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
Thursday, 12 March 2020.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Cabinet adopts bill for occupational disease and injury compensation cover for domestic workers

BusinessLive reports that the Cabinet has approved the submission of a bill to parliament that proposes the inclusion of domestic workers in the coverage of compensation for occupational diseases and injuries.  The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Bill provides for the inclusion of domestic workers as employees qualifying for benefits under the act and for the improvement of compensation benefits for employees in general.  The draft amendment bill also proposes a rehabilitation and re-integration framework of injured and/or diseased workers into the workplace.

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

SAHRC hears evidence on steps taken to stop attacks on foreign long-distance truck drivers

The Star reports that more stakeholders have appeared before the SA Humans Rights Commission (SAHRC) to report on the role they have played in reducing the attacks on foreign long-distance truck drivers.  Danaline Franzman, chief director of social justice and participatory democracy at the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, said they had engaged in a number of anti-xenophobia campaigns annually to curb attacks on foreign nationals.  She indicated that through their National Action Plan they had implemented a public policy to address these crimes.  Franzman stated that their partnership with the Department of Social Development was key in piloting anti-xenophobia campaigns in various communities.  “It has been successful and we continue to engage with community members on Human Rights Day and World Refugee Day to raise awareness,” she stated.  Department of Justice acting-director general court services, Tsietsi Malema, told the commission that they had dealt with a number of cases relating to the arrest of foreign nationals in the country.

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


COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Government’s public sector wage bill plan headed down a dead end

Financial Mail writes that the government’s review of the three-year 2018 public sector wage agreement, announced last month, may just turn out to be a damp squib.  For all the government’s posturing and claims to be talking to labour about reviewing the deal, the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC), where the agreement was struck, says the government cannot simply pull out of the deal.  Should it do so and fail to give effect to the wage increase it agreed to in the 2018 wage talks, the government risks being hauled to court by unions in litigation that could span a number of years.  Such a move could also place the government in a precarious position politically, given the breach of trust it would involve.  This was indicated by PSCBC general secretary Frikkie de Bruin about the review tabled in the council on 25 February.  He advised that there were no formal talks about the review under way between the government and the unions in the council.  He commented both sides were "upset" and had their own preferred approaches to the engagement. The unions, for example, were refusing to entertain talk about a review, while the government wanted labour to agree to the possibility of a review before entertaining any further talks.  How the government proceeds will set the tone for the next round of wage talks, set to unfold later this year.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Natasha Marrian at BusinessLive


PROTESTS / STRIKES

Glencore’s Astron refinery in Cape Town embroiled in pay dispute

Bloomberg reports that contractors at Astron Energy’s Cape Town refinery, owned by Glencore, are protesting over pay as the company pursues a turnaround at the plant. Astron indicated in a reply to questions that an annual maintenance shutdown has been under way at the refinery, where workers employed by contractors that provide services are in a wage dispute with their employers.  The main grievance raised by the workers apparently relates to varying pay rates being paid by different contractors.  Astron is “currently meeting employee representatives to get a better understanding of their grievances and to assist in resolving these matters. We look forward to engaging all parties to find a workable solution that helps us remain on schedule,” the company indicated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Paul Burkhardt at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Post Office strike dents HomeChoice profits, at BusinessLive


MINING LABOUR

Amcu under threat of deregistration over its accounts and legitimacy of leaders

Financial Mail reports that the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (Amcu) is under threat of deregistration, this time over alleged irregularities in its finances and the legitimacy of key office bearers, including its president, Joseph Mathunjwa.  The registrar, Lehlohonolo Molefe, has questioned an amount in the union’s financial statements of R192m, which the union apparently receives for the "rendering of services".  Molefe would like to know what is meant by this and has questioned "other operating expenses" of around R30m.  Amcu has been in Molefe’s crosshairs in the past, first over its failure to hold an elective conference and also for not providing up-to-date audited financial statements as required by law.  In September last year, Amcu met the legal requirements and was granted a reprieve.  However, in a letter in February this year, the threat of deregistration was once again made — this time over apparent irregularities in its finances and questions over the legitimacy of Amcu’s top leaders.  The president of a trade union must be a worker leader and, by law, should be employed by a company on a full-time basis and seconded to the union.  Mathunjwa was at one time employed by BHP, but there are questions over whether he remains in its employ — which would mean he was no longer eligible to be president.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Natasha Marrian at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read too, Amcu to give an update on financial irregularities with Labour Registrar, at EWN

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Exxaro creates 746 jobs, supports 30 enterprises, lifts dividend, at Mining Weekly


JOB LOSSES

Construction sector sheds thousands of jobs as it faces late payments, community mafias

Engineering News reports that around 90,000 formal jobs were lost in the SA construction industry from June 2018 to September 2019, according to construction market intelligence firm Industry Insight.  CEO Elsie Snyman indicated that employment in the sector currently stood at around 600,000 people.  She added that the likelihood of a turnaround in employment was unlikely considering the direction where the industry was headed.  In fact, Industry Insight expects more job losses, taking account of the trend in January and February.  According to Snyman, the construction industry was under “immense pressure”, with its challenges including poor economic growth; financial constraints within government; late payment by government; a lack of private sector confidence; corruption, which is further eroding funds; underspending of budgets; concerns over whether contacts are awarded to skilled contractors; the slow awarding of contracts, currently at around 12 to 18 months; and the rise of the construction mafia, with some ‘communities’ continuing to violently disrupt construction sites.  A conservative estimate is that 84 projects with a value of R42-billion have been affected by the construction mafia.

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


SUSPENSIONS

Government spends millions on suspended employees

BusinessLive reports that national government departments spent R22m on suspensions of employees in the three months from July to September last year, a sharp increase from the R8m spent in the previous three months.  Employees on suspension don’t come to work but receive their full pay until the finalisation of their disciplinary cases, which can take years at huge cost to the state.  The amount spent on suspensions is likely to be much higher as there is underreporting by departments on suspensions and disciplinary cases, the MPs heard from Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) officials on Wednesday.  Departments have also failed to comply with the ruling that disciplinary cases be finalised within 90 days and not to have suspensions longer than 60 days.  The DPSA is working with the Treasury in an effort to use the government payroll system Persal for reporting and capturing disciplinary cases and suspensions so that it can gather accurate data. Currently the information is consolidated manually in a paper-based system.

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


WORKPLACE CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Pension payout of fired NHLS CEO to be withheld until damages claim against her is finalised

News24 reports that the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), together with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), has secured an order from the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria allowing it to not pay out any pension benefits to its former CEO Joyce Mogale.  The order was granted on 5 March 2020 and directed the pension fund and its administrators to not pay out funds that might be due to her, pending the finalisation of a damages claim against her.  Mogale and chief financial officer Sikhumbuzo Zulu were fired in May last year, following "procurement irregularities" worth R200 million.  Then in August last year, a damages claim was instituted against Mogale and another former official of the NHLS in the Johannesburg Labour Court for about R236 million.  SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago advised that in terms of Section 37D of the Pension Funds Act, a pension fund is empowered to deduct any amount that a member owes to his/her employer in respect of any damage caused to the employer by reason of any theft, dishonesty, fraud or misconduct by the member.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Riaan Grobler at News24

Three former senior employees accused of defrauding National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) of R93m

The Star reports that an elaborate R93-million scheme to defraud the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) was allegedly orchestrated by three of its former senior managers, who worked in tandem with a convicted fraudster.  The State made these allegations against Thuso Motsepe, the former supply chain manager; Mthunzi Mthimkhulu, the former facilities manager; and Sibusiso Mthenjana, who had been head of the legal department.  They appeared in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Tuesday on charges of tender fraud and corruption involving R93.7m.  It also emerged that Mthimkhulu was facing another charge for allegedly stealing 17 cars belonging to the state entity.  The accused allegedly worked in tandem with re-arrested fugitive Pierre Petersen to fraudulently approve a lucrative tender in 2016 to supply the NHLS with the “provision, maintenance and support of end-user computer hardware for a period of three years”.  These included desktops, laptops and associated peripheral devices, on-site labour and repairs. Petersen is the managing director of Blue Future, the company at the centre of the alleged corruption that received the tender.  All the accused indicated to the court that they were innocent of the charges against them.

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

Five Sassa employees in KZN arrested for fraud

TimesLIVE reports that five SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) employees in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) have been nabbed for alleged fraud by the Hawks.  According to Hawks KZN spokesperson Capt Simphiwe Mhlongo, members from the Durban serious corruption investigation unit arrested the five on Wednesday.  He went on to say:  “The suspects were arrested in different offices around Pietermaritzburg after an intensive prosecution-guided investigation by the task team comprised of Hawks members, Sassa investigators and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).   The five allegedly processed old-age grants in Mooi River local office and bank accounts were opened in the Western Cape.”  They were scheduled to appear in the Mooi River Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Suthentira Govender at TimesLIVE

Five Free State traffic officials bust for truck driving license racket

TimesLIVE reports that five traffic officials are among nine people arrested over truck licences issued in the Free State to people who never actually took the tests.  According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), so-called “jockeys” took the tests, but the licences were instead given to other people, who were never tested.  RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane said the alleged corruption involved two examiners, three administration clerks and four jockeys, all based in Bethlehem.  “The applicants are introduced by the driving school instructors to the examiners, who are supposed to do the tests. Money will then be paid to the examiners or driving school instructor by the applicant, or vice versa,” Zwane advised.  He indicated further as follows:  “Truck (code 14) licences were issued to individuals who were not physically tested themselves, but a so-called 'jockey' was used to do the physical testing on the applicant’s behalf.”  More arrests are expected.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Kgaugelo Masweneng at TimesLIVE


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES AND ARTICLES

  • Eastern Cape suspects behind cash-in-transit heist escape from custody in police vehicle, at TimesLIVE
  • Manufacturing down for eighth straight month in January, at BusinessLive

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page