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SA Labour News

Mid-morning roundup of labour news on Friday, 22 August 2014

news shutterstockIn our Friday roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour
stories that have appeared since mid-
morning on Thursday, 21 August 2014.

Government interns expose 'sex for jobs' scandal in Eastern Cape

easterncape thumb100 Siyabonga Sesant reports that female interns in the Eastern Cape government have admitted they had sex with senior officials to land their positions.  The National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) says 10 members have come forward with the claims.  The accusations first surfaced in the provincial legislature earlier this year, at which time alleged victims were urged to come forward.  Nehawu Eastern Cape Secretary Xolile Malamela said the sex for jobs claims were being taken seriously.  The Premier’s office has appointed a task team which will investigate all government departments implicated these allegations.  Malamela indicated that most of the female interns who complained were Nehawu members.  It's alleged that the contracts of interns who refused to have sex with officials were not renewed.

  • This short report is at EWN

With contentious issues still to be considered, time running out for Farlam inquiry

marikanacommission thumb100 Dudu Dube writes that, with only five weeks remaining for the Marikana Commission of Inquiry to conclude its business, chairperson Judge Ian Farlam is yet to rule on whether the theory that the poor living and working conditions of the miners contributed to the strike that resulted in 44 people losing their lives during strike-related violence at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in August 2012.  The Commission’s second phase was supposed to investigate these two issues, but it is not clear if that would happen or if it could be done within five weeks.  On top of that, the parties involved in the commission are divided, with the evidence leaders, the Legal Resources Centre and trade union Amcu saying the second phase must continue.  However, Lonmin is against the living and working conditions being linked to the strike and the deaths.  “It is unhelpful to probe, in the context of the deaths of the people in this inquiry, whether Lonmin had provided houses without at the same time comparing what houses were provided by the municipality, by the province,” Lonmin’s lawyer, Schalk Burger SC, said.  Lawyer Dali Mpofu who supports a separate inquiry being instituted, said:  “The issue is that in the six weeks that remain no justice can be done on these issues and the danger is if they are dealt with superficially then everyone is going to relax and assume they were dealt with and it’s done now.”  The commission resumes on Monday.

Construction under fire for non-compliance with safety regulations resulting in deaths

Luyolo Mkentane writes that the construction sector’s non-compliance with safety regulations, resulting in loss of life, has been heavily criticised by the industry body responsible for monitoring and transformation.  The Construction Sector Charter Council (CSCC) CEO Thabo Masombuka said the council was unhappy with the number of “unfortunate deaths” on construction sites.  Seven workers lost their lives at a construction site in Meyersdal, south of Johannesburg, on Monday.  Masombuka said:  “The CSCC is deeply concerned by the increasing levels of fatal incidents on some construction sites in South Africa.  These incidents, some of which go unreported, expose the extent of non-compliance with construction safety regulations and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.  Although unrelated, these incidents in which the lives of vulnerable construction workers are the only ones affected undermine efforts to create a safe construction industry characterised by inclusive growth, job creation and infrastructure development.”  He went on to say: “The deaths of blue collar workers on these construction sites have devastating socio-economic implications for their families and communities.  One death is one too many.”  The CSCC has called on the Department of Labour to launch an inquiry into the Metersdal Eco Estate disaster, saying they would support the outcome of such an investigation.  The National Union of Mineworkers also expressed concern about construction workers dying on duty “like flies”.  The trend was increasing, it said.

Metal industry turmoil intensifies, with union membership verification holding up wage agreement extension

meibcLisa Steyn writes that the hostility between the parties in the metal and engineering industries intensified last Friday when a management committee meeting of the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) began the ratification of the wage agreement that brought an end to the month-long strike in the sector.  After that, the Council can request the labour minister to extend the agreement to the entire industry, but the National Employers’ Association of SA (Neasa) says it will legally block that move.  The lock-out by some members of Neasa in protest over the agreement continues.  Last week the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa), representing the largest employers in the industry, said Neasa’s strident propaganda showed the organisation’s “growing desperation”.  Neasa responded by saying it was in fact Seifsa that perpetuated untruths and asked businesses to reconsider their support for Seifsa.  Meantime a dispute over the verification of the membership of the bargaining council has been holding up the process of forcibly extending the agreement.  The law states that, if the parties reaching agreement do not have more than 50% representivity, the labour minister can use her discretion in extending the agreement.  Neasa believes Seifsa and the unions may not necessarily meet the 50% threshold.  The MEIBC’s Thulani Mthiyane said it had received data from the Unemployment Insurance Fund and, with data from pension funds, would help to determine the level of union representivity, which would be put to council members soon.  According to Solidarity’s Marius Croucamp, the current turmoil does not bode well for the bargaining council.