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 roundup of weekend news, see
summaries of our selection of South African
labour-related stories that appeared since
Friday, 3 April 2020.


TOP STORY - CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

Nehawu tells Labour Court that health professionals forced to buy own personal protective equipment

Sunday Independent reports that according to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), health professionals at the forefront of the government’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic have been forced to buy their own personal protective equipment (PPE).  This claim was made by general secretary Zola Saphetha in an affidavit filed at the Labour Court in Johannesburg.  “Nehawu is aware that in many of the health facilities, employees, especially doctors and nurses supplement the inadequate government-issued PPE with PPE procured at (their) own cost,” Saphetha averred.  The union has taken Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi and the nine provincial health MECs to the Labour Court on an urgent basis to meaningfully engage with it on measures to mitigate the risk of infection to employees, measures taken to date and plans or measures to ensure that workers were provided with PPE where required.  Pending meaningful engagement and the court’s final order, the union wants its members who are required to be issued with PPE not to be compelled to work without it and not to be threatened or subjected to disciplinary action for refusing to work without the appropriate PPE.  The matter has been set down for Tuesday, but might have to be heard telephonically.  The National Union of Metalworkers of SA on Saturday threw its weight behind Nehawu’s fight for PPE.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Loyiso Sidimba at Sunday Independent. See too, Legal action against health department follows failed attempts to engage, says Nehawu, at EWN. And also, Mkhize ignored our calls for protective gear, says Nehawu, at City Press

Fear grips vulnerable KZN health workers over Covid-19

City Press reports that nurses in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) have expressed fear and trepidation over “what is coming” as SA battles to contain the Covid-19 coronavirus.  A shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the consequent rationing of some supplies in the public health sector have left some “even more anxious”.  As of Friday, the province had registered 225 Covid-19 infections and six deaths, all six of which had been in private hospitals.  The province’s health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu admitted that there was a supply shortage of some PPE in public facilities, but insisted that the hospitals had not “run out” of supplies.  Instead, supplies were being rationed.  Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, a private facility in Durban, announced on Friday that three of its patients had died from Covid-19 complications within 72 hours.  On Friday, KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala told a press briefing, without mentioning St Augustine’s by name, that 11 nurses at a private hospital had tested positive for the virus.  However, all the 11 nurses work at that hospital.  Netcare group chief executive Richard Friedland said he was not concerned about the safety of staff who were treating Covid-19 patients because they had comprehensive PPE.  It was the nurses and other staff members who might have “inadvertently contracted the illness because the three patients were not considered Covid-19 or patients under investigation” who were a concern.  The nurses have been asked to self-isolate at home and four were being provided with private accommodation paid for by Netcare.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Des Erasmus at City Press

Soldiers patrolling streets during lockdown in 'unsafe gear' that doesn’t meet safety standards

Sunday Times reports that soldiers helping to enforce the coronavirus lockdown have been put at risk by sanitisers and face masks that do not meet safety standards.  Sources in the defence force and the department of defence said the poor quality of such equipment had led to anxiety among the soldiers, whose health was at risk.  They said about R10mn had been spent on equipping the army with protective gear, which included hand sanitisers and masks, but claimed that much of the equipment, particularly the sanitisers and masks, had failed safety tests.  The tests, at the Protechnik Laboratories, found the hand sanitisers, procured under the watch of the defence force's chief of logistics, Lt-Gen Jabulani Mbuli, were either alcohol-free or contained only 40% alcohol, which was below the minimum safety requirements of the World Health Organisation and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.  The sources and insiders also claimed that Mbuli and defence force chief Gen Solly Shoke had acted against the advice of the Military Health Services.  When the results of the tests were known, the two generals allegedly refused to recall the sanitisers and masks.  Defence force spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said that the lives of soldiers had not been put at risk.  He confirmed that Protechnik had run tests on the safety equipment and material meant to protect the soldiers, but said only “a few slipped between the cracks”.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Thabo Mokone at Sunday Times

Two Covid-19 positive doctors ‘forced’ into a Limpopo quarantine facility

BusinessLive reports that two doctors working at a Mpumalanga hospital were forced into a quarantine facility in Limpopo despite already self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19.  The SA Medical Association (Sama) criticised Limpopo health MEC Phophi Ramathuba for the “iron-fisted manner” this was done.  However, her department said it was standard procedure and it would not be selective in applying its policies aimed at limiting the spread of Covid-19.  In a letter to Ramathuba on Thursday, Sama chair Angelique Coetzee bemoaned the treatment meted out to doctors Taryn Williams and Claire Olivier, who both tested positive for coronavirus last week.  The doctors work at Mmametlhake Hospital in Mpumalanga, but live together in Modimolle, Limpopo.  Coetzee said that on Tuesday EMS personnel arrived at the doctors’ house informing them they need to be moved to the MDR-TB Hospital in Modimolle, Limpopo, “a move both doctors have resisted”.  In Coetzee’s view the approach taken by the provincial health department regarding the two doctors was “heavy-handed, unfair, and contrary to the provisions which national government has stipulated”.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Luyolo Mkentane at BusinessLive

Staff at Shoprite and Checkers get daily temperature checks, plastic face shields

Business Insider reports that Shoprite and Checkers have rolled out daily temperature testing of their employees at the start of their shifts.  A high temperature is typically the first symptom of Covid-19.  Those who have high temperatures will be referred to the store’s mobile clinics, which are being established across the country.  Employees have also started wearing plastic face shields that are santised on the hour.  Other retailers have also been rolling out protective measures for their staff over the past week.  Clicks has equipped its workers with perspex visors designed to offer protection from droplets from potentially infected customers.  And Pick n Pay has rolled out perspex screens at till points in 300 stores, while all stores will have them soon.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Business Insider

Let more people go to work during lockdown, Institute of Race Relations urges

BusinessLive reports that the government should soften its restrictions on who is permitted to work away from home during the lockdown, to mitigate its effect on the economy and give it the best chance of curbing the transmission of Covid-19.  This was urged last week by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR).  Among the restrictions on travel and social interaction imposed in terms of the Disaster Management Act is a requirement for all but essential workers to stay at home.  A lockdown would only be sustainable if its economic fallout could be mitigated, IRR CEO Frans Cronje said.  “If SA suffers serious economic regression and millions of people are rendered unemployed, there will be mass public revolt to isolation.  Our advice is to … get as much economic activity back on track as soon as possible.”  The concept of “essential workers” should be replaced with an assessment of whether a person could continue with their economic activity without posing a health risk to others, Cronje said.  The IRR recently published a report sketching possible scenarios for SA’s Covid-19 outbreak and suggested a range of policy interventions to mitigate the socioeconomic effects of the disease.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tamar Kahn at BusinessLive

Pam Golding Properties cuts salaries, suspends pension fund contributions as coronavirus lockdown bites

Fin24 reports that property giant Pam Golding Properties (PGP) will be instituting salary cuts and reduced working hours as the effect of the coronavirus lockdown takes its toll on the company.  Pension fund contributions have also been suspended, and the company has applied for Unemployment Insurance Fund Disaster Relief.  The company has suffered a heavy blow as a result of the lockdown period because its agents have been unable to trade as usual.  Additionally, the Deeds Office is closed, which means no properties can be transferred.  In an email to staff on 2 April, chief executive Dr Andrew Golding said that while the company "fully endorsed" the measures instituted by government to contain the spread of the virus, there would be a "significantly detrimental" impact on the property industry in general and PGP in particular.  All new appointments have been frozen, new projects have been halted, rent payments have been negotiated with landlords, and "many other measures" have been put in place.  But, employees earning less than R10,000 per month would continue to earn their current salaries.  The measures will be in place for at least April and May.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Marelise van der Merwe at Fin24. Read too, Deeds office closure hits estate agents, on page 5 of Business Times of 5 April 2020

With SA airlines set to lose R40bn and 186,800 jobs at risk, Iata pleads for Covid-19 help from government

Fin24 reports that according to the latest projections by the International Air Transport Association (Iata), the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the SA airline industry could amount to 10.7 million fewer passengers transported and a loss of about R40 billion.  Iata estimates that every job created in the aviation industry supports another 24 jobs in the wider economy.  So, the industry body believes 186,850 jobs could be at risk in SA, and the industry's contribution to the SA economy could plummet by about R68.4 billion.  According to Muhammad Albakri, Iata's vice president for Africa & Middle East, many governments in the region have committed to provide relief from the effect of Covid-19, but more help was needed.  Iata has called for a mixture of direct financial support, loans, loan guarantees and support for the corporate bond market and tax relief.  "Failure by governments to act now will make this crisis longer and more painful.  Airlines have demonstrated their value in economic and social development in Africa and governments need to prioritise them in rescue packages," the organisation indicated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Carin Smith at Fin24

Fifty-five construction workers arrested at Joburg building site for contravening lockdown

News24 reports that workers at a Johannesburg construction site were arrested after they were found at work despite the national lockdown.  Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar confirmed the arrests of the workers at a construction site in Douglasdale.  They were handed over to the police at the Douglasdale Police Station.  The owner of the construction company was not at the site.  Over last week, more than 17,000 people have been arrested countrywide for various crimes and contravening lockdown regulations.  Of those, 2,005 were released on a warning by the police and ordered to appear in court, 124 were granted police bail and 7,450 fines and 16 court summonses were issued.

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • 'Too soon' to talk about lockdown extension, says Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, at TimesLIVE
  • Sanef 'alarmed' by threats against SABC News crew doing ‘essential work’ in Ulundi, at EWN
  • Two who allegedly posed as soldiers and raped KZN granny arrested, at News24


MINING LABOUR

Accident at Gold One’s Springs mine leaves one employee dead

News24 reports that an accident on Friday at Gold One’s Modder East mine in Springs, Gauteng, has left one man dead.  The employee's body has been retrieved and handed over to the police.  The incident was confirmed by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE).  "The department is aware of the accident and is investigating it in terms of the Mine Health and Safety Act. It would be premature to speculate on causes at this stage," a DMRE spokesperson indicated.  According to a source with knowledge of the mine, the employee would not be deemed essential worker under the national lockdown regulations in place, but this was not confirmed by the DMRE.  To reduce the risk of spread of Covid-19, the DMRE issued guidelines to mines, which included reducing the number of employees on shift and on common transport.  Mining operations have been scaled down significantly, particularly in respect of deep-level mining and inclusive of the gold, chrome and manganese sectors.

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

Minerals Council warns mines must return to work on 17 April ‘or face permanent damage’

BL Premium reports that SA’s mining sector must return to work at the end of the 21-day lockdown or face permanent damage after having already estimated to lose a fifth of April’s production and R7bn in wages during the period.  In a communication to Minerals Council SA members on Friday, the industry body (previously called the Chamber of Mines) stressed how important it was for its members to be allowed to continue mining from 17 April with all safety and mitigating protocols in place to prevent the disease.  The council’s leadership will meet Mineral Resources & Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and department officials on Wednesday.  Mining companies stocked up on face masks, sanitising fluids, gloves and other health equipment ahead of the lockdown.  Mantashe indicated at a briefing on Friday the department had allowed a number of companies to remain operational, but with staffing levels not exceeding half of normal numbers.  Mantashe also advised that there were three confirmed cases of infection on mines.  A number of mining companies have spoken of paying basic wages as well as continued contributions to medical aids and pension funds, but warned that if the lockdown extended beyond 21 days this would have to be revisited if the majority of operations remained closed.  Mining employs 450,000 people and with hundreds of thousands more in businesses supplying goods and services to the mines and their plants.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Allan Seccombe at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read too, DRD consulting with government, labour to restart Far West Rand gold recoveries, at Mining Weekly. And also, Unions up in arms over working mines, on page 2 of The Citizen of 3 April 2020.   As well as, ARM says Assmang JV gets green light to load iron ore amid lockdown, at Moneyweb


EXECUTIVE PAY

How much Maria Ramos got paid on leaving Absa and what new CEO Daniel Mminele will earn this year

Moneyweb reports that Maria Ramos, who retired as Absa Group CEO at the end of February 2019, was paid R3.8 million for her two months’ work in 2019 at the banking group.  This was comprised of R1.6 million for her salary (plus smaller contributions in respect of medical aid and retirement benefits) and R2.1 million in “other employee benefits”, including leave pay.  Consistent with the group’s policy on retirement, Ramos was granted eligible leaver status on her unvested restricted shares, deferred short-term incentive and long-term incentive awards.  All awards subject to eligible leaver treatment remain in the respective plans until the originally scheduled vesting dates.  This means that on leaving the bank, Ramos had outstanding awards totalling R54.7 million (but, given that there was no disclosure beyond her retirement at the end of February, some of these shares may have vested during 2019).  While performance conditions related to the 2017 long-term incentive award ran to the end of 2019, the separation from Barclays will only be substantially complete by June.  This means final vesting will only happen in July.  New CEO Daniel Mminele, who was appointed from 15 January, will receive the following remuneration this year:  A cost-to-company package of R9 million; a long-term incentive award, to be made this month, of R15 million, subject to “group performance conditions” between now and the end of 2022; and an on-target award of R15 million for this year’s “short-term incentive arrangements”.  There were no sign-on or buy-out awards applicable as a result of Mminele joining the group.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Hilton Tarrant at Moneyweb

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Executive salaries: Will a cut boost morale? at Moneyweb


WORKPLACE CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Bellville vehicles crime unit busts five cops and two admin clerks for fraudulent vehicle clearances

News24 reports that five police sergeants and two administrative clerks were arrested on Thursday in Bellville, Langa and Paarl for fraud and corruption.  They allegedly fraudulently issued vehicle clearance documentation for illegally imported, stolen and hijacked vehicles.  Police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa said the arrests by the Bellville vehicles crime unit were made after a protracted investigation into fraudulent vehicle registrations.  The suspects were scheduled to appear in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on 3 April on charges of forgery, fraud and corruption.  "Three other suspects were arrested in 2019 and their cases are already before courts.  As the police investigation progresses, the arrest of more suspects could be on the cards.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ntwaagae Seleka at News24

Three Gauteng traffic cops attached to Special Law Enforcement Unit arrested for allegedly demanding bribe

News24 reports that three Gauteng traffic police officers were arrested on Friday in Midrand for allegedly soliciting and receiving a bribe.  Apparently, the SA Police Service (SAPS) in Midrand got a tip-off that the officers had gone to a house and demanded a bribe.  The officers were subsequently arrested at the house where they were allegedly collecting the remainder of the bribe money they had demanded.  Gauteng MEC for Community Safety Faith Mazibuko praised the Midrand SAPS for the arrest of the three officers, who are attached to the Special Law Enforcement Unit.  The department is expected to serve the officers with suspension letters, pending an investigation into the case.

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

 


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