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
Monday, 16 March 2020.


CORONAVIRUS

Taxi association Santaco wants answers on impact of COVID-19 on commuters

EWN reports that the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) on Monday said it would be meeting with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to assess how travel limitations on commuters using public transport could be handled.  As at Monday mid-morning, 61 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in SA.  Santaco's president Phillip Taaibosch said the impact of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement specifically about taxis would have a massive impact, not only on drivers, but also on the millions of commuters who relied on the mode of transport to get to work every day.  “We are going to seriously look into what can be done to remedy this situation. We are going to try by all means send a message to all, including taxi drivers,” he indicated.  Among measures announced by the president on Sunday were the prohibition of gatherings of more than 100 people and the cancellation of large events and celebrations.  "We further discourage all non-essential domestic travel, particularly by air, rail, taxis and bus," Ramaphosa said in his address.

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Mia Lindeque & Kevin Brandt at EWN

eThekwini metro cops halt use of breathalysers 'to reduce risk' of coronavirus

News24 reports that eThekwini metro police will no longer be using breathalysers at roadblocks for fear of spreading coronavirus, according to a social media post by metro police head Steve Middleton.  The announcement was reportedly made via a voice note which was widely shared.  Middleton then took to social media to confirm this, indicating as follows:  Just to inform I am aware of my voice note having gone viral about no Breatherlysers at ETHEKWINI DURBAN Metro Police Roadblocks, there will be a newspaper article soon.”  He said the decision was in the interest of officers and the public at large, adding that the moratorium on breathalysers "in no way negates the enforcement practice for the infringement of drunken driving", but rather reduces "risk to life and limb we currently face aligned to the spread of the coronavirus".

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Nicole McCain at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Coronavirus a severe threat, jobs to be affected, warns Ramaphosa, at EWN
  • SA’s mining, tourism brace for virus buffeting, at EWN
  • Coronavirus: Gift of Givers raising R2m to assist front-line healthcare workers, at EWN
  • UCT staff member tests positive for coronavirus, major universities close, at TimesLIVE


WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Strike looming over bus sector due to failed wage talks

SowetanLive reports that transport unions have warned of a looming strike in the bus sector after two months of wage negotiations have failed to result in an agreement.  A four-day CCMA mediation over a week ago also failed to get to an agreement for Satawu, Numsa and three other unions in the SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council.  Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela said a strike seemed inevitable next month.  She advised as follows:  "Satawu, Numsa, Towu, Tawusa and Taswu were given a certificate of non-resolution after the four-day mediation they took part in with employer associations COBEA and SABEA failed to produce a wage agreement.”  The parties will now observe a 30-day cooling-off period.  The unions are now pinning their hopes on the last round of mediation set for 30 March to 1 April.  The unions are seeking a one-year agreement, while employers want a three-year deal.  On wages, labour has proposed an 8.5% and 7.5% increment for the two categories of workers respectively.  Employers are offering 6% for year one, 5.5% for year two and 5.5% for year three for the one category and 4.5% increase for each of the three years for the other category.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Isaac Mahlangu at SowetanLive


PROTEST ACTION

Protest by staff keeps unsafe education department building in Sandton closed, with 139 local schools left in the lurch

Sowetan reports that Gauteng Department of Education officials have staged nine days of protest action against an unsafe office building in Sandton, which they claim is endangering the lives of workers.  A leaking roof, blocked toilets and an unbearable stench in the Gauteng education district offices has forced 200 workers to embark on a 12-day protest.  The Parkmore offices have been closed since 3 March, affecting 139 public schools.  Kgatishi Lamola of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) claimed the building did not comply with occupational health and safety and commented further:  “The department pays almost R2m a month to rent these offices. The contract lapsed last year in February and since then they are operating on a month-to-month basis. Who’ll be responsible if something happens to us? We have been complaining about these conditions when we moved in here in 2009.”  The office is responsible for human resource-related matters, monitors municipal accounts, and approves documents, while departmental psychologists are based there.  Lamola said they realised that there had been no service for schools for days, but the safety of workers came first.  Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona said they were aware of infrastructure challenges at the offices, but appealed to labour to work with them rather than disrupting service delivery.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Yoliswa Sobuwa on page 8 of Sowetan of 16 March 2020


MINING LABOUR

With zero fatalities in 2019, Amplats bucks the trend and leads SA’s platinum sector on safety

BL Premium writes that Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats’) record performance with zero fatalities in 2019 was no accident. It came from the culmination of an intense focus on changing the mindset of the company’s workforce and rigorous discipline.  The achievement was all the more remarkable in that the number of deaths at SA’s platinum mines in 2019 surpassed those of the country’s gold mines for the first time.  Fatalities on platinum mines increased to 20 from 12 in 2018. Gold mines accounted for 18 deaths, compared with 40 the year before.  Amplats employs more than 27,000 people, including 3,600 contractors who fall under the company’s intense drive to make its mines safe.  Gordon Smith, executive head technical, safety and sustainability at Amplats, commented:  “We have progressively put in engineering solutions through removing the risk by doing work differently or having different technologies to ultimately eliminate hazards.  But people make choices. So, this journey of ours is about influencing the choices people make at work and day-to-day lives.  It’s hinged on the concept of ‘zero mindsets’, that zero is possible, zero harm, working safely without hurting anyone.”  Many companies adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to the violation of safety rules, which Amplats defines as “simple, non-negotiable standards”.  Anglo American shares safety lessons throughout the group and these are disseminated to the workforce.

Read the full original of the informative report in the above regard by Allan Seccombe at BusinessLive (paywall access only)

Criminal attacks on gold mines pose new threat to South African mining industry

Mining Weekly reports that the recovery in gold prices has coincided with, and is being tainted by, a surge in so-called ‘gold raids’.  These are characterised by heavily armed intruders targeting mining companies and smelt houses, holding staff hostage and making off with concentrate and smelted gold.  According to Charmane Russell, spokesperson for the Minerals Council SA (MCSA – previously called the Chamber of Mines), the attacks are largely driven by organised criminal groups.  But Russell noted that, while crime syndicates were known to drive illegal mining, there was not any conclusive evidence yet to suggest that the same perpetrators were connected in any way to the gold raids.  Armed robberies at gold plants are not particularly novel, but the problem has seemingly escalated, with the criminals having become more brazen.  The MCSA is aware of 19 armed attacks on gold facilities in 2019, during which more than 100 kg of gold was stolen, compared with ten attacks in 2018.  Another facet of these attacks is that they are often characterised by violence.  “These incidents are almost always associated with intimidation and physical abuse of staff and contractors, and have also included hostage taking,” Russell indicated.  Two people were fatally injured in two separate incidents in 2019.  Furthermore, attacks result in additional costs in terms of lost workdays, as well as damaged plants and equipment.  “These crimes are hurting South Africa’s investment and economic prospects, and urgent action is required,” warned Russell.

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


DISMISSALS / SUSPENSIONS

SABC was fair to have dismissed Sam Mochichila for job bribe, CCMA rules

The Sunday Independent reports that Sam Mochichila, an executive producer at Thobela FM’s current affairs, was finally dismissed by the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) last week after it was found by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to have been fair and lawful to dismiss him last year.  Mochichila was fired after the SABC found he broke a relationship trust when it was established that he had received R2,000 from Tlou Moabelo, who was advised by a colleague to make a payment when her contract was about to end on 31 January 2018.  Moabelo was allegedly told that making payments to ensure contracts were renewed was the norm at the SABC office in Polokwane, Limpopo, and if she wanted to get a new contract, she would have to do the same.  Moabelo was employed by the SABC since 2015.  SABC spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu welcomed the ruling, adding that employees who benefited from Mochichila were no longer working for the SABC.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Kenneth Mokgatlhe and Manyane Manyane on page 4 of Sunday Independent of 16 March 2020

eThekwini municipal manager suspended following appearance in court

The Mercury reports that eThekwini municipal manager Sipho Nzuza, has been suspended pursuant to a decision taken at a special executive council meeting held at the City Hall on Friday.  Nzuza was arrested by the Hawks earlier in the week and appeared in the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.  He allegedly colluded with service providers to irregularly procure contracts related to the multimillion-rand Durban Solid Waste (DSW) tender deal.  Nzuza was granted bail.  During his appearance in court, the state alleged that Nzuza’s actions and those of his 16 co-accused were deliberate and that they had acted on a premeditated agenda to loot the state and benefit directly or indirectly.  Nzuza is facing a raft of charges including fraud, corruption, conspiracy to commit fraud and corruption, and contravening the Municipal Financial Management Act.  He is the seventeenth accused in the criminal case involving former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and 15 others.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Se-Anne Rall at The Mercury

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Axed SABC boss Chris Maroleng ‘victim of hit list’, on page 3 of The Star of 13 March 2020
  • ‘Gardening leave’ is out of control in the government (editorial), at BusinessLive


WORKPLACE CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Calls for Eskom to fire COO Jan Oberholzer for alleged corruption

Sunday Independent reports that Eskom chief operating officer (COO) Jan Oberholzer is a shareholder in one of the companies that allegedly defrauded the cash-strapped power utility of R139  billion in inflated contracts, namely JSE-listed engineering and construction firm Stefanutti Stocks.  Moreover, he held several meetings with the company’s directors shortly after his appointment as Eskom second-in-charge in 2018.  The meetings were held with Stefanutti MD Russell Crawford and commercial director John Le Riche at a hotel at OR Tambo International Airport as well as at Kusile power station in Mpumalanga.  Oberholzer is a former Stefanutti MD.  Stefanutti Stocks is the subject of investigations by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the Hawks, while Oberholzer is being probed by the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.  Anti-corruption NGO Corruption Watch and SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi have warned Oberholzer against victimising Eskom general manager Mark Chettiar for reporting the latter to the Zondo Commission.  Corruption Watch has sent a letter to Eskom chief executive, André de Ruyter and to the board chairperson imploring them to protect Chettiar. The letter stated that “the treatment Chettiar has experienced since blowing the whistle is extremely concerning and demonstrates a victimisation of whistle-blowers that places at risk Eskom’s ability to fully address corruption”.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Karabo Ngoepe and Mzilikaza Wa Afrika at Sunday Independent

Three men arrested for trying to bribe Cape Town detective in attempted murder case

News24 reports that in a statement on Friday, Western Cape police indicated that three men had been arrested in Cape Town after trying to bribe a Milnerton detective.  Police spokesperson Segeant Noloyiso Rwexana reported that the detective’s investigations related to an attempted murder in Joe Slovo Park on 4 March.  He followed up on leads and identified the man who had allegedly shot and wounded the victim.  Three Somali men met with the detective and offered him R20,000 in cash as bribe for the disappearance of the docket.  The detective agreed to the arrangement and notified his commanders of the proposed meeting.  Police planned an operation and set up a meeting on Thursday. During the meeting, the detective was handed R5,000 in cash.  The three men were subsequently arrested and are expected to appear in court soon on charges of bribery.  One of the three men is also facing an attempted murder charge for the Joe Slovo Park incident.

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Nhlanhla Jele at News24

Durban cop arrested for alleged corruption related to withdrawal of cases

ANA reports that an officer of the SA Police Service (SAPS) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has been arrested for alleged corruption.  Brigadier Jay Naicker explained that on 6 March detectives from the SAPS KZN anti-corruption unit were approached by a man who informed them that a police officer who issued liquor licences and secondhand goods licences had approached him with regards to fines totalling R9,000 that he owed.  The 48 year old suspect allegedly promised the informant that he would ensure that the fines were withdrawn at court if an amount of R3,000 was paid over.  Apparently in February, the informant paid the suspect R1,500.  The suspect demanded the outstanding R1500 from the informant, who decided to approach the SAPS anti-corruption unit and a case of corruption was opened.  On Friday, detectives from the unit conducted a sting operation and the suspect was arrested at a service station in Isipingo as he received the cash from the informant.  The suspect was scheduled to appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Monday on corruption charges.

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


SEXUAL MISCONDUCT / ABUSE

Four male teachers dismissed since the start of 2020 for sexually abusing female pupils

The Star reports that four male teachers have been shown the door since the start of 2020 for sexually abusing female learners.  Bonani Makhaga, who taught at a Soweto school, was the latest of the four from different schools in various provinces to be dismissed.  The Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC), a bargaining council serving the public education sector, delivered its ruling against Makhaga last week at its headquarters in Centurion.  Makhaga was found guilty on five counts.  Three other teachers were handed their marching orders between last month and this month.  They were Yusuf Khan from KwaZulu-Natal, Zola Sajini from the Eastern Cape and Msimele Sogoni from the Western Cape.  Khan was found guilty of two counts.  Sajini, who had been teaching since 1994, was found guilty of sexually assaulting two learners in 2017.  Sogoni was found guilty of two counts.  The SA Council of Educators (Sace) acted swiftly to de-register teachers guilty of misconduct once it received the ELRC’s rulings, spokesperson Themba Ndhlovu noted.

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Senior journalist 'sexually abused boys over decades', at News24

 


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