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, 20 August 2019.


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Strike by Legal Aid lawyers on Monday saw court chaos

The Citizen reports that court officials have told of a chaotic Monday at the courts during the first day of a strike by Legal Aid SA lawyers, with cases unheard and postponed.  A court orderly at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court, which had a total of 48 old cases and more than 20 first appearances on the roll, said none of the legal aid lawyers from the Wynberg offices reported for duty.  The state apparently had no other choice but to request that the matters be postponed.  The public legal representation agency, which assists about 725,000 people each year, confirmed that there had been disruptions, with Gauteng the worst affected.  Legal Aid SA said the primary dispute was around the reduction of a limited number of employee benefits due to severe budget shortfalls over the last few years.  “The reduction in these benefits, such as the rightsizing of our Group Life Scheme, was done as a last resort to avoid retrenchment of staff,” national spokesperson Mfanafuthi Shabangu said.  He claimed the workers had been engaged regarding the budget constraints, but Michael Motaung, one of the worker representatives, said nothing had been communicated to them.  The lawyers are also aggrieved by lack of security at their offices, as well as their heavy workload.

Read the full original of the above report by Sipho Mabena at The Citizen. Read too, Chaos at courts as lawyers protest, at SowetanLive

Trading profit at Shoprite Holdings affected by strike at distribution centre

Business Report writes that Shoprite Holdings reported a 14.3% decline in trading profit to R6.9 billion for the year to end June, negatively impacted by the strike in the first half of the year, slow economic growth in SA and currency devaluations in the rest of Africa operations.  Chief executive Pieter Engelbrecht commented:  “The performance was significantly impacted by our well documented first half challenges.  With the strike in the distribution centre behind us, our team worked tirelessly to restore performance in the second half.”  He added that it was pleasing to report that the group ended the year with its final quarter sales in Supermarkets RSA growing by 9.4%.  “We remain confident in the opportunity our entrenched position as Africa’s leading food retailer will bring as the economic fortunes of the countries where we trade improve.  Given the challenging global economic backdrop, we are remaining focused on growth opportunities in our home market, inclusive of our established African operations, rather than pursuing businesses in foreign geographies,” Engelbrecht said.

Read the full original of the above report by Sandile Mchunu at Business Report


LABOUR RELATIONS PACT

Will City of Johannesburg’s groundbreaking pact with Samwu and Imatu work?

BusinessLive reports that on Monday the City of Johannesburg together with the SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) signed what they described as a historic and first-of-its-kind memorandum of understanding, aimed at promoting harmonious labour relations and advancing service delivery.  The pact will grant the unions access to the city’s intricate budget planning processes, which could strengthen the unions' hand in wage negotiations as they would know how much the metro could afford in pay hikes.  But, the city says unions are crucial stakeholders that should be consulted on the matter.  Involving the workers at the budgeting process could also help reduce industrial action that has sometimes turned violent.  The agreement is also aimed at driving performance management so as to generate a more conducive environment for the city to better serve its residents and to ensure that work stoppages became a last resort.  Labour consultant Tony Healy commented:  “What the city is doing has worked elsewhere in the world in different scenarios.  It's not guaranteed, however, that it will work here.”  Imatu’s Keith Swanepoel stressed that the pact was not taking away the unions’ right to embark on strikes to force the employer to accede to whatever demands they might have.  However, Dr Valencia Ntombi Khumalo, MMC for group corporate and shared services, said the agreement had put measures in place to ensure that grievances were resolved long before unions took to the streets.

Read the full original of the above report by Luyolo Mkentane at BusinessLive. Read too, City of Joburg and unions ‘do away’ with wildcat strikes, at Moneyweb


MINING LABOUR

Harmony Gold employee dies in surface locomotive accident at Doornkop plant

Mining Weekly reports that a Harmony Gold employee died in a surface rail locomotive related accident at the Doornkop gold plant on Sunday.  CEO Peter Steenkamp said in a statement on Monday:  "Harmony management wish to express their deepest condolences to the deceased employee’s family, friends and colleagues.”  Harmony said it was working closely with the relevant authorities to carry out an investigation.

The original of this short report is at Mining Weekly. Harmony’s short press statement is at Harmony News

Exxaro female engineering manager bags top award

Mining Weekly reports that Exxaro’s first female engineering manager, Bontle Mtshengu, has been named the winner in the category of ‘Top Gender Empowered Organisation: Resources’ in the Standard Bank’s Top Woman of the Year awards.  Mtshengu, who leads a team of more than 200 people and is responsible for ensuring Exxaro complies with its engineering strategy and health and safety standards at its Leeuwpan coal mine, was named the winner at a ceremony at Emperors Palace, in Ekurhuleni, on 15 August.  An overwhelmed Mtshengu dedicated her win to her team and Exxaro.  Leeuwpan business unit manager Mangaliso Sethethi noted that Mtshengu was a worthy winner and said:  “I am delighted at Bontle’s win which, I believe, is testament to the work Exxaro is doing to power better lives for our female employees.  Bontle, along with Johanne [Struwig, who was a finalist in the ‘Top Young Achiever of the Year’ category] are among several women at Exxaro who are paving the way for women in mining in South Africa.”

Read the full original of the above report at Mining Weekly. Read Exxaro’s press statement on the two finalists at Exxaro News

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Law firm begins process for silicosis victims’ compensation, at SABC News
  • Opinion: Disconnect between business and state contributed to Marikana massacre, at BusinessLive
  • Documentary highlighting the plight of Marikana widows airs in Maboneng, at SABC News
  • NUM: Report from National Health and Safety Committee quarterly meeting on the state of health and safety across the three sectors in which the union organises, at NUM News (press statement)
  • Gold Fields’ Holland says what we all know: SA’s gold mining is “dead man walking”, at Miningmx


SOEs IN CRISIS

Victory for Solidarity as Denel is ordered to pay over employee deductions owed to UIF and Sars

Reuters reports that trade union Solidarity on Tuesday welcomed a high court ruling that state-owned arms manufacturer Denel must fulfil its statutory obligations to pay over the unemployment insurance contributions and taxes deducted from employees’ salaries over several months.  “It is a major victory for Solidarity and the Denel employees.  However, it is regrettable that we had to go to court just to draw Denel’s attention to payments that it should have made a while ago,” said Anton van der Bijl, head of Solidarity’s Legal Services.  Solidarity’s urgent application came after the struggling company announced earlier that it was only able to pay a certain portion of its employees’ salaries for June and July.  Certain statutory compulsory payments such as PAYE, UIF and the skills development levy were reflected as deductions on salary slips, but had not been paid over.  Solidarity’s Johan Botha commented that although the ruling was a major step in the right direction, the union was still concerned about Denel’s continued survival.

Read the original of Emma Rumney’s report in the above regard at Moneyweb. Read Solidarity’s press statement at SA Labour News


APPOINTMENTS / RECRUITMENT PROCESSES

SABC heads to Labour Court to get 28 'irregular staff appointments' set aside

Fin24 reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) was due on Tuesday to head to the Labour Court in a bid to have some 28 irregular appointments declared unlawful and set aside.  In a statement, the public broadcaster said the appointments were made without due process having been followed as per company policy.  "So far, 28 cases have been identified for the first phase of the process.  The ongoing investigation might reveal further irregular appointments.  All affected parties will be afforded an opportunity to oppose the application," said SABC spokesperson, Vuyo Mthembu.  ''The application follows recommendations of the reports of the Public Protector and the Parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee, as well as the SABC’s internal investigation on irregular appointments,'' Mthembu added.

Read the original of the above report at Fin24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • City of Cape Town: Extra staff in the pipeline for driving license testing centres, at Polity (press statement)


EMPLOYMENT EQUITY

BMF creates litigation fund to take on companies violating employment equity laws

Fin24 reports that the Black Management Forum (BMF) has established a litigation fund with the aim of taking legal action against "gross violations derailing transformation in South Africa".  The organisation indicated in a statement on Monday that the fund would be in line with a resolution to ramp up advocacy against non-compliant companies, as adopted at the BMF's 43rd national annual general meeting.  The fund will "serve as a tool to enforce transformation in an effort to achieve justice, fairness and equity", the BMF said.  According to the organisation, the fund will help the forum finance its efforts to hold public interest companies accountable for not achieving employment equity targets; to champion cost-effective "alternative dispute resolutions" in EE-related matters, in line with the Employment Equity Act and King IV governance guidelines; and to ensure that social and ethics committees prioritise employment equity and transformation as key performance indicators for public interest company boards.

Read the full original of the above report at Fin24. Read the BMF’s press statement in the above regard at BMF News


RETIREMENT FUNDS / PENSION INVESTMENTS

ANC eyes R6-trillion controlled by pension asset managers rather than IMF bailout

Sunday Times Business Times writes that the ANC's economic policy guru has reiterated the party's desire for the government to raid private and public pension funds to raise money to rescue ailing state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and meet its financial obligations.  Enoch Godongwana, head of the party's economic transformation subcommittee, noted in an interview last week that the asset management industry, which included pension funds, insurers and other investors, was sitting on R6-trillion under management and should lend some of this to the state.  In his view, this was a better option than approaching the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank for a bailout.  Godongwana pointed out that while the ANC investigation into prescribed assets was ongoing, his wish for government to raise money from pension funds was not a pronouncement on the prescription of assets through legal means.  "Borrowing from domestic markets is not prescribed assets, that is a separate investigation," he stated.  Zingiswa Losi, president of labour federation Cosatu, commented:  "If government is going that route it will be better than us going to the IMF, which would mean our sovereignty as a country is also at risk.  What we want to see is assurances that the money is going to be used for its intended purposes and not corruption, and there will be guaranteed returns."  Asset managers are opposed to asset prescription, which would compel entities such as pension funds to invest a portion of their savings in SOEs and government bonds.  Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago said in an informal briefing last week that SA "is not there yet" in terms of requiring IMF aid.

Read the full original of the above report by Caiphus Kgosana and Asha Speckman at BusinessLive (paywall access only)

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • DA says prescription of private pension fund assets is unacceptable, should be rejected by all, at DA News (press statement)
  • FF Plus says Cabinet must be held responsible for consequences of ANC’s pension looting plan, at Politicsweb (press statement)


NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

Solidarity considering all avenues to fight NHI

Trade union Solidarity said last week that it was considering all avenues to fight the damaging effects the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) would have.  Morné Malan, Senior Researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), explained:  “The NHI in its current format is heading for an unquestionable disaster.  All medical practitioners, taxpayers and South African citizens will be affected negatively by this.  Therefore, we undertake to use all resources at our disposal to combat the impact of it.”  Solidarity said it would provide input at any public participation process to address the bill’s shortcomings, but it was currently investigating “all formal processes through which we could fight the proposed law, and already gave our legal team instruction to test the constitutionality of the current format in court, should it not be amended as desired.”  In addition to participating in the formal legal processes relating to NHI ratification, Solidarity is also investigating alternative systems that could function should the NHI in its current format acquire the power of law.  Hennie Bierman, Head of Solidarity’s Occupational Guild for Health Practitioners indicated:  “As we participate in all the formal processes in an effort to combat the drastic consequences of the bill’s implementation, we also investigate international alternatives to ensure that even under an NHI system our members will still be able to practice in their profession with the freedom, independence and the passion they are entitled to.”

Read Solidarity’s press statement in the above regard at SA Labour News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • NHI: the good, the bad, the ugly, at Mail & Guardian
  • 'NHI won't happen because this government can't organise anything', says economist Dawie Roodt, at Sunday Tribune
  • Opinion: No mandatory requirement for South Africans to join NHI fund as currently proposed, at BusinessLive
  • Cosatu says DA is championing and defending the sick business of healthcare profiteering, at Cosatu News (press statement)
  • Nehawu supports the NHI Bill, at Cosatu News (press statement)


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Principal who slapped pupils withdraws resignation to face the music

SowetanLive reports that the school principal who quit his job after a video showing him slapping pupils for not doing their school work went viral, has withdrawn his resignation.  Limpopo MEC for education, Polly Boshielo, confirmed that the headmaster of Bopedi Bapedi Secondary School, Mr ML Maesela, had withdrawn his resignation.  He now faces disciplinary processes.  The department received a report from the district that Maesela submitted a resignation letter dated 14 August 2019, which was found to be defective.  The next day, he was invited to clarify the defect, but instead submitted a letter withdrawing the resignation.  "Given the fact that the affected educator has withdrawn the resignation, the department has authority to pursue disciplinary processes.  The department is busy with investigations and a decision will be taken once investigations are concluded," said Boshielo.  Allegedly, the principal slapped the pupils for failing to do their physical science assignment.  Maesela has been the school head since 2010, and despite the seriousness of using outlawed corporal punishment on pupils, in a Sowetan report last week some learners described him as a caring and a hard working teacher.

Read the original of the above report by Peter Ramothwala at SowetanLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • SAMA statement on alleged unfair dismissal and suspension of three doctors at Tygerberg Hospital, at SAMA News (press statement)


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT

KwaMashu train station shut on Tuesday after stones fly in service delivery protest

TimesLIVE reports that the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) suspended train services at a station in KwaMashu, north of Durban, after protesters hurled stones during a service delivery protest on Tuesday.  Prasa spokesperson Zama Nomnganga said public order police had been deployed to the Thembalihle station in the township.  “The situation is still volatile ... police are on guard at the station to protect Prasa assets.  Protesters are throwing stones heavily towards our property.  Railway lines are still not safe for train movements at this time.  We will advise once the situation calms down,” Nomnganga indicated.  Trains were being turned back to Durban at the Duffs Road station.

The original of the above report by Suthentira Govender is at TimesLIVE

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Department of Transport on railway safety as a key priority, at SA Govt News (press statement)


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND PRESS STATEMENTS

  • Cosatu owns up on CR17 campaign cash, at Independent News
  • DA urges Gauteng government to terminate doctors' training programme in Cuba, at EWN
  • DA says training of doctors in Cuba costs double that of local training, at Politicsweb (press statement)
  • Cosatu commends President Ramaphosa’s signing of the Debt Relief Bill into law, at Cosatu News (press statement)
  • Department of Employment and Labour set to host a business breakfast networking session and “Taking Services to the People” campaign in Burgersfort, Limpopo, on 24 August 2019, at SA Govt News (press statement)
  • Sactwu: Springboks received new locally manufactured world cup blazer, at Sactwu News (press statement)

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page