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 Tuesday morning roundup, see
summaries of our selection of recent South African
labour-related reports.


COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Ramaphosa in 'good spirits' with mild symptoms after Covid-19 infection, says Presidency

News24 reports that Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele indicated on Monday that President Cyril Ramaphosa remained in good spirits and was recovering, with "mild symptoms", following a Covid-19 infection. Ramaphosa, who is fully vaccinated, was diagnosed with the infection on Sunday and is currently in self-isolation in Cape Town. He has decided to delay a booster vaccine shot that he was scheduled to receive this week. "President Cyril Ramaphosa appreciates the well wishes he is receiving from various quarters following his Covid-19 positive result. The president reiterates his call to everyone in the country to be vaccinated, as vaccination dramatically reduces the chances of serious illness, hospitalisation, or death," Gungubele stated.   While Ramaphosa is isolating this week, Deputy President David Mabuza is acting president. Mabuza is expected to chair a National Coronavirus Command Council meeting on Tuesday.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Zintle Mahlati at News24

China offers 300,000 free Sinovac vaccine jabs to SANDF soldiers

News24 reports that the China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), which over the past year has made vaccine donations to foreign militaries in 28 countries, has offered 300,000 free doses of the CoronaVac inoculation, manufactured by Sinovac, to the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).   Minutes of meetings seen by amaBhungane show that in November the SA Military Health Service's (SAMHS) command council agreed to audit how many members of the army still had to be vaccinated to determine how many CoronaVac jabs would be required. The minutes state the vaccine would be imported through the national Department of Health (DOH) which "will not use it, so the ordered amount must be utilised by the defence". The DOH and Numolux Group, Sinovac's official local partner responsible for distributing CoronaVac in SA, both acknowledged the Chinese offer. The DOH said it was "waiting for a formal request from the SANDF to import the donation of Sinovac for SANDF members". But the SANDF denies making plans to use Sinovac's vaccine and refuses to acknowledge the existence of an offer to donate the vaccine to the army. Sinovac's CoronaVac was given conditional authorisation for emergency use by the SA Health Products Authority (Sahpra) in July but has yet to be included in SA’s vaccine rollout programme. The preconditions include the submission of final results of Sinovac's ongoing clinical studies and periodic safety updates.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tebogo Tshwane at News24

Hospitality sector calls for alternatives to harder lockdowns as Omicron-related travel bans bring sector to its knees

BL Premium reports that data from the Bureau for Economic Research (BER) released on Monday indicates that the local hospitality sector, including hotels and restaurants, has been gutted by the series of controversial travel bans instituted by a host of countries after SA scientists identified the Covid-19 Omicron variant. The sector has pleaded with the government to avoid harder lockdowns, in a bid to protect jobs and businesses as it now turns to local tourism to carry the all-important holiday season. The industry lost more than R1bn in travel bookings for travel between December and March due to travel bans put in place during the 48 hours after Omicron was announced. With the surging fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, driven by Omicron, Federated Hospitality Association of SA (Fedhasa) chair Rosemary Anderson said the industry has asked tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu to intervene, highlighting the extent to which the sector has suffered the collateral damage of lockdowns for the past 21 months. “Our hospitality businesses simply cannot survive a repeat of last year December where beach bans, alcohol restrictions and extended curfews effectively shut us down,” Anderson said.   Given international travel bans, businesses are now reliant on domestic tourism over the festive season, and Fedhasa and other industry players are seeking alternatives to lockdown restrictions. Meantime, the travel bans appear to have shattered what was a resurgence in confidence in the hospitality sector. The bans were likely to have reversed the increased hiring taking place in preparation for a good summer season, the BER indicated.   “This will have an immense adverse social impact amid record-high unemployment levels,” it added.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lynley Donnelly at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Covid-19 update: SA reports 13,992 new cases and 11 deaths, at The Citizen
  • Gauteng contributes nearly half of SA’s 13,992 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, at IOL
  • Fourth wave ‘may be turning’ in Gauteng, says experts, at The Citizen
  • Western Cape officially enters fourth wave as Covid-19 cases rise, at BusinessLive
  • 54% of adults support compulsory Covid work jabs, at Business Report
  • Covid-19’s work-from-home plans hit Gautrain, at Mail & Guardian


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY

Two men arrested just hours after fatal ambush and robbery of Ladysmith K9 officer

TimesLive reports that police arrested two men on Saturday evening after the fatal shooting and robbery of a Ladysmith K9 officer a few hours earlier. In a statement on Sunday, KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Brig Jay Naicker said that an off-duty policeman attached to the Ladysmith K9 Unit was shot as he was driving in Steadville. “It is alleged that his vehicle was bumped from behind by another vehicle and as he alighted from his vehicle to investigate, he was shot several times at point blank range. He died on the scene and his service pistol as well as wallet were taken by his attackers before they fled the scene,” Naicker reported. He said police officers from various units within the uThukela District traced the suspects to E Section in Ezakheni. “Two men aged 25 and 30 were arrested while the vehicle used in the commission of the crime was seized by police. The police officer's firearm as well as the firearm used by the perpetrators were recovered by police. At this stage the motive seems to be robbery. The two men are expected to appear in the Ladysmith Magistrate's Curt soon facing murder and robbery charges,” Naicker indicated.

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


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Kopanong municipality suspends municipal boss as employees strike over unpaid salaries

TimesLive reports that the Kopanong municipality in the Free State's Xhariep district suspended municipal manager Martin Khubeka on Friday. The embattled council has failed to pay its employees for three months. The suspension was due to non-compliance with National Treasury protocols in supplying the required documentation for the council to receive its equitable share from the government, and it was this failure that resulted in employees not being paid. According to strike leader and assistant technical supervisor Khoza Magadela, who works with general workers at the municipality, some of the employees refused to work while they were owed their salaries.   “The diesel account for our fleet has not been paid either, so even the few workers who are working can't provide service delivery. In all other units of Kopanong workers have downed tools until they get their salaries,” Magadela advised. The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) confirmed the strike. The union said workers have not been paid for three months and monies intended for third parties, such as medical aids, pension funds and funeral policies, were deducted from workers’ salaries but never paid over, resulting in policy lapses. Kopanong reportedly owes the employee pension fund close to R1m. In response to questions, mayor Xolani Tseletsele said the municipality had been rolling out wage payments over the past three weeks. Another payment had been expected to be made on 7 December, but “unfortunately we did not receive our equitable share from National Treasury".

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ruan Jooste at TimesLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Police owed unrest overtime pay discuss strike across provinces, on page 2 of The Star of 13 December 2021


MINING LABOUR

AMCU reports that on Friday another mine fatality occurred

Mining Weekly reports that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) reports that the seventy-second mining death of the year took place at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu operations outside Carletonville on 10 December. In a statement, AMCU said the report it received pointed to a team leader being struck by a snatch block as it came loose from its anchoring points. According to AMCU health and safety national chairperson Xolani Bokoloshe, the team leader was 35 years old and leaves behind a wife and two children.   Bokoloshe indicated that the latest incident was the third of its type at Kusasalethu this year and, according to the union’s records, it was also the third “accident of this nature” in the mining industry this year. “Harmony is now second with 14 workers killed for 2021, just behind Sibanye-Stillwater that is still leading the pack with 18 killed for this year. It cannot continue like this. Something must be done,” said Bokoloshe.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Mining Weekly

Minerals Council members commit to implementing eight measures aimed at halting fatalities

Mining Weekly reports that Minerals Council SA (MCSA) member companies have agreed and committed to implement eight measures immediately to urgently address and halt the number of fatalities at SA’s mines.   By 13 December this year, 72 people had died on SA’s mines compared with 52 in the same period last year.   This is the second consecutive year of regression in safety after the industry recorded 60 fatalities in 2020 compared with 51 in 2019, which was the industry’s lowest number of fatalities. The MCSA board, comprising 29 CEOs of mining companies, convened an urgent meeting last week to agree on short-term measures that member companies would adopt and implement immediately to prevent further fatal incidents. The eight interventions included increased visible-felt leadership presence at mining operations; stopping unauthorised and uncontrolled access to old mining areas that were not routinely mined; and effectively and rigorously conducting risk assessments and implementing controls where work in previously mined areas was routinely undertaken. In addition, the CEOs committed to quality and scheduled maintenance programmes instead of opportunistic and ad hoc maintenance arising from production pressures; deploying competent and skilled employees in areas of high-risk work to provide adequate supervision, oversight and risk assessment of that work; and undertaking quality and scheduled critical-controls monitoring and assurances to prevent falls of ground (FOG), transport-related accidents and inundation of working areas. Ensuring that incentives and bonuses for miners did not compromise their rights to stop or refuse unsafe work; implementing sufficient fatigue breaks; and monitoring and conducting phased on-boarding after the holiday period of employees to ensure they were in sound physical and mental health, were also among the commitments made.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Mining Weekly. Read too, 'Unacceptable regression' - Mining companies ramp up efforts to stem rising death rate, at Fin24


UNPAID WAGES

CCMA awards 143 Eastern Cape water operators R1.5 million for unpaid wages

GroundUp reports that last week, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) ruled in favour of 143 water operators from King Sabata Dalindyebo, Nyandeni, Port St Johns, Ngquza Hill and Mhlontlo local municipalities. The workers’ duties included monitoring water reservoirs, checking for faulty water valves, fixing leaks and reporting electricity cut-offs by Eskom due to unpaid accounts. The workers applied for a writ of execution against the municipality after they were not paid for months. The CCMA awarded the workers R1.5 million for three months of unpaid wages. This means each worker will receive R10,500. Meanwhile, villagers in Mancam in the King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality say they walk to a spring about a kilometre from their houses to fetch water from as early as 4am. They say the murky water, which often contains fungi and worms, has to be strained and boiled before use. The village is the birthplace of United Democratic Movement’s leader Bantu Holomisa.   Zimkhita Macingwane, spokesperson for OR Tambo District, did not respond to questions about the CCMA ruling.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mkhuseli Sizani at GroundUp


PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS

Courts rule that SA doctors trained abroad won’t have to spend a year training before sitting entry exams

GroundUp reports that South African doctors trained abroad will now be allowed to sit local entry exams without needing to complete a conversion year of clinical training. This follows two separate court hearings in which the Health Professionals Council of SA (HPCSA) and the Medical and Dental Professionals Board (MDPB) were told to enrol over 100 doctors in both clinical and theoretical examinations. In June 2021, the Johannesburg High Court set aside the HPCSA’s policy governing the requirements for foreign-trained South African doctors or dentists wanting to practice in SA. The policy had required foreign trained doctors to undertake a year of local clinical training before they were allowed to sit for their pre-internship clinical examinations. Despite this ruling, the HPCSA still did not enrol many foreign-trained doctors in these final professional examinations, including a group of about 100 foreign-educated doctors. In August 2021, these recently qualified doctors, under the banner of the SA Internationally Trained Health Professionals Association (SAITHPA), submitted an application in the Pretoria High Court to compel the HPCSA to enrol them in the clinical examinations. This action was partly successful, with about 30 doctors enrolled for exams in September. On 5 November, the doctors who were not enrolled returned to court, asking for a contempt order against the MDPB and the HPCSA, for failing to comply with the court order. This application was unopposed and on 9 November the contempt order was granted. Later that month, the remaining 70 foreign-trained doctors were granted access to the December-round of examinations.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by James Stent and Kimberly Mutandiro at Moneyweb


WORK PERMITS

Reprieve for Zimbabwean Exemption Permit holders facing threat of deportation and loss of jobs

Moneyweb reports that hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans in SA under so-called Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEPs) were granted a reprieve on Monday when the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) unexpectedly withdrew a directive it issued last month requiring them to apply for what it had called “mainstream” visas. The DHA directive issued on 29 November gave permit holders until 31 December to apply for alternative visas – an impossibility given the six weeks it would have taken to get the required clearance certificate from both SA and Zimbabwean police. This would have required visa applicants to return to Zimbabwe and be faced with not being allowed to return to SA after the Christmas break. The 10-day quarantine period in force in Zimbabwe would have prevented permit holders from obtaining police clearance before the expiry of the ZEP at the end of December. News of the change of heart by the DHA came as the ZEP Holders Association and non-profit organisation African Amity brought an urgent application before the High Court in Johannesburg challenging the decision not to renew the permits. Advocate Simba Chitando, representing the applicants, said the court case would go ahead on Tuesday. “We will continue until ZEP holders get permanent residence permits,” he indicated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ciaran Ryan at Moneyweb. Read too, State withdraws contested directive on holders of Zimbabwean special visa, at BusinessLive


DISCIPLINARY ACTION / SUSPENSIONS

Tiger Brands suspends three employees amid probe into alleged 'procurement irregularities' involving a major supplier

Fin24 reports that food giant Tiger Brands has confirmed that it has suspended three employees as an investigation proceeds into alleged "procurement irregularities". Apparently, the employees - at least one of whom is a senior executive - are facing serious allegations of misconduct involving a major supplier.   A spokesperson for Tiger Brands declined to comment in detail on these allegations, saying the matter was under investigation. However, the company confirmed on Sunday that three employees had been placed on precautionary suspension. Tiger Brands also declined to confirm whether the employees were facing criminal charges.

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Khulekani Magubane at Fin24


WORKPLACE CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Christmas behind bars for finance clerk who defrauded Grindrod SA of R8 million over eight years

IOL reports that a 41-year-old woman, who pleaded guilty to defrauding her employer of R8 million over eight years, will spend Christmas behind bars. Yolandie Bartlett was convicted and sentenced in the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court. The National Prosecuting Authority indicated that Bartlett worked for Grindrod SA as a finance clerk. She committed the offences between May 2011 and May 2019. “In defrauding the company, she would create and process fictitious payments. The monies were deposited into her personal bank accounts, using four different accounts,” said NPA spokesperson Natasha Kara. “Bartlett was found out when she erroneously made a payment. The company paid bursaries to employees at a certain time of the year, and she processed a fraudulent payment for herself at the wrong time (under the title of bursary). The company hired a forensic investigator to look into the matter and her fraud was discovered,” Kara explained. While Bartlett maintained her innocence throughout the trial, she decided to plead guilty when she realised there was overwhelming evidence against her. Bartlett surrendered her pension of approximately R352 000 to the company.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jolene Marriah-Maharaj at IOL

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Forensic firm appointed to probe SSA corruption, at TimesLive


OTHER HEADLINES OF INTEREST

  • SA panel proposes gradual start to basic income grant, at Moneyweb
  • Experts offer a lifeline for the country’s unemployed by recommending a basic income support grant, at IOL
  • Schauenburg Systems donates R800,000 to build digital lab to teach youth tech skills, at Engineering News
  • Railways on verge of total collapse, at City Press (subscriber access only)

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page