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
Wednesday, 15 May 2019.


TOP STORY – UNEMPLOYMENT CRISIS

Mammoth task facing Ramaphosa with unemployment hitting two year high and construction sector on its knees

Business Report writes that the mammoth task facing President-elect Cyril Ramaphosa was laid bare on Tuesday with first quarter unemployment data reaching a near two year high as the ailing construction industry shed 146,000 jobs.  Statistics SA reported that unemployment in the first quarter rose to 27.6% from 27.1% in the previous quarter.  Also, expanded unemployment (including people who have stopped looking for work) rose 1% higher from 37% in the fourth quarter of 2018.  The construction sector has buckled under the slowdown of construction activity largely due to a reduction in infrastructure investment by the public sector in the past few years.  FNB economist Siphamandla Mkhwanazi said the industry was likely to shed more jobs in the medium-term.  Construction companies have been on their knees since the 2010 infrastructure projects fizzled out.  Group Five, once an investor darling, last month filed for bankruptcy.  Industry giants Basil Read, Esor Construction and Liviero Group applied for business rescue last year.  Meantime, finance and other business services shed 94,000 jobs in the quarter, while community and social services let go of 50,000 workers.  Standard Bank in March announced its plans to close down 91 branches across the country, which might result in 1,200 people losing their jobs.

Read the full original of Kabelo Khumalo’s report in the above regard at Business Report. Read too, Unemployment rate goes through the roof, on page 6 of Sowetan of 15 May 2019.   And also, Soaring joblessness weighs on Ramaphosa presidency, at BusinessLive

Fixing the economy requires a redesigned cabinet, says President Cyril Ramaphosa

BusinessLive reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday that the first task in kick-starting SA's economy was to reconfigure the cabinet.  “We're now going to reconfigure our cabinet as part of the reform package our country needs for the economy to move forward and address the needs of our people,” Ramaphosa told investors at a Goldman Sachs conference.  This move will be an indication of the kind of power Ramaphosa holds in the ANC as investors watch to see whether he has the political will to replace Zuma-era appointees.  “The reconfigured cabinet structure will come out with an institutional framework to serve our country best and focus on economic growth.  The key risk for us is low economic growth and creating jobs.  The structure of government will speak to that,” Ramaphosa indicated.  This came a day after data from Statistics SA showed that the unemployment rate rose to a near 15-year high in the first quarter of 2019.  Ramaphosa also said the government would continue with its reform of state-owned enterprises, particularly cleaning up power utility Eskom.  “We will deal with it (overstaffing) sensitively with our unions with thorough discussions without throwing people out.  It's a problem we have to deal with but in the end Eskom is too big to fail,” the president said.

Read the full original of Sunita Menon’s report on the above at BusinessLive

Press statements on unemployment increase

  • Stats SA: Results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the first quarter of 2019, at SA Govt News
  • Government says on release of Quarterly Labour Force Survey that together with all social partners it will tackle unemployment, at SA Govt News
  • Western Cape: First quarter jobs data reflects business’s wait-and-see attitude ahead of the elections, at SA Govt News
  • IFP: ‘Politicking’ may be contributing to the rising unemployment rate, at Politicsweb
  • Sanef perturbed by job losses in the media industry, at Politicsweb
  • DA: SA needs a plan to build an inclusive and growing economy to address highest unemployment rate since 2017, at DA News
  • Seifsa: Rebound in unemployment rate calls for urgent interventions, at Seifsa News
  • COSATU on the latest unemployment figures, at Cosatu News
  • Saftu response to the worsening crisis of unemployment, at Saftu News


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

High-ranking EMPD officer fatally electrocuted at substation

The Star reports that a senior officer from the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EMPD) was electrocuted to death whilst executing his duties in Estera, Germiston, on Tuesday.  Apparently the accident occurred when the officer, Roelof “Barries” Barnard, a chief superintendent for the Germiston North precinct, saw a contractor working on a substation in the area, who then began to show him where a substation had been being vandalised.  William Ntladi of Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services (DEMS) reported that the officer did not respond to the initial treatment given by medics and backup was called to the scene to assess the victim.  He indicated further:  “Electrical department personnel also arrived to isolate the power, so that necessary medical in-depth treatment could be done on the patient.  Unfortunately, the patient did not respond positively to the treatment and was declared dead at the scene.”  EMPD spokesperson Inspector Kobeli Mokheseng said the circumstances around the incident were not known and the matter had been handed over to the police for investigation.

Read the full original of the report by Lerato Selepe on this fatal accident at The Star

SABC building evacuated, three persons hospitalised after diesel spillage on 15th floor

The Citizen reports that three people were transported to hospital after suffering effects of chemical inhalation following a diesel spillage at the SA African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC’s) Radio Park building in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning.  Although no fires were reported, staff were evacuated from the building as a precautionary measure.  In a statement after the event, the SABC explained that an on-site generator had malfunctioned during the process of switching the building’s power supply from the City Power grid to the generator.  “There was a power outage earlier this morning which resulted in the SABC’s internal systems switching from City Power to the backup generator.  Due to the ageing and failure of the equipment, this led to the diesel tank overflowing,” the statement indicated.  Netcare 911 spokesperson Shawn Herbst confirmed that 2,000 litres of diesel had leaked from a generator on the 15th floor, according to information he had received from the scene.  Affected radio stations switched to automation and listeners had non-stop music to listen to.

Read the full original of the report on the above by Kaunda Selisho and ANA at The Citizen


MINING LABOUR

Lonmin likely to cut fewer jobs due to revenue boost, says CEO

Reuters reports that Lonmin would delay or reduce the number of jobs it had planned to cut as soaring palladium prices have boosted revenue, its chief executive said, ahead of a takeover by Sibanye-Stillwater.  Higher prices for a basket of Lonmin's metals and a weaker SA rand helped the miner to an annual pre-tax profit in 2018, its first since 2013, and an operating profit of $70-million in the first half of its 2018/19 financial year.  This might allow Lonmin to deploy capital to develop new shafts where workers from old shafts could be moved, CEO Ben Magara indicated on Wednesday.  Mining shafts slated for closure in a 2017 plan would have meant 12,600 job losses in 2018, 2019 and 2020, but these job cuts could now be scaled back, he added.  "The job losses we anticipated may happen over a longer period - we may lose all of them or we may only lose half," Magara said.  He reported that Lonmin had cut 2,400 jobs in 2018 against a target of 3,700.  The target for job cuts this year has been revised down to 4,000 from 5,300.  Lonmin employs about 29,000 people.  Its takeover by Sibanye-Stillwater will create the world's second largest platinum producer.  The Competition Appeals Court will on Friday rule on a request by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) to block the deal.  Shareholders will vote on it on 28 May.

Read the full original of the Reuters’ report in the above regard at Mining Weekly


PROTESTS / DEMONSTRATIONS / MARCHES

Legal Aid SA accused of intimidation to stop staff demonstration

The Citizen reports that Legal Aid SA (LASA) has been accused of using intimidation tactics to discourage workers, including lawyers and support staff, from taking part in Wednesday’s planned demonstrations.  An internal memo – the contents of which workers believe are crafted to thwart support for the demonstrations – sent to staff reminds workers intending to participate that their actions would not be protected by the Labour Relations Act but by the Regulation of Gatherings Act.  The memo, sent out this week by the HR department, reminds workers that the agency did not agree with the demonstrations at the CCMA.  Since the demonstrations will be taking place during working hours, the “no work, no pay” principle will be applied for a minimum of half a day to a full day for those participating, the memo states.  LASA chief operating officer Dr Jerry Makokoane denied that the memo was to intimidate, saying they were simply engaging staff to detail the regulations around the intended action to ensure compliance with the relevant laws.  As part of a build-up to a full-blown strike, which could, if not averted, bring the justice system across the country to a halt, workers were due on Wednesday to hold demonstrations at the agency’s Braamfontein offices over various work issues, including safety concerns.  

Read the full original of Sipho Mabena’s report on the protest at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • N2 highway protests: Grabouw farmworkers' 'R250 per day' strike set to continue, at News24


UNION NEWS

Embattled Fawu warned by labour registrar of possible deregistration

The Star reports that the troubles facing the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) have deepened, with labour relations registrar Lehlohonolo Molefe demanding that it must account for millions of rand in subscription income and unsecured and interest-free loans.  In a strongly-worded letter sent on Tuesday to suspended general secretary Katishi Masemola, his deputy and other Fawu officials, Molefe threatened to remove the union from the register of trade unions or apply to the Labour Court to have it placed under administration.  At the centre of Molefe’s threats is the union’s failure to submit its annual financial statements for the 2017 and 2018 financial years, which had been promised by April last year.  Fawu’s auditors gave the union a disclaimer of opinion, the worst possible audit outcome, in 2015 and 2016 due to its failure to put in place a system of internal control over more than R73.7m in subscription fees.  Fawu, which is the SA Federation of Trade Unions’ second-biggest affiliate, has also failed to submit its VAT returns.  Molefe has furthermore taken issue with several unsecured and interest-free loans to entities linked to the union, ranging from R11,000 to almost R17m.  In addition to the 2017 and 2018 audited financial statements, Fawu must also submit statements for its investment company Basebenzi Investment Group, the agency shop and Building Trust.  Molefe has moreover demanded an explanation for Fawu’s decision to suspend Masemola over the writing off of R19.2m in Basebenzi.  Fawu has until the end of June to respond to Molefe.

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


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Cosatu repeats plea to ANC to 'clean up its act'

Independent News reports that ANC alliance partner Cosatu on Monday called on the party to stop infighting and corruption in the government.  The labour federation, which played a crucial role in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as ANC president in 2017, repeated its call for him to drop ministers implicated in wrongdoing when he appointed his cabinet.  Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the party’s dip in electoral support, from 62.15% in 2014 to 57.72% in last week's general elections, was because people were angry that the ANC had failed to implement “important and progressive policies” to tackle unemployment, inequality and poverty, as it had pledged.  "The ANC needs to show firmness and decisiveness in dealing with ill-discipline in the organisation and corruption in government, and reposition the ANC and government to provide political and moral leadership to society,” Pamla said.  He added:  “The president needs to do that by appointing a cabinet composed of people who are beyond reproach and do away with the recycling of ministers.  We cannot continue to tolerate mediocrity and incompetence.”

Read the full original of Mayibongwe Maqhina’s report on the above at Independent News


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION / SPECIAL LEAVE

‘Drunken judge’ has been paid about R16 million of taxpayers’ money and continues to rake it in

The Citizen reports that retired Judge Nkola Motata’s gravy train – which paid out nearly R14 million between 2007 and 2016 while he was on special leave – is set to continue while the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) drags its heels on the matter of his impeachment.  Motata, 72, is estimated to have earned slightly less than R2.5 million since his retirement in 2017, bringing his total earnings since January 2007 – when he drunkenly reversed his Jaguar through a householder’s wall near Sandton – to more than R16 million.  The Judicial Conduct Tribunal found on April 2018 that Motata’s conduct and his remarks at the scene of his car accident were racist, impugning on the impartiality and dignity of the courts.  The tribunal recommended that Motata should be removed from office as keeping him would negatively affect public confidence in the justice system.  But since then, nothing.  Prior to the tribunal, it took 11 years for the matter to even reach the JSC.  Motata retired in 2017 and will receive state benefits for the rest of his life, unless he is impeached.  Motata has stuck to his denial he was drunk, saying he did not consider himself to be drunk after two glasses of wine in four hours.

Read Amanda Watson’s report in the above regard at The Citizen


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede ‘incited’ protest to try push through illegal tender payment, court hears

ANA reports that eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and councillor Mondli Mthembu are alleged to have orchestrated a march to Durban City Hall last month that called for the removal of the city manager because he would not sign off on a payment for an illegal tender.  The allegation was made at the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday where Gumede and Mthembu were appearing on graft charges.  According to an affidavit of the lead Hawks’ investigator:  “In April 2019, information was received that mayor Gumede incited a march to the [Durban] city hall to request the removal of [city manager Sipho Nzuza] from office on the grounds that he refused to take orders from the mayor to make the irregular payments.  On 16 April, at about 2pm, a large group of people gathered outside city hall protesting and demanding the removal of the city manager.  Information is at hand that mayor Gumede and councillor Mthembu orchestrated these events.”  Gumede appeared in court on Tuesday alongside Mthembu and service provider Craig Ponnan.  The trio was released on R50,000 bail each.  Gumede is also the chairperson of the ANC eThekwini region, while Mthembu is its deputy secretary.  They are part of a group – the others were arrested two weeks ago – that are alleged to have conspired to swindle the city out of R45m through the illegal awarding of a Durban Solid Waste (DSW) contract.  Gumede, Mthembu, and Poonan will appear again on 8 August with the other accused.

Read the full original of the report on the above story at The Citizen. Read too, Calls for Mayor Gumede to resign amid corruption charges, at News24

Two Sars auditors jailed for three years for R200,000 cash bribe ‘to make tax problems disappear’

TimesLIVE reports that two former SA Revenue Service (Sars) customs auditors will spend three years in jail for attempting to solicit a bribe from a prominent KwaZulu-Natal businessman "to make his tax problems disappear".  Pranesh Maharaj and Reuben Moodley were both caught red-handed with cash bribes of R100,000 in brown envelopes during a police operation in March last year.  The two men, who both resigned from Sars during a disciplinary hearing last year, were sentenced in the Durban Regional Court on Thursday last week.  The court also sentenced them to an additional two years' imprisonment, conditionally suspended for five years.  In a sting operation, the businessman provided the cash, which was divided into two envelopes, each containing R100,000.  Police pounced on the duo after the businessman handed them the envelopes in the parking lot of a bank.  Sars commissioner Edward Kieswetter welcomed the sentence, saying:  "We have a zero tolerance for dishonesty and unlawfulness.”

Read the full original of Suthentira Govender’s report on this story at TimesLIVE

Two cash-in-transit guards slapped with nine years in prison for stealing R2.8m

The Star reports that two former security guards who stole R2.8 million in a month by pocketing money they were sent to collect from various businesses will be spending the next nine years in prison.  Tinyiko Thomas Maluleke, 41, and Rofhiwa Emmanuel Luvhimbi, 31, stole the money between December last year and January this year.  On Monday, the Makhado Magistrate’s Court sentenced the former Fidelity Security guards to nine years direct imprisonment after they pleaded guilty to charges of theft.  Hawks spokesperson Captain Matimba Maluleke said the guards had collected money from various places, but instead of making deposits, they pocketed it.  The two guards were arrested separately in January and police recovered about R2.7 million.  “The investigation team searched three different locations through an overnight operation and found banknotes buried in the convicts' yards, some of it stashed in ice-cream containers and refuse bags while underground.  One of the suspects had already bought a double-cab vehicle and building materials which were later confiscated by the investigating team,” Maluleke indicated.

Read the full original of Lerato Selepe’s report on this story at The Star


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES

  • Ten arrested for stealing 166 metres of train tracks on line adjacent to Middelburg Schoembee gravel road, at News24
  • Farmers union TLU SA and police collaborate on rural safety, at The Citizen

 


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