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, 15 October 2020.


TOP STORY - CORRUPTION

Special Investigating Unit red-flags more than 5,000 Eskom staff members

BL Premium reports that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has referred more than 5,000 Eskom employees for disciplinary action and investigation for offences ranging from the failure to declare their interests, to doing business with Eskom and leading suspicious lifestyles.  The unit is also investigating 20 build contractors, 14 coal transport service providers, seven diesel suppliers, three coal supply contracts, two contracts for cloud computing and two contracts at Majuba and Matla power stations.  The SIU briefed MPs on Wednesday on the progress made since April 2018, when investigations began.  Out of Eskom’s 43,795 employees, 5,452 failed to declare their interests while 324 officials were linked to entities that were Eskom vendors.  Among them, 135 employees were found to be doing business with Eskom, which amounted to more than R6bn.  Seven of them have already been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and the SIU said all officials doing business with Eskom would be referred for possible prosecution.  Eskom commissioned lifestyle audits on all executive management and red-flagged 34 individuals for further investigation.  The SIU said eight people had been referred to Eskom for disciplinary action, another seven resigned and 19 people were still being investigated.  The SIU said that while there was a tendency for people to resign once they had been found out, the unit’s investigations were thorough and aimed at providing sufficient evidence for the NPA to proceed with criminal prosecutions.

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

Eskom officials pocketed millions of rand in kickbacks, SIU tell MPs

TimesLIVE reports that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has detailed the extent of the rot at Eskom before parliament, including how four officials pocketed R44m as “gratification” related to protracted delays in the utility's build programme of new power stations.  The SIU also laid bare the details of how several Eskom executives pocketed R100m in “kickbacks” related to the parastatal's procurement of a cloud computing system.  The shocking revelations into allegations of corruption, fraud, mismanagement and other irregularities at Eskom were presented during a meeting with the standing committee on public accounts by SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi and Claudia O'Brien, his lead investigator.  Mothibi told MPs that the kickbacks were part of 39 cases of alleged corruption, fraud and racketeering that have been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for possible prosecution.  He said a further 32 have been referred to the Asset Forfeiture Unit for the attachment of assets red-flagged as proceeds of crime.  Mothibi said the fact that the alleged Eskom crooks had resigned did not mean the end of the matter, as they were being pursued criminally by the NPA and would also face civil litigation so that the proceeds of crime could be attached.  But he did not name and shame the officials, saying he would only do so in a written report to be submitted to Scopa chairperson.

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

Scopa calls for corrupt officials to be blacklisted and stopped from resigning to avoid disciplinary action

Independent News reports that Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) has called for tough new laws, including blacklisting officials who are involved in corruption and preventing them from resigning and joining other departments.  This came after it emerged that several senior officials at Eskom had jumped ship before they were charged with corruption.  This prevented Eskom from taking disciplinary action against the officials.  In a report to the committee on Wednesday, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) said they identified 5,452 officials at Eskom who had failed to disclose their financial interests.  They also found that 135 officials were doing business with Eskom, to the value of R6-billion.  Head of the SIU, Andy Mothibi, also advised that seven of the eight officials under suspicion resigned when lifestyle audits were conducted.  Out of the disciplinary cases conducted, four officials resigned.  Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said there must be consequences for people who resigned before they faced action, and this should include blacklisting them from joining other departments or entities and freezing their pensions until the cases were finalised.

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

Limpopo cop in court for demanding money from detained drug dealer

ANA reports that a Limpopo police warrant officer arrested for extorting money from a drug dealing suspect has appeared in court on charges of corruption and extortion.  Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, spokesperson for the Limpopo National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), advised as follows on Thursday:  “A 52-year-old Warrant Officer, Tlabo Mapotla, appeared in the Polokwane Magistrate Court in connection with a charge of corruption and extortion, worth R6,000.  Tlabo Mapotla is a detective warrant officer at Westernburg police station.  It is alleged that Mapotla extorted money from the suspect whom police had arrested on drug dealing charges in 2018.  He demanded money in order to destroy the docket.”  Mapotla was arrested earlier this week by the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigations (Hawks) in Polokwane.  Seemingly, after R6,000 had been handed to the police officer by the suspect, the detective demanded more money, and that was when the victim reported the officer to the Hawks.  The matter was postponed to 20 October 2020 for a formal bail application.

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • ‘Bogus’ Road Accident Fund employee gets four years in jail, at The Citizen


ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF LOCKDOWN

Formal-sector jobs and pay hit in second quarter by Covid-19 shock

BL Premium reports that formal-sector, non-farm jobs saw cuts across all industries during the second quarter, while people who stayed employed saw their pay fall sharply as much of the economy came to a near standstill under the most severe levels of the coronavirus lockdown.  Quarterly employment statistics (QES) released by Stats SA on Thursday showed that these jobs fell by 6.4% quarter-on-quarter to just more than 9.5-million, the lowest level since the third quarter of 2015, while the annual decline was 6.6%.  The declines were felt across all industries and on both a part-time and full-time basis, though trade and business services were the worst hit.  The QES showed that workers’ gross earnings, before tax or other deductions, fell by R82.2bn, or 11.3%, while on an annual basis the decline was 9%.  The construction, trade and manufacturing sector experienced the sharpest declines.  Though recent economic data has pointed to a recovery from the second-quarter shock in some sectors, such as mining, consumer and business confidence languish near record lows, while the outlook for the labour market is clouded by uncertainty.  Meanwhile, recent data from the SA Reserve Bank showed that households’ real disposable income dropped 49.7% in the second quarter as employees’ pay shrank amid job losses and reduced salary payments during the lockdown.

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


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Striking workers call for boycott of Clover SA products

GroundUp reports that according to the General Industrial Workers Union of SA (Giwusa), about 2,000 workers have been on indefinite strike at Clover SA nationwide since Tuesday.  They are demanding a 16% wage increase, and that all employees contracted by labour brokers be employed permanently by the company.  The union has accused Clover SA of passing on the financial burden brought by the Covid-19 lockdown to its workers and it has called for a general boycott of all Clover SA products.  In a statement on Sunday, the union said:  “Clover SA worked throughout the lockdown where workers continued to produce and distribute the product of the company and, in this way, workers risked their lives to produce and make available essential food stuff.”  According to a statement from the company, it offered a 5% increase from 1 July, which was rejected and wage negotiations broke down.  The company said it had contingency plans to ensure continued, if limited, production.  CEO Johann Vorster said Clover “has been subject to a difficult trading cycle for a number of years”.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Joseph Chirume at Moneyweb

Numsa’s wage strike at Gautrain over after agreement reached

TimesLIVE reports that Gautrain is set to resume full operations this week after reaching an agreement with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), whose members had been on strike for nearly two weeks.  Gautrain spokesperson Kesagee Nayager advised:  “We are pleased to advise that the strike which commenced on October 5 2020, following wage negotiations that deadlocked between the Bombela Operating Company (BOC) and Numsa, has ended.  Numsa and BOC, with the support of the CCMA, have found a way in which the company’s offer of 4.1% can be supported with employees in the lowest salary bands being better protected through this difficult period.”  Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola reported that the union had agreed on the following: lower-income earners earning up to and including R8,500 per month would receive a R900 per month increase; employees earning R8,501 to R20,000 per month would receive a R850 per month increase; all employees earning more than R20,000 would receive a 4.1% increase; and the increases would   be backdated to 1 July 2020.  Workers were set to return to work on Thursday and Nayeger said the standard Gautrain train service would resume on Friday.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nonkululeko Njilo at TimesLIVE


MUNICIPAL SALARY INCREASES

Samwu calls on municipalities that applied for exemptions to pay July salary increases ‘with interest’

The Citizen reports that the City of Ekurhuleni and the Amathole District Municipality have been directed by the SA Local Government Bargaining Council (Salgbc) to pay salary increases to workers after exemption applications were turned down.  Under the terms of a three-year wage agreement signed in 2018, municipal workers were supposed to receive a 6.25% salary increase from 1 July this year.  In a statement on Wednesday, the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) asserted that the municipalities had to abide by the collective agreement.  The union explained further:  “As a result of the interference from the National Treasury and the South African Local Government Association (Salga), 11 municipalities invoked clause 11 of the collective agreement, essentially applying to be exempted from paying workers what is contractually and legally owed to them.  Samwu from the onset has been against these exemptions as the motivations and intentions are nothing but a smokescreen to interfere and collapse collective bargaining in the local government sector.”  In their exemption applications, most municipalities, including Ekurhuleni and Amathole, had apparently cited the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason why they would not be able to pay workers any increases.  But in Salgbc’s assessment, the municipalities failed to prove that it was as a result of the pandemic that they would not be paying increases.  Samwu said:  “All municipalities that have applied for exemption should pay workers their salary increases immediately, with interests.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at The Citizen


BASIC EDUCATION / TEACHING

SA's schools to get R7bn windfall to hire 319,000 education and other assistants

TimesLIVE reports that a total of 319,000 education assistants and other assistants will be employed at the country’s 23,093 public schools after the National Treasury approved a R7bn funding request from the Department of Basic Education (DBE).  This was disclosed to teacher unions on Tuesday.  The DBE submitted funding requests to the Treasury for various projects, including the Education Assistants Programme (EducAP), as well as for the employment of janitors, screeners, caretakers and cleaners.  According to the department’s presentation to the unions, R4.47bn will go towards the employment of about 319,000 contract jobs, including those of education assistants and other assistants.  They will be paid a stipend of R3,500 per month with 1% contributed towards the UIF.  At least R1.2m will be allocated for provincial project management and a further R1.2m to the DBE for support, monitoring and oversight.  The roles and responsibilities of education assistants will include the following: providing support to the teacher such as typing, photocopying, distribution of teaching materials, capturing of data, filing, record keeping; supporting the teacher with technical preparation of the classroom for teaching and learning and ensuring teaching materials are available and ready to use; overseeing learners to ensure social distancing such as in the library, laboratory, school events and during lunch breaks.

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

Disciplinary action against Western Cape teacher who identified on CV as African, not Coloured, dropped

News24 reports that disciplinary action over possible fraud against a teacher who identified as African on a job application, when previous documentation had him identified as Coloured, has been withdrawn by the Western Cape Education Department.  In a long-running matter, Greg Snyman faced a fraud investigation for identifying himself as African in an application for a school principal post when the Oudtshoorn teacher was listed in previous documentation as Coloured.  Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond explained on Wednesday that national legislation required an employment equity score to be given to each candidate during the recruitment process.  This was based on race and gender in order to meet employment equity targets and that information was required on job application forms.  "Mr Snyman had identified himself as 'African' on his CV for this position, but had otherwise indicated 'Coloured' on other applications and documents," said Hammond.  The department was alerted to this discrepancy and Snyman was subsequently charged as this could be considered fraudulent.  Hammond went on to indicate:  "We have since been made aware that Mr Snyman identifies himself as 'African' and has been fighting the current government’s race classification system for a number of years.  This is extremely personal and sensitive.  While we believe that we must continue to redress the injustices of the past, we have reviewed the case and believe it does not warrant further action.  It has, however, raised a number of issues with regards to race classification and identity which will require deeper discussion and reflection."

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jenni Evans at News24. Read too, Teacher charged over ‘African’ claims on CV picking up pieces of ’difficult journey’, at Cape Times


NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

Health Minister says SA will push ahead with NHI as country emerges from pandemic

TimesLIVE reports that as SA emerges from the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has promised an aggressive “catch-up” drive to restore community health services and persuade people to seek health care.  Speaking at a webinar on Wednesday, Mkhize noted:  “We are aware that, due to the combination of lockdown regulations and the fear of contracting Covid-19 in [health] facilities, our people shied away from seeking what may have been deemed to be non-urgent or non-essential health services.”  HIV testing dropped by 46%, while countrywide screening for TB fell 9% for adults and 14% for children as fearful people stayed away from hospitals and clinics.  The minister also confirmed that SA would move forward on the implementation of National Health Insurance (NHI).  The NHI bill was submitted to parliament in July 2019.  “Just as we were to begin the parliamentary hearings, a storm brewed in China with the winds blowing in our direction, forcing us to avert our gaze from those goals and attend to a global health disaster,” Mkhize pointed out.  He said most South Africans welcomed public health reform which would ensure that everyone had equal access to medical care and which would “eliminate the current unjust two-tiered system”.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Paul Ash at TimesLIVE


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT

National taxi meeting hangs in the balance over NTA’s unresolved grievances

BL Premium reports that a much-anticipated national meeting of the taxi industry is hanging in the balance after SA’s second-largest taxi organisation, the National Taxi Alliance (NTA), threatened to pull out and demanded that the government should first addresses its outstanding grievances.  Both the NTA and the government have, however, refused to say what the grievances were, referring to them only as "areas of concern".  If the NTA bails out of the meeting scheduled for 29 October, critical decisions aimed at formalising the unregulated industry, which will require consensus from industry stakeholders, will hit a snag.  There are 200,000 taxi operators in the industry, which contributes R50bn to GDP annually and spends more than R20bn on fuel.  A spokesman for SA’s largest taxi association, the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco), said they remained committed to the meeting as it would address the formalisation and empowerment of the taxi industry.  In September, transport minister Fikile Mbalula said the government planned to introduce a subsidy for the industry.  Meanwhile, the industry has rejected the government's R1.14bn Covid-19 relief fund and the conditions attached to it, saying it was too little compared with the losses the sector incurred during the lockdown.

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


OTHER REPORTS

Cricket players worried about their livelihoods if crisis at Cricket SA is not resolved by board resigning

BusinessLive reports that the SA Cricketers’ Association (Saca) is incensed with Cricket SA (CSA)‚ with Saca CEO Andrew Breetzke maintaining that the continued existence of the embattled organisation’s crippled board was doing the game in SA more harm than good.  With England set to tour SA in November pending governmental approval‚ Breetzke said Cricket SA’s board issues could and would put the players’ livelihoods in jeopardy.  Reacting to the sports ministry’s planned intervention at CSA, Breetzke said:  “Cricket is in an existential crisis and the intervention of government will result in the ICC (International Cricket Council) reviewing Cricket SA’s position as an ICC member and will furthermore jeopardise the England tour scheduled for November.  Players will suffer‚ development will suffer and the future of the game will be prejudiced.”  He continued to say that “the current board has no credibility to resolve the crises and it is clear the impasse between government and Cricket SA will not be resolved until such time as the board stands down.  He implored the CSA board to stand down “in the best interests of cricket.”  CSA has been given until 27 October by sports minister Nathi Mthethwa to get its house in order.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Khanyiso Tshwaku at BusinessLive. Read too, CSA confirms receiving sports minister Nathi Mthethwa’s letter as screws tighten, at HeraldLIVE


OTHER HEADLINES OF INTEREST

  • Insufficient PAYE deductions can be costly for taxpayers, at Moneyweb
  • DA calls for parliamentary inquiry into Post Office crisis, at BusinessLive (paywall access only)
  • Ipid investigating punch-drunk cop after assault captured on CCTV, at TimesLIVE
  • SA scientists test efficacy of childhood vaccines against Covid-19 for frontline worker safety, at Engineering News

 


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