news shutterstockIn our afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Wednesday, 4 March 2020.


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Sasbo gears up for strike at Capitec over ‘failure to engage in proper wage bargaining process’

The Star reports that retail bank Capitec could soon be hit by a national strike over wages and other labour issues, with thousands of workers gearing themselves up for industrial action.  Finance union Sasbo has announced that it is busy communicating with its 6,300 members with a plan to embark on a national strike.  Sasbo general secretary Joe Kokela accused Capitec of refusing to come to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith.  The union, which was recognised last year for collective bargaining purposes after years of campaigning and recruitment, accused Capitec of not giving practical effect to the recognition through engaging in a “proper bargaining process” with the union.  Kokela indicated that the balloting was expected to be completed by the end of March and the union would be outlining how the national strike would take form.  Sasbo assistant general secretary Myan Soobramoney said the union was still willing to hold talks with the bank if it was prepared to discuss the demands of workers.  “We repeat our previous advice that the leadership of Sasbo are intent on engaging the employer and on trying to find an amicable conclusion to the collective agreement.  Under the circumstances, however, given the lack of commitment from the bank to resolve this matter with the urgency it requires, we have decided to ballot our members for a national strike in Capitec Bank,” he indicated.  Uni Africa’s Keith Jacobs commented:  “Capitec is one of the fastest growing banks in the country, and workers deserve their fair share of the company’s success. We stand in solidarity with Sasbo as they prepare to strike. The bank should stop staling with endless delay tactics, and listen to workers’ voices.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Siviwe Feketha on page 6 of The Star of 4 March 2020


STATE WAGE BILL

Public servants warn government amid silence over wage hikes due on 1 April

BusinessLive reports that tensions are rising among public servants due to the government’s silence as the 1 April implementation date for wage increases draws nearer.  The Public Servants Association (PSA), which represents more than 230,000 public servants, commented:  “[The] government’s deathly silence is posing an increasing risk to give rise to actions that will have further dire consequences on the economy.”  Labour has rejected finance minister Tito Mboweni’s plans to cut the wage bill by more than R160bn over the next three years, saying it would count as a declaration of war if implemented.  But, Mboweni has received support for the plans from the business sector and President Cyril Ramaphosa, who described the budget as a sobering assessment of SA’s dire economic predicament.  The PSA said on Tuesday there had been no attempt by the government to raise the matter in the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) to explain where it intended to make up the saving of R37.8bn this year.  The proposal, which was tabled in the PSCBC for the first time the day before the national budget, took unions by surprise as only cursory discussions had been held beforehand.  The PSA said it would be approaching the PSCBC to obtain confirmation from the government on the percentage increase due to public servants based on the three-year agreement entered into in 2018.

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

Public sector unions threaten dispute if government breaks three-year wage deal

Reuters reports that public sector trade unions said on Tuesday that they would lodge a formal dispute if the government did not honour a three-year public sector wage deal.  That could lead to months of arbitration and culminate in a strike.  Government officials advised last week that they couldn't afford to pay public servants wage increases due in April and asked to renegotiate the applicable deal struck in 2018.  Also, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said in his annual budget speech that he wanted to make R160-billion of cuts to the public-sector wage bill over the next three years.  Nehawu, one of the largest public sector unions, said it had rejected government's request to review the wage deal and that it did not intend to discuss it further.  "On April 1, if there is no implementation we will file a dispute and enforce the agreement," Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba stated.  Trade union federation Fedusa echoed that view.  Vukani Mbhele, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Service and Administration, advised that the ministry was talking to unions informally.  He indicated that unions had not told the ministry about their plans to lodge a dispute and said that officials would deal with the matter when it arose at the bargaining council.

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Opinion: Insourcing to competent officials, not wage cuts, is cure for state’s ills, at BusinessLive
  • Cosatu affiliates call out Ramaphosa for not advancing pro-poor agenda, at News24


SOEs IN CRISIS

Eskom and SAA on road to recovery, deputy president claims

BusinessLive reports that according to deputy president David Mabuza, the government remained confident that Eskom and South African Airways (SAA) could be returned to profitability despite the current challenges the two state-owned entities (SOEs) faced.  During a Q&A session in the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday, Mabuza reiterated that the government had no intention of disposing of SAA, despite growing calls for the state to sell the debt-laden airline.  The crises at Eskom and SAA have put the government under pressure to show its intent on the restructuring of SOEs and reducing the financial burden on the fiscus.  In his budget speech last week, finance minister Tito Mboweni allocated R16.4bn to SAA specifically for the repayment of debt and interest.  Eskom was allocated close to R44bn, which will also go towards debt costs.  This was in addition to the R49bn the embattled power utility recently received.  “We are not looking at privatising SAA. We still think we can deal with the challenges faced by the airline,” Mabuza said on Tuesday.  On Eskom, he indicated:  “If we deal with the debt issue then we are out of the woods. But I am worried about the culture of non-payment. People must pay for services.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Bekezela Phakathi at BusinessLive

Ramaphosa open to sale of Eskom’s old power stations in ‘new era of energy’

BL Premium reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that SA had entered a new era of energy generation and all options, including the sale of old Eskom power stations to private investors, should be looked at by the government.  Ramaphosa and the ANC have previously placed a blanket prohibition on the sale of any Eskom asset as this would be considered privatisation.  But as the government and its social partners look for solutions to Eskom’s debt and operational crises, Ramaphosa said their thinking "has not remained static".  During a question and answer session with journalists, he also spoke approvingly of joint efforts with labour and business to find a solution to Eskom’s debt crisis by seeking investments in Eskom debt or equity by pension funds and other savings institutions.  "A number of players have come to the fore and said that when we get to the point of decommission (of Eskom’s old coal-fired power stations), sell them to us and we can generate electricity. I’m most interested in looking at that option.  It gives workers and the communities the transition we have been talking about because the towns where those power stations are located will die when they close," Ramaphosa said.  Ramaphosa indicated that agreement by labour, business and the government on a social compact over electricity and Eskom was close to being concluded.

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Labour unions prepare to present alternative plans to save SAA, at EWN


MINING LABOUR

Minerals Council publishes new White Paper on women in mining

Mining Weekly reports that the Minerals Council SA (MCSA – previously called the Chamber of Mines) has published a new White Paper on Women in Mining to promote gender diversity and inclusion across mining operations.  The paper, focusing on improving the representation of women in the sector, aims to accelerate the implementation of industry’s strategies and provide impetus for the advancement of women in the industry.  It proposes action plans for companies to ensure women, who make up only 12% of the mining industry’s workforce, are provided equal opportunities and pay and a safe environment to work in.  “The participation of women in business has been shown to positively influence the bottom line of companies and to contribute to enhanced sustainability,” Vedanta Zinc International CEO and MCSA board member Deshnee Naidoo said on Wednesday.  Speaking at a media briefing, she explained that the “true potential” of SA’s mining sector, which still lagged many countries in terms of gender equality, would be “unleashed” once the target of a 50:50 gender split was realised.  The MCSA will establish a task team to oversee, monitor and evaluate the implementation of the White Paper.  In line with this, the Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC), which deals with issues relating to ablution facilities, sexual harassment, personal protective equipment, the impact of mining on reproductive health and the requirements of physical work, will establish a separate committee on women in mining.

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

Exxaro Resources maintaining its safety drive

Mining Weekly reports that Exxaro Resources on Tuesday marked its yearly Sustainability Summit with a three-year fatality-free milestone.  This achievement was highlighted as particularly notable, considering the number of expansion projects completed by the company in the past year, and the considerable increase in manpower that these projects required.  While this milestone was celebrated and commended at the event, speakers emphasised that the company would not become complacent and would strive every day to reach its objective of zero harm.  Employees were led by the Exxaro executive committee in a Khetha Ukuphepha Zero Harm (Safety) Pledge.  The flagship summit serves as both an educational and celebratory event highlighting the performance of the business within the sustainability functional areas – safety, health, wellness and the environment.  Held under the theme “The Future Now”, the event brought together Exxaro employees and stakeholders from various business units to share insights and chart the way forward for Exxaro’s sustainability.  One focus area going forward will be mental wellbeing, with this impacting on personal safety, as well as work safety and productivity.

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

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Every employee has opportunity to own dignified home, says RBPlat, at Engineering News
  • Warning of ‘significant losses’ in SA mining industry if coronavirus outbreak is not contained soon, at Mining Weekly


EXECUTIVE PAY

Nedbank freezes pay for 50 executives as bank’s earnings miss target

BL Premium reports that Nedbank will be freezing executive salary increases as it seeks to cut costs and cope with a weak economy.  The bank’s share price slumped to the weakest level in more than four years after it reported a surprise drop in earnings.  CEO Mike Brown said that the salary freeze would be applied to a group of about 50 executives, comprising members of the group’s executive committee and extending to executives at its subsidiaries, including the retail and investment-bank divisions.  The group did not disclose the savings it would achieve from the initiative, but, in any event, the freeze will amount to a symbolic gesture to remind the leadership of challenges ahead.  Nedbank and its counterparts are struggling to find growth in a sluggish economy where consumers are struggling with the effects of higher fuel prices, taxes and record unemployment, making the banks vulnerable to greater rates of default.  Nedbank, whose results came just hours before confirmation that SA’s economy shrunk in the fourth quarter, said it expected a tough first half of 2020 as the economy struggles to gain momentum.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Warren Thompson and Karl Gernetzky at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read too, Nedbank profit dives 7.3% during year to December, on page 17 of Business Report of 4 March 2020


WORKPLACE CONDITIONS

Ill-treated Ellis Park workers push for action against bullying senior manager, allege corruption

The Star reports that some Ellis Park Stadium workers are pushing for action to be taken against a senior manager they allege has been making them do maintenance work at his house and using bully tactics.  Staff members also claim that Ellis Park’s stadium manager, head of security and store manager ill-treat them and allege that they are involved in corruption.  According to the staff, things changed for the worse when they got a new site manager.  Staff members are apparently repeatedly reminded that they are contractors and are hindered from doing their jobs.  “We are forced to keep quiet when we see some of the maintenance staff doing illegal things because we are afraid we will get removed from the site. All staff that are hired by Ellis Park only get verbal warnings whereas contractors get fired,” claimed a staff member.  The head of security allegedly cut the number of guards without providing a reason, and now guards work three posts each, leaving them no time to eat.  It is also alleged that the store manager helps himself to the alcohol in the store at the venue and that things such as tissue paper and paint are ordered for the stadium manager’s house.  Edgar Rathbone, MD of Ellis Park Stadium, said he was not aware of the allegations against the three managers, but he would be holding a meeting with all the staff members and, if any of them have information regarding the allegations, they should approach him.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Boitumelo Metsing at The Star


RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB CUTS

SA companies plan 10,000 job cuts as economy falters

Bloomberg reports that less than three months into 2020, South African companies have announced plans to cut more than 10,000 jobs as faltering economic growth adds strain in a country where a third of the workforce is unemployed.  Electronics company Ellies is the latest to start the process of reducing its headcount due to ongoing financial losses.  Jobs are also at risk at a number of companies including Telkom SA, the country’s largest fixed-line operator, and Walmart’s local unit, Massmart, after slumps in earnings.  If realised, these job losses will add to an unemployment rate that is at the highest in at least 11 years, and will place a further dampener on an economy stuck in the longest downward cycle since World War II.

Read the original of the above report by Prinesha Naidoo at Fin24

Recession to cost SA even more jobs, expert warns

SowetanLive reports that a leading economist has warned that SA's slip into technical recession could have a huge impact on jobs security.  On Tuesday, Statistics SA reported that the country's economic growth for all of 2019 stood at 0.2%, its lowest reading since the global financial crisis in 2009.  The results meant that the country slipped into technical recession by recording two consecutive negative growth.  According to University of the Witwatersrand economics lecturer Lumkile Mondi, the economic downturn was caused by the construction and manufacturing sectors.  He noted that these were industries where each individual worker was responsible for feeding between five to 20 family members.  "Should the country continue experiencing economic downturns, these workers are likely to lose their jobs and their families will suffer," Mondi warned.  He added that economic downturns could also dampen investor confidence, making it difficult for government to carry out its functions to an extent that social wages and health services might be cut.  SA remains dogged by high and rising debt, low growth and soaring unemployment.  Weak agriculture output and transport were the main drags on growth in the last quarter, Stats SA said, followed by construction, mining and manufacturing, which outweighed positive contributions from finance and government spending.  Seven of the nation's 10 economic sectors contracted in the fourth quarter, Stats SA reported.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mpho Sibanyoni at SowetanLive. Read too, Fixing South Africa’s economy a long, hard haul, Ramaphosa says, at Engineering News. And also Downgrade looms as recession confirmed, on page 17 of Business Report of 4 March 2020


SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / TRAINING

Rookie JMPD cops sent back to academy for retraining are in limbo and sit around all day doing nothing

The Star reports that rookie Joburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) cops sent back to the police academy to be retrained are in limbo and sit around doing nothing all day.  Some angry rookies hit back at management on Tuesday and accused it of treating them unfairly, insisting that they did not need further training.  A JMPD academy graduate, who was among the 1,500 deemed to be poorly trained, claimed there was no training taking place at the academy.  “We just wake up to go and sit at the training academy. The officials at the academy are not even attending to us,” he alleged, adding that instead of undergoing driving lessons and other training at the academy, they spent the day socialising and sitting under a tree.  “The people who train drivers were still busy with older police officers and we were told that we will start driving fully once we are placed in different regions,” he claimed.  The cop further alleged that the academy was not in a condition to conduct classes in some of its ageing facilities.  Another rookie said the firearm instructors were very strict, which might have scared off several trainees.  JMPD spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said this week that the new graduates had to be returned to the academy to polish up on gun handling, driving and traffic management skills.  After an 18-month training programme which began in 2017, they graduated last year.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Gift Tlou at The Star


SEXUAL MISCONDUCT / HARASSMENT

Cape Town male model loses jobs after inappropriately touching waitress

News24 reports that a Cape Town-based model who was caught on a CCTV camera inappropriately touching a waitress at a local restaurant, has lost his representation at not one but two modelling agencies.  This after the footage of the incident, which happened on Friday night, went viral.  The distressed waitress exposed the man, identified as Reyn du Preez, by posting the clip on Facebook.  She thanked Du Preez's friends who reportedly intervened by stopping him when he allegedly continued to "insult" and "humiliate" the waitress after groping her.  Du Preez released a public apology to the waitress on Instagram, saying he was "ashamed" of his actions and declaring the incident "a moment of bad character under the influence of alcohol".  The German-based modelling agency MODELWERK, where Du Preez worked, issued a statement on Monday indicating that it had terminated his representation with the agency with immediate effect.  Du Preez's "professional relationship" with local agency Boss Models SA has also been terminated with immediate effect.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Amy Gibbings and view the video clip at News24

Deployed troops engaging in sexual misconduct and abuse blights SANDF

Pretoria News writes that the wave of sexual misconduct and abuse claims against deployed troops is a thorn in the side of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).  This was highlighted during the seventh Accountability Colloquium conference in Pretoria attended by 80 delegates from 30 African nations.  SA co-hosted the conference with USA Africa Command members.  Adjutant-General of the SANDF, Major-General Eric Mnisi, said sexual misconduct by deployed troops, especially in the DRC, had become a huge embarrassment for the humanitarian sector.  “One of the challenges we are facing is sexual exploitation and abuse. This is not necessarily rape, but basically troops having consensual sexual relations with the locals, like in the case of the DRC.  That is forbidden by the UN, but unfortunately our colleagues fall in love with the locals and this compromises the mission at hand,” he explained.  Mnisi added this was of great concern because not only were soldiers sidetracked from and softened in their approach to their mission, but they also left children in those countries.  He expressed the hope that by 2025 the Military Discipline Bill would became law, which would mean that soldiers found guilty of sexual misconduct would be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years.  Currently they go through a disciplinary hearing, and a maximum of two years in prison.  Last year Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula launched a task team to investigate cases of sexual exploitation and abuse in the SANDF.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sakhile Ndlazi at Pretoria News

 


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