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 Monday morning roundup, see
summaries of our selection of recent
South African labour-related stories


TOP STORY – CONTINUING ESKOM CRISIS

Numsa calls for axing of entire Eskom board and replacement of Pravin Gordhan as minister

BusinessLive reports that as Eskom battles to keep SA’s lights on, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has called for the board of the state-owned power to be replaced.  The country’s biggest union for metal workers on Sunday lambasted the board, saying it was “incompetent” and that it and the government had failed to fix Eskom.  Despite welcoming the resignation of Eskom chairperson Jabu Mabuza, the union said more action was needed to be taken by the ANC national leadership, including the appointment of a new minister of public enterprises to replace Pravin Gordhan.  “Numsa wants to reiterate its call to the president that the time is now to remove the Eskom board and minister Pravin Gordhan and ensure that Eskom has leadership with the necessary requisite skills and that the board must be reconstituted with representatives from labour, business and civil society with at least 70% of the board comprising of engineers.  It is the Eskom board, management and the ministers starting with minister Jeff Radebe and Pravin [Gordhan] who are responsible for the mess that Eskom finds itself in,” the union stated.  Eskom resumed rolling blackouts last week.  Meantime, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the ruling party would speed up the process of transforming Eskom to ensure the state-owned entity ran efficiently.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Odwa Mjo at BusinessLive

Cosatu calls for removal of Eskom board, Pravin Gordhan

Bloomberg reports that Cosatu has called for the entire board of Eskom to be dismissed, along with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, citing mismanagement of the state-owned power utility’s operations and finances.  “This board has been there for two years and they don’t have a strategy or turnaround plan and they don’t seem to have a funding plan except to dismantle Eskom.  On top of that we have load-shedding, so heads must roll,” Sizwe Pamla, the labour federation’s spokesman, said on Friday.  The debt-laden state utility, which is overseen by Gordhan, shed as much as 6,000 megawatts from the national grid last month, the most yet.  It resumed rolling blackouts on 4 January, despite assurances from President Cyril Ramaphosa that there would be no power cuts until 13 January.  While it eased the cuts on Friday, Eskom said the grid remained vulnerable to unplanned outages or breakdowns.  Deputy President David Mabuza reportedly pointed out Eskom and Gordhan had misled Ramaphosa when they told him there would be no power cuts until mid-January.  Pamla added:  “The crisis is beginning to taint Ramaphosa’s credibility…  If Gordhan is unable to hold these board members accountable then as the political deployee, he must fall on his sword.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Amogelang Mbatha at Moneyweb

Eskom board chairman Jabu Mabuza resigns after failure to avert power cuts over holidays

Reuters reports that the chairman of struggling state-owned power utility Eskom resigned on Friday after failing to avert power cuts over the Christmas and New Year public holidays.  President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office said the government would soon announce a reconfigured Eskom board of directors with a mixture of experience in the electricity industry, engineering and corporate governance.  Jabu Mabuza’s resignation came after Eskom implemented severe nationwide power cuts in several bursts last year and also sporadically last week despite low electricity demand when many businesses and factories were closed for the holidays.  The power cuts have piled pressure on Ramaphosa, who came to power with a pledge to revive investor confidence and lift economic growth.  Eskom officials told Ramaphosa last month that there would be no power cuts from mid-December until mid-January.   Mabuza was appointed to lead the Eskom board shortly after Ramaphosa won the ANC leadership in December 2017.  Peter Attard Montalto of Intellidex said the chairman’s sudden departure was a concern.  “It is far from clear who a replacement would be, given so many suitable people don’t want the job,” he noted.  Eskom’s new CEO, Andre de Ruyter, took up his post last week and will oversee a government plan to split the company into three units to make it more efficient.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Alexander Winning and Emma Rumney at Moneyweb. Read too, Why Mabusa jumped ship at Eskom, at City Press

New Eskom boss André de Ruyter faces uphill battle from unions

The Star reports that Eskom's new chief executive André de Ruyter officially took office last week, but he faces an uphill battle from unions as they plan to oppose plans by the embattled power utility to increase electricity tariffs of up to 15%.  De Ruyter was appointed late last year - to the dismay of unions which were opposed to his appointment.  He comes into Eskom as it plans to battle it out with the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) in court over the utility’s demand for a further R69billion, which was deducted by Nersa from its revenue for the 2019/20 financial year.  Labour federation Cosatu, whose affiliates include the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), has called for Nersa to reject the request and fight any court battle that Eskom, under the leadership of De Ruyter, might wage.  The federation said the requested tariff hikes by Eskom were going to punish consumers and collapse the economy.  Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said Eskom’s management was trying to outsource its incompetency with its court bid.  “Eskom should be developing plans to recover the looted monies and collecting what is owed to it by state-owned entities, government departments, municipalities and private companies who are rigging the electricity system and stealing from Eskom.  This includes reducing the tariffs charged by coal suppliers and the independent power producers (IPPs) to market-related levels,” Pamla said.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Siviwe Feketha at Independent News. Read too, New Eskom CEO engaged in questionable stock sales at Sasol, at TechCentral

NUM to protest at Eskom on 15 January

Fin24 reports that incoming Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter can expect a rocky start to his tenure as boss of the troubled state-owned power utility, as the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) plans to demonstrate and hand him a memorandum on 15 January.  This will come against a backdrop of the highly anticipated Special Paper on Eskom, and the planned unbundling of the power utility into three entities – generation, transmission and distribution.  NUM energy sector coordinator Paris Mashego said in December:  "We are going on a protected industrial action in the new year.  We will launch that on January 15 when De Ruyter arrives.  We will welcome him with a memorandum that he must respond to within seven days."  Mashego indicated that the NUM wanted the unbundling of Eskom halted and it also did not want Eskom residing under the Department of Public Enterprises.  Additionally, Mashego charged that De Ruyter had no engineering background.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Khulekani Magubane at Fin24

Eskom to get ‘chief turnaround officer’, in addition to new CEO, its chief restructuring officer and an operational head

City Press reports that struggling state-owned power utility Eskom will soon benefit from yet another boss – this time, a “chief turnaround officer”.  This will be over and above the group CEO André de Ruyter, the chief restructuring officer Freeman Nomvalo, and the operational head Jan Oberholzer.  The department of public enterprises has confirmed the plan for this latest post.  While De Ruyter took over some of the reins at Eskom in January, it is unclear whether the chief turnaround officer will report to De Ruyter or not.  Eskom was unable to answer questions about what the so-called chief turnaround officer would do, and how responsibility would be divided between the four top bosses of the organisation.  A spokesperson said the details would be worked out in the coming weeks and added that:  “We are looking at a number of options regarding how we organise ourselves to execute on the turnaround strategy and the reforms stipulated in the special [Eskom] paper.”  But Peter Attard Montalto, head of capital market investments at Intellidex, warned of having too many bosses who ended up either falling over each other or “simply sitting there with no real power”.  The chief restructuring officer was appointed in July, after Finance Minister Tito Mboweni made the appointment a condition for bailing out Eskom to the tune of R23 billion in immediate government aid.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Antoinette Slabbert at City Press

R1.8bn is not for performance bonuses but for 13th cheques, Eskom tells Nersa

BusinessLive reports that as Eskom and the energy regulator prepare for a showdown in court this week, the cash-strapped power utility has denied it plans to pay R1.8bn in performance bonuses to its employees.  Its statement came in response to a report by City Press, based on court papers filed by the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa), in which Nersa said Eskom was seeking the additional revenue to pay performance bonuses for work between 2019 and 2022.  In her affidavit, Nomfundo Maseti of Nersa said these “incentive bonuses” were within the control of management and should only be allowed when Eskom returned to financial health.  Yet, in a statement released by Eskom last Tuesday, the utility said its application did not include performance bonuses but made provision for annual bonuses for the three-year period, which were equivalent to 13th cheques and formed part of employees’ normal remuneration packages.  “Nersa, in its decision, incorrectly disallowed these contractual costs and hence they do not form part of the allowed revenue granted to Eskom,” the utility claimed.  In keeping with a board decision reflecting the poor performance of the business, Eskom said no performance bonuses had been paid to employees in the past two years.  Eskom’s court bid to review the regulator’s fourth, multi-year price determination decision does not specifically tackle the R1.8bn for bonuses but broadly challenges the regulator’s decision to deduct a R69bn bailout Eskom received from the government when taking its tariff decision.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lisa Steyn at BusinessLive. Read too, Loadshedding kicks in again but Eskom wants R1.8bn in bonuses, at City Press

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Ramaphosa says ANC will speed up the process of transforming Eskom, at BusinessLive
  • R300,000 bail granted in case against ex-Eskom bosses accused of Kusile fraud, at TimesLIVE
  • South Africa’s energy crisis, jobs top ANC’s priority list, at Moneyweb


PUBLIC INVESTMENT CORPORATION

Public Servants Association wants PIC report released immediately

BusinessLive reports that the Public Servants Association (PSA) has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to immediately release the report of the judicial commission of inquiry into affairs at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).  “The PSA believes strongly that the immediate release of the report will curb ongoing speculations of the outcomes as well as leaks that are quite unfortunate and undermine the commission process and integrity,” the union said on Thursday.  Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said Ramaphosa was “still studying the report and will make his intentions known on how he will further process it when he is done”.  The PIC commission, chaired by retired judge Lex Mpati, was tasked with investigating allegations of impropriety at the state-owned asset manager as well as conducting a review of organisational matters.  It handed its report to the president on 15 December.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Warren Thompson at BusinessLive

Public Investment Corporation seeks outside help to improve staff morale

BL Premium reports that the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is looking for someone to help boost morale and improve its relationship with employees.  This comes after a bruising year at the state-owned asset manager marked by allegations of bullying and intimidation of staff.  In mid-December, the PIC posted a tender on its website for a service provider to deal with the “urgent need to embark on an intervention to strengthen relationships and enhance morale in the workplace”.  The new service provider will be asked to conduct a wide-ranging review of the PIC’s human resource strategy and practice, including to “identify, investigate and analyse the root causes of the current PIC organisational climate”.  Other tasks will consist of evaluating all human capital interventions, including reviewing the remuneration and rewards system of the organisation and designing a “dispute resolution methodology”.  Many staff members have apparently also expressed dissatisfaction with the way bonuses and promotions are determined.  The deterioration in relations between the rank-and-file employees and the leadership, as well as the treatment of specific employees, has led to staff forming their own union to look after the rights of workers.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Warren Thompson at BusinessLive


PUBLIC PROTECTOR

Parliament asked by PSA to probe alleged maladministration in Mkhwebane’s office

BL Premium reports that National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise is to consider a request by the Public Servants Association (PSA) for parliament to investigate allegations of maladministration in the office of the public protector.  She is also expected to decide in coming weeks if and when parliament will institute an inquiry into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.  Should Modise grant the PSA’s request for a maladministration investigation, Mkhwebane could end up facing two parliamentary probes.  This will be on top of applications challenging her competence and fitness to hold office.  The PSA, the union that represents the majority of the staff employed at the public protector’s office, said it was concerned about the recent spate of suspensions and dismissals of senior executives and investigators at the chapter 9 institution.  It wants parliament to investigate the allegedly irregular appointment of Vussy Mahlangu, who was fired by the department of rural development & land reform before being hired as public protector CEO.  According to the PSA, he did not have the required security clearance.  Mahlangu has since resigned from his post in Mkhwebane’s office.  The PSA has criticised Mahlangu for resigning before accounting for his actions.  The union has demanded that Mkhwebane “provide clarity on whether Mahlangu disclosed in his CV and during interviews that he had been dismissed from the public service because of misconduct relating to dishonesty.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Karyn Maughan at BusinessLive (paywall access only)

Former public protector COO’s court challenge of her axing dismissed

BusinessLive reports that the Pretoria High Court has dismissed former public protector COO Basani Baloyi’s urgent challenge to her firing, which she argued was driven by ulterior and politically motivated purposes.  Baloyi claimed she was removed because she stood in the way of Mkhwebane and her CEO, Vussy Mahlangu, “using their powers for their personal advancement”.  Mkhwebane denied this, and contended that Baloyi’s employment was terminated because of her poor performance.  Her advocate, Dali Mpofu, further argued that Baloyi should have taken her case to the labour court, as it was essentially a labour dispute.

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Karyn Maughan at BusinessLive


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Eastern Cape ambulance drivers down tools and stage sit-ins on Friday over backpay

GroundUp reports that scores of Eastern Cape ambulance drivers and their assistants laid down tools on Friday and staged sit-ins at their places of work.  The affected regions were the Nelson Mandela Bay, Amathole and Buffalo City municipalities.  Ambulances remained parked the whole day outside the emergency medical services' provincial headquarters at Dora Nginza Hospital in Port Elizabeth.  At issue was that the drivers have not received backpay owed to them.  They said they would only start working after the money had been paid and indicated that they would keep turning up at work but not perform their duties.  One worker claimed that the health department had promised them excess allowances, a form of overtime pay, by 6 January but had failed to meet the commitment.  According to him, backpay had accumulating since September last year.  Eastern Cape Department of Health spokesperson Siyanda Manana said it had been assured by the provincial treasurer that payment would be made on 13 January.  Manana added that in the meanwhile the department had enlisted the services of private ambulances to deal with critical cases only.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Joseph Chirume at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Top Tips: How to prepare your business for a potential strike, at Business Report


MINING LABOUR

Northam in five year wage agreement with Amcu

Reuters reports that platinum producer Northam Platinum said on 13 December that its Booysendal operations had reached a five-year wage settlement with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).  “The settlement is effective from 1 July 2019 and assures Booysendal employees of increases to all major components of remuneration over the next five years,” the miner indicated in a statement.  It said the agreement was in line with industry settlements and took into consideration inflationary pressures faced by its employees.  Last month, Amcu sealed three–year wage hike agreements with Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Sibanye-Stillwater.  “The agreement provides for continuity, certainty and allows all stakeholders to focus on the sustainability of the business,” Northam chief executive Paul Dunne commented.

Read the original of the above report on page 17 of Business Report of 17 December 2019

Mining lawyer Hulme Scholes pressing ahead with court challenge to have Mining Charters II & III scrapped

Miningmx reports that mining lawyer Hulme Scholes is pushing ahead relentlessly with his legal action to have the latest versions of the Mining Charter scrapped and he expects it to come before the High Court “early in the second half of this year”.  This is despite some apparent progress being made in negotiations between the Minerals Council of SA (MCSA), formerly called the Chamber of Mines, and the government on the latest versions of the Charter.  In more limited legal action, in March last year the MCSA filed an application for the judicial review and setting aside of certain clauses of the 2018 Mining Charter.  Scholes wants the entire 2018 Mining Charter scrapped and is continuing his drive to achieve this.  In his view, the first version of the Mining Charter was the only one that the minister had the power to implement in terms of the law.  He has successfully overcome a point raised by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMR) to dismiss his case on the grounds that he did not have “locus standi”.  Asked why he was pushing ahead with the action despite an apparent lack of full support from the MCSA Council, Scholes replied:  “The Minerals Council needs to stand up firmly to government instead of blowing hot and cold as they have done up until now.  Government is intent on forcing the mining industry to bear the cost and responsibility for providing social services and infrastructure that the government itself should be providing.  Under [former mines minister Mosebenzi] Zwane the glass was half-empty.  Under Mantashe the glass is half-full but it’s still only half.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Brendan Ryan at Miningmx

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Different but crucial existential questions posed for SA and world mining sectors in 2019, at Miningmx
  • Coal endures as world’s favourite fuel for electricity generation, at Moneyweb
  • SA's coal industry at a 'crossroads', global report indicates, at Fin24
  • Miners can bring 1.67 gigawatts of power online in four years, at BusinessLive
  • Sibanye lifts stake in DRDGold to 50.1%, at Mining Weekly


APPOINTMENTS / RECRUITMENT / VACANCIES

Shortlisting process for appointment of Free State magistrates set aside because whites excluded

ANA reports that the Bloemfontein High Court has set aside the shortlisting proceedings of the Magistrates Commission for vacancies in the Free State and therefore the appointments of magistrates already made by the Minister of Justice.  Judgment was handed down in December.  According to the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF), which appeared in the proceedings as amicus curiae, the court held that the commission displayed a total disregard for legislation, regulations, its own shortlisting processes and the rights of whites to at least be considered during the shortlisting process.  The application was brought by acting magistrate and head of office of Petrusburg Magistrate's Court, Richard Lawrence, whose shortlisting for a permanent position was overlooked by the commission.  "It was clear from the record of the private deliberations of the Magistrates Commission that race was the determining factor in the shortlisting process.  In particular, the record revealed astonishing statements such as, 'Anything you need, except white,' made by the chairperson of the Magistrates Commission.  This resulted in no male or female white candidates being considered for shortlisting for any of the magisterial vacancies available," the HSF indicated.

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

After more than a year, Acsa gets a new CEO

Fin24 reports that Nompumelelo (Mpumi) Mpofu has been appointed as new CEO of the Airports Company SA (Acsa) with effect from 1 February 2020.  Acsa owns and operates nine airports in SA.  It is majority owned (74.6%) by the South African government and in the financial year ended March 2019 it reported revenues of R7.1bn.  According to a statement issued on Wednesday, Mpofu joins Acsa at a time when "the company is charting a fresh course for its future".  Mpofu is currently director-general in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency.  According to the statement, she has extensive experience spanning over 25 years in the fields of transport, infrastructure development, local government and town, urban and regional planning.  In early November Acsa's acting CFO told shareholders at the company’s AGM that Acsa was still investigating the extent of "financial misconduct" under former CEO Bongani Maseko, whose contract was not renewed in November 2018.  In 2018, Acsa's irregular expenditure was R39.3m and it increased 161% to R102.6 in 2019.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Carin Smith at Fin24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Mondi’s top boss to leave as industry battles rising costs, at Moneyweb
  • Mondi CEO Peter Oswald quits after just three years, at BusinessLive


REMUNERATION / SALARY ADMINISTRATION

Limpopo Artists Movement steps into Makhadzi’s pay dispute, but manager shows evidence of payment

SowetanLive reports that the Limpopo Artists Movement has intervened in the nasty fight between Matorokisi hit-maker Makhadzi and her manager over money.  This came after Makhadzi begged artist manager Rita Dee Nephawe to pay her in a lengthy Facebook post last Monday that detailed her ongoing battle.  This triggered the viral trend #FreeMakhadzi.  Makhadzi, whose real name is Ndivhudzannyi Ralivhona, on Thursday referred Sowetan to Mphoza Mashabela, chairperson of the Limpopo Artists Movement, to comment on her behalf.  Mashabela indicated that they would be meeting with Nephawe to discuss Makhadzi's grievances.  "She lodged a complaint with us about late payment.  She has to beg her manager to pay her and she's just paying her half the money,” Mashabela stated.  Nephawe denied all of Makhadzi's claims in a statement issued on Thursday.  "For the recent gigs, Makhadzi has been paid and the last payment was transferred to her personal account on the 4th day of January 2020 while I was with her at Midrand," Nephawe claimed.  Sowetan has seen proof of payment made to Makhadzi's bank account.  According to Mashabela, Nephawe and Makhadzi do not have a signed contract outlining the terms of their working relationship and he indicated as follows:  "So she [Nephawe] keeps paying Makhadzi in small installments every time she calls to ask for her money.  For some other gigs she doesn't even get payment.  As a union we cannot allow managers to take 50% or more from artists.  That is not the standard."  Nephawe confirmed that she doesn't have a signed contract with Makhadzi.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Emmanuel Tjiya at SowetanLive


SUSPENSIONS / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Nurses suspended after pregnant woman who was turned away from KZN clinic gives birth in taxi

News24 reports that two nurses from Buxedene Clinic, near Nongoma in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), have been suspended for allegedly failing to assist a pregnant woman shortly before she gave birth.  The woman later gave birth to a baby boy when the minibus taxi driver who had taken her to the clinic helped to deliver the baby in the taxi on the side of the road.  After the birth, he placed the child on the seat and asked the mother to make sure he didn't fall off.  He drove to some nearby local homesteads, where a group of elders helped him cut the umbilical cord and put the baby in a blanket.  He then took them to a hospital.  KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said on Saturday:  "The nurses have been accused of not only denying that the young woman was about to go into labour, but of being dismissive and using rude language, and also refusing to call an ambulance."  Simelane-Zulu said the suspension would "enable the investigation to take place without hindrance".

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nicole McCain at News24. Read too, ‘Hero’ taxi driver helps mom give birth, at TimesLIVE


WORKPLACE CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Suspended former head of police’s technology management services in court for corruption

TimesLIVE reports that suspended senior policewoman Lt-Gen Adeline Shezi appeared in the Pretoria specialised commercial crimes court on 17 December on charges of fraud and corruption.  Two family members appeared alongside her.  The three are facing charges of fraud and corruption amounting to just over R1m.  The charges relate to the period when Shezi was head of the police’s technology management services.  Shezi was suspended in November last year following an ongoing forensic investigation that implicated her in dubious financial transactions amounting to millions of rand.  All three accused were released on bail of R1,000 each and will appear in court again on 7 February next year. 

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Major security sweep sees South African airport staff arrested and fired for stealing, at BusinessTech

 


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