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, 10 July 2019.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Huge blast in Worcester on Wednesday morning as gas tanker explodes, two persons injured

The Citizen reports that the town of Worcester was rocked by a gas tanker explosion early on Wednesday morning, with residents having reported feeling it kilometres away from the industrial area in which it took place.  Reports of it being a petrol tanker were inaccurate, according to the fire department.  Reportedly, the blast could have been caused after the truck collided with a motor vehicle.  ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring said paramedics arrived on the scene shortly after 6am, and he confirmed that two people had been injured and taken to hospital for further treatment.  Road closures affected the N1 Meirings Park entrance as well other streets.  After the explosion, the fire spread to nearby buildings, notably factories.  Chief fire officer at the Breede River municipality Theo Botha reported that 12 to 15 fire engines had been used to put out the blaze, with about 40 firefighters on the scene.

Read the full report on the above story and view a video clip at The Citizen. See too, Gas tanker explosion rattles Worcester, at EWN

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Sanef criticises harassment of journalists, at The Citizen
  • Hawks detective's father dies in attempted hit, at TimesLIVE
  • Department of Labour to host National Occupational Health and Safety Conference in Gauteng from 24 to 26 July 2019, at SA Govt News (press statement)


MINING LABOUR

Platinum wage talks kicked off this week

Reuters reports that platinum producers kicked off talks with trade unions on Tuesday in what is expected to be a tough round of wage talks, as a rise in profits is likely to provoke higher wage demands.  The majority union in the platinum sector, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), indicated it had presented its demands to Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and would do the same to the other producers later this week.  Amcu has demanded a hike to R17,000 a month, or around 48%, for its members.  Sibanye-Stillwater, which is also set to meet the union this week, said the platinum price has remained depressed and that the current demand was not sustainable for the miners.  Amplats and Impala Platinum (Implats) declined to comment on the negotiations.  Negotiations may prove to be tough, as higher prices for palladium and rhodium and a weaker rand currency have boosted profits at producers such as Amplats, Sibanye – now combined with Lonmin – and Implats after several years of losses.  “Amplats will probably be under the most pressure as their earnings and share price have run the most this year of the bunch,” said analyst Peter Major.

Read the full original of the above report at Mining Weekly

Budget for safety and health in mines not enough, says parliamentary committee

SowetanLive reports that the Select Committee on land reform, environment, mineral resources and energy has raised concerns about the budget allocated for safety and health in mines.  In its view, the size of the allocation gave the impression that the mineral resources and energy department did not take mine safety seriously.  Committee chairperson Tebogo Modise said they were also concerned about how the department planned to conduct oversight over safety in mines as the amendment of the mine safety act was still pending.  The committee was also briefed by the department on its annual performance plan and budget for 2019/20.  The department indicated that they were in the process of merging the two departments into one, which would be completed in March 2020.  Modise commented that they were worried about the reduction in departmental staff set down for 2020 and in the budget.  “We wonder how will the department reach its set targets.  Moreover the reduction of the budget will hamper job creation, which is a priority raised by the president in the state of the nation address.  The closing of mining shafts is another contributor towards job losses particularly in Rustenburg and Klerksdorp,” Modise pointed out.  The committee expressed its dissatisfaction with the lack of implementation in response to issues raised by mining town communities.  It was heard that in Rustenburg and Brits the department had failed to implement the concern and inputs raised during the public engagement process.

Read the full original of Yoliswa Sobuwa’s report in the above regard at SowetanLive

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Zama-zamas feel the heat in raid by cops in Matholesville, near Roodepoort, at SowetanLive


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

National minimum wage not the jobs poison pundits had feared, says employment minister

News24Wire reports that Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi told reporters in Parliament on Wednesday that the employment market had taken well to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) since it was signed into law.  He was speaking ahead of his first budget vote as minister.  President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the NMW Bill into law in November last year.  Nxesi said that, while instances of non-compliance were on record and various employers had asked for exemptions from the wage, those who had flouted the NMW or challenged it at the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration were well within the minority.  "Inspections, to date, indicate a high compliance rate with only 7% of employers failing to pay the prescribed rate.  Prophecies that wholesale retrenchments would follow the introduction of the National Minimum Wage have not borne out.  An expected massive spike in CCMA cases has not occurred," said Nxesi.  He also indicated that his budget vote would prioritise employment and job creation, investment in skills development and social justice in the employment market.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Engineering News


SOEs IN CRISIS

Denel pays staff salaries – but leaves out pensions contributions

TimesLIVE reports that employees at state-owned arms manufacturer Denel learned on Tuesday that the company had paid their salaries, but not their pension contributions.  In a letter sent out by the "Denel retirement fund", to staff the fund said workers would not be able to claim benefits as monthly payments were not up to date.  The letter read:  "The fund will NOT be able to process or effect payment of members' benefits, which include death in service and medical disability benefits, resignation benefits, investment return updates and any other benefits payable."  It also indicated that it would charge Denel interest on late payments.  Solidarity's Johan Botha also received the letter on Tuesday afternoon and commented:  ''Denel didn't pay (pension) contributions for a large part of the group.  We are still waiting for the exact numbers."  On 25 June, Denel group CEO Daniel du Toit announced that due to the ongoing liquidity challenges the company would be unable to pay employees their full salaries for June month and that only 85% would be paid.  Following that, minister of public enterprises Pravin Gordhan announced that a "lender" had enabled the company to pay the rest of the staff salaries.

Read the full original of Katharine Child’s report on the above story at TimesLIVE

Ndabeni-Abrahams given deadline by MPs to finalise SABC turnaround strategy

EWN reports that Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications wants Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams to move with speed to resolve the liquidity crisis at the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).  The committee indicated on Tuesday that it expect a new turnaround strategy for the public broadcaster in two months’ time.  It emerged earlier this week that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni had turned down the corporation’s application for a much-needed R3.2 billion government guarantee.  Meanwhile, the SABC confirmed earlier this week that its financial situation was deteriorating, with its liquidity crisis threatening workers’ wages and payments to service providers.  Apparently, when Treasury declined the SABC’s application for the guarantee, it was because the department was not happy with the broadcaster’s turnaround strategy.  The portfolio committee said Ndabeni-Abrahams must continue talking with the SABC and Treasury to resolve the financial challenge and finalise an enhanced turnaround strategy.

Read the full original of Clement Manyathela’s report in the above regard at EWN. Read the Portfolio Committee’s press statement at Parliamentary News


STATE WAGE BILL

Nehawu claims state employees are being intimidated over early retirement offer

EWN reports that while some public sector unions are discouraging their members from taking up government’s tax exempted early retirement offer, others have warned of intimidation by managers.  The government has opened applications to state employees who wish to go on early retirement on a no-penalty basis as one of the measures to curb the wage bill.  It plans to cut at least 30,000 jobs through the process.  Government’s plans have not enjoyed the support of unions, with the organisations declaring a dispute at the Public Service Bargaining Council over the matter.  The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) has complained of managers in government making it appear as though employees were compelled to commit to the voluntary retirements.  Meanwhile, the Public Service Association (PSA) has cautioned members against the move, saying that the financial losses and impact on service delivery would be devastating.  The union’s Tahir Maepa has also criticised the government’s failure to engage with labour on the issue.

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


STAFFING / VACANCIES

Cash-strapped NPA will have to shed over 550 jobs to stay within budget, says Batohi

BusinessLive reports that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) does not have enough money to pay all of its salaries this financial year and will have to slash staff by more than 550 if it is to remain within budget over the medium term.  This financial crisis could worsen an already volatile situation at the cash-strapped authority, which is already understaffed and needs more prosecutors.  The dire financial state of the institution came into focus on Tuesday in parliament when a delegation from the NPA, led by national director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi, briefed the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services.  Batohi said vacancy rates were about 20% on average in the country.  The percentage was even higher at 25% to 28% at specialised units such as the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit and the Asset Forfeiture Unit.  In actual terms, the NPA had lost about 600 prosecutors since 2015 as a result of not being able to recruit any new prosecutors, which has a major impact on delivery of services, Batohi reported.  She said the NPA needed urgent intervention as it found it “extremely difficult” to meet demands on it.

Read the full original of Claudi Mailovich’s report in the above regard at BusinessLive


RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB CUTS

ArcelorMittal SA warns of possible job cuts of more than 2,000

Engineering News reports ArcelorMittal SA’s (AMSA’s) share price on the JSE fell by 10.4% on Wednesday morning after it said it could possibly cut more than 2,000 jobs.  In a trading update for the six months ended 30 June, it said a difficult domestic economic environment was negatively impacting on the local steel industry.  This was exacerbated by certain costs, including higher electricity, rail and port tariffs and higher primary raw materials costs, that were not within AMSA’s control.  The company said it had embarked on initiatives to improve efficiencies and cut costs that were within its control, but these had been insufficient, resulting in the need to review staffing levels, besides other possible interventions.  The steel producer has started a Section 189(3) consultation process with labour unions.  The exact number of jobs to be cut would only be confirmed once a formal consultation process was completed.

Read the original of the report in the above regard at Engineering News. Read AMSA’s trading update at Moneyweb


SKILLS / QUALIFICATIONS

Engineering brain drain is alarming, says civil engineering body Saice

Business Report writes that the SA Institute of Civil Engineering (Saice), one of the biggest voluntary professional organisations in the country with 12,000 members, indicated on Monday that it had lost 1.73% of its members to emigration in the past three years.  Most of these engineers had sought greener pastures and opportunities and were between the ages of 30 and 60, Saice said in a statement.  Acting chief executive Steven Kaplan noted that the infrastructure sector was in a slump, with consulting firms retrenching technical staff and even shutting down due to lack of work.  This was forcing qualified professionals into unemployment with the result that they were seeking employment in foreign lands, and taking their skills with them.  “The brain drain is devastating.  It costs the country a lot of money and resources to produce world-class engineers to lose them because they can't find work in a country where they're needed the most is a travesty,” he stated.  Kaplan added that the government needed to make strides to attract South African engineers back to the country, and back into the government sector where they were most needed.

Read the full original of Edward West’s report in the above regard at Business Report. Read too, SA’s brain drain is picking up speed, at The Citizen


DISMISSALS / TERMINATIONS

SABC terminates DJ Fresh’s contract with immediate effect for use of offensive language on-air

EWN reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) on Tuesday announced that it had terminated the contract of Thato Sikwane, also known as DJ Fresh, with immediate effect.  The public broadcaster said termination followed unsuccessful engagements between SABC Radio management and DJ Fresh, subsequent to his usage of offensive language on-air.  Fresh was the headliner of MetroFM’s breakfast show.  The SABC was found guilty and sanctioned by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) for the contravention of the BCCSA’s Code of Conduct.  “Mr Sikwane was afforded an opportunity to remedy his contractual breaches, which he failed and/or refused to do.  This conduct resulted in the irretrievable breakdown of the trust relations between the SABC and himself,” the SABC’s statement indicated.  Apparently in a letter dated 28 June, DJ Fresh's lawyers stated that “it must be emphatically understood that no apology will be tendered".  Sikwane joined Metro FM in 2017 after he left 5FM.

Read the full original of Mihlali Ntsabo’s report on the above story at EWN. Read too, SABC says DJ Fresh didn't want to apologise, he says he did, at Channel24. And also, DJ ready for a fresh start after SABC show ends, at SowetanLive


CORRUPTION / WORKPLACE CRIME

Five-year suspended sentence for Cape Town driver's licence examiner who took bribes

TimesLIVE reports that a driver's licence examiner who took bribes for learner’s and driver’s licences in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, has been sentenced to a five-year jail term.  However, the Bellville regional court wholly suspended the sentence imposed on Leticia Chatburn, 45, for five years after she pleaded guilty to corruption last Thursday.  Chatburn is one of six driver’s licence examiners who were arrested in December last year for corruption at Lingelethu West, Khayelitsha testing centre, along with a security guard.  Chatburn pleaded guilty on all charges and was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, suspended for five years with stringent conditions.  The case against the five other examiners and the security guard will continue next week.

Read the original of Ernest Mabuza’s report on the above story at TimesLIVE


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT

Fikile Mbalula promises less jaw-jaw and more war-war on safer rail transport

Daily Maverick reports that efforts to clean up the rail system, especially the embattled Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and its Metrorail subdivision, will be one of the main focuses of the next 100 days for new Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.  On Tuesday, Mbalula delivered his maiden transport speech in the National Assembly, where much of the focus was on the battle over e-tolls.  Nonetheless, political parties on both the government and opposition benches decried the appalling security on trains, condemned high crime rates and expressed hope that the rolling stock programme would fix the ongoing rail issues at Prasa.  Mbalula reiterated his June promise of creating a rail war room and establishing stability by appointing a permanent board at Prasa.  On the latter, he said there was “urgency” in filling critical senior management positions at entities under his department and indicated that he had instructed the boards to fill those — particularly at Prasa, which has seen eight board changes since 2014 and seven acting CEOs between June 2015 and the present.  Mbalula said the ministerial war room would oversee interventions in service delivery and focus on safety measures for commuters and in respect of Prasa infrastructure.  “I will be engaging with the Minister of Police (Bheki Cele) to look at ways we can strengthen the capacity and visibility of the Railway Police in the Metrorail environment, so we can reverse the negative impact of rampant crime in our environment,” Mbalula promised.

Read the full original of Suné Payne’s report in the above regard at Daily Maverick. Read too, Mbalula vows to prioritise two major rail projects, at EWN

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • SA needs a modern signalling project to solve railway crisis, says analyst, at TimesLIVE
  • Rustenburg Rapid Transport system nears completion, at The Citizen


OTHER REPORTS

Private security guard faces murder charge after protester shot six times on KZN South Coast

TimesLIVE reports that shocking footage of a 29-year-old protester being shot six times on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, allegedly by a private security guard, was shared on Twitter on Friday.  The video shows the shooting, which occurred last month.  The guard can be heard warning a man, who was allegedly attempting to tackle him, before he fires a shot in the air.  A scuffle breaks out and the person filming the events ducks for cover.  When the camera focuses back on the action, the security guard can be seen firing six shots at the victim.  The man falls to the ground and lets off a sound of discomfort as bystanders wail in the background.  Provincial police spokesperson Col Thembeka Mbele confirmed that the incident had taken place in the Nkothaneni area, near Margate, on 5 June.  She said a 29-year-old man died at the scene and a case of murder was opened at the Margate police station.  A 35-year-old male was arrested and appeared in the Ramsgate Magistrate's Court on 7 June.  He was granted a R2,000 bail on 18 June and the case was remanded to 20 September.  Meanwhile, in a media statement issued last month, SBV confirmed that its security guards had been implicated in the incident.

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Gauteng Legislature on alleged use of excessive force by JMPD officers on alleged drunk driver, at SA Govt News (press statement)


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND PRESS STATEMENTS

  • Mr D driver accused of raping Cape Town customer in her home, Independent News
  • State set on boosting investment in research and development, says Blade Nzimande, at BusinessLive
  • Opinion: Never mind the fourth industrial revolution, SA is still stuck in the third, at BusinessLive
  • Cosatu North West will continue its fight against e-tolling, at SA Labour News (press statement)

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page