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, 29 June 2020.


COVID-19 HEALTH & SAFETY

More than 450 health-care workers in KZN have tested positive for Covid-19

TimesLIVE reports that KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) premier Sihle Zikalala on Sunday revealed that more than 450 health-care workers have tested positive for Covid-19 in the province.  He said 478 positive cases, including doctors, nurses, allied health-care workers and support staff, were reported in both the private and public health-care sectors.  Provincial government departments have also been hit by the deadly virus, with 457 employees testing positive.  “Out of concern for the growing statistics in this regard, we are undertaking the following interventions per department: intense and regular training of staff, which will include programmes to promote behavioural change; psychological maturity and de-stigmatisation of Covid-19.  We will also intensify training on donning and doffing procedures, referring to how to put on the protective gear, and how to take it off safely,” Zikalala indicated.  He went on to say:  “We also want all nurses to take on the role of being champions of Covid-19 so they can monitor each other.  We will also continue consulting with labour unions in this regard.”  eThekwini is still the epicentre of Covid-19 in the province.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nivashni Nair at TimesLIVE

Safety measures not observed at PE’s Livingstone Hospital, audit report warns

HeraldLIVE reports that screening protocols are falling through the cracks at Livingstone Hospital, common areas are not being regularly sanitised and staff are not wearing their personal protective equipment (PPE) properly, increasing the risk of Covid-19 spreading through the Port Elizabeth hospital and into the community.  These warnings, contained in an internal audit report commissioned by the Eastern Cape health department, coincide with a sudden increase in the number of coronavirus infections and deaths in Nelson Mandela Bay.  The audit report recommends swift and decisive action to fix the problems, but though it was handed over to Livingstone Hospital management a week ago, nothing has changed, according to an informed source.  The hospital management has to take immediate steps to rectify the situation, the report indicates.  “Management should put measures in place to ensure staff adhere to all protocols relating to PPE and sanitising, and disciplinary action should be taken against staff who do not comply,” it recommends.  The report notes further that Livingstone Hospital does not have an appointed compliance officer.  Eastern Cape health superintendent-general Dr Thobile Mbengashe said he was not aware of the report.  

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Guy Rogers and Nomazima Nkosi at TimesLIVE

Rustenburg municipal council hit hard by Covid-19 cases

SowetanLive reports that the Rustenburg local municipality has been hit hard by Covid-19 cases in respect of its leadership.  On Sunday, the municipality confirmed that two of its MMCs had tested positive, as well as two staff members in the mayor's office, a person in the chief whip's office and an employee in the speaker's office.  This took the number of people who have tested positive in the council’s staff and management to 15.  In a statement, executive mayor Mpho Khunou said Covid-19 tests were conducted among the council’s leadership on 24 June.  Results came back later with four new positive cases, all of whom have since gone into self-isolation.  Last week, the North West province saw an increase in its contribution of Covid-19 cases to the national total, with an increase of 500 positive cases in just three days.  As at Thursday, Rustenburg municipality had the second most cases in the province at 1,682, behind Bojanala district municipality with 1,883.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Penwell Dlamini at SowetanLive

Nationwide 775 schools have had to temporarily close in past three weeks due to Covid-19

News24 Wire reports that according to the Department of Basic Education (DBE), 523 pupils and 1,169 school staff members have tested positive for Covid-19, impacting on 775 schools across the country.  The DBE indicated in a statement:  “Schools have been temporarily closed and reopened around the country in the past three weeks to allow affected areas to be disinfected.  Schools – just like clinics, police stations, shops, mines and other frequently visited places – have found themselves also having to close and reopen.  This is in response to infections identified during the screening process and in line with health protocols on how to treat and environment with possible contamination.”  The department urged schools to strictly follow health protocols to manage Covid-19 and to ensure pupils and employees were screened using the department’s Covid-19 procedures and questionnaire.  The DBE noted that schools played an important role in the efforts to control the spread of Covid-19 and they must therefore take steps to circulate information about the disease and its potential transmission within the school community.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard on page 3 of The Citizen of 29 June 2020

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • 'We just thought it was flu', laments family of Tygerberg nurse who died of Covid-19, at TimesLIVE
  • Athletics SA cites lack of insurance for Covid-19 for delay in return to training, at BusinessLive
  • Low rate of positive Covid-19 tests a good sign, say Safa and PSL, at BusinessLive
  • Teachers honour peers who lost their lives to Covid-19, on page 4 of The Star of 29 June 2020


OTHER OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Teachers at Ivory Park down tools over dangerous structural defects to school building

SowetanLive reports that teachers at Eqinisweni Secondary School outside Tembisa, north of Johannesburg, have downed tools, complaining about structural defects at their school which pose a danger to their lives.  They claimed that even though an engineers’ report showed that the school in Ivory Park had problems, the district director still wanted them to continue with classes.  The report followed the collapse of one of the classrooms during the first week of the national lockdown.  One of the teachers said:  "Some of the walls are no longer holding, as a result they are shaky.  The report from the engineers who came to inspect the school shows clearly that the disaster can happen any time.  The department is not serious about our safety, we are worried about our learners ... We are not going to be killed by coronavirus but by the building that will fall on us."  The engineers recommended that an urgent response was required and that the area of the collapse should remain barricaded.  Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona commented:  "The process to appoint the contractor is at an advanced stage.  We are also finalising the process to accommodate the school at an identified neighbouring school accordingly."

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Yoliswa Sobuwa at SowetanLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • More violence from patients at Bheki Mlangeni District Hospital in Soweto, on page 9 of Sowetan of 29 June 2020


LABOUR MARKET / JOBS / STAFFING

Jobs lost now due to Covid-19 lockdown might never be restored

Business Times writes that the economic devastation inflicted by the Covid-19 lockdown has already forced several companies to shed jobs and more job cuts appear inevitable as the pandemic rages on.  First National Bank economist Mamello Matikinca-Ngwenya believes SA has yet to grasp the full impact on employment, which will begin to emerge in the second-quarter data.  She expects job losses to reach over 1-million this year, while the Nedbank Economic Unit expects the figure to be about 1.6-million.  Many economists predict retrenchments will continue until at least the end of this year.  According to Sanisha Packirisamy of Momentum Investments, those who are laid off may end up in long-term unemployment as they lose out on exposure to on-the-job training.  As reskilling employees to work in different sectors poses a significant challenge, the post-Covid-19 jobs crisis could bring with it a rise in long-term unemployment, a reduction in labour productivity and increased poverty.  The longer people remain unemployed, the harder it becomes for them to get rehired, particularly in the case for young people.  Moreover, mechanisation and automation could speed up in sectors that can easily substitute labour with capital.  Seifsa economist Marique Kruger says that the Covid-fuelled job losses will delay efforts to reindustrialise the economy, but at the same time they will present an opportunity to rejig employment opportunities in line with new work roles.  She has urged the government to strategically support initiatives that will provide the unemployed with specific skills that will enable them to compete in the job market and be ready for new opportunities.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jane Steinacker at BusinessLive

No need to employ extra teachers to accommodate social distancing, says Angie Motshekga

Independent News reports that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) does not expect a significant number of teachers to be employed during the coming period, with only a few cases of schools requiring more classrooms.  This was indicated by Minister Angie Motshekga, who was responding to a parliamentary question about whether more teachers would be appointed across the country to teach the split classes of the different grades during the Covid-19 pandemic.  “There will be a few cases where schools will require additional classroom space to accommodate learners.  On the whole, there will be no need to appoint additional educators in large numbers to accommodate social distancing,” Motshekga advised.  She added that it was not expected that the demand for additional teachers due to social distancing would rise, as the main constraint was the availability of classroom space.  “Schools will use various models to accommodate learners; including alternate times, days, weeks’ attendance, depending on the context of a particular school,” Motshekga pointed out.  Where educators should be required to work additional hours, it would be within reasonable limits, also taking into account that all extra-curricular activities have been suspended.

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


RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB CUTS

ICTU threatens to strike at Cell C over possible job cuts

Business Report writes that the Information Communication Technology Union (ICTU) has threatened to down tools across Cell C’s operations if the company does not withdraw the section 189 notice that it issued last week informing employees of possible retrenchments.  The mobile operator is grappling under severe liquidity constraints and has proposed reducing its workforce by up to 40%.  It has advised that of 2,500 positions, 960 might be affected by the restructuring.  ICTU, the majority union at Cell C, said on Friday that retrenchments were not an option given the R4 billion recapitalisation programme approved by the Competition Commission last week aimed at keeping the company afloat and jobs secure.  ICTU spokesperson Thabang Mothelo said workers would down tools until the notice was withdrawn.  “We are not interested in negotiating.  The ball is in Cell C’s court to either comply or go to the battlefield,” Mothelo said.  He also noted that the union had bent over backwards during last year’s wage negotiations in agreeing to a 6% salary hike, instead of an 8% increase, in order to sustain Cell C’s liquidity and avoid retrenchments.  A Cell C spokesperson said the section 189 consultation process would begin next week.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Dineo Faku on page 11 of Business Report of 29 June 2020


SAA BUSINESS RESCUE

Pravin Gordhan accuses unions of having set SAA on path to liquidation

BL Premium reports that the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE), which has fought to save SA Airways (SAA), says the rescue process has been derailed by trade unions whose actions have set the airline on the path to liquidation.  At a meeting of creditors on Thursday, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) and the SAA Pilots’ Association (Saapa), alongside several creditors, successfully sought to postpone a decision on the business rescue plan until 14 July.  The DPE’s claim was made in a statement on Sunday, in which it said it was withdrawing from a leadership consultative forum it had established with organised labour to develop a new and restructured SAA.  The airline has been in business rescue for six months.  But the process has not been completed due to ongoing delays in finalising the business rescue plan.  If the plan is rejected and an alternative not proposed, SAA will be placed in provisional liquidation.  The DPE’s statement also reported thast the relationship between Numsa, Sacca and the business rescue practitioners had broken down.  Moreover, it claimed that by supporting SA Airlink’s bid to adjourn the creditors’ meeting, Numsa, Sacca and the Saapa had contradicted the letter and spirit of the leadership compact.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Claudi Mailovich at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read too, SAA negotiation platform with unions crashes, at Business Report


MINING LABOUR

Debt-ravaged Petra Diamonds puts itself up for sale

BL Premium reports that SA-focused Petra Diamonds has put its entire business or parts of its assets up for sale as a R11.25bn debt repayment looms in May 2022.  No offers have yet been received.  The global diamond industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, which has dried up buying of jewellery, leading to low demand for rough diamonds and shrinking mining companies’ revenue streams.  Petra is a major producer of SA diamonds alongside De Beers.  It has three mines in SA and one in Tanzania.  The two primary assets in Petra are its Finsch and Cullinan underground mines in SA that generate nearly 90% of diamond output and three quarters of the company’s revenue.  In the most recent update, Petra noted that in the March quarter its revenue had dropped by a third as the pandemic swept across the globe.

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


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT

Rough ride for commuters this week as taxis hike fares and trains will probably still not be running

City Press reports that commuters are in for a rough ride this week as they face not only a hike in taxi fares, but also the possibility of being unable to use the country’s trains.  With the new taxi fares set to come into effect on Wednesday nationally, people were hoping to use trains as an alternative mode of transport, given that rail lines were set to open on Wednesday as well.  However, they may be in for a rude awakening.  While state-owned rail agency Prasa has proved to be compliant with social distancing regulations, its ability to meet its technical responsibilities has been called into question.  While other modes of public transport were permitted to resume operations at the beginning of June, albeit under strict Level 3 lockdown regulations, rail operations were delayed.  Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula attributed this to Prasa not being ready to open.  Recent developments have raised further doubts on whether Prasa will be ready to ferry commuters on Wednesday as planned.  City Press has seen pictures of missing overhead cables, and has been informed by technical staff and train drivers alike that even railway lines in some areas in Gauteng have been cut at sporadic intervals and stolen.  It will be bad news for commuters if train operations don’t resume on 1 July, which is the day the country will see a capped taxi fare increase of R7 nationally.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Poloko Tau at City Press

Taximen to defy lockdown restrictions by loading at 100% capacity on long-distance routes

Sowetan reports that the gloves are off between the taxi industry and government after postponed meetings between them and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula saw taxi bosses resolve to carry full passenger loads and travel across provinces in contravention of lockdown regulations.  After postponed meetings over the weekend to discuss the government’s response to their plea to be allowed to operate at full capacity, the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) and the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) said they would go ahead with the plan to load 100% of passengers without the government’s approval.  Santaco president Phillip Taaibosch on Sunday said the association was forced to resolve to allow its operators to commence with loading passengers at 100% after Mbalula failed to meet with them on four occasions.  He said operators and marshals would not check whether commuters had permits or not.  “We will abide by the regulations and ensure that all the passengers wear masks and that the taxis are sanitised. For long distance, marshals will ensure that all commuters are screened and recorded through a proper filing system,” he advised.  Mbalula’s spokesperson said they were taken aback by Santaco’s decision to make pronouncements regarding an ongoing issue that was brought to the attention of the national coronavirus command council (NCCC).  Mbalula proposed to meet with the industry leaders after Tuesday as he would only be able to get feedback from the NCCC after that date.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tankiso Makhetha and Penwell Dlamini on page 6 of Sowetan of 29 June 2020. Read too, Tshwane taxi operators defy lockdown regulations by load at 100%, at News24

 


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