news shutterstockIn our afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Monday, 2 March 2020.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

No system problems at Compensation Fund, commissioner tells MPs

BL Premium reports that the computer system of the body that is supposed to compensate workers who get injured at work is not broken and is working properly, although new registration procedures are more demanding, claims its CEO.  Compensation Fund (CF) commissioner Vuyo Mafata was responding to the recent outcry over the non-payment of claims, which prompted affected stakeholders, including medical practitioners, to last week launch the Injured Workers Action Group (IWAG).  The CF provides compensation to employees who are injured or contract diseases through the course of their employment.  It is financed by levies paid by employers.  The fund switched off its old computer system in August and replaced it with a new SAP-based system in October.  Stakeholders say the new system is dysfunctional as they have difficulty logging in and getting access to it.  Mafata, employment & labour minister Thulas Nxesi and deputy minister Boitumelo Moloi updated MPs last Wednesday on the performance of the fund.  Mafata indicated:  “The system does what it is designed to do in terms of validating controls so that we don’t have fraudulent claims, incomplete claims and inaccurate claims and incidents of overbilling and inaccurate billing by providers who have rendered services to our clients.  When the system identifies such invoices it rejects them and sends the feedback back to employers.”  Nxesi’s spokesperson indicated that the proposed way forward was for Mafata to meet service providers; for the parliamentary portfolio committee to visit the CF to learn about the challenges being experienced; and for the fund to develop an action plan.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Linda Ensor at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read too, ‘Broken’ claims system will fix Compensation Fund corruption, at Mail & Guardian

'You killed my sister,' patients heard as female gynaecologist was beaten to pulp

TimesLIVE reports that patients of a well-known Durban gynaecologist, who was attacked at a private hospital, feared for their lives as a savage assault played out in the reception area.  The 51-year-old doctor was assaulted, allegedly by three family members of a patient who had died after surgery at Shifa Hospital in Overport on 24 February.  A patient recalled the following:  “I had come back from theatre after my own surgery and could hear the doctor trying to resuscitate the patient. She then went towards the reception and all I heard was ‘You killed my sister’. A man was shouting. There were screams and it sounded like a scuffle where someone was really being thrashed.”  The patient also heard the men threatening to burn down the hospital.  SA Medical Association (Sama) chair Dr Akhtar Hussain said the doctor had suffered severe facial injuries and broken bones.  A week later, she was still in intensive care.  Social media reports and several sources have claimed that the patient's two brothers and husband were behind the attack.  Hussain said there should be a full investigation into the security at the hospital and urged patients to reconsider going to Shifa hospital until it improved the safety of doctors and other medical staff.  The Lenmed Group, of which Shifa Hospital is a part, confirmed the incident, but declined to provide further details.  It confirmed that a case of common assault had been opened at Sydenham police station.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nivashni Nair at TimesLIVE

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Case postponed for a man accused of killing intern doctor at Mankweng hospital, at SABC News


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Possible strike by Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks employees on Monday

In a short report on Monday morning, TimesLIVE wrote that SANParks had said they received reports that staff members from the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) were going on a planned illegal strike.  A tweet by SANPark Kruger National Park indicated: “MTPA managed attractions. We have received reports of a planned illegal strike tomorrow (Mon 2 March) by some MTPA staff which MAY affect access to Potholes, Gods Window, Blyde Canyon, Blydepoort Dam, Manyeleti, etc.”

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Iavan Pijoos at


PUBLIC SECTOR WAGE BILL

Ramaphosa makes case in his weekly newsletter for containing public wage bill

Reuters reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa indicated on Monday that “focused discussions” would be needed between the government and trade unions on ways to slow the rate at which public sector wages were growing.  Ramaphosa used his weekly newsletter to the nation to back up Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, who proposed R160 billion of cuts to the public sector wage bill during his budget speech last week.  Mboweni’s budget drew an angry response from unions.  Ramaphosa wrote in the newsletter:  “Our approach is not to dramatically cut the size of the public service, but to examine the rate at which wages grow.  Public service wages have on average increased at a much higher rate than inflation over many years, and we need to fix this if we are to get public finances under control.”  He noted that growth in the wage bill had been crowding out spending on projects that could drive economic growth and on items that were critical for service delivery.  He said Mboweni’s budget gave a “sobering assessment” of the economy and that it was unsustainable for the country to be spending far more than it earned.

Read the original of the above report by Alexander Winning at Moneyweb. Read too, Ramaphosa says key state wage bill savings will stem from lower wage growth, not job cuts, at Fin24

Ramaphosa says key state wage bill savings will stem from lower wage growth, not job cuts

Fin24 reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa says that the state's plan to cut the costs of the public sector wage bill does not mean that it also intends to "dramatically" cut the size of the civil service.  In his weekly newsletter on Monday, Ramaphosa weighed in on Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's Budget announcement last week that Treasury was seeking to save R160.2 billion over three years by reducing the cost of the public sector wage bill.  "The figures make it plain that unless we act now to turn things around, there will be even more difficult times ahead. Put simply, we are spending far more than we are earning," wrote the president.  He went on to indicate:  "Our approach is not to dramatically cut the size of the public service, but to examine the rate at which wages grow.  Public service wages have on average increased at a much higher rate than inflation over many years, and we need to fix this if we are to get public finances under control.  This will require focused discussions among all social partners, but particularly with public sector unions. These engagements need to be conducted in a spirit of seeking solutions. I am heartened by the willingness of all parties to engage in serious negotiations aimed at finding a solution."  The president pointed out that public servants were not the only state sector facing cuts. In total, the Budget outlined combined savings of about R261 billion over three years, which included cutting the budgets of several departments.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lameez Omarjee at Fin24

Cosatu says it won’t be raising issue of state wage bill at ANC meeting on Monday

EWN reports that the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said it would not be raising its discontent with the Treasury’s handling of the public service wage bill with the African National Congress (ANC) when the alliance met on Monday afternoon.  The federation has reacted with anger to government’s attempts to unilaterally withdraw from a 2018 wage agreement and slash the public wage bill by R160 billion over the next three years.  General secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said Cosatu had no interest in discussing the wage bill issue anywhere else but at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council, where the organisation, along with other labour unions, had already rejected the government's plans.  “Our position has not changed. We have rejected the position by the minister to opt-out of the existing agreement and that agreement must be honoured. We are not discussing that issue again at any other forum,” he explained.  Ntshalintshali also said labour was waiting for government negotiators to return to the council to discuss the dispute over the 2018 wage agreement which was meant to hike civil servants’ salaries by 6%.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Theto Mahlakoana at EWN

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Ramaphosa to face Cosatu on Monday over plans to slash public wage bill, at EWN


COSATU

Cosatu in quotes on retrenchments, corruption, the budget and other issues

TimesLIVE reports that trade union federation Cosatu briefed journalists on Thursday regarding the outcomes of its central executive committee (CEC) meeting.  Cosatu expressed concern about a number of issues affecting government employees, including wage cuts announced by finance minister Tito Mboweni on Tuesday during his budget speech.  In six quotes, this reports indicates what Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said about retrenchments; the growth of Cosatu; the transport system; corruption; gender-based violence; and the national budget speech

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


PRICES

Price of petrol, diesel and paraffin all set to drop in March

EWN reports that the Department of Energy has announced that the price of petrol will drop by 19 cents per litre in March.  In a statement released on Friday night, the department said the price of diesel would decrease by 54 cents per litre.  “The average international product prices for petrol, diesel and illuminating paraffin decreased during the period under review. The rand depreciated against the US dollar during the period under review, on average, when compared to the previous period,” the statement explained.  Illuminating paraffin will also see a decrease of 91 cents per litre.

Read the original of the above report at EWN

Saftu calls for a drop in public transport and food prices following drop in fuel price

SABC News reports that the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) has appealed to public transport operators to decrease fares following the drop in the fuel price.  The petrol price will decrease by 19 cent a litre at midnight on Tuesday, with the diesel price set to drop by 54 cents.  “We are calling on all on the retail stores, everybody who have been transporting food to also decrease the price of food and to make sure that the consumers benefit from that 19 cent decrease of the price of petrol,” said Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.  The cut in the petrol price has been attributed to a steady decline in the international oil price.

Read the original of the above report at SABC News


SAA BUSINESS RESCUE

Final bill for SAA business rescue still soaring

Business Times reports that the National Treasury expects to have to pump even more funds into SAA than the nearly R23bn outlined in finance minister Tito Mboweni's budget last week.  According to aviation analysts, the state carrier could incur at least another R2bn in costs as it restructures as part of a business rescue plan.  Business rescue practitioners (BRPs) Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana were put in charge of SAA in December and were due to publish their plan for the airline by the end of February, but have been given an extension of one month.  In the Budget Review last week, the Treasury said it had set aside R16.4bn over the next three financial years to pay off some of SAA's debt and meet debt-servicing costs.  An additional allocation of R6.5bn to absorb current losses was also made.  "Government anticipates that additional funding will be required to cover restructuring costs in line with the business rescue plan," the review indicated, without providing further details.  Aviation economist Joachim Vermooten noted that downsizing of an airline's operations carried its own costs.  In his view, those additional costs could reach R2bn-R2.5bn.  The BRPs have already cancelled several SAA routes, which will involve buying out the airline's contracts to serve these destinations.  Vermooten said other costs would include settling employment contracts with staff who lost their jobs, while cancelling leases for aircraft and other equipment that were no longer needed could incur penalties.

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


ESKOM BAILOUT

PIC will only act for its clients, the majority of whom are pensioners, widows, widowers and orphans

Mail & Guardian reports that the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) will only invest in ailing state-owned power utility, Eskom if that falls within the fund manager’s fiduciary duty.  This was indicated by PIC chairperson, Reuel Khoza, on the sidelines of the 2020 budget speech last week.  Finance Minister Tito Mboweni did not announce any plans to swap the power utility’s R450-billion debt for equity for the PIC.  Instead, he announced that R230-billion would be allocated from the national budget towards “restructuring the energy sector”.  The PIC manages R2.2-trillion in assets, including government pensions.  In the lead up to Wednesday’s budget, trade union federation Cosatu had proposed a plan that would see the PIC and other development finance institutions take a debt package to reduce Eskom’s debt from R450-billion to R200-billion.  Such a deal would be tied to several conditions, including the dismissal — and personal liability — of all those involved in mismanagement at the utility.  While indicating that Cosatu’s proposal was being considered, Khoza said:  “We are not going to do anything that would be inimical to those that have actually been put there.  We will do so within the broader context of what is in the national interest and our own guidelines.”  Khoza said that neither the government nor Cosatu had approached the PIC regarding the plan, but that they are not opposed to the debt-for-equity swap as long as it benefited “pensioners, widows, widowers and orphans” who were the majority of the clients of the PIC.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Thando Maeko & Tshegofatso Mathe at Mail & Guardian


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Joburg public safety MMC wants JMPD chief investigated for abuse of power and other charges

The Star reports that Johannesburg MMC for public safety Mally Mokoena wants the city council to approve an investigation into Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) chief David Tembe on allegations of intimidation, abuse of power and nepotism, among other charges.  A confidential document, reveals that Tembe faces a range of charges and suggests that he should be suspended while an investigation takes place.  Mokoena was supposed to present such a motion at the council's sitting on Thursday, but the sitting collapsed when several councillors staged a walkout after failing to pass an adjustment budget.  "It is recommended that an independent investigator be appointed to investigate all allegations against the chief of police and that he be given an opportunity to respond as to why he should not be placed on precautionary suspension pending investigation," the motion reads.  Among the 11 allegations, Tembe is accused of suspending directors and superintendents without having the powers to do so.  It is also alleged that Tembe's system of awards and commendations was not fair as only his favourite officers were being recognised.  The allegations against Tembe emanate from a meeting with JMPD officers who laid their grievances with Mokoena.  Sowetan last month reported on a leaked audio clip from the same meeting where Mokoena was heard giving instructions for Tembe's removal.  But Johannesburg mayor Geoff Makhubo said he would still call for Tembe's suspension given the serious nature of the allegations.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Kgothatso Madisa at SowetanLive


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND REPORTS

  • The construction mafia moves to the townships and how one consultant got them to leave, at Moneyweb
  • Manufacturing business conditions hit 11-year low, at BusinessLive
  • Whistle-blower claims Acsa staff member was killed ‘to silence him’ over corruption claims, at City Press
  • Farmworker was ‘sexually involved’ with farmer she is accused of killing, at City Press
  • Mpumalanga cops make 'breakthrough' in robberies with arrest of three 'bogus cops', at News24
  • SABC in the red by nearly R605m this financial year, at Independent News

 


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