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, 11 February 2020.


TOP STORY - SAA BUSINESS RESCUE

Numsa and SA Cabin Crew Association file urgent court application to block SAA job cuts

Fin24 reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) on Tuesday filed a joint urgent application at the Johannesburg Labour Court to stop the business rescue practitioners of South African Airways (SAA) from taking any steps to cuts jobs until they have complied with the provisions of the Labour Relations Act.  The unions hope to be heard in court on Thursday.  This development came after the airline's business rescue practitioners announced last week that the carrier would be cancelling all of its domestic routes apart from Johannesburg to Cape Town.  Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola indicated that the unions were also seeking an order from the court that the practitioners must be directed to comply with the terms of the wage agreement which was concluded last year in the wake of a strike.  The agreement, which was signed before the business rescue process commenced, mandated that workers facing retrenchment must be placed in a training layoff scheme.  Under that scheme, workers facing layoffs would be paid 75% of their salaries by a Sector Education and Training Authority (Seta) as they learnt new skills.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Fin24

SAA pilots hope airline will be saved, but if that fails, there's always the Middle East to find a job

Fin24 reports that Captain Grant Back, chairperson of the SAA Pilots' Association (Saapa), said on Monday that if it took job cuts to make South African Airways (SAA) sustainable, the state-owned airline's pilots could find alternative opportunities in a region like the Middle East, where there was a huge demand for pilots.  He commented as follows on the business rescue process:  "We have to wait and see what the numbers will dictate regarding possible retrenchments and downsizing at SAA.  If the business rescue practitioners (BRPs) present figures that make sense, and we can establish these as accurate, then obviously we will work with them on their plan, but the plan must still be formulated and presented.  They will need buy-in from labour, and in order for that to happen, the process must be transparent.”  Indicating that Saapa would cooperate with the BRPs in their quest to save SAA because its members would like to see SAA succeed, and finding a new job might mean having to relocate, Back advised that there were more than 540 pilots who actively worked for SAA.  He added that, unlike the aviation sector in the developed world, where there were many airlines and a huge resource pool of skills to choose from, there were limited airline skills in SA.  In his opinion, it would therefore be a good idea to look for an SAA CEO from outside SA.  "With the right skills in place in management, it will go a long way to get SAA back on track," Back opined.

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


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Heavily armed gang rob a cash-in-transit van and shoots driver in the face

The Star reports that on Monday evening near Kempton Park, a gang of heavily armed men pushed a cash-in-transit (CIT) van off the road, forced it open with explosives and shot the driver before fleeing from the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash.  A video captured by a nearby CCTV camera shows the van travelling on the R25 just before 7pm.  A passenger in a car on its right hand side starts shooting at it which results in the cash van veering off the road.  The cash van drives on uncontrollably until it comes to a stop.  Other vehicles that are aware of what is happening ahead make a U-turn, scared of driving into the fire.  After the cash van comes to a stop, two SUVs approach and a large group of men alight with guns.  Explosive devices are then planted on the cash van, and the explosives go off at least three times.  Police advised the suspects fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of money and that the driver of the cash van was shot and wounded in the face.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ndinannyi Mpilo and view the video clip at The Star


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Numsa’s wage strike at Hisense Atlantis ends

Fin24 reports that operations at the Hisense Atlantis consumer electronics and home appliance plant near Cape Town have resumed after management reached an agreement with striking members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).  The strike by about 300 Numsa members started on 16 January and was followed by management instituting a lock-out.  The striking employees had wanted a 15% wage, saying this would align with an industry agreement.  But, the company’s position was that it was a non-party to the wage schedule determined by the Metal & Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) and, moreover, that in 2018 it had been paying more than the agreed scheduled rates.  This led to a legal interpretation issue, which ultimately culminated in the strike.  Following negotiations that saw no violence, a two-year plant-level agreement was reached for all direct Hisense employees at the plant.  This agreement, which will remain in force until 1 February, 2022, determines staggered increases over the next two years, with additional incentives being introduced for long-term employees, such as extra annual leave days and bonuses.  The agreement also introduces a third shift system.  Vuyo Lufele, Numsa's Western Cape regional secretary, noted that, while initially Numsa had demanded a 15% wage increase across the board, in the end they got 7%.  "We are still satisfied as the company originally offered no increase.  The negotiations were about give and take," he commented.

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


LABOUR MARKET / UNEMPLOYMENT

Unemployment rate in fourth quarter 2019 flat at 29.1%

Engineering News reports that SA’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 29.1% in the quarter ended 31 December 2019.  Statistics SA reported on Tuesday that the number of employed persons had increased by 45,000 to 16.4-million, while the number of unemployed persons had decreased by 8,000 to 6.7-million in the fourth quarter, resulting in an increase of 38,000 persons in the labour force.  The increase of persons in the labour force was offset by the working-age population increasing by 145,000 in the fourth quarter, while discouraged work-seekers increased by 62,000.  Those who were not active in the labour market for reasons other than discouragement increased by 45,000.  The net increase in the number of persons who were not economically active in the fourth quarter was 107,000.  The expanded unemployment rate was 38.7%, or 10.4-million people, in the fourth quarter, which included discouraged work-seekers and those with other reasons for not searching for work.  The expanded unemployment rate increase was on the back of discouraged work-seekers increasing from 2.2-million people to 2.9-million people in the quarter.  The increase of 45,000 in the number of people employed in the fourth quarter was mainly driven by community and social services with 113,000, followed by finance with 76,000 and transport with 36,000 more people employed.  Declines in employment were recorded in trade, losing 159,000 jobs, manufacturing losing 39,000 jobs and utilities losing 14,000 jobs.

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


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

Cosatu urges speedy amendment of National Minimum Wage Act to prevent abuse by employers

BusinessLive reports that union federation Cosatu has appealed to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to urgently adopt proposed amendments to the National Minimum Wage Act to prevent abuse by employers.  The NCOP’s select committee on employment and labour is currently processing the National Minimum Wage Amendment Bill, which aims to correct a cross-referencing error that meant there was no retrospective application of the act.  The absence of this retrospectivity meant employers could reduce wages in anticipation of the enactment of the minimum wage, which took effect on 1 January 2019.  The retrospective clause will make it an unfair labour practice for an employer to unilaterally alter wages, hours of work or other conditions of employment in connection with the national minimum wage (NMW).  Cosatu’s parliamentary co-ordinator Matthew Parks expressed regret in a presentation to the committee on Tuesday that the bill had not been given priority and was not passed by the previous parliament.  He said the mistake in the original bill, which was adopted by parliament, has exposed workers to victimisation.  Parks also urged the select committee to agree to the insertion of clauses requested by the CCMA to make its judgments on the NMW wage immediately enforceable as appeals to the labour court have the effect “of dragging on such matters to the unaffordable detriment of workers”.

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


EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS

Film and television industry wary of proposed changes to status of workers

BusinessLive reports that persons engaged in the film and television industry are worried that proposed legislation to recognise them as employees and not contractors will make SA less attractive as a film location.  Labour and employment minister Thulas Nxesi published his intention in the Government Gazette of 11 December 2019 to deem those working in the sector as employees rather than contractors, in order for them to benefit from the Labour Relations Act.  Should the contractors be deemed employees they will be entitled to annual leave and pay, sick leave, maternity leave and severance pay, among other benefits.  The minister gave interested parties 60 days to submit written contributions.  But, the Association of Crew Agents of SA (Acasa) argues that should the changes be implemented they would lessen the country’s attractiveness as a filming destination and only benefit the SA Revenue Service (Sars) through more tax.  The investors will have to pay more in the form of taxes, pensions and other benefits, making SA a more expensive film location.  SA has in recent years become a popular destination for international filmmakers for offering an affordable alternative.  However, the welfare of SA actors has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, culminating in veteran actress Vatiswa Ndara writing an open letter to arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa in October 2019 bemoaning exploitive practices in the industry.  Several actors rallied behind her, calling for an overhaul of the industry.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Luyolo Mkentane at BusinessLive


RETRENCHMENTS / JOB CUTS

Unions threaten to take legal action or to down tools to stop 3,000 retrenchments at Telkom

Business Report writes that the SA Workers Union (Sacu) and the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which are in an alliance, have threaten to either take legal action or down tools against Telkom in a bid to prevent the retrenchment of 3,000 employees.  Telkom is scheduled to meet organised labour representatives on Wednesday on its imminent job cuts as part of the 60-day consultation process facilitated by the CCMA.  A previous meeting was held last Thursday and Friday.  In a notice issued to organised labour last month, Telkom, which is 40% state-owned, said the depressed economy, regulatory uncertainty and a tough competitive environment had taken a toll on its business.  In a memo to members, Sacu’s Keith Aimes for said that the union alliance was of the view that Telkom’s rationale for the retrenchment made during the previous meeting was weak.  “None of the presentations made on the rationale for the retrenchment makes a clear-cut indication that the company needs to retrench the amount of staff they intend to,” claimed Aimes.  He indicated that the alliance was considering either embarking on an industrial action or referring the matter to the Labour Court if Telkom did not provide sound reasons for the imminent retrenchments.  Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi commented:  “Telkom management has cited stiff competition as a drawback, but we are not convinced how trimming the workforce will address that issue.”  Other unions involved in the talks include the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), Solidarity and the Information Communications and Technology Union   

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Opinion: Job cuts are not an option, Minister Mboweni, but freezing public sector wages is, at Moneyweb


BASIC EDUCATION / TEACHING

Parent disappointed at hiring of sex accused teacher

Cape Times reports that a parent has expressed her disappointment that the Fellowship College in Melkbosstrand allegedly hired a music teacher while he was involved in sexual assault court proceedings relating to several young boys.  In 2015, the teacher was accused of fondling at least six boys, aged 9 and 10, while giving them music lessons at Reddam House private school.  He was dismissed from Reddam House and went on to teach at the Fellowship College, the parent indicated.  “My child took lessons with him and would be alone in a room with him.  This was from the start of the year until the end of the year.  I got the shock of my life when I heard that the rumours I had been hearing were true,” the parent stated.  The teacher’s case was heard in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court last week and the man was found not guilty.  His legal representative William Booth indicated:  “He was found not guilty at the end of the State’s case.  That indicated there was not much of a case against him.”  He added that by teaching he had not been contravening any bail conditions as there was nothing in the conditions about any other school, so he was free to teach anywhere.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Yolisa Tswanya at Cape Times


SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / TRAINING

ICT skills shortages threaten South Africa’s 4IR progress

Engineering News reports that according to the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA), skills shortages will be the single biggest challenge facing the SA information and communication technology (ICT) sector over the next ten years.  While SA’s highly innovative and entrepreneurial ICT sector is on par with global counterparts, the ICT brain drain and slow ICT skills development are said to be threatening the country’s Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) progress.  IITPSA nonexecutive director and Western Cape chapter chairperson Pearl Pasi pointed out that the emerging 4IR sector would bring a range of new business and career opportunities, with new careers that did not exist in the last decade being created.  However, this implied that, to maintain jobs, employees needed to be reskilled to keep pace with technological developments.  There was a need to nurture talent and keep it in the country, she said, noting that ICT professionals were leaving SA, mostly owing to crime.  “There is little the sector can do to change that, but organisations do need to be conscious of employees’ needs to develop their skills and not get left behind; and they need to reward them appropriately,” Pasi advised.  4IR technologies were bringing a wealth of opportunities for job creation and business growth in South Africa, IITPSA VP and nonexecutive director Admire Gwanzura indicated.  “We are already seeing the cloud creating jobs here, and innovators finding opportunities in areas like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and blockchain.  With the proper regulatory environment and training in place, the 2020s could bring significant opportunities for the ICT sector,” he concluded.

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


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

‘City of Cape Town quick to discipline lower-level staff’, says Samwu

Cape Argus reports that the City of Cape Town has disciplined 380 staff members and dismissed 115 of them for various transgressions in the past financial year.  However, according to the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), the City was quick to discipline and fire low-ranking members, but was not so harsh on managers and senior managers.  Samwu regional chairperson Mzoxolo Miselo indicated:  “We are concerned about the disciplinary processes mainly because what we have been noticing is that this process is different towards workers on lower levels, compared to seniors or managers.  And the transgressions that many of these workers are dismissed for are outrageous.  We had a case, for example, a few months ago where a woman was disciplined for not wearing her City of Cape Town T-shirt.”  Miselo’s comments were made after it was reported last week that the City has been scrambling to fill more than 3,000 vacancies.  The City’s spokesperson, Luthando Tyhalibongo, responded as follows:  “The City of Cape Town initiates disciplinary action in compliance with the Disciplinary Procedure Collective Agreement between the South African Local Government Association, Samwu and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union.  Disciplinary action is only taken where there is reasonable proof of failure to uphold the obligations in employment contracts.”  Tyhalibongo also noted that it was Samwu’s claim that the City dismissed more than 90% of staff who faced disciplinary action, but said the City had previously rejected that claim as factually incorrect.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Marvin Charles at Cape Argus


WORKPLACE CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Samwu reeling after 'theft' of R3.5m from Christmas Club fund

The Star reports that the alleged theft of a R3.5million that was meant for year-end Christmas cheer has rocked the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu).  Three Samwu employees from the Rand West Municipality in Gauteng will stand trial this week in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court for allegedly stealing money meant for their colleagues’ Christmas spending.  Jackey Tshabalala, who works in the municipality’s payroll section, and Letitia Nonkosi Mafuta and Anna Nomakhedu Mdange, both listed as general workers, are accused of siphoning off more than R3.5m from a progressive fund that was meant to bring Christmas cheer to employees.  The accused say they are innocent.  According to the charge sheet, Samwu, as the recognised trade union in Rand West, received authority to form a social club called Abasebenzi Christmas Club for its members.  Seventeen different fraudulent transactions were allegedly made from November 2017 to August 2018, with the largest transfer amounting to almost R1.4m.  The charge sheet reads as follows:  “The objective of the club was to save funds through contributions deducted from their salaries to be disbursed at year-end in accordance with each member’s contribution.  The contributions were collected from the employees’ salaries on a monthly basis by the city, and deposited into (an) Absa account number.”  It indicated that Tshabalala, Mafuta and Mdange were signatories and administrators of the account.  The three accused are facing 17 charges, each relating to transactions they allegedly made to themselves.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Khaya Koko at The Star

State Theatre opens criminal case against employees for theft of millions of rand

The Star reports that the State Theatre has opened a criminal case with the police against some of its employees after they allegedly defrauded the organisation of millions of rand.  Management was made aware of the acts by Absa on 10 December after a staff member in the finance department tampered with payment documentation and the electronic banking system.  The alleged fraud has apparently been going on for at least more than five years, during which the fraudsters allegedly deliberately framed others.  It is believed they went around boasting they were not worried about being caught because the chief financial officer and chief executive “did the final signing off”.  Chief executive Dr Sibongiseni Mkhize said the culprits were caught following a rigorous undercover investigation.  He commented that the criminal acts were the worst form of betrayal of trust.  He said that although the initial investigations uncovered two officials – one at finance and another at supply chain management – they believed more people were involved.  The State Theatre has taken precautionary measures by suspending the implicated officials, while another has resigned.  “In addition to the criminal case, which will hopefully result in people being imprisoned for many years, we will also pursue other legal measures to recover the stolen funds,” Mkhize said.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Rudzani Matshili on page 5 of The Star of 11 February 2020

 


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