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
Tuesday, 23 February 2021.


TOP STORY – UNEMPLOYMENT

SA's jobless grew to 7.2 million in fourth quarter of 2020, with unemployment rate of 32.5% setting new record

Fin24 reports that SA’s official unemployment rate increased to a record 32.5% in the fourth quarter of 2020 as the number of jobless in the country grew to 7.2 million. Statistics SA released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) on Tuesday, which showed that the increasing unemployment rate was due to more people joining the labour force, as economists expected. According to Stats SA, one million more people joined the labour force. In total there were 333,000 job gains to reach 15 million in the final quarter of 2020. Stats SA said the increase in the unemployment rate to 32.5% was the highest since the QLFS started in 2008. The expanded definition of unemployment – which includes those discouraged from seeking work – increased to 42.6% in the fourth quarter.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lameez Omarjee at Fin24. Read too, Unemployment rate reached 32.5% in fourth quarter of 2020, at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • South Africa unemployment hits highest point on record, at BusinessTech


NATIONAL BUDGET

Public sector wage bill a major issue for Mboweni, trade unions ahead of Wednesday’s budget speech

EWN reports that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will deliver his Budget Speech on Wednesday with the critical issue of the public wage bill still in limbo ahead of a Constitutional Court appeal by trade unions.   His October announcement that government would not be increasing workers’ salaries led to a series of events, including a court battle, however, experts say that a way to cut the bill must still be sought. Mboweni has made no secret of his intention to slash the bill, which tripled between 2007 and 2019. But the problem is that efforts to achieve this have not been bearing fruit. An early retirement plan failed to take off, while the Constitutional Court matter is the culmination of a court battle after Treasury refused to effect salary increases. Meanwhile, there are concerns about what the minister can actually do without provoking a deeper fallout with public sector trade unions.   New wage negotiations on the horizon also mean a renewed fight, with unions arriving at the table with knowledge of Treasury’s intention to slash R160 billion from the bill. The public service employs 1.3 million people.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Theto Mahlakoana at EWN

Ahead of budget speech, Beer Association calls for tax relief to save jobs

TimesLIVE reports that the Beer Association of SA (Basa) has called on Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to offer the industry some tax relief in his budget speech on Wednesday. The association, whose members include the Craft Brewers' Association of SA, Heineken SA and SA Breweries (SAB), said tax relief was the least the government could do to help its members, whose businesses have been devastated by the three Covid-19 lockdown bans on alcohol trading. Basa said small craft breweries had been hit the hardest by the three blanket bans on alcohol and most have no certainty of survival beyond the end of February. The association also pleaded with the government to assist traders with financial relief and to allow them to renew their liquor licences. “Our small businesses and craft breweries have been left up the creek without a paddle and the time to save jobs and businesses is quickly running out,” claimed the association. It went on to say that, although it remained committed to working openly and transparently with the government, it could not continue to keep businesses alive alone. “Government needs to come to the table - and fast - if it does not want to increase SA's already staggeringly high unemployment rate of 30.8%,” warned Basa.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Unathi Nkanjeni at TimesLIVE


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Netcare 911 helicopter 'broke up in flight', preliminary probe into deaths of four medics and pilot finds

TimesLIVE reports that a preliminary investigation by the SA Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed that the helicopter which crashed en route to KwaZulu-Natal last month killing Netcare 911 medics and the pilot broke apart in midair and the impact was “not survivable”. The Bell 430 helicopter took off from Ultimate Heli heliport in Midrand, Gauteng, on 21 January and headed to Hillcrest Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. On board were a helicopter paramedic, two doctors and a theatre nurse and 12 bottles of oxygen. “After approximately 1.5 hours in flight and cruising at 725ft [221m, above ground level], the helicopter started to spin uncontrollably, breaking up in flight while losing height rapidly. The helicopter impacted the ground and immediately post-impact fire erupted which destroyed the helicopter. All five occupants on board were fatally injured,” the report reads. The wreckage was scattered in a 500m radius at the scene of the crash in Winterton.   The Bell 430 had been operating in Angola before being imported, in parts, and being reassembled in SA.   The crash claimed the lives of anaesthetist Dr Kgopotso Rudolph Mononyane, cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Curnick Siyabonga (Sia) Mahlangu, specialist theatre nurse Mpho Xaba, advanced life-support paramedic Sinjin Joshua Farrance and pilot Mark Stoxreiter.   The investigation continues.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at TimesLIVE


COVID-19 HEALTH & SAFETY

KZN has lost 253 teachers and 38 non-teaching staff to Covid-19

Independent Media reports that KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said during the release of the province’s matric results on Tuesday morning that he was doing so with a heavy heart, having lost 253 teachers and 38 non-teaching staff to Covid-19 related illnesses.  Mshengu stated:  “The 2020 NSC results are dedicated to our frontline soldiers who died with their boots on. As we pay homage to these frontline workers in the system, we are pained by the knowledge of the devastation and hurt that has been inflicted in their families. The bravery of all our fallen heroes and heroines, along with all the hard-working employees who continue to risk their lives in the service of the nation will forever be etched in our hearts. History will remember all of them as fearless fighters who gave it all in their fight against this invisible enemy. May all their souls rest in eternal peace.”

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Jolene Marriah-Maharaj at Independent Media

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • One-third of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines to be allocated to private sector, at News24


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Nehawu defends Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi amid backlash over comments about Ace Magashule’s fraud case

Independent Media reports that the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has strongly defended the election of Zingiswa Losi as president of Cosatu following social media accusations that her appointment was solely because she was a woman. The union’s reaction came after a video was circulated on social media in which Losi was seen to make comments about fraud and corruption charges against the ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. In the video, she answered a question from a journalist and said no one was above the law and anyone found to have transgressed laws of the country had to be held accountable regardless of the positions they occupied. According to Nehawu, the video footage and comments were made on 28 November last year, a few days after Magashule’s initial appearance in court. Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha questioned the reasons for the resurfacing of the old video and said: “Those who are spearheading these attacks are using the old video as if it is a recent video that took place last week when in actual fact it is from three months ago. In this regard, we condemn the isolation of the president from the rest of her collective and also condemn the use of an old video to launch unwarranted and dastardly attacks on the president. We refute the unfounded claims that the president was elected because she is a woman … She was elected with an overwhelming majority because of the trust Cosatu affiliates have in her as a leader.”

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


‘GIG’ EMPLOYMENT

SA’s Uber drivers working with UK lawyers for rights to overtime and holiday pay

TimesLIVE reports that a group of Uber drivers in SA will be heading to court to seek rights including compensation for unpaid overtime and holiday pay, their lawyers advised on Tuesday. They will be hoping for a similar victory to that of British drivers earlier this month. In both the UK and SA, Uber drivers are treated as self-employed, affording them only minimal protections in law, a status the US ride-hailing company sought to maintain in its long-running UK legal battle. That ended last week when Britain’s Supreme Court ruled that a group of 25 drivers were entitled to worker rights such as the minimum wage. While Uber said the decision did not apply to all its 600,000 drivers in the country, it was a blow to the company’s business model and a significant victory in battles being fought on many fronts against the so-called gig economy.   The SA case could affect up to 20,000 drivers, British law firm Leigh Day and Johannesburg-based peer Mbuyisa Moleele Attorneys said. They did not specify when the case would be filed. The law firms said that in SA Uber drivers often did not own their own cars and had to work long hours to make ends meet on their current wages.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Emma Rumney at TimesLIVE


NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

Higher national minimum wage was not a ‘thumb suck’, says labour minister

BusinessTech reports that Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) Minister Thulas Nxesi has reiterated that adjustment of the national minimum wage (NMW) was the outcome of an extensive consultation process.   The minister on Monday made the comment in response to the outcry about the newly adjusted NMW rates.   The DEL last week announced an increase in the NMW in March from R20.76 per hour to R21.69. Nxesi indicated:  “As we have pointed out before, the minimum wage is really what it says it is. But it is not based on thumb-suck but a well thought out process that allows all the interested parties to have a voice. I have noted with concern the objections from some stakeholders on the adjustment of the NMW and recognise the reality that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a harsh impact on most employers.”   He pointed out, however, that the NMW Act permitted employers who were genuinely unable to pay the proposed adjustment to utilise the exemptions procedures in order to be exempted from the NMW. In amending the minimum wage this year, the department said the minister had considered all legal requirements, the report of the commission as well as different inputs from stakeholders. In respect of the inputs received in response to the notice published by the NMW Commission on its recommendations, stakeholders were apparently divided in their recommendations.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at BusinessTech

Agricultural sector warns of devastating impact on jobs of minimum wage increase

Business Report writes that the agricultural industry has warned that the recently announced increase in the national minimum wage (NMW) would cripple the sector and impact any prospects of creating further jobs.  AgriSA on Friday said that its survey showed that the earnings threshold of the new NMW gazetted by the Department of Labour and Employment (DEL) earlier this month could be devastating. AgriSA’s executive director Christo van der Rheede said the study found that the majority of farmers were opposed to the increase in the NMW and that 549 out of 577 participants said they would have to exceed their budget for wages this financial year due to the new NMW rate.   He added: “They will also be halting any new job creation initiatives.   Unemployment rates are already high and have increased even more due to the pandemic. There are many other ways to alleviate poverty than simply increasing the minimum wage. If a higher minimum wage leads to fewer available jobs, then it is counterproductive.” Earlier this month, Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi increased the hourly NMW from R20.76 to R21.69 from 1 March. Following a transitional phase, the agricultural sector has been aligned with the NMW rate of R21.69 an hour. TLU SA president Henry Geldenhuys said the department had pushed through the increase of 16% for farm workers despite inputs questioning the proposal’s sustainability and its implications. He advised that the industry would be declaring a dispute with Nxesi and would ask him to put the NMW increase on ice pending negotiations.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Siphelele Dludla at Business Report


TEACHING

Solidarity warns of looming legal action against SACE over teachers not receiving certificates

Solidarity has given the SA Council for Educators (SACE) until the end of business on Friday to confirm that it would register Solidarity’s members with the organisation.   According to the trade union, SACE is failing to fulfil its statutory obligation and consequently causing direct damages to the teachers involved. Anton van der Bijl, head of Legal Matters at Solidarity indicated:  “SACE’s negligence in registering teachers is unacceptable. Teachers are obliged by law to register with SACE, following which SACE issues a certificate to the teachers concerned which enables him/her to hold a position in teaching. SACE is not just failing to fulfil its statutory obligation it has to these teachers, but as a consequence the teachers are also prevented from practising their profession, and this while there is a shortage of teachers in the country as it is”. Solidarity pointed out that its members have tried to register with SACE on numerous occasions, but every attempt has been unsuccessful.  “We cannot allow this situation to continue any further. That is why we demand action from SACE,” said Van der Bijl

Read Solidarity’s press statement in regard to the above matter at Politicsweb

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Angry parents blame Limpopo school principal for pupils’ poor performance, at TimesLIVE


DISMISSALS

Public Servant Association welcomes axing of 'incompetent' Sindiswa Gomba as Eastern Cape health MEC

News24 reports that the Public Servants Association (PSA) has welcomed the dismissal of former Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba. The union said keeping her in the position would have set a precedent "that stealing from a public purse is acceptable (sic)". Gomba was sacked by Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane after she was implicated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) in the awarding of a R10 million tender to a company for the acquisition of the infamous scooter ambulances, as well as alleged fraud around former president Nelson Mandela's funeral. The PSA said the health department under her leadership had "failed to deliver on its mission to provide and ensure accessible, comprehensive and integrated services in the Eastern Cape". The union added in a statement: "Her incompetence is well documented, including the R10 million scooter ambulance tender scandal, which was discontinued after a public outcry. She was further found wanting in the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic." The union argued that the attendance at court proceedings would have divided Gomba's attention and added to the many challenges facing the department. Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Xolile Nqatha has been appointed as acting health MEC until a permanent appointment can be made. Gomba has retained her role in the Eastern Cape Legislature.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nicole McCain at News24. Read too, Gomba refused to resign before axing, at City Press (paywall access only)


CRIME

Top North West government official arrested following discovery of 100 stolen livestock on his farm

Independent Media reports that a top North West government official and his shepherd have been arrested after 100 stolen cattle and calves was found on his farm.  Some of the positively identified livestock was handed back to their owners and the rest were taken to a pound, while the pair was taken into custody.  Farmers from a nearby farm apparently hired a chopper to look for their stolen stud bull worth R120,000.  North West police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwaabone advised that the bull and other cattle were reported stolen at the Delareyville and Sannieshof police stations between 2 and 18 February 2021.  “During the search they were found at the suspect’s farm in Barberspan outside Delareyville. Subsequently, 11 cattle were positively identified by owners while others were seized and taken to Lichtenburg pound for further investigation as their brand marks were tampered with. Investigation into the matter continues,” he indicated. It was also reported that six stolen stud Bonsmara cattle to the value of R189,000 were found on the official’s farm. The two suspects were scheduled to appear at the Delareyville Magistrate’s Court on Monday to face a charge of being in possession of suspected stolen stock.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Botho Molosankwe at Independent Media

 


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