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


TOP STORY – ARCELORMITTAL WAGE STRIKE

Numsa to strike at ArcelorMittal SA from Wednesday for 10% wage hike

BL Premium reports that after serving a 48-hour strike notice, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) will be embarking on a wage strike from Wednesday at steel producer ArcelorMittal SA in support of a 10% wage hike demand. The company is offering 5%, in line with the 5.8% headline inflation the Reserve Bank has forecast for 2022, claiming its offer is higher than the 5.5% average that has been implemented in the steel sector. Numsa’s Kabelo Ramokhathali said that workers also want a housing allowance, the scrapping of labour brokers, insourcing of temporary workers and that employers should contribute 80% of fees for workers’ medical aid. In 2020, the industry entered into a wage-freeze agreement with unions due to Covid-19. On Tuesday, ArcelorMittal raised concern over the "unsustainable increases" Numsa was demanding, saying they could lead to cost pressures that would "weaken our competitiveness". On top of the 5% across-the-board wage increase, it has offered Numsa a 2% cash equivalent based on all "remuneration elements to be paid monthly". CEO Kobus Verster lashed out at Numsa for "disingenuously" suggesting that employees earned R7,000 per month: "The current average total remuneration of the lowest grade of employees at [ArcelorMittal] is R21,423 per month, excluding overtime. The offer tabled by the company will result in an average positive adjustment of R2,246 per month for bargaining unit employees." With Numsa members downing tools at plants in Tshwane, Vanderbijlpark and Newcastle from Wednesday, ArcelorMittal spokesperson Tami Didiza said there were "contingency plans in place".

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


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY

Employee shot as robbers hit Louis Trichardt fuel depot, stealing diesel worth R5.5m

IOL reports that diesel worth over R5.5 million was stolen on Saturday evening after robbers attacked a fuel depot in Limpopo and shot an employee, before fleeing in six fully loaded fuel trucks. The shot employee is in a critical condition after the robbery that took place at a Louis Trichardt diesel depot situated in the industrial area of the town. Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo reported:   “It is alleged that the manager of the depot, which sells diesel in bulk, opened the gate for a truck which entered the premises under the pretence of buying diesel. Suddenly, the occupants jumped out armed with firearms and took the remote control and cellphones from the manager. In the process, the manager was also robbed of cash.” The perpetrators then forced the manager into another room and locked him inside.   The other four employees at the premises were robbed of cellphones, tied up with cable ties and locked in separate rooms. During the robbery, a company driver who was sitting in a truck parked at the premises was shot and seriously injured. Police were called and on arrival at the scene they found the injured man aged 43. He was taken to the hospital. Investigations are continuing.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jonisayi Maromo at IOL

Ex-cop who allegedly killed three in Cape Town hospital shooting is 'suicidal', his lawyer tells court

News24 reports that an ex-police officer accused of the murder of a police officer and two patients at New Somerset hospital made a brief appearance in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Tuesday. Handcuffed and shackled, Jean-Paul Malgas, 39, from Vredenberg, limped into the Cape Town Magistrate's Court and stood at the balustrade, looking slightly overwhelmed. Magistrate Ronel Oliver questioned why he was in leg irons and handcuffed, noting that it was not the norm. But prosecutor Adnaan Gelderbloem explained that it was a pre-agreed arrangement that was "in the best interests" of the safety of Malgas and those in court. Malgas' lawyer told the court that he was suicidal and that "he has severe depression". Malgas faces three charges of murder, a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm, a charge of unlawful possession of ammunition, and robbery.   The robbery charge stems from an allegation that he took the firearm of Constable Donay Phillips, who was guarding a man at the hospital on Saturday night. Phillips and two patients, who have not yet been identified, were shot dead at the hospital. Apparently, Phillips had gone to investigate a commotion in another ward when he was disarmed and shot in the head. Police confirmed that the patient Phillips had been guarding had nothing to do with the shooting. Malgas abandoned his bail application and the matter was postponed to 30 June for further investigation.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jenni Evans at News24. Lees ook, Skieter by Kaapstad-hospitaal gaan nie borgtog vra, by Maroela Media. As well as, Alleged Cape Town hospital shooter worked for SAPS for five years, court hears, at EWN


COVID-19

SA rolls back Covid-19 vaccine drive due to apathy, even as fifth wave looms

BusinessLive reports that SA is scaling back its Covid-19 vaccination drive and may have to destroy doses because of a lack of demand from citizens, even as the country heads into a fifth wave of infections. Take up has slowed to the point where keeping some sites running was unaffordable, said Nicholas Crisp, deputy director-general at the Department of Health and the person in charge of the programme. “No-one is arriving” to get shots and the numbers “are just terrible,” Crisp said in an interview on Monday. Covid-19 vaccinations would need to be incorporated into SA’s standard medical programmes, which would mean these specific shots would be less accessible, he said. Only about half of SA’s 40-million adults are fully protected, about a year after doses were first made available to the public. While the government was heavily criticised before that for being slow to secure vaccines, hesitancy is now its biggest problem. The 18-39 age group was the most reluctant, Crisp said. The slow pace means the country may be forced to destroy many vaccines because they will expire. Crisp said the government had unsuccessfully tried to donate the excess supply.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Antony Sguazzin and Janice Kew at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Covid-19 update: 7,523 new cases reported in SA, at The Citizen
  • Western Cape breaches 10,000 active Covid-19 cases amid anticipated fifth wave, at Cape Argus
  • Phaahla defends government’s Covid-19 response against 'armchair critics', at News24


PROTESTS

Classes resume at Gqeberha school after protest by parents, even though issue of ‘absent’ teacher not yet resolved

Sowetan reports that while teaching and learning resumed at Papenkuil Primary School in Gqeberha on Monday, an absent teacher who sparked a two-day protest had still not returned to work. Irate parents shut down the school on Thursday and Friday last week, claiming a grade 6 and 7 mathematics teacher’s continued absence was hampering their children’s education. Teaching and learning for the 778 pupils ground to a halt as parents gathered in front of the school wielding placards to express their gripes.   On Friday, the grade 6 and 7 pupils joined their parents in protest. Parents said they had been having problems with the teacher and her constant absenteeism since 2012, but the problem had become progressively worse in 2021. School Governing Body chair Michael Loggenberg said although pupils returned to school on Monday, it was not business as usual. “This teacher is still absent. The department of education only replied in The Herald (a local newspaper). We have not heard anything from them yet. There is still no substitute teacher. The children are on their own.” An Eastern Cape education department spokesperson said the school’s request for a substitute teacher was receiving urgent attention. Loggenberg said parents would regroup on Wednesday to decide on a way forward.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lynn Spence on page 7 of Sowetan of 10 May 2022


MINING LABOUR

NUM bemoans workers' safety after four miners die at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu mine

SowetanLive reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Tuesday it was disturbing that poor mineworkers “continue to die like flies” in a “careless” industry. The union was commenting after a fatal accident at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu mine near Carletonville where four mineworkers died on Saturday afternoon.   Six Kusasalethu mine employees were reportedly cleaning an underground mud dam when a wall fell on them, killing the four. In a statement, the NUM said the country was capable of developing technology which could foretell the fall of ground. It noted that seismic events were notorious for mining disasters.   “We cannot continue with the same triggers of incidents responsible for injuries and fatalities in the mining industry. If we care about human life, the expenses or cost towards procuring such advanced technology should not matter much. It is quite disturbing that the poor mineworkers who are earning peanuts continue to die like flies in the industry that is careless about their sweat and blood,” the union indicated. The NUM called for a speedy investigation of the Harmony incident and for the department of mineral resources & energy and energy to “enforce the laws and ensure that companies take full responsibility for such incidents”. Cosatu also conveyed its condolences.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Alex Patrick at SowetanLive

NUM commemorates the 1995 Vaal Reefs disaster

Mining Weekly reports that on 10 May the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) commemorated the 27-year anniversary of the Vaal Reefs disaster that resulted in 104 fatalities. As one of the deadliest events in the history of SA mining, the Vaal Reefs mine accident in 1995 marked a turning point for the mining industry and resulted in the establishment of the Leon Commission of Inquiry into the mining industry. At Vaal Reefs near Orkney in North West, an underground train careered into the cables of a two-floor shaft elevator cage that was transporting workers up to surface after their shift. The train entered a tunnel that was supposed to be closed, before losing control and causing a collision that sent the cage plunging downwards in a free fall. The accident was reportedly a result of human error and there had been no safety precaution in place to prevent the train from entering the shaft.   The commission ultimately recommended a number of reforms within the sector, which included the drafting of the Mine Health and Safety Act to provide a comprehensive legal framework for creating a healthy and safe working environment. The NUM believes the industry should continue to strive for zero harm and ensure every worker returns home safe.

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

‘Tense’ platinum wage talks on the cards

Mail & Guardian reports that SA platinum miners and unions are entering crucial wage talks over a multiyear pay deal in June and the volatility is already rearing its head. According to Sibanye-Stillwater boss Neal Froneman, the ongoing strike at the producer’s gold mines is being used as leverage by unions for the upcoming wage negotiations at its platinum operations. Analyst Peter Major commented: “The platinum sector is making decent money compared to the gold sector and I think the unions know that. The miners are trying to tell the unions that the current platinum prices are not normal. Miners refuse to get locked into high wages that are unjustified by productivity.   Unions need to be able to justify their pay increase … it will be tense.” The Marikana strikers back in 2012 demanded a basic wage of R12 500.   With the current wage talks, mineworkers are demanding up to R20 000. The talks will be more intense given Sibanye-Stillwater’s financial reports, which show it earned more than R300-million in 2021. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is already negotiating with Anglo Platinum and is demanding a 10% wage increase. The union said it has rejected the 7.5% offer by Anglo Platinum. Striking mineworkers stormed the stage earlier this month on Workers’ Day when President Cyril Ramaphosa tried to give a speech in Rustenburg. While subsequently giving an address at Anglo’s launch of its new hydrogen-fuelled haulage truck, Ramaphosa said: “There are companies who relate to trade unions with hostility; that should be a thing of the past. As stakeholders we must work together and not hold on to dustbin history. They should work together, whether discussing environmental issues or wage matters.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Anathi Madubela at Mail & Guardian (subscriber access only)

Gone are the days of ignoring mining communities, Ramaphosa tells Mining Indaba

EWN reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that the needs of mining communities must be looked after and the private sector and government should work together to ensure workers’ rights were a priority. He was speaking at the Annual Mining Indaba at the Cape Town Convention Centre.   This year's Indaba theme is 'An evolution of African mining: investing in the energy transition, and the economies.'   Ramaphosa said the growth and development of mining in the country would not be possible unless the working and living conditions of mineworkers and mining communities were improved.   “We now have a responsibility - all of us as the public sector, government and private sector - to ensure that we have benefits for those who are involved in the ecosystem of mining,” Ramaphosa said. He called on all parties to contribute to the growth of the mining sector: “Gone are the days when corporates ignore what is happening to their workers in terms of their livelihoods and gone are the days when we ignore what is happening in communities in mining areas.” Ramaphosa’s address to delegates at the Indaba apparently hit all the right notes for the cooperation of private and public sectors in improving industry competitiveness and for raising investment. This was according to the Minerals Council SA (MCSA), which was responding to Ramaphosa’s speech that focused on the government’s commitment to removing obstacles blocking growth. The MCSA said Ramaphosa’s speech was constructive and realistic.

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

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Minerals Council president urges miners to be uncompromising on safety and be inclusive, at Mining Weekly
  • High level of unclaimed retirement benefits in the mining sector, at Moneyweb

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • Cutting red tape will set free 84% more mining investment, Indaba told, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)
  • Talle regrukplanne om mynboubedryf te help – Ramaphosa, by Maroela Media


UNPAID SALARIES

Unpaid KZN Grade R teachers to be paid this week, education department claims

IOL reports that the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) education department says Grade R teachers who had not been paid their salary stipends since April, will be paid this week. The National Teachers’ Union (Natu) on Monday expressed anger at the department failing to pay the teachers, even though insisting on their continued attendance at work. On Tuesday, KZN education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi advised that the department’s human resources unit had indicated that the teachers would be paid this week.   However, Natu’s acting president Sibusiso Malinga said the department had not informed them that a resolution had been found regarding the matter. On Monday night, Mahlambi had confirmed that the department had failed to pay the teacher salaries and said at the time: “This matter is being attended to. The main cause for this is the annual resumption of the Grade R educators, which is something that is being discussed, to have an alternative way of having a seamless process. The delayed payments are regrettable and it is something that the department, together with unions, should address to have a long solution on the matter.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sisipho Bhuta at IOL


MEDICAL SCHEMES

As regulator initiates probe, GEMS defends multimillion-rand contract to provide its members with multivitamins

BL Premium reports that the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) has defended its decision to award Afrocentric subsidiary Activo Health a multimillion-rand contract to provide its members with multivitamins, saying it was responding to their demands for immune boosters to fend off Covid-19. The justification followed an announcement on Tuesday by the industry regulator, the Council for Medical Schemes, that it had started a Section 43 enquiry into the matter. At issue is both the nature of the contract and the process by which GEMS awarded it.   It is highly unusual for a medical scheme to provide a benefit to members that hasn’t been recommended by a healthcare professional, and it outsourced the selection of a vitamin provider to its managed-care provider, Medscheme, which is also a subsidiary of JSE-listed Afrocentric. GEMS principal officer Stan Moloabi said the board had agreed to set aside R400m from its ex-gratia fund to provide adult beneficiaries with a five-month supply of multivitamins during the coronavirus pandemic, in response to demand from members. There had been “immense pressure” from unions represented at the public service bargaining chamber, he stated. So far, 187,000 of GEMS’ approximately 1-million adult beneficiaries had opted in for the vitamin benefit, said Moloabi. The Progressive Healthcare Forum (PHF), an association of health activists, said GEMS shouldn’t be providing vitamins directly to its members, as the benefits provided by a medical scheme required mediation by a healthcare professional, such as a pharmacist or doctor. “It’s unheard of. No other scheme does this,” said PHF chairperson Aslam Dasoo.

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


ALLEGED MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

With main accusers declining to testify, Cricket SA drops disciplinary action against Proteas coach Mark Boucher

BusinessLive writes that Cricket SA’s (CSA’s) decision to drop all charges of "gross misconduct" against the men’s head coach, Mark Boucher, brings to an end yet another sorry chapter in the organisation’s history. A recent arbitration hearing cleared former captain and director of cricket, Graeme Smith, on all three allegations of racial bias and/or prejudice and CSA admitted in a statement on Tuesday that the result played a significant part in its decision to drop all charges against Boucher. “The recent ruling … in the Smith arbitration fortified the conclusion that the charges against Mr Boucher would be dismissed,” the statement indicated. Another, more practical reason, was that the two men against whom Boucher was "tentatively" found to have acted in a prejudicial or racist manner, namely his former assistant Enock Nkwe and former teammate, Paul Adams, said publicly that they had no desire to testify against him. “Cricket SA’s lawyers engaged with various other potential witnesses over the past month and concluded that the none of the three charges were sustainable,” the statement advised. Boucher released his own statement in which he said “the allegations of racism which were levelled against me were unjustified and have caused me considerable hurt and anguish … I am glad that the process has finally come to an end and that Cricket SA has accepted the charges against me are unsustainable.” Apart from the reputational damage to Cricket SA and the professional game, the legal cost has amounted to more than R10m. CSA board chairman, Lawson Naidoo, said on Tuesday: “The decision to withdraw the charges brings about finality on these issues for Cricket SA and Mark and allows the focus to return to the cricket field – where we trust that Mark and the Proteas will go from strength to strength.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Neil Manthorp at BusinessLive. Lees ook, Boucher bly staande, wil op afrigting focus, by Maroela Media


OTHER HEADLINES OF INTEREST

  • SAA could remain financial burden on state despite selling major stake, Treasury warns, at Fin24
  • Só wil Mbalula spoordiens regruk, by Maroela Media
  • PhD candidate whose long road began as car guard at a Pretoria mall, at TimesLive

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page