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, 30 March 2020.


TOP STORY

Recruitment stalls as advertised posts are frozen

Business Times reports that, with SA on shutdown to try to slow the spread of Covid-19, companies are freezing posts they previously advertised.  Even before that, companies in SA were already cautious about hiring as they struggled in a creaking local economy.  Now, as the spectre of a global recession looms, companies both foreign and local are battening down the hatches.  Nicole Long of Be Different Recruitment, which specialises in placing highly skilled candidates in the financial services, banking, IT and legal sectors, commented:  "There was tremendous fear in many employees' minds prior to Covid-19; however their fear is doubling with the lockdown and companies struggling to operate.  The majority of our clients are placing their positions on hold that were previously advertised due to Covid-19.  This does not just apply to local companies we work with."  She indicated that even before the emergence of coronavirus, SA was "already under so much pressure" with companies fearful of hiring due to the economic uncertainty predicted for 2020.  Stacey Bossenger, director of Ad Talent, which focuses on the digital and IT sector, public relations, advertising, creative industries and marketing, said "companies are pulling jobs or putting recruitment on hold until further notice".  But she added that there were still some fairly senior roles that people were continuing to recruit for, such as digital marketing managers, heads of communications, designers, strategists and heads of marketing.

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


CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN

Some employers trying to shift lockdown burden onto employees rather than using relief scheme, others not providing safety gear

The Star reports that Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) Minister Thulas Nxesi has revealed that they were receiving resistance from some employers in connection with the payment of workers through the financial assistance the DEL has provided by way of the Covid-19 relief scheme.  Concerns were apparently being received from workers and unions that some employers were seeking to shift the burden of the lockdown on to the workers by using their annual leave as the first line of response to the lockdown.  “This is despite the fact that we have said that the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) will fund and put in place systems to address the lay-offs during the lockdown in relation to workers registered for UIF.  It is important that all parties understand that the UIF cannot deal with millions of individual claims – this would lead to chaos,” Nxesi pointed out.  The DEL has put in place systems to pay out UIF benefits through companies, sectoral associations and bargaining councils.  The textile bargaining council has already concluded such an agreement with labour.  The minister also threatened to name and shame companies that did not provide their workers with the required personal protective clothing.  Indicating that the DEL had received numerous complaints from workers that some employers were forcing them to work without the necessary personal protective equipment, Nxesi commented:  “At this stage, we are urging these employers to do the right thing.  By next week, we will start to name and shame individual companies and branches.”  He added that inspectors were following up complaints, largely in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mayibongwe Maqhina on page 3 of The Star of 30 March 2020

Treasury outlines details of R15bn business relief for coronavirus lockdown and its aftermath

BusinessLive reports that the National Treasury has provided details of the relief measures to assist businesses deal with the effects of the three week national lockdown and its aftermath.  There are three relief measures amounting to a total of R15bn — one expanding the age eligibility and the amount claimable under the employment tax incentive (ETI) worth R10bn, and two others allowing respectively for the deferral of the payment of PAYE (R2bn) and provisional tax (R3bn) for tax compliant small and medium businesses.  To minimise the loss of jobs as businesses struggle to cope with the coronavirus epidemic, the ETI will be expanded for those qualifying companies registered with Sars for a period of four months from 1 April to 31 July.  The maximum amount claimable under the incentive during this period will be increased from R1,000 to R1,500 in the first qualifying 12 months and from R500 to R1,000 in the second 12 qualifying months.  The payment of ETI reimbursements will be accelerated from twice a year to monthly to improve companies’ cash flow.  Also intended to assist in alleviating cash-flow problems will be the deferral of the payment of 20% of the PAYE liability of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) for the period 1 April to 31 July.  Tax compliant SMEs will also be able to defer a portion of the payment of the first and second provisional tax liability to the SA Revenue Service in the period from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.

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

Public transport hours extended to assist social grant recipients

News24 reports that Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has extended the hours during which public transport services are allowed to operate to accommodate social grant recipients.  He said in a statement on Sunday:  "Effective from tomorrow, 30 March 2020, until Friday, 3 April 2020, buses and taxis will be permitted to operate from 05:00 until 20:00 in order to cater to the transportation needs of society's most vulnerable.  The exercise of social distance by all those using public transport must be observed and enforced.  We will issue further directions in this regard."  During the lockdown, public transport services are only allowed to operate daily between 05:00 and 09:00 and again from 16:00 to 20:00.  But the minister said several industry bodies and Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu made representations on the issue.  A spokesperson for the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) said the extension of the operating hours was a relief for their industry.

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

Labour laws are still in effect notwithstanding lockdown

In a letter to the editor of Business Day, MP and well-known labour analyst Michael Bagraim notes that there has been a lot of confusion over labour issues arising from the Covid-19 lockdown.  For example, it has been queried whether employees who have been told to stay home and can’t work remotely are entitled to be paid and also whether employers can make employees take paid leave.  He points out that labour legislation still applies, specifically the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act.  In essence, a wage is only given in return for hours worked, so if the hours are not worked there would be no legal claim for a wage or salary.  But the Department of Employment & Labour has asked employers to pay their employees while on lockdown if they possibly can, or to at least try to make up the difference between payments from the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the actual wage.  Regarding forced leave, if there is no contractual agreement on the issue of leave, the employer is entitled to decide when paid leave must be taken by the employee.  If no paid leave is owing, employees must take unpaid leave.

Read Bagraim’s letter in full at BusinessLive

Bemawu accuses SABC of ‘concealing’ employee’s Covid-19 infection, threatens to sue

The Star reports that Hannes Du Buisson, president of the Broadcasting Electronic Media and Allied Workers’ Union (Bemawu), has accused the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) of endangering the lives of its employees by “concealing” the infection of a worker at its Auckland Park headquarters.  The union sent a stinging letter to SABC chief executive Madoda Mxakwe on Sunday, accusing the head of news Phathiswa Magopeni and Manny Alho, the HR manager for the news department, of knowing as far back as 19 March that an employee in the news research department had been in contact with someone with coronavirus.  The researcher has since tested positive for coronavirus, according to an internal SABC communique issued on Saturday.  The employee was said to be off sick and in hospital.  “It has also come to light that the affected employee has a close relative at digital news. As a precautionary measure, the relative is in self-isolation while observing prescribed protocols,” the communique indicated.  This is the second case of an infected SABC employee, with the first being at the broadcaster’s Kimberley office in the Northern Cape.  In its letter the union alleged that the broadcaster concealed the infection from staff, and “forced” employees to report for work, despite knowing of apparent dangers at the headquarters.  “If anyone else gets infected, then we will absolutely file legal action against the SABC … There is no regard for people’s lives at the SABC,” Du Buisson said.  But the SABC board slammed Bemawu on Sunday as “alarmist and peddling false information”.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Khaya Koko on page 1 of The Star of 30 March 2020

DA calls for military ombudsman to investigate abusive behaviour by SANDF members during lockdown

Independent News reports that the behaviour of SA National Defence Force (SANDF) members during the country's nationwide lockdown has come under scrutiny, with videos surfacing on social media showing soldiers allegedly abusing their power.  The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on the military ombudsman to investigate the cases that have appeared on social media.  In one video, a man is seen being forced to do squats and push-ups with soldiers watching on.  Other videos have shown soldiers using force in admonishing people who were in their yards.  There have also been complaints on the difference in treatment of people living in townships and those who live in the suburbs.  The DA said the behaviour by SANDF members was disgusting and should be condemned.  The party’s Kobus Marais said he had written to the military ombudsman General Vusi Masondo to request an investigation.  The party has also written to Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.  “I also engaged the acting Chief of the Army, Major General M.J. De Goede, who confirmed that the matter had been registered for investigation. We trust that this investigation will be transparent and that the SANDF and SAPS members involved will be held fully accountable for their deplorable behaviour,” Marais indicated.

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

East Rand metro cop and security officer on murder charge after fatal lockdown enforcement

TimesLIVE reports that an Ekurhuleni metro police department (EMPD) officer and a second man have been arrested in connection with a deadly shooting incident during a Covid-19 lockdown enforcement operation in Vosloorus on Sunday.  Acting Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) spokesperson Sontaga Seisa said EMPD officers were patrolling the area on Sunday when they noticed people drinking alcohol at a tavern.  Community members apparently attacked officers when they attempted to make an arrest.  “In retaliation the police then discharged rubber bullets. It is further alleged that the deceased was followed up to his veranda where he was fatally shot,” Seisa reported.  Sibusiso Amos, 40, was declared dead on the scene.  Four children aged five, six and twins of 11 were shot and injured.  They were transported to hospital.  Seisa said two men, a 34-year-old EMPD officer and a “45-year old civilian person who is believed to be a private security officer”, were arrested on Sunday evening and charged with attempted murder and murder.  They are expected to appear in the Boksburg regional court on Tuesday.

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • ConCourt dismisses NGO's application to challenge SA's 21-day lockdown, at News24
  • Under lockdown SA’s working poor is just poor, at Mail & Guardian
  • Step-by-step guide to registering your business as a lockdown essential service, at Fin24
  • Newcastle mayor rolls up his sleeves to help fellow doctors with Covid-19, at Independent News
  • Vuvuzelas, cheers and banging of pots for essential workers, at TimesLIVE
  • Frustration for some social grant recipients in Joburg as transport issues delay staff, at News24


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Increase in attacks on Western Cape ambulance crews a big worry

Cape Argus reports that attacks on ambulance crews in the Western Cape continue unabated with four of the latest assaults happening in one week.  They bring to 12 the number of attacks on medics since the beginning of the year.  Emergency Medical and Forensic Pathology Services spokesperson Deanna Bessick said another incident happened on Sunday in Lavender Hill, where two paramedics - a male and female - responded to a call.  On their way back to their base they were approached by an armed suspect, as they were exiting Sea Winds.  The crew accelerated to get away and their vehicle was stoned.  The damage is being assessed, but fortunately there were no injuries.  In another incident, a male and female EMS officials were on their way to pick up night shift staff on Saturday when suspects attempted to hijack them at Browns Farm in Philippi.  Regarding the other incidents, paramedics were assaulted by a patient’s family on Saturday in Greenhaven because they wanted the patient to be transported to Groote Schuur Hospital, instead of the Heideveld Community Health clinic.  Another EMS crew was robbed of their medical instruments and cash at Site B, Khayelitsha, on Wednesday.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sisonke Mlamla at Cape Argus

Ambulance crew robbed by gunmen on Sunday night in Winterveld in Pretoria while assisting patient

News24 reports that the Gauteng Department of Health has condemned an attack on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers on Sunday night in Winterveld, Pretoria North.  The crew were attacked by two gunmen while attending to a patient.  "Two males approached the open ambulance door whilst the crew was busy sighting an IV line for the patient, and produced a gun.  The perpetrators fled with the belongings of the crew.  Fortunately no one was harmed," the department advised.  It went on to say:  "Our healthcare resources are stretched to the limit as we work around the clock to curb the spread of Covid-19.  The last thing we want is for healthcare workers to start fearing for their lives, instead of being concerned about saving as many lives as possible."  It also said the safety of its staff members was a top priority.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Azarrah Karrim at News24

North West man arrested for biting, stabbing cop

News24 report that a 29-year-old man was arrested over the weekend after he allegedly bit and stabbed a police officer during a crime prevention operation.  Police spokesperson Capt Sam Tselanyane said officers from Ikageng near Potchefstroom in North West were patrolling when they came across the man. He was stopped and searched and was found to be in possession of a laptop, which he claimed belonged to his friend.  “A further search was conducted on the suspect, and he was found to be in possession of a knife. It was at that point that the suspect tried to flee, but he was swiftly, apprehended,” Tselanyane said.  The man bit and stabbed an officer on his hands during a scuffle, before being overpowered and arrested.  The alleged attacker was scheduled to appear in the Potchefstroom Magistrate’s Court on Monday on theft and assault charges.

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


BUSINESS RESCUE

No more taxpayers’ money for state-owned regional airline SA Express

Engineering News reports that the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) issued a press release on Sunday regarding the business rescue process for state-owned regional airline SA Express.  Noting that the airline’s business rescue practitioners (BRPs) had made a court application to liquidate SA Express, the DPE indicated that the government could provide no further financial support for the carrier.  “The government has provided more than R1.2-bn in urgent financial support to SA Express for the 2019/20 financial year, including the R300m released last October.  This was an attempt to restore the damage done to the airline by corruption and mismanagement perpetrated by previous leadership teams of the airline. … The damage done has turned out to be graver than initially assessed.  As a result, the Government is not in a position to give further fiscal comfort especially in these difficult economic times and considering the competing priorities,” the DPE stated.  Regarding the liquidation application, the DPE said that it would “determine its course of action” after studying it.   Regarding the airline’s workforce, the DPE assured that the government had gone to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) with a formal application, to make certain that SA Express employees received the support they needed.  The UIF has been asked to expedite the process.  The business rescue process for SA Express was initiated in February.

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


WORKPLACE CONDITIONS

Chinese national who locked workers in Durban factory to make masks, granted R20,000 bail

TimesLIVE reports that a 53-year-old Chinese national has been granted R20,000 bail in the Durban Magistrate's Court in connection with charges related to contravening the Disaster Management Act.  The man was arrested by a multidisciplinary team on Sunday for allegedly locking up 14 employees for several days and forcing them to produce masks in response to the demand created by the outbreak of the coronavirus.  At the time of publishing, the man had not posted bail.  His next appearance was set down for 20 June.  Meanwhile, the Chinese consulate in Durban expressed shock at the arrest of the man whom they said was “working hard to help KZN in its fighting against the (Corona) virus”.  In a statement, the Consulate General of China in Durban said “the factory located in Glen Anil Durban was specially set up to help KZN people's fighting against the virus last week”.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Zimasa Matiwane at TimesLIVE

 


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