to demand that a disaster be declared before election day,” warned the organisation’s Zackie Achmat.  Political parties have put forward proposals to revive the country’s rail system as a priority in ensuring that the public transport runs smoothly.  But, commuters say promises do not offer solutions to the immediate problems.  Professor Marianne Vanderschuren from UCT’s Africa Centre for Studies in Public and Non-motorised Transport commented:  “We cannot let the rail system collapse.  It is important we rehabilitate the rail and its infrastructure and to do so we should think outside the box in terms of what could assist us.”

Read the full original of Tshego Lepule’s report in the above regard at Weekend Argus

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • First look at Cape Town's new trains, at News24 (video clip)
  • High-tech CCTV cameras to monitor Cape Town's public transport facilities, at Independent News


OTHER REPORTS

‘Humiliated’ managers at North West community safety and transport call on premier to intervene in standoff with administrator

City Press reports that North West Premier Job Mokgoro has been called in to intervene in a standoff between senior managers and the administrator at the department of community safety and transport in order to avoid total insubordination.  The group of managers – whose powers have been suspended pending the conclusion of a Section 100 intervention by the central government – have written to Mokgoro and MEC Mpho Motlhabane citing a broken relationship with Nqaba Nqandela.  Among other things, they accused Nqandela of refusing to consult on departmental activities, humiliating the staff, making threats, stalling progress and failing to assist management to improve their performance in line with the central government intervention led by Minister in the Presidency Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.  The officials recommended that Nqandela’s role in the department be placed on hold until both Mokgoro and Motlhabane resolved the conflict.  “We cannot tolerate humiliation anymore from an individual who does not assist us to improve on our performance nor make systems effective,” they said.  Mokgoro’s office said on Friday that the complaint had been received and “the premier is still going to apply his mind”.  Last year the cabinet placed 10 North West government departments under administration, assuming total control for running half of them, while the rest received support.

Read the full original of Setumo Stone’s report in the above regard at City Press


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND PRESS STATEMENTS

  • Manufacturing growth remains tepid in February, at BusinessLive
  • Pupils march to demand university in Rustenburg, at Independent News
  • Cosatu Free State condemns harassment of a CWU Free State full-time shop steward by Telkom, at Cosatu News (press statement)
  • SRWP: Party leadership elected, manifesto adopted, at Politicsweb (press statement)

 


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