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, 29 November 2019.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Never again, says NPA's Shamila Batohi after advocate's death in court in 'freak gun accident'

TimesLIVE reports that a memorial service for slain senior state advocate Addelaid Ann Ferreira Watt was held in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall on Thursday.  Her daughter Lindsay Ann received her mother's prosecutor's robe and a memorial candle from NPA head Shamila Batohi.  Watt died on 18 November after a gun displayed in the Ixopo regional court as an exhibit was accidentally discharged.  Apparently the gun fell in court and a shot went off, hitting Watt in what has been described as a “freak accident”.  Batohi asked how something like that could have happen and said it must never happen again.  She said prosecutors around the country were shocked at the “most tragic” death of a well-known colleague.  She added that Watt had made traumatised victims of crime and witnesses feel at ease in the courtroom.  A case of culpable homicide has been opened while the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is investigating the actions of an officer who was meant to have ensured that the weapon was not loaded.  On Thursday, Batohi said authorities must get to the bottom of the incident.  Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nivashni Nair at TimesLIVE

Drunk motorist who killed two Joburg metro cops at roadblock by crashing into them to be sentenced next year

TimesLIVE reports that the sentencing of Albert Gerhardes Pretorius, the man who ploughed into two Johannesburg metro police (JMPD) officers at a roadblock in January last year will be sentenced on 20 January next year.  Pretorius was found guilty by the Alexandra Magistrate's Court of two counts of culpable homicide and one count of driving under the influence.  Winnie Mokgolo, 35, and Sophie Ngoasheng, 45, were killed when Pretorius's bakkie rammed into the roadblock set up by the JMPD near Montecasino on 29 January 2018.  The two officers were declared dead at the scene.  Pretorius spent three months behind bars after he was initially denied bail.  He was later granted bail of R10,000.  In an affidavit presented to court in February last year, Pretorius said he had consumed three drinks and had been on prescribed medication when the incident took place.  But, when he was arrested, there were many gin bottles and empty Smirnoff Spin bottles inside Pretorius's vehicle.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ernest Mabuza at TimesLIVE

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Brave Kruger Park ranger single-handedly apprehends heavy-armed gang of rhino poachers, at The Citizen


SOEs IN CRISIS

SAA ‘will undergo a radical restructuring process’, with job cuts expected to be even deeper

BusinessLive reports that according to the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE), South African Airways (SAA), the future of which hangs in the balance after a crippling strike, is determined to remain open for business.  But, it will go through a "radical restructuring process" to survive.  The airline’s board and executive committee have been locked in intense discussions with the DPE and the Treasury over the past week in an effort to secure a loan guarantee of at least R2bn in order for it to continue trading.  The DPE’s statement on Sunday made no reference to whether the guarantee had been extended, but said "SAA cannot continue in its current form.  The airline group will now go through a radical restructuring process, which will ensure its financial and operational sustainability.  There is no other way forward."  The Treasury has apparently not budged for the loan guarantee.  As commercial banks will not provide funding without it, SAA cannot access working capital, which it needs to pay staff and suppliers as its operating costs far exceed revenue.  This has left SAA with only three options, namely liquidation, business rescue or radical restructuring.  While the airline has already announced job cuts, which it has agreed with unions will be negotiated starting in January, the cuts to both workforce and routes now will need to be far deeper and will have to be negotiated sooner.  The break-up of the SAA group, which includes the low-cost carrier Mango, airline SA Express, catering business Air Chefs and aircraft maintenance division SAA Technical, has become a growing possibility.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Carol Paton at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Mass default by SOEs would hurt SA’s financial sector, warns SA Reserve Bank, at Business Report
  • ‘Show us SOE bailout terms’, MPs demand, on page 9 of The Star of 29 November 2019
  • Flight Centre Travel Group stops selling SAA tickes, at BusinessLive
  • Eskom pulls the plug at several older stations, cutting capacity to meet demand, at Business Times (paywall access only)
  • New Eskom CEO backed by utility’s chair, on page 8 of Saturday Citizen of 30 November 2019
  • New Eskom CEO faces daunting R20bn loss, CFO says utility likely to turn the corner in three years’ time, at BusinessLive (paywall access only)


MINING LABOUR

Strides made in mine safety, says DMRE official, but more should be done

Mining Weekly reports that speakers on Thursday at the Anglo American Tripartite Health and Safety Initiative said that although strides had been made in reducing mine fatalities, occupational diseases and industry disasters, there was still work to be done in the mining industry’s quest for zero harm.  With the industry continuing its pursuit of zero harm, and having to contend with issues relating to the environment, health, wellness and social impact, this year’s summit was aimed at maintaining and strengthening collaborative relationships and ensuring that the respective visions of stakeholder representatives remained closely aligned.  Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) director-general, Advocate Thabo Mokoena, noted that while there were challenges in the industry, there had been an improvement over time in reducing the number of fatalities.  He emphasised that there was room for further improvement in this regard.  Mokoena noted that the lowest number of fatalities, at 73, had been recorded in 2016.  This, however, increased to 90 fatalities, mainly in gold sector, the following year.  However, a turnaround was being seen, with 81 fatalities reported for 2018, a 10% reduction year-on-year.  Mokoena also paid tribute to the Tripartite, noting that it had successfully demonstrated that significant results could be achieved through collaboration between various stakeholders in the mining industry.  The Tripartite is a multi-stakeholder partnership that was established in 2008 to address the shared challenge of improving health and safety in Anglo American and the industry at large.

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

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Aim is to get mineworkers home safely every single day, says Exxaro’s Mxolisi Mgojo, at BusinessLive

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Tharisa blames low chrome price for mine closures and slowing output, at BusinessLive
  • State wants bail denied for man charged with crashing into and killing Deputy Minister for Mineral Resources and two other people, at Pretoria News


JOB CREATION / JOBS FUND

Underspending by state departments on key programmes, including jobs fund, raises MPs’ hackles

BusinessLive reports that unspent funds by government departments in the first six months of the financial year totalled R3.9bn, the Treasury reported to parliament's two appropriations committees on Thursday.  This meant that billions of rand meant for critical programmes to address poverty and unemployment and deliver services were not spent.  The unspent amounts are surrendered to the national revenue fund unless finance minister Tito Mboweni approves their use elsewhere in the same department.  The departments with the largest unspent funds were higher education and training (R897m), police (R703m), health (R346m), co-operative governance and traditional affairs (R310m), small business development (R300m) and energy (R256m).  MPs expressed concern on Thursday over the underspending on key government programmes.  Among the unspent funds highlighted by MPs were the R300m unspent on the community works programme, which is meant to alleviate poverty; the R157m unspent by the Jobs Fund at a time of critically high unemployment; the R250m unspent on Eskom's integrated national electrification programme, while many homes are not connected to the grid; and R300m unspent by the Small Enterprise Finance Agency's small business and innovation fund, at a time when many small businesses were struggling to survive.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Linda Ensor at BusinessLive


EXECUTIVE REMUNERATION

Bidvest wants Comair’s remuneration policy thoroughly looked at with a view to modernising it

Business Report writes that according to Bidvest chief executive Lindsay Ralphs, Comair’s remuneration policy needs to be thoroughly re-looked at.  The diversified group voted against the aviation company's remuneration policy last month.  Bidvest holds a 27% stake of Comair, which operates Kulula and British Airways.  Last month Bidvest rejected Comair’s proposal to hike the annual fees of its chairperson to R1.6million in 2020 from R1.59m in 2019.  It also voted against the proposed increase of the vice-chairperson’s fee to R487,805 in 2020 from R464,576 in 2019.  Speaking after the Bidvest’s annual general meeting on Thursday, Ralphs said that Comair needed to modernise its remuneration policy.  Ralphs, who was recently elected as the chairperson of Comair, said that Comair was not complying with King IV regulations on corporate governance, adding that Bidvest had used its votes to reflect that opinion.  “Remuneration has become a sophisticated part of the way that business is run in South Africa.  One needs professional advice to run the remuneration committee and they (Comair) do not even have advisers.  They are still doing things in the old-fashioned way and we voted against them so that we could attend a meeting, which we did this week.  We recommended to them that they appoint a professional adviser who can bring them up to speed with a more modern remuneration strategy.  They have asked for our assistance,“ said Ralphs.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Dineo Faku at Business Report

Barclays set to join rivals in cutting CEO’s pension perks, but stops short of full alignment with other staff

Reuters reports that Barclays is planning to cut the £396,000 pension allowance it pays CEO Jes Staley by about half, echoing moves by rivals who have pledged to rein in executive pension perks following a campaign by investors.  The British lender is apparently consulting shareholders on the proposal in a review of its remuneration policy to be voted on at the bank’s annual meeting in 2020.  The possible changes follow protests from investors and employee unions over the disparity between pension payouts offered to Britain’s top bank bosses and their staff.  HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland have pledged to set pension contributions paid to their CEOs at 10% of base salary, matching those paid to their wider workforces.  Barclays is looking to boost pension contributions paid to employees from 10% to 12.5%, a source said.  Staley’s new cash payment would equate to about 17% of the £1.18m annual salary he was paid in 2018, suggesting Barclays is stopping short of full harmonization.  “It’s a start but these cuts do not really go far enough.  There’s no real reason why CEO pension payments shouldn’t be completely in line with other staff,” Peter Parry, of investor group ShareSoc said.  “There is always a worry that when companies rein in pay in one area, they compensate for it in another area.  The sad thing is that executive pay is now out of control,” he added.  Standard Chartered still plans to pay its top two executives double the pension benefits it pays to general staff.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sinead Cruise at BusinessLive


DISMISSALS

Former Cope employees to fight dismissals at CCMA

The Citizen reports that after allegedly being unable to cope with financial difficulties and having to close down its Kempton Park headquarters and retrench staff last month, the Congress of the People (Cope) might be in more trouble.  Former workers were scheduled to take the political party to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on Friday for unfair dismissal.  One employee said she had received a termination letter on 29 October.  According to the source, the letter had expressed Cope’s intention to close down the head office from 1 November.  It apparently offered “vague” and inconsequential reasons as to why the party would not be able to pay them.  The source said:  “We were unfairly dismissed because we were working and getting paid and there were no problems until they just gave us that letter.  There was no communication before that and we did not get any notice.  At least if they had given us two months’ notice, it would have been better.”  She said four former workers would be taking the party to CCMA on Friday, while one would be taking it to the CCMA’s Limpopo offices next month.  The party’s spokesperson, Dennis Bloem, said he did not know about the legal activity scheduled for Friday, but knew there were three ex-employees taking the party to CCMA.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Chisom Jenniffer Okoye on page 6 of The Citizen of 29 November 2019


SEXUAL MISCONDUCT / HARASSMENT / ABUSE

Durban school principal accused of raping four teachers

News24 reports that a 54-year-old KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) school principal has been accused of rape by four teachers.  The Phoenix man, who was arrested on Wednesday in connection with the rape of a teacher, was due to appear in court on Friday.  Three other teachers have since come forward with similar allegations.  The provincial education department said it was in the process of suspending him.  Apparently the reason for the delay was that the suspect had not yet acknowledged and signed the applicable letter.  Kwazi Mthethwa, KZN education department spokesperson, said:  "We have to follow proper procedures, we can't just suspend, but he will definitely be suspended."  He said the allegations were very serious.  The department is to launch an investigation into the allegations and if the suspect is found guilty, the South Africa Council of Educators (SACE) will be asked to have him removed from its list.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Azarrah Karrim at News24

Police top brass want Public Protector to investigate 'cover-up' of 2010 rape case involving clerk and top cop

The Sunday Independent reports that police top brass have asked Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and the Office of the Inspector General of Intelligence (OIGI) to investigate the possible cover-up of a rape case involving a senior police official.  A police administrative clerk opened a charge of rape against the top cop in 2010 after he allegedly forced himself on her in Kuils River, outside Cape Town.  Police sources and the female victim confirmed last week that nothing had come out of the case nine years after the woman, who was 23 at the time and directly reported to the official at the SAPS provincial office, was violated.  In one of the official complaints, a police brigadier suggested the official was never prosecuted because of “allegations of interference at the Ipid (Independent Police Investigative Directorate) and some rogue elements from NPA (National Prosecuting Authority).”  The officer may not be identified until he appears in court and is asked to plead.  NPA head of communications Bulelwa Makeke on Saturday confirmed that the man was a suspect in a rape case.  Mkhwebane’s spokesperson and a spokesperson for the Inspector General of Intelligence also confirmed they had received complaints against the man.  He is a former Robben Island political prisoner and allegedly shared a cell on the island with “very influential people”.  The alleged rape victim has accused the police of conducting a botched investigation from the onset.  The woman confirmed that she was an administrative clerk at the SAPS provincial office in Cape Town and reported to the official when the alleged incident took place.  She said the last time she heard from the investigating officer was in 2011.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Karabo Ngoepe at The Sunday Independent


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT

Prasa offers R100,000 reward for information on Cape Town train arsonists

News24 reports that a R100,000 reward has been offered by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) for information that will lead to the conviction of four people believed to be behind an arson attack on two trains at Cape Town station last week.  According to a Prasa statement on Sunday, security cameras captured the four people committing the arson, which cost R61m in damages.  "Investigations and intelligence point to orchestrated sabotage within the Western Cape rail network, causing millions of rand in damage since the start of the sporadic spate of fires in 2015.  An analysis of vandalism patterns leave little doubt that criminals are deliberately setting out to cause mayhem and delays,” the statement indicated.  Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker said:  "Crime intelligence support the notion that the place, timing and type of vandalism is orchestrated and targeted to create chaos and destroy essential state infrastructure, placing a strain on the country’s fiscus during a depressed economy."  Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula labelled the act economic sabotage.  The two trains were set alight early on Friday.  The one train was at Platform 10 and the other at Platform 16.  The fire soon spread to adjacent platforms, destroying two full trains and 18 carriages.  It is believed that an accelerant was used.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Alex Mitchley at News24. Read too, Police intelligence vacuum fuels train fires, on page 3 of City Press Voices of 1 December 2019

OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND ARTICLES

  • A fifth of SA’s factories are standing idle, at Business Times (paywall access only)
  • Struggling Stefanutti works on restructuring plan in effort to stay afloat, at BusinessLive
  • Eastern Cape education employee and others charged with corruption involving school nutrition programme, at News24

 


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