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 roundup of weekend news, see
summaries of our selection of South African
labour-related stories that appeared since
Friday, 6 August 2021.


TOP STORY

Godongwana wants investment in jobless youth, warns against 'cycle of dependency' with basic income grant

Sunday Times reports that SA's new Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has drawn an early line in the sand over the question of a basic income grant (BIG), saying he would rather the funds be used to give work to unemployed black youngsters, instead of a handout. In an interview on Saturday as he prepared to take up the hot seat vacated by Tito Mboweni, Godongwana was careful to tread a diplomatic path on the BIG, which many in the ANC see as a necessary measure amid low growth and a Covid-ravaged economy. He hinted at far-reaching proposals that would focus on millions of young people who were unable to find work. Godongwana reiterated that a more thought-out approach was required, something that has been misinterpreted in the party as him opposing the introduction of a BIG. “People are missing the point [on his BIG stance] … about 4.2 million of these people that are unemployed – using the narrow definition – are young people between 15 and 35 years. My argument is that we must invest in them. Even the amount we may spend could be more than a grant. We can’t condemn young people to a cycle of dependence, particularly because these are young black kids.” Godongwana added that it was his belief that the current approach to the BIG created dependency and did not address fundamental issues affecting youth unemployment. He went on to say: “What we need to do is invest in skilling these kids, and obviously they will have some cash which will be a stipend or per diem. And in addition let’s get them better development of skills.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sabelo Skiti on page 1 of Sunday Times of 9 August 2021. Read too, Godongwana warns against 'cycle of dependency' for youth in basic income debate, at Fin24

Other reports in this news category

  • Godongwana must bring ANC with him on the road to reform, at BusinessLive (paywall access only)
  • Enoch Godongwana: a former ‘red’ trade unionist welcomed by the markets, on page 4 of Sunday Times of 9 August 2021


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Cosatu slams Ramaphosa’s cabinet reshuffle, saying the president has ‘recycled the same old guard’

BL Premium reports that reaction from labour federation Cosatu and opposition parties to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet changes was mixed on Thursday. Ramaphosa appointed, dismissed and moved ministers to different portfolios for the first time since he was elected in 2019. He said the reshuffle was to “improve the capacity of government” to rebuild the economy following the unrest in July and the economic devastation of the pandemic. Cosatu, a key ally of the governing ANC, slammed the reshuffle, saying the president “recycled the same old guard that has proven itself incapable of fixing our many problems”. Spokesperson Sizwe Pamla stated: “We are also disappointed that not enough was done to reduce the size of the cabinet, and to realign the government departments to improve their co-operation and levels of efficiency.” Ramaphosa took control of the intelligence portfolio, moving it to his own office and abolished the ministry of state security. DA leader John Steenhuisen said the move created an undesirable situation where the country’s intelligence services became an extension of the president. UDM leader Bantu Holomisa welcomed the axing of defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and her replacement by Thandi Modise, who leaves her role as speaker of the National Assembly. Ramaphosa replaced finance minister Tito Mboweni with Enoch Godongwana, who is currently the head of the ANC’s economic transformation subcommittee in the national executive committee (NEC). “The new finance minister is very much an ANC cadre appointment and despite being a former deputy minister, he has not done much to recommend himself for this critical portfolio,” said the IFP’s Narend Singh.

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


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY

'Extensive damage' caused in Medupi explosion, Eskom staff suspended after ‘deviation from procedure’

Fin24 reports that power utility Eskom has confirmed that an explosion at unit 4 of Medupi power station on Sunday has caused "extensive damage" to the generator. The explosion took place at about 22:50 on Sunday night. The power station's other four generating units are in operation. "The incident occurred during the activity to displace hydrogen with carbon dioxide and air respectively, for the purposes of finding an external leak.   Following the power station preliminary investigation, it appears that while performing this activity air was introduced into the generator at a point where hydrogen was still present in the generator at sufficient quantities to create an explosive mixture, which ignited and resulted in the explosion. It also appears that there was a deviation from the procedure for carrying out this activity," said an Eskom spokesperson. Eskom will be placing those employees who were responsible to manage and execute the work under precautionary suspension pending the conclusion of an investigation into the explosion. While no injuries have been reported, emergency services attended to seven employees for shock. All employees and contractors have been accounted for, said Eskom.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jan Cronje at Fin24. See too, Explosion damages Medupi's Unit 4, at Mining Weekly. And also, Eskom suspends staff after explosion at Medupi power plant, at TimesLIVE

Man jailed for three years for threatening to kill cop and torch his property

News24 reports that a 38-year-old man has been sentenced to three years in jail after he went to the home of a police officer and threatened to kill him. The Elliot Regional Court sentenced Mzwamadoda Booysen on Thursday for intimidating Sergeant Elliot Ntungwana. Police spokesperson Captain Ursula Roelofse reported that on 9 June, Booysen threatened to kill Ntungwana and threatened to burn down his home and motor vehicle. "Ntungwana then opened a criminal case against Booysen, which led to his conviction.   Booysen was sentenced to 36 months of direct imprisonment. Any intimidation or threats against members of the SAPS by a member of the public is viewed in a very serious light by the court,” Roelofse warned.

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Ntwaagae Seleka at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Kragnetwerk dalk onder druk ná ontploffing by Medupi, by Maroela Media


VIOLENT LABOUR PROTEST

Five arrested for allegedly torching trucks in Mpumalanga following labour dispute

News24 reports that five people were arrested last week in connection with the torching of trucks along the N2 in Ermelo, Mpumalanga.   According to police, violence broke out along the N2 on Wednesday following a labour dispute at a construction site at Merino Mall. Three trucks were set alight and two more trucks and a bakkie were damaged.   "A case of public violence was opened, while no injuries were reported. The said situation prompted the SAPS members and their counterparts from the South African National Defence Force to be on high alert... They heightened their visibility whilst monitoring the situation on the N2 in Ermelo following the incident. These formations also worked around the clock to ensure that the suspects are brought to book," police spokesperson Colonel Donald Mdhluli said on Friday. The five arrested suspects are expected to appear in the Ermelo Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Getrude Makhafola at News24


MINING LABOUR

Employee killed in fall of ground incident on Friday at Harmony mine near Orkney

News24 reports that a Harmony Gold employee was killed in an accident on Friday morning at the company's Moab Khotsong mine, near Orkney, in the North West province. This followed a fall of ground incident, according to the company.   "The authorities and organised labour were informed and an investigation into the incident is currently under way," spokesperson Sihle Maake said. He added that operations in the affected section had been suspended in the interim. Harmony CEO Peter Steenkamp and the management extended their condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased colleague. "The company continues to strive towards its goal of zero loss of life and will ensure that the necessary support is provided to the family in dealing with this tragedy," said Steenkamp.   This was the sixth death at the company's mines this year, based on the statements it has issued.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Cebelihle Mthethwa at News24

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Buffalo subsidiary granted environmental approval for proposed new coal mine in KZN, at Mining Weekly


MANGO BUSINESS RESCUE

Creditor postpones Mango liquidation application; outcome of possible business rescue process awaited

Fin24 reports that one of low-cost airline Mango's creditors has withdrawn a liquidation application as it waits for the outcome of a possible business rescue process. The matter, which was meant to be heard on Tuesday, was postponed to allow the lessor, who filed the liquidation application in April this year, to reconsider. Mango and its labour unions both agree that the airline needs to enter into business rescue. Mango filed for business rescue with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) on 28 July 2021. But the CIPC rejected the filing because it took place months after the initial resolution was taken by Mango to opt for business rescue in April. Mango now wants the court to rule that the CIPC wrongfully dismissed its notice.   The trade unions - the Mango Pilots' Association (MPA), the SA Cabin Crew Association (SACCA), and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) – have meanwhile lodged their own business rescue application with the courts. The South Gauteng High Court reserved judgment on Friday nd is set to hand down a ruling by Wednesday. Numsa’s Phakamile Hlubi Majola said the union wants the court to allow their preferred practitioner, Ralph Lutchman, to be involved in the business rescue process. Mango wants Sipho Sono to be appointed business rescue practitioner. Mango employees' salaries for June are still outstanding. With the exception of September and December last year and February to May this year, when they got full salary payments, Mango employees have been receiving partial salary payments since April 2020.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lameez Omarjee and Carin Smith at Fin24


APPOINTMENTS

Ingonyama Trust Board gets a new chief executive

Mail & Guardian reports that Land Reform Minister Thoko Didiza has appointed a new chief executive at the troubled Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB) as part of her attempt to reform the institution. ITB controls nearly three million hectares of land in KwaZulu-Natal. Advocate Vela Mngwengwe, an official of the department who had previously acted as the ministry’s appointee to the ITB, began work at the board’s Pietermaritzburg head office on 1 August. Mngwengwe’s appointment is aimed at bringing some level of stability to the ITB, which has received a series of unfavorable audit opinions from the auditor general and is currently under fire in parliament over poor corporate governance. It will also resolve the embarrassing situation in which the ITB currently has two acting chief executives. Last year, ITB chairperson Jerome Ngwenya placed the chief executive, Lucas Mkhwanazi, on special leave and replaced him with human resources executive Lucky Gabela. But the CCMA ordered that Mkhwanazi be reinstated. After the expiry of the term of office of the board, Didiza appointed a number of acting board members to assist in stabilising the entity, and seconded officials from the department to try to sort out its finances.   A source close to the matter said the appointment of Mngwengwe would be followed by that of a new chief financial officer to oversee attempts to bring the ITB’s spending in line with its mandate and to ensure compliance with the Public Finance Management Act.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Paddy Harper at Mail & Guardian (paywall access only)


STAFFING / VACANCIES

Quality of care suffering in ‘leaderless’ Gauteng hospitals, claim nursing unions

Sunday Independent reports that nursing trade unions are frustrated over the large number of Gauteng hospitals being led by acting CEOs at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. The hospitals in question are Dr George Mukhari Hospital in Pretoria, Jubilee Hospital in Hammanskraal, Pretoria West Hospital, Bertha Gxowa Hospital in Germiston, Far East Rand Hospital in Springs, Pholosong Hospital in Brakpan, Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in Soweto and Tembisa Academic Hospital.   Gauteng Health’s Motalatale Modiba recently said the department had prioritised the filling of vacant posts.   “Out of the seven posts, three were recently advertised and closed during the month of July 2021. One post is currently vacant. One post is in the process of being advertised.   The other two posts are not vacant, however, they are occupied by acting appointees due to employer-employee related issues that are still being processed,” said Modiba.   Meantime, the Democratic Nursing Union of SA’s (Denosa’s) Bongani Mazibuko pointed out that they have noted a lot of indecisiveness as the acting CEOs were reluctant to make decisions and they were also afraid to make appointments, so it hampered service delivery. He also lamented the fact that some of the CEOs had decided to take leave at the height of the third wave. Rich Sicina of the Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union (YNITU) did not mince his words, saying the granting of leave was being done internationally to bring down the public health system in order to benefit those in government. “We believe this thing is done intentionally.   It's a cartel. We always ask ourselves who benefits from making sure that the public health system is disorganised. So if you have a disorganised public health system you are going to have a million dollar business on the other side which is private,” claimed Sicina.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Roland Mpofu on page 6 of Sunday Independent of 9 August 2021

Nurses at Helen Joseph Hospital plead for resources as Charlotte Maxeke Hospital closure strains system

EWN reports on an urgent plea on Tuesday morning for more resources at the Helen Joseph Hospital where nurses are battling to cope with the influx of patients who are unable to access treatment at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital facility. Last week, Gauteng Infrastructure Development MEC Tasneem Motara revealed that it could take up to two years before the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital was fully reopened after a fire damaged parts of the building in April.   "This problem of Charlotte Maxeke has brought a lot of strain in the nursing site - yes we have too many patients and yes COVID-19 is contributing," said a nurse who worked at the Helen Joseph Hospital. She indicated that they had been begging those in power for more staff and resources and added: "The last time, the management was just saying that they really needed to hire more staff but they don't have the budget but they are aware of the shortage and they are promising to work on it." Last week, the Gauteng Health Department's Sibongile Zungu admitted that the crisis at the Helen Joseph Hospital had reached a crisis point due to the pressure placed on the facility as a result of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital's closure. "Almost every night we have to move patients around from Helen Joseph to other facilities and it does become difficult for nurses," Zungo said.   Last month, a patient died while waiting in a wheelchair for medical care at the Helen Joseph Hospital. Her mother found her lifeless body in the queue more than 24 hours later, in the same spot.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mia Lindeque at EWN


SABC

SABC removes clause in contracts allowing monitoring of employees' communications

News24 reports that after much backlash, the SA broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has removed a clause from employees' contracts that allowed it to intercept, monitor, and read staffers' communication. On Thursday, the public broadcaster announced that following concern over the clause, it decided to remove it with immediate effect. Among the organisations that criticised the clause was the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef), which described it as "extremely concerning" and "illegal". The forum said the practice should be "condemned in the strongest terms because it disregarded employees' rights". In a statement on Thursday, the corporation said while the clause had been standard since 2008, it was not intended to violate the rights of journalists or their sources of information. It said journalists and their sources were adequately protected by its editorial policies of 2020. The SABC added that its decision to remove the clause would apply to all new contracts and would be implemented retrospectively.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Malibongwe Dayimani at News24

Army deployment at SABC a routine check or intelligence tip-off, says analyst

Independent Media reports that according to defence analyst Helmoed Heitman, the deployment of the SANDF to SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) offices is of no significance unless the Presidency has been informed of an insurrection. The deployments, however, have only been made to the Auckland Park and KwaZulu-Natal offices, not to those in Cape Town and Gqeberha. The public broadcaster said on Saturday that the army’s deployment was in light of the unrest in KZN and Gauteng in July.   SABC spokesperson Gugu Ntuli has since dismissed what she termed as misleading and malicious allegations that there was an ulterior motive for the presence of SANDF members on its premises. In a statement, Ntuli said as a national key point area, delivering an essential service to the nation, and considering the recent attacks on SABC journalists, it was deemed necessary that the physical premises and the employees working in these offices be protected. Ntuli added that “any presence by SANDF personnel in the newsroom would be unacceptable and not in line with the SABC’s public mandate and editorial policies.” Heitman commented: “I think this is probably just precautionary in case people want to cause trouble in the country again. In history, the first thing that’s always done when staging a coup is concerned is an attack on the broadcasting centres. Protecting the SABC buildings is probably part of a standard roll-out plan because when there is unrest in an area, you automatically do that … However, it is possible that they have intelligence that someone plans to occupy the buildings, but more likely it is just a routine of what they do in these situations.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tarryn-Leigh Solomons at Independent Media


OTHER HEADLINES OF INTEREST

  • Last group of SA medical students stranded in Cuba finally on way home, at News24
  • Cape Town's homeless get their Covid-19 vaccine jabs, at News24
  • Gender pay parity, ESG should be prioritised, says PwC, at Business Report

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page