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
Thursday, 13 June 2019.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Road Freight Association calls for calm as attacks on truck increase

EWN reports that according to the Road Freight Association, more than 2,000 trucks have been damaged in the last 18 months as a result of protests over the alleged employment of foreign drivers.  The N3 route between Johannesburg and Durban has come under the spotlight after several vehicles owned by companies that employ foreign truck drivers came under attack earlier in June.  It is believed that heavy-duty vehicles are being targeted by locals claiming that foreign nationals are taking their jobs.  The association said the attacks have left dozens dead and have caused over R1 billion in damage to trucks and cargo.  Chief operations officer Gavin Kelly commented:  “There has to be calm, they can’t go around burning trucks or people.  If there are companies that are alleged to be employing foreign individuals and not locals, those companies need to be investigated to see who is working for them, and if foreigners are working for them, then how did they get employed? Did they follow the legislation?”

Read the original of the above report by Edwin Ntshidi at EWN

Truck drivers warn of national shutdown on 18 July

TimesLIVE reports that a landmark case for the trucking industry between the Positive Freight Solution Forum (PFSF), representing truck owners, and the leadership of the All Truck Divers Foundation (ATDF), representing truck drivers, will be heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on 18 July.  The trial comes in the wake of a wave of attacks on trucks and drivers which have left several people dead and caused at least R1.2bn in damages to vehicles and cargo, according to the Road Freight Association (RFA).  The issue between the PFSF and the ATDF - neither of which are registered with the National Bargaining Council (NBC) - is largely related to the hiring of foreign truck drivers, while competent SA drivers remain unemployed despite having the necessary qualifications.  PFSF recently obtained an urgent court interdict against ATDF leaders and others to prevent the looting of trucks, the harming of drivers and the burning of trucks.  ATDF chairperson Zungu claimed that they were innocent.  The day of the trial is set to coincide with a national shutdown.  In a widely circulated WhatsApp message, truck owners were warned of a looming national strike and that no trucks should operate on the day, which had been billed "Trucking Black Day".  The SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) in the meantime expressed its disappointment at the government's decision to engage with the PFSF.  Satawu also called on the ATDF to register with the NBC so it could voice concerns via a legitimate platform.

Read the full original of Orrin Singh’s report on the above story at TimesLIVE

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Cape Community Safety MEC condemns attack on Anti-Gang Unit officers, at Cape Argus
  • Cape anti-gang unit undeterred by attack, crime-fighting efforts continue, at EWN
  • Manhunt launched after cash-in-transit guards robbed of firearms in northern KZN, at TimesLIVE


MINING LABOUR

Platinum producers brace for ‘substantial’ wage demands

Bloomberg writes that platinum producers are preparing for significant wage demands as workers eye windfall earnings from a rally in metal prices.  The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) is reported to be meeting its members across the platinum belt this week, before presenting demands to seven producers, including Anglo American Platinum, Sibanye Gold, and Impala Platinum Holdings.  Amcu will make “substantial” demands in the coming weeks, said Dick Forslund, an economist at the Alternative Information and Development Centre who has previously advised the union and made a presentation at an Amcu conference on 4 June.  The demands would go beyond Amcu’s core target for the past eight years of raising basic monthly pay to R12 500, said Forslund, adding that the lowest-paid workers currently received R10,800.  “They know platinum companies are doing well.  It would be very hard for mining companies to plead poverty,” Forslund pointed out.  In 2016, the union accepted a 12.5% wage increase after initially demanding 47%.  Two years before that, Amcu led the industry’s longest-ever wage strike.  “We expect another tough round of negotiations,” Jana Marais, spokesperson for Anglo Platinum, said.

Read the full original of the above report at Mining Weekly

Chris Griffith confident Amplats is well prepared for the platinum wage negotiation season

Miningmx reports that, speaking last week, Chris Griffith, CEO of Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), said his company had done “a lot of work” with employees, especially at the firm’s Amandelbult facilities near Rustenburg, in an effort to avoid potential strike action later this year.  Amandelbult is considered to be the most vulnerable of the platinum producer’s assets should a strike occur.  “We don’t get the sense that there’s an appetite for a strike.  We don’t have an unhappy workforce,” Griffith opined.  He noted that not all of the demands for the first round of wage talks had been submitted.  Apparently, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the General Industrial Workers Union of SA (Giwusa) have tabled opening offers in double-digit territory, around 15%.  On Thursday, it was reported that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) was planning to present “substantial demands” to seven platinum producers, including Amplats, Sibanye Gold and Impala Platinum.  “We expect another tough round of negotiations,” Jana Marais, spokeswoman for Amplats said.  “Our employees’ disposable income has been under increasing pressure in a difficult economy, while the platinum mining industry also continues to face significant challenges,” she stated.

Read the full original of David McKay’s report in the above regard at Miningmx

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Final stand-off in Kumba’s relocation of Dingleton residents, at Financial Mail
  • AfriForum and SAPS arrest 12 illegal miners in and around Springs, at SA Labour News (press statement)

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Mining sector’s woes deepen as production contracts for a sixth consecutive month, at BusinessLive
  • Gold a bit part player for Sibanye-Stillwater for next two years following cuts, Lonmin merger, at Miningmx


PROTESTS / PICKETS

Soweto's trash goes uncollected due to jobs protest at Pikitup depot

TimesLIVE reports that Pikitup could not collect waste in Soweto on Wednesday after residents protested outside its depot in Zondi.  Johannesburg environment and infrastructure services MMC Nico de Jager reported:  “These protesters are demanding jobs and threatening the lives of Pikitup’s employees and assets.  The protesters are preventing Pikitup employees from discharging their responsibility of rendering waste removal service in areas serviced by the Zondi depot.”  He went on to indicate that the protesters presented a list of demands and questions on Pikitup’s learnership programme, the employment of expanded public works programme (EPWP) workers, information about tenders and Pikitup’s supply-chain processes, how vacancies were advertised, and how they could benefit from recycling services.  De Jager claimed that the city had answered the questions, but protests continued nonetheless.  The areas where Pikitup could not remove waste are listed in the report.

Read the full original of the report by Nico Gous on the protest at TimesLIVE

Workers demonstrate over unfair treatment at Pretoria Zoo

Pretoria News reports that educational trips for school children and visits to the National Zoological Gardens of SA had to be rescheduled on Thursday as workers gathered at the entrance of the Zoo to picket over unfair treatment.  Workers led by the National Trade Union Congress had been given the go-ahead to picket by the CCMA.  Union branch secretary Frans Rasethe said labour representatives had been unable to get management to pay all its employees equally and for working conditions at the Zoo to be improved.  He referred to members’ complaints about the lack of medical aid and about housing allowances not being paid to them since they were transferred to the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) in April 2018.  According to Rasethe, since the transfer from the National Research Foundation, no benefits had been paid to workers in the cleaning, conservation and feeding, finance and landscape departments.  “We tried to speak to the CEO and they informed us they don't have the authority to release the funds, hence our president attempted to seek assistance from the Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries.  We will strike until our demands are met as it’s not fair for some people to work seven days and receive overtime pay while others don’t get it,” Rasethe said.

Read the full original of Goitsemang Tlhabye’s report on this story at Pretoria News


RESIGNATIONS

Mildred Oliphant joins band of former cabinet ministers who have quit as MPs

BusinessLive reports that former labour minister Mildred Oliphant has become the latest former cabinet member to resign as an MP.  A number of other former cabinet members have resigned from parliament in recent weeks after failing to make it to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s new cabinet.  Some of them stated that they were doing so to preserve their pensions.  However, the Political Office-Bearers’ Pension Fund is largely a defined contribution arrangement, which means that a member’s accrued retirement savings in the fund are not affected or reduced when a member moves from higher office to that of an ordinary MP.  However, total salary and therefore future contributions to the fund do reduce.  However, what could make it attractive for long-serving cabinet members to resign is a 2008 presidential proclamation providing for payment of a one-off gratuity by the employer (not the fund) to ministers or deputy ministers who have served more than five years and whose terms have ended.  This is equal to four months’ pensionable salary for every five years.

Read the original of Bekezela Phakathi’s report on this story at BusinessLive

Mildred Oliphant explains her resignation by saying, ‘If I stayed in Parliament, I'd forfeit half my benefits’

News24 reports that according to former labour minister Mildred Oliphant, parliament's benefits structure should be reviewed, as many former cabinet ministers have to consider forfeiting half of a loss-of-office gratuity if they are demoted.  In an interview on PowerFm on Thursday morning, Oliphant explained that she resigned as a Member of Parliament, partly to avoid losing benefits at a certain salary level.  It was reported earlier that Oliphant was the latest in a string of resignations to hit the National Assembly.  She joined a list of former ministers who resigned after they were left out of President Cyril Ramaphosa's recently formed Cabinet.  Asked why she resigned, Oliphant said that "unfortunately, the situation when it comes to the calculation of benefits for members is based on your last salary that you've been receiving … if I had to stay in Parliament, looking at my last salary, I would be forfeiting around 50 to 55 per cent of the benefits."  She also said that the second reason was that a lot of experienced former ministers could be deployed elsewhere, but that their parliamentary funds couldn't be transferred to a new fund, as was the case with some corporate pensions.  Oliphant acknowledged that when her party deployed members, it was for a five-year term and it was not obligated thereafter to reappoint a member in a given position.  Reflecting on her tenure as labour minister, Oliphant she said it was an honour to have finished her term.

Read the full original of Ethan van Diemen’s report on the above at News24


EXECUTIVE PAY

Pick n Pay’s Richard Brasher bags R32m in pay and R81m in sale of shares for a job well done

BusinessLive reports that Pick n Pay’s just released annual financial statements reveal that CEO Richard Brasher’s remuneration for 2019 was R32m, almost three times what he was paid the previous year.  He is widely regarded as having saved the retailer from terminal decline.  The real kicker for Brasher in 2019 was the additional R81m he got from the sale of 2.2-million shares awarded to him in 2012 and 2015.  Nobody, it seems, thinks Brasher wasn’t worth every cent he banked last year.  Since Brasher took the job in January 2013, Pick n Pay’s share price has risen 56% to R72.  "Pick n Pay would be in a world of pain right now if it hadn’t been for Brasher," commented Sasfin analyst Alec Abraham.  He went on to say:  "Since Brasher joined, economic conditions have deteriorated significantly and the competitive landscape has intensified.  Brasher stabilised the group and made it more competitive. Improved labour productivity, greater levels of centralised distribution and better buying all helped to produce cost savings — which were used to cut the prices of 2,500 grocery lines and gain market share."

Read the full original of Ann Crotty’s report on Brasher’s remuneration at BusinessLive


UIF

One third of domestic workers are not registered with Unemployment Insurance Fund

GroundUp writes that by law, all employees who work 24 hours or more per month are entitled to unemployment insurance, but more than 300,000 domestic workers are not registered.  The result is that they will not be paid out if they lose their jobs.  Employers are required to register domestic workers with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and the employer and employee must each contribute one percent of the employee’s monthly wage.  According to Statistics SA, just over one million domestic workers are employed for 24 hours or more per month.  About 680,000 were registered with UIF as of 31 March.  This means one third of domestic workers who are entitled to unemployment insurance, and who may be entitled to maternity benefits, are not registered.  Workers can only be registered with UIF by their employer, but many employers have apparently cited problems with the online system as the reason they have not registered their domestic workers.  Employers often “just give up” once the online system fails, said Myrtle Witbooi of the SA Domestic Services and Allied Workers Union (Sadsawu).  But UIF communications director Makhosonke Buthelezi said that since the launch of the system in 2013, “clients have had no problems registering on it”.  He indicated that 696 new employers were registered in April and 972 in May.  “Employers are reluctant to register domestic workers due to general aversion to compliance with the law,” said Buthelezi.  By law, employers who fail to register with the UIF or pay toward the fund can be fined or imprisoned.

Read the full original of Kristine Liao’s detailed report in the above regard at TimesLIVE

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Get UIF process to work, says Michael Bagraim, at BusinessLive (letter to the editor)


DISMISSALS

Card-playing workers lose CCMA case over dismissal for accusing boss of racial comments

TimesLIVE reports that four employees of a Johannesburg company have lost their case to be reinstated after they were fired for accusing their boss of making racial comments against them.  The employees were allegedly playing cards outside the company's premises when they were caught by the chief executive officer of O-Line, Mr Smart, who drove past the employees in his vehicle and reprimanded them for playing cards outside of the premises.  “The employees allege that Mr Smart swore at them, called them idiots and made a racial comment," said Jacques van Wyk of Werksmans Attorneys, which represented the company at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCCM).  A grievance form, completed on the advice of a National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) shop steward, alleged that the CEO had made a racist comment.  Two disciplinary hearings were held.  At the first hearing, the Numsa official indicated that he had 'forgot' to submit the grievance form and that it would be submitted that same day.  At the second hearing, the employees were charged with "deliberately supplying incorrect and/or falsified information regarding the CEO's statements to the employees".  They were then dismissed from the company.  Not satisfied with the results, the employees took their case to the CCMA and lost.

Read the full original of the report on the above case at TimesLIVE


CORRUPTION / WHISTLE-BLOWING

Fear grips Rustenburg municipal whistleblowers and officials over rumours of KZN hitmen

The Citizen reports that the Rustenburg Local Municipality in the North West is said to have been gripped by fear and intimidation of whistleblowers and officials after the halting of payments amounting to more than R250 million to three contractors pending a forensic probe.  The municipality’s forensic investigation probing the awarding of a number of tenders is said to have sparked the fear, with rumours that hitmen from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) were in the municipality to silence whistleblowers.  Acting municipal manager Edward Komane sent a letter to Rise Now Trading, KSP Group, and Umkhonto Professional Services, informing them of the decision to halt payments pending the outcome of investigations.  The three contracting companies are said to be from Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) and share the same address in Rustenburg.  A press release by the local directorate of public safety noted that the municipality was concerned about threats of violence, intimidation and potential harm to municipal officials and targeted politicians.  “These threats are viewed in a very serious light and the directorate will be in contact with the SA Police Service to investigate the source of these threats,” it indicated.

Read the full original of Sipho Mabena’s report in thee above regard at The Citizen

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page