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, 6 April 2021.


HEALTH & SAFETY

Nehawu ’extremely worried’ about growing number of Covid-19 cases at higher education institutions

The Star reports that the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) is extremely worried about the growing number of Covid-19 cases in institutions of higher learning across the country.   Meantime, Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Minister Dr Blade Nzimande has made an appeal to students, lecturers and all staff to remain vigilant and adhere to the Covid-19 regulations. This came after the department received reports of pockets of Covid-19 infections within the post-school education and training sector from Higher Health, the agency mandated by the to safeguard student health and well-being.   “While Covid-19 has largely been detrimental for the older population groups, the virus is mutating and new variants are showing a higher affinity towards young people who can serve as carriers and hasten the spread of infection. Unfortunately, that would fire up the third wave,” warned Nzimande on Friday. Nehawu called on the DHET and its partners to expedite the screening, testing and tracing of students and workers on all campuses. “More attention must immediately be paid to these institutions as they have a potential to become super-spreaders,” it warned. The union added that most of the higher learning institutions were far from ready to welcome workers and students back to campuses. “Most institutions do not have personal protective equipment, nor enough space for social distancing,” Nehawu claimed

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Chulumanco Mahamba at The Star

Eight Gauteng health CEOs face disciplinary charges over lack of oversight of Covid-19 health and safety measures

TimesLIVE reports that eight CEOs of Gauteng health facilities have been charged internally for not complying with or overseeing health and safety measures during the Covid-19 pandemic. This was indicated in a written response by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi to a question by the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) shadow health MEC Jack Bloom. All the CEOs are facing similar disciplinary charges, namely “failing to hold a daily meeting on personal protective equipment (PPE), [not] doing environmental risk assessments and [not] holding weekly occupational health and safety meetings.” The CEOs are from Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Helen Joseph Hospital, Rahima Moosa Hospital and Tshwane District Hospital. The other four are from the Wits Oral & Dental Hospital, Medunsa Oral & Dental Hospital, Medical Supplies Depot and Forensic Pathology Services. Bloom said he was concerned that the CEOs had neglected occupational health and safety during the pandemic. This had increased the risk of staff contracting the virus.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Kgaugelo Masweneng at TimesLIVE. See too, Eight Gauteng hospital CEOs reportedly face disciplinary action for flouting Covid-19 safety practices, at News24

Nehawu welcomes health department’s deal with Pfizer for 20-million Covid-19 vaccine doses

EWN reports that the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has welcomed the Health Department's signing of a crucial contract with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer that will see South Africa receive 20-million Covid-19 vaccine doses. Delivery is expected from the middle of the month.   Last month, Cabinet announced that the country's second phase of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout would begin in May, targeting over 13 million people. Together with the Johnson & Johnson agreement for 30 million vaccines, the scene is finally set for SA to begin the rollout of the country's vaccine programme. So far, some 260,000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated across the country.   "As Nehawu, we welcome the signing of a contract with Pfizer for the supply of 20 million vaccines. We hope that government will work extra hard to get more vaccines as the vaccination programme has been running very slowly and we are slowly approaching the third wave,” Nehawu’s Khaya Xhaba indicated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Thando Kubheka at EWN. Read too, SA signs deal for 20 million Pfizer Covid-19 doses, at TimesLIVE

Other internet posting(s) in this news category


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Cosatu tells Jacob Zuma to stop playing the victim

Independent Media reports that after the speaking notes that former president Jacob Zuma used when he met with the ANC’s top six early last month became publicly known, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) weighed in and said Zuma must stop playing victim. The labour federation’s spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla said evidence of Zuma’s wrongdoing was there to be seen in state-owned companies. “Cosatu is not interested in this rewriting of history. We do not want to discuss issues of people who suffer from a persecution complex or a victim mentality. We are busy struggling to save the jobs of the real victims, workers who are losing jobs and salaries from many SOEs where Comrade Zuma’s friends, the Gupta family, left their corrupt fingerprints.   Comrade Zuma served in the Presidency of the Republic for 15 years (six years as deputy president and nine as president). A little bit of introspection on his part will go a long way to answer some of his questions,” Pamla stated. The notes used by Zuma at the meeting caused a sensation as he made some serious allegations against party leaders like Cyril Ramaphosa and Inkosi Mandla Mandela, among others.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sihle Mavuso at Independent Media

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Nehawu KZN won’t campaign for ANC in upcoming elections over workers’ salaries, at EWN


EMIGRATION

Lockdown boosts emigration inquiries

Business Times reports that the number of South Africans of all races inquiring about emigrating to countries such as the US, Portugal and Grenada has soared since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.   According to companies specialising in the field, the people making inquiries include doctors, lawyers, engineers, farmers and entrepreneurs who want to move their families out of SA and provide their children with better employment and lifestyle prospects.   And young graduates are also looking to emigrate amid fears about finding work in a stagnant local economy. Also fuelling interest in relocation is the work-from-home trend, which means people in many fields can do their jobs from anywhere in the world. Grenada, in particular, is becoming attractive for medical professionals because it has globally recognised medical facilities and it is possible to secure a passport within five months. The surge in emigration inquiries comes at a time when the SA government is urgently trying to attract and retain skilled professionals. More than a month ago the government released a draft list of critical skills that SA needs. Top of the list are experts in agriculture, engineering, construction, IT and accounting.   SA also needs general medical practitioners, nurses and pharmacists. American Dream, which helps South Africans settle in the US, has experienced "a major uptick in general in immigration queries", and this intensified after the Covid outbreak. Other relocation specialists have experienced similar trends.

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


SABC RETRENCHMENTS

SABC refutes CWU’s assertion that it’s 'on the brink of collapse' following job cuts, broadcast interruptions

Fin24 reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has hit back at criticism by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), saying that it was not on the "brink of collapse". Last week, the public broadcaster, which has been battling financial challenges for years, announced that its long-running restructuring process had at last been concluded. To cut its salary bill, 346 of its employees had opted for severance packages, while 275 has been made redundant. Two days later, it suffered the embarrassment of broadcast interruptions on some radio stations due to a power outage. The job losses were slammed by the CWU, who said they were "grossly unfair" and lacked transparency. "We think that there will be more retrenchments coming in the future and an unsustainable public broadcaster," said the CWU’s Aubrey Tshabalala. In a statement, the union said the broadcast interruptions were just the "tip of an iceberg". According to the CWU, the broadcaster's management caused the disruptions by not appreciating the "dynamics and complexity" involved. But on Saturday, the SABC said that the interruption to its broadcasts came as a result of power supply issues from City Power in Johannesburg. "The SABC has put in place mitigating plans to ensure continuity in broadcasting on all its platforms and remains fully committed to fulfilling its mandate of informing, educating and entertaining the public," it stated.

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Jan Cronje at Fin24

SABC charges its economics editor Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki, who opposed retrenchments, with misconduct

Pretoria News reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has laid three charges against its economics editor, Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki, for various incidents of alleged misconduct. The charges are against the backdrop of protests by employees of the public broadcaster over recent retrenchments that Gqubule opposed.   In the first charge, the broadcaster accuses Gqubule-Mbeki of intimidating a colleague, Judith Tseke, by calling her a rat for refusing to take part in one of the anti-retrenchment pickets earlier this year. Under charge two, titled “unseemly/offensive language and behaviour”, the charge sheet reads: “You have behaved in a manner that is not appropriate, unbecoming and not in line with the values of the institution (the SABC) in that your language and behaviour was offensive and unseemly towards a fellow employee.” Charge three accuses Gqubule-Mbeki of not following due process in signing the invoices of a freelancer. If Gqubule-Mbeki is found guilty under the first charge it could lead to her employment being terminated. Aubrey Tshabalala of the Communication Workers Union confirmed that they were aware of the charge sheet, but denounced it, saying it was a witch-hunt against Gqubule-Mbeki. He commented: “Our view is that there was no incident of intimidation because the SABC itself did not follow the rules. We were part of the strike and we never saw anyone being stopped from going to work.   As for the other charges, they hold no water.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mashudu Sadike at Pretoria News


SAA SALARY PAYMENTS

Numsa urges Scopa to intervene in saga of unpaid SAA employees

Pretoria News reports that as its members continue to go unpaid, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has turned to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) to help force SA Airways (SAA) to produce its financial statements. General secretary Irvin Jim said the union wanted Scopa to do more to hold the Department of Public Enterprises accountable for the national carrier’s failure to produce the financial statements needed to prove that SAA could not pay salaries. The union has long been complaining that management continued to receive salaries while most of the staff were losing their homes and cars, and their children were being kicked out of schools, because they could not keep up with payments.   Jim said the repeated payments failure was having a very negative impact on SAA Technical and Airchefs.   Workers at both these subsidiaries of SAA were suffering because of the non-payment of salaries, he lamented.   Jim went on to indicate: “We’ve instructed our lawyers to assist our members to recover the money owed to them at SAA.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by James Mahlokwane at Pretoria News


ESKOM

Saftu lays criminal charges against Eskom for fraud over ’engineered crisis’

Independent Media reports that the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) has laid charges of corruption, money-laundering and fraud against Eskom, claiming that the crisis at the power utility was deliberate and engineered. In a statement issued by Saftu last week, it claimed that the company’s massive debt of R450 billion and load shedding formed part of a grand scheme to loot and eventually collapse Eskom “while handing over the energy generation to private hands”. Saftu spokesperson Trevor Shaku said: “Saftu insists that load shedding is not the innocent negligence, but has been engineered to create a situation to loot Eskom through overpricing of coal to benefit crooks who have found a new avenue to loot the country dry.” The federation added that the signing of the agreements with the “so-called” Independent Power Producers formed part of this grand scheme to privatise Eskom and “hand over the family silver to private interests linked to the ruling party and its friends in the business”. In addition to the criminal charges, a 36-page criminal complaint authored by Phillip Vilakazi of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was submitted to police in support of Saftu’s case.   Commenting on the allegations, Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said: “Eskom hopes those concerned will follow up and provide the necessary evidence of the crimes they are alleging, in order to assist with a speedy prosecution of those implicated.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Kailene Pillay at Independent Media


GENDER EQUALITY

SA outperforms on female directors, but with work still required

Bloomberg reports that SA’s push for female empowerment has led to an outperformance against emerging-market peers when measured by gender diversity in listed company boards. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) is the only exchange from a developing country to beat the Group of 20 average for female representation among directors of companies traded on the bourse, according to figures from Sustainable Stock Exchanges. Women hold 29% of the board seats in the top 100 listed companies in SA. That compares with an average of 20% on major G20 exchanges and representation of 12% in Japan, 10% for the Shanghai bourse and 7.4% in South Korea. South African women chair 11% of the companies, beating the G20 average of 5.5%.   The relative success was helped by charters in SA industries ranging from mining to finance, that have set targets for gender representation, said Shameela Soobramoney, chief sustainability officer at the JSE. While SA’s ranking was an achievement, it was not enough, according to Soobramoney.   The exchange was seeking to drive greater transparency around the issue through mandatory gender reporting, she said.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Adelaide Changole at Moneyweb

WEF says equal gender pay set back a generation by pandemic

Bloomberg reports that the Covid-19 pandemic has rolled back years of progress on gender parity for pay, making women wait a generation longer to earn the same as men. A report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) found that at the current pace it will take 135 years for men and women to get the same paycheck for similar work. It echoes concerns raised by Bank of England policy maker Silvana Tenreyro about the impact of Covid-19 on women’s careers. While Covid-19 has accelerated automation, lockdowns have hit female-dominated sectors hardest and left women doing more household chores, sapping their productivity. The proportion of women in skilled professions has continued to increase, but separate research by the jobs website LinkedIn found that women were less likely to be hired for leadership roles, reversing two years of progress. One solution could be “skills-based hiring,” where recruiters focus on the potential candidates show rather than their direct work experience and formal qualifications. Measures like that are said to be necessary in sectors like technology. For instance, only 14% of people in cloud computing are female. The WEF called on business leaders and policy makers to embed gender parity into their plans for the economic recovery from the pandemic.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lizzy Burden at Moneyweb


CORRUPTION / BRIBERY

Traffic cops to wear body cameras to thwart bribery

BusinessLive reports that in future, misbehaving SA motorists will be less likely to get away with paying so-called “cold drink” bribes to avoid getting arrested or paying hefty fines. The long arm of the law is getting hi-tech, with motorists and traffic officers to be under big brother’s watchful gaze by means of body cameras and drones. Body cameras will allow every interaction between a traffic officer and a motorist to be recorded, deputy transport minister Dikeledi Magadzi said in launching the Easter Arrive Alive road safety campaign on Monday. To be rolled out by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) over the next three to five years, the body cameras will help improve the conviction rate for violations of traffic laws and combat corruption. “Starting this Easter, there will be nowhere to hide for those who live beyond their means and finance their lavish lifestyles through bribes, at the expense of law-abiding citizens on the roads. Traffic law enforcement will stop being an enrichment scheme for the unethical, unscrupulous, greedy and corrupt officers who undermine our efforts to bring discipline on our roads and arrest the carnage,” said Magadzi.   The transport department plans to also strengthen its e-law enforcement with drones that will identify motorists driving recklessly. Officers will be deployed strategically to respond using the live intelligence supplied by this technology. Consultations are ongoing with the justice crime prevention and security cluster to ensure that evidence gathered through the use of drones is admissible and leads to a higher conviction rate.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Denis Droppa at BusinessLive


OTHER HEADLINES OF INTEREST

 


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