In our Wednesday morning roundup, see
summaries of our selection of South
African labour stories that have
appeared since mid-morning on
Tuesday, 2 July 2013.
HEALTH & SAFETY
Claims of brutality at deadly fitness test for KZN traffic cop recruits
Police allegedly beat people who failed to obey instructions at a KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) fitness test, a commission of inquiry heard on Tuesday. Minenhle Mazwi Mbandlwa said police dragged a man out of an area designated for successful applicants and that others were beaten. Mbandlwa was testifying in Pietermaritzburg in connection with the death of Sanele Ngcobo, a job applicant who was found with a 13cm cut across his neck after the fitness test. The commission was appointed by KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize earlier this year to probe the deaths of eight people who took part in a four kilometre run at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg in December. The run formed part of a fitness test for RTI job applicants. The commission continues on Wednesday.
Fresh peace bid today ahead of gold sector wage talks next week
Allan Seccombe reports that mining companies, trade unions and the government are to meet on Wednesday to sign an agreement in a bid to stabilise the embattled industry and establish a framework for pending gold sector wage talks. Next week marks the start of gold sector wage talks incorporating seven of SA’s leading gold producers and four unions, including a newcomer, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu). There is still no guarantee that Amcu, which has deposed the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) as the dominant union on the platinum mines and three key gold mines, will be present at the wage talks. But it has tabled demands, raising expectations that it will be there.
Amplats to negotiate wages concurrently with talks on job cuts
Anglo American Platinum said it will start wage negotiations with trade unions in August. The talks will run at the same time as those about the company’s plans to eliminate 6,000 jobs. Thabisile Phumo, spokeswoman for the company, said the talks about the posts started on 10 June and will end on 10 August. “We expect to run a parallel process,” Phumo stated. Trade union Uasa wants negotiations on job reductions to be concluded before wage talks start, Franz Stehring, the organisation’s mining representative, has indicated. The company has received wage demands from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the biggest representative of its employees. Amplats has asked other unions to do the same.
Amcu wants Amplats to double underground pay
Business Day reports that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has demanded that Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) more than double the monthly pay of underground workers to R12,500. Analysts say most entry-level underground miners earn a basic wage of R5,000 a month. Amcu’s first wage submission to platinum producers is likely to set the tone for salary demands across a sector still reeling from unrest. Replicating demands submitted to gold producers at the end of June, Amcu said that "on a daily basis workers experience a declining standard of living and the dream of sharing in the wealth of the country remains a pipe dream".
Scramble by almost 40,000 applicants for 1,000 Glencore positions
Business Report writes that the desperation of the unemployed in SA was demonstrated this week when close to 40,000 people applied for 1,000 posts at Glencore Xstrata after last month’s dismissals at three of the company’s chrome operations near Steelpoort in Limpopo. A company spokesperson could not indicate when the recruitment process would be finalised, but he did confirm it was underway. The recruitment drive, which closed on Monday, also gave dismissed employees an opportunity to re-apply. The 1,000 jobs are the subject of an intense battle between the company and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu). Union members downed tools on 28 May after calling for the dismissal of a supervisor whom they accused of racism. They were subsequently dismissed. On Friday, the union delivered a memorandum laying out its concerns and demanding a response within seven days as to how they would be addressed.
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING, STRIKES & PROTESTS
Refuse in Johannesburg mounts as Pikitup workers refuse to pick it up
The Star reports that Pikitup workers at five depots across Johannesburg have embarked on an indefinite sit-in over working conditions. The depots are in Randburg, Norwood, Avalon, Roodepoort and Southdale. SA Municipal Workers’ Union spokesman Bafana Dube said the entity was refusing to provide transport for employees to and from work, as had happened in the past. On 5 May, the Labour Court granted Pikitup an interdict against employees embarking on unprotected industrial action and also found that the free transport and half day off on paydays was a practice that was happening, but did not form part of the terms and conditions of employment, as claimed by Samwu. Pikitup said not all workers were on strike, so rubbish would be removed, but service would be slower than usual.
Document Warehouse workers strike over poor wages
Sowetan reports that more than 120 workers at Document Warehouse in Selby, southern Johannesburg, have downed tools over poor salaries. Their payslips show that some employees earn as little as R3,000 a month, while some of them claim to have been with the company for more than 10 years. The company archives paperwork for government, Vodacom and SAB. Phillip Zwane of the General Industries Workers Union of SA said management took the matter to the Labour Court after workers began picketing last week. “It was decided by the court that a meeting be held on Wednesday (today) between the workers, union and management.” The company declined to comment.
Samwu vows to cripple municipal services with national strike
The New Age reports that the South African Municipal Workers’ Union has threatened to cripple municipal services when it embarks on a national strike in a matter of days. The union has deadlocked with the employer body, the South African Local Government Association (Salga), over main collective agreement negotiations. The agreement governs grievances procedure, conditions of service, rules of the bargaining council, organisational rights and other matters. Samwu general secretary Walter Theledi said the union has started consultations with members for the day of the strike, which they plan to embark on “as soon as possible.”
Looming Metrobus drivers’ strike
The New Age reports that Metrobus drivers have threatened to go on strike next week after accusing a senior manager of flouting employment rules. The drivers, all members of the SA Municipal Workers’ Union, vowed to strike from Monday. If the strike goes ahead, it will affect nearly 90,000 commuters in Gauteng. The acting managing director, Lawrence Maqekoane, is accused of employing two people who were previously working for an independent company without following recruitment policies. He also allegedly altered drivers’ shifts without consulting with a task team appointed in 2011 to deal with such issues. Maqekoane said yesterday that it was premature to talk about a strike.
Civil engineering bargaining council launched
Engineering News reports that a national bargaining council for the civil engineering industry has officially been launched following its first annual general meeting last week, as the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors (Safcec) announced on Monday. The council is tasked with negotiating minimum wages, social benefits, and conditions of employment, solving labour disputes and developing proposals on labour laws and policies. Safcec, the National Union of Mineworkers and the Building Construction and Allied Workers Union will be the parties to the council, which is expected to represent in excess of 175,000 employees. The first substantive negotiations for the industry are expected to start in July.
Low turnout for Pretoria e-tolls drive-slow
Cosatu's fight against Gauteng e-tolls continued on Tuesday with another drive-slow campaign, this time along the major routes in and out of Pretoria, but SABC radio news reported that less than 20 motorists were participating. Cosatu’s Dumisani Dakile said, however, the protest was "going very well". He indicated that once the protesters were done, they would assess the situation and decide on a way forward. "We are considering embarking on a strike across the province on Friday. We will meet tomorrow [Wednesday] to discuss all the logistics, such as where will we assemble and where we will be going," he stated.
Protest in Pretoria against e-tolls seen as a success
The Star reports that yesterday’s drive-slow by Cosatu members in Pretoria and surrounding highways to protest against e-tolls did not cause major traffic disruptions. Initially about 30 cars took part, but several vehicles joined in along the way and a total of about 60 vehicles completed the drive-slow. The convoy, which took up two lanes of the highway, was accompanied by about 20 metro police officers on motorbikes and in police vehicles. Cosatu provincial secretary Dumisane Dakile said he was satisfied with the turnout. “We are planning more activities in protest against e-tolling in the near future – this is not the end of the road,” he said.
THE ECONOMY / NDP / PRICES
Tripartite alliance economic summit postponed amid differences over NDP
Karl Gernetzky reports that a planned summit of leaders of the ANC-led tripartite alliance to thrash out differences over economic policy has been quietly shelved, underlining continued discord over key issues. The summit was to have been held at the end of this week, but ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu confirmed on Tuesday that it had been called off as preparations for the event had not been concluded and the go-ahead from task teams finalising the details of the summit was still awaited. The meeting would now "tentatively" take place at the end of the month. The National Development Plan (NDP) had been expected to take centre stage at the summit, with both Cosatu and the SA Communist Party (SACP) having already registered their concerns about it.
Employer body Neasa warns of job cuts unless productivity rises
Ntsakisi Maswanganyi reports that employers are warning of job losses in the long term if the current climate of high wage increases unaccompanied by higher productivity levels continues. National Employers Association of SA CEO Gerhard Papenfus said on Tuesday that the country needed a new culture of increased productivity in the workplace. Workforce management group Adcorp estimates that labour marginal productivity - a measure of the contribution labour makes in the output process - is at the lowest mark in more than 40 years. Labour productivity growth decelerated marginally from 1.4% in the third quarter of last year to 1.2% in the fourth quarter, the latest available Reserve Bank data show.
EDUCATION / SKILLS / TRAINING / QUALIFICATIONS
Sadtu to intensify campaign to remove Soobrayan after ‘age bulge’ proposal
Mail & Guardian reports that the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union says it will ramp up its mobilisation for the axing of Bobby Soobrayan, director general of the basic education department. "We will continue to call for his head and will not rest until he clears his office and goes to focus on his passion [which is] self-enrichment outside of our government," the union said on Tuesday. Raising the union's ire this time are comments attributed to Soobrayan in the media that older teachers should be given early retirement packages to make way for newly-graduated ones. Soobrayan reportedly told Parliament about plans to bring in younger teachers to deal with the ‘age bulge’, with teachers over 40 years of age to be earmarked for early retirement.
GENERAL REPORTS AND ISSUES
Cosatu pays respects to Mandela
Gauteng Cosatu officials paid their respects to former president Nelson Mandela at the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria on Tuesday. Provincial chairman Phutas Tseki led the group, wearing red union T-shirts, in singing hymns and struggle songs at the hospital. "We are here to visit our leader, our father, our icon and our president Nelson Mandela. We wish him a speedy recovery," said Tseki. On Monday, the Presidency said the Nobel Peace Prize laureate was still in a critical, but stable condition.
WEB LINKS TO LABOUR NEWS ARTICLES ON TUESDAY, 2 JULY 2013
See our listing of links to internet labour articles published on Tuesday, 2 July 2013.
Get South African labour news reports at SA Labour News