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


TOP READ – EXECUTIVE ‘COVID’ BONUSES

‘You ain’t seen nothing’ yet with Froneman’s R300m ‘Covid bonus’

Ann Crotty writes that in about 18 to 24 months’ time, the brouhaha over executive pay could get extremely testy because that’s when we’ll start to see the first signs of the value of long-term incentives (LTIs) awarded to executives during the early days of Covid. She calls it the ‘Covid bonus’. Crotty notes that the timing of the recent disclosure of the huge share-based payout in excess of R300m scored by Sibanye-Stillwater’s Neal Froneman, just as his company was trying to panel-beat workers into accepting a derisory pay increase, was unfortunate. She points out that the big challenge around executive pay is not so much the magnitude but the timescale. The most deserving executives are those who have created value that survives a few economic cycles. It is only this sort of value creation that is certain to ensure alignment with shareholder interests. But, the remuneration industry’s definition of long-term is not a few economic cycles but a mere three years. Famously as in the cases of Anglo American’s Mark Cutifani in 2016 and Froneman in 2018, share option awards were based on a low share price. In both instances the share prices were so low that the remuneration committees thought nothing of awarding truckloads of shares to the executives. Between March and October of 2020, for reasons that had nothing to do with corporate executives, share prices plummeted, dragging the JSE all share index to a seven-year low. But for remuneration committees it was business as usual; they dished out huge numbers of long-term share awards based on the low market valuations with no consideration of alignment with ordinary shareholders. Then share prices shot back up, for reasons that had little to do with corporate executives. Assuming the market does not tank from current levels in the coming 18 to 24 months, the lucky executives who were awarded shares at seven-year lows are on track to make a killing almost regardless of individual performance. So, what is lurking ahead of us “could make Froneman’s payout seem the height of restraint and will certainly ensure that regulations around executive remuneration, including disclosure, are tightened rather than relaxed.” Crotty concludes: “It’s the executive Covid bonus brought to us courtesy of the utterly grim times we all suffered during 2020.”

Read the full original of Ann Crotty’s opinion piece at Financial Mail (subscriber access only)


COVID-19

‘SA in fifth wave’ with spike in new Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations, say health experts

The Citizen reports that according to health experts, SA is already into its fifth wave of Covid infections, which is being driven by the omicron lineage BA.4 and BA.5 and which could resemble the previous wave in size and severity. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases on Wednesday announced the country’s biggest jump in new cases since January of 10,017 and an increase of 164 hospital admissions, with a 25.3% positivity rate. Although the fifth wave was likely to be less severe, according to professor of vaccinology Shabir Madhi, SA has been in a fifth wave for the past two to three weeks – especially inGauteng. “Most importantly, hospitalisation and death rates have increased, but are substantially lower than with first three waves and possibly even lower than with the omicron wave,” he indicated.   Madhi also said the resurgence should be interpreted with caution, especially when trying to make comparisons with the past, and although there was no need to panic, the focus should mainly be on getting at least 90% of people older than 50 years vaccinated with three doses. Senior Researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Dr Ridhwaan Suliman, said the current rate of infections confirmed SA had been within the new wave for some time. However, he added, there wasn’t any sign that BA.4 and BA.5 caused more severe disease than BA.1 and BA.2. The department of health has maintained SA was still on the verge of the fifth wave and that it was still too early to declare it.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Reitumetse Makwea at The Citizen

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Covid-19 update: 8,920 new cases and 21 deaths reported on Thursday, at The Citizen


INTERNATIONAL NURSES DAY

International Nurses Day: Issues of outdated training, shortage of qualified nurses raised

Cape Argus reports that in celebrating International Nurses Day on Thursday, many nurses deserved praise and recognition for their excellent service, especially during the pandemic. But, Emerentia Nicholson and Anneleen Damons, from the University of Stellenbosch’s Department of Nursery and Midwifery, have found some huge challenges that the nursing industry is currently facing. They conducted a study in which nurses indicated that their outdated medication training had an impact on the processes they followed when administering medication. Some pointed out that they did not receive training on the effect and side effects of common medications and on pre-checks before administering them.   The study showed that only 15% of the nurses received the mandatory six monthly in-service medication training prescribed by the Department of Health, with 35% of participants receiving their last medication training more than five years ago. It also showed that one of the biggest setbacks to the nursing industry was the shortage of qualified nurses. This then led to task-shifting, where qualified nurses worked outside their required level. It also meant nurses worked into their years of retirement.   Nicholson said there were ways to improve things such as creating succession plans within facilities to balance the experienced but ageing workforce and recruiting younger nurses.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Matthew Petersen at Cape Argus

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Afrinurse launches inaugural campaign to document nurses' stories and uplift morale within the profession, at SowetanLive
  • I hugged him: How nurse disarmed Cape Town hospital gunman, at TimesLive


INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES

Sars employees set to go on strike over 0% salary increase

IOL reports that the Public Servants Association (PSA) has given the SA Revenue Service (Sars) notice of its intention to go on strike after receiving a certificate of non-resolution of their mutual dispute from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).   According to the PSA, the strike notice followed the failed wage negotiations in which the parties deadlocked and could not conclude the wage agreement for 2022/2023. “The employer maintained the offer of 0% salary increase throughout the process which was obviously not accepted by labour as the price for basic services, food, fuel and electricity are continuously increasing and thus have a bearing on the affordability for the employees,” the union indicated on Thursday. In a message to its members, the PSA urged them to prepare for the strike action in pursuit of their interests and rights, as Sars was “demonstrating a non-caring and arrogant attitude”. The PSA also called on Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to intervene and ensure the impasse was resolved, lest Sars be shut down and the public not receive any services. ”Provincial offices are finalising the approval from affected municipalities in order to have pickets and marches on the identified dates. Members can contact their shop stewards and PSA provincial offices for full details on where the picketing and marches will take place,” the union said.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Loyiso Sidimba at IOL

Some striking Numsa steel workers to return to work after ArcelorMittal wins interdict

GroundUp reports that according to the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), some of the workers at steel producer ArcelorMittal SA (AMSA) who downed tools on Wednesday were expected to return to work on Thursday after the employer succeeded in obtaining a Labour Court interdict. The union said the interdict affected only workers at the blast furnaces, coke batteries and steel-making in Vanderbijlpark and Newcastle. All other workers could still take part in the strike. The workers want a 10% wage increase across the board and for AMSA to pay 80% of medical aid contributions, to scrap labour brokers and to offer permanent jobs to workers in temporary employment. According to the union, AMSA has offered a 5% increase, which was “not much at all” for the lowest paid worker who earned R7,000 a month.   The employees held demonstrations on Wednesday in different parts of the country where the company has operations, including Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal. In Gauteng, the workers marched in and out of the main gates of AMSA in Vanderbijlpark, chanting and disrupting traffic. AMSA said in a statement the company believed its offer was fair considering current economic conditions and the future sustainability of the business.   Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola condemned AMSA for going to court to stop the strike. “They waited until the last hour, so that they could strike fear against the workers,” she said. The union said in a statement that AMSA had made the application for the interdict because another application, namely that its business be declared an “essential service”, was pending at the CCMA.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Chris Gilili at GroundUp

Pupils suffered in Numsa’s A Re Yeng bus strike in Tshwane on Wednesday

The Citizen reports that the wheels came off for the bus services of Tshwane on Wednesday as National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) members from Extremetec embarked on a strike. Extremetec is responsible for fare collection for the A Re Yeng bus rapid transit system and Tshwane Bus Service. Services were expected to return to normal on Thursday, while Tshwane prepared to meet with the unions and management following the strike. Dikeledi Selowa, MMC for roads and transport for the City of Tshwane, said there were numerous contentious issues between the unions and management.   The suspension of services followed strike action by Numsa members in order to protect the safety of commuters.   Selowa said school pupils were most affected by the strike. Numsa’s Hlanganani Morulane apologised for the inconvenience caused by the strike, but added: “Our members feel compelled to embark on this drastic action because one of the core demands is the demand for transport allowance. Workers at Extretetec have to arrive at work at 4am and they knock off at 9pm and there is no reliable transport available at that time.” Morulane said the workers spent a fortune paying for transport and were demanding a transport allowance of R2,500 and a nightshift allowance of R60 per hour.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Marizka Coetzer on page 7 of The Citizen of 12 May 2022. See too, Tshwane’s A Re Yeng buses to be disrupted by strike, at Pretoria News


EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS

Directors-General might get 10-year contracts under proposed new policy

BusinessLive reports that the government is proposing that the term of office for heads of departments be extended to 10 years from the existing five years, subject to performance. Acting public service & administration minister Thulas Nxesi told MPs on Thursday that the policy had been finalised and was ready to go to the cabinet. The high turnover of directors-general (DGs) has plagued the government for some time, with acting DGs often filling their positions for long periods, sometimes for years. This has undermined the development and pursuit of long-term strategies. A 10-year term would ensure greater stability and less vulnerability to political interference. Nxesi said the professionalisation of the public administration — mentioned by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his state of the nation address — was critical to building state capacity. Among the “radical” reforms included in the framework are more decisive action on consequence management, especially in dealing with mediocrity, unethical behaviour and corrupt and criminal acts. Nxesi said the framework also proposed the repurposing of the Public Service Commission — which oversees the public administration — to insulate recruitment and selection practices from partisan influence and manipulation for the appointment of DGs and their deputies.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Linda Ensor at BusinessLive


SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

Blade Nzimande orders probe of National Skills Fund after R5bn unaccounted for

TimesLive reports that higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande has appointed a forensic company to conduct a full-scale investigation into the financial affairs of the National Skills Fund (NSF).   Just under R5bn could not be “properly accounted for over two financial years’", he advised while tabling his 2022/2023 budget in parliament on Thursday. The department’s budget for the 2022/2023 financial year is R130.1bn, with an annual average increase of 7%. The budget is expected to be distributed between six programmes: administration; planning; policy and strategy; university education; technical and vocational education and training; skills development and community education and training. Nzimande has also appointed a ministerial task team to conduct a strategic review of the NSF. The task team will, among other things, look at “the general operations of the NSF, its efficiency and relevance with regards to the national skills priorities of the country”. The team will hand over a final report by June.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nonkululeko Njilo at TimesLive

Pupils’ poor performance on critical subjects contributes to joblessness, survey shows

TimesLive writes that SA is increasingly becoming an economy driven by the tertiary sector, but pupils’ poor performance in critical subjects is hindering them from entering the job market. This is the view of the deputy head of research at the Centre for Risk Analysis (CRA), Gerbrandt van Heerden, who was speaking on Thursday at the release of an socio-economic survey of SA. He said a huge chunk of government expenditure was going to education, but the outcome was poor compared to other countries.   The survey paints a worrying picture about the state of basic education with pupils performing poorly in subjects such as mathematics and physical sciences.   Van Heerden pointed out these were the subjects young people needed to be absorbed into occupations such as engineering and IT.   “There is a skills mismatch because our economy is becoming more reliant on the tertiary sector which demands a highly qualified and highly skilled workforce and our pupils are performing exceptionally poorly in critical subjects,” Van Heerden noted.   The survey shows there is a low pupil retention rate in SA’s schools, which demonstrates why there is such a huge youth crisis emerging in SA where two-thirds of young men between the ages of 15 and 24 were unemployed in 2021, while the figure increased to 80% for young women. The survey highlights policy risks, including that the government continues to double down on damaging regulations by considering policies such as the Employment Equity Bill and the Draft Companies Amendment Bill.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Phathu Luvhengo at TimesLive

Awareness programme to address shortage of vets in SA

The Star reports that there is a shortage of veterinarians and para-veterinary professionals in SA. Internationally, the norm is to have between 200 and 400 vets per million of the country’s population and SA has around 60 to 70 vets per million, according to the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA). There is a shortage not only of vets but also para-veterinary professionals, such as veterinary nurses, animal health technicians and veterinary technologists.   In a move to address the severe shortage in the veterinary sector, HWSETA together with the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, launched a veterinary career guidance awareness programme on Monday and announced that they would be awarding no less than 60 veterinary science and veterinary nursing bursaries.   WSETA chairperson Dr Nomfundo Mnisi said the key to tackling the shortage issue was reaching out to students in rural areas where there was less awareness around animal health.   HWSETA said the programme would be visiting numerous schools in rural areas across the Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Free State and Limpopo to encourage learners to consider a career in veterinary services. The school visits, which are part of a broader campaign called Breaking Barriers – Encouraging Black Youth to Take Up Veterinary Professions, will also feature talks by guests promoting the sector and an opportunity to see the career in action through a mobile veterinary clinic.

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


MEDICAL SCHEMES

Pharmacist Association warned GEMS of pricey and unwise provision of multivitamins

BL Premium reports that the Independent Community Pharmacy Association (IPCA) says it warned the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) that its controversial plan to deliver multivitamins to its members flew in the face of good clinical practice and that its chosen product was overpriced. The Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) is investigating GEMS over a contract it awarded to Afrocentric subsidiary Activo Health to provide about 1.2-million adult beneficiaries with a five-month supply of vitamins and minerals.   Earlier this week, GEMS principal officer Stan Moloabi said the board agreed to set aside R400m from its ex gratia fund to provide adult beneficiaries with multivitamins during the coronavirus pandemic. ICPA CEO Jackie Maimin said there was insufficient high-quality evidence demonstrating that multivitamins and minerals were beneficial for the public, and global health authorities did not recommend routine prescribing of these products. It was also important for a healthcare provider to check if it was safe for people to take supplements as some vitamins and minerals interfered with prescribed medication. “It is very unusual for a scheme to procure a medicine directly for members,” Maimin noted. Moloabi defended GEMS’s decision to provide eligible beneficiaries with vitamins, saying it did so in response to a need expressed by members. So far, 187,000 beneficiaries have signed up for the vitamins. Moloabi said GEMS would co-operate fully with the CMS inquiry.

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


COMMUTING / TRANSPORT

Western Cape train commuters stranded on Thursday due to vandalism, cable theft

News24 reports that cable theft and vandalism caused power outages that led to widespread disruptions to the rail network in the Western Cape on Thursday morning. Commuters faced cancellations and delays on several lines. According to Metrorail spokesperson Nana Zenani, there were a number of power outages in various corridors that feed into the Metrorail substation. The Cape Flats, southern suburbs, and northern lines were all affected.   While power had been restored to areas affected by cable theft, the lines remained "unsafe to operate" and the entire system needed to be "reset", Zenani said.   Meanwhile, theft of rail clips affected the Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) northern line, which Metrorail uses to transport customers on the Wellington line. By Thursday morning, there was partial service on the northern line in Wellington and Metrorail was operating a shuttle service from the Wellington line to Kraaifontein Station. Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula had been expected to visit the Central Line "to assess ongoing work to recover the line and the relocation of illegal settlements on the rail infrastructure". However, the visit was postponed due to the power outages.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nicole McCain at News24


OTHER HEADLINES OF INTEREST

  • Drukgroep wil vakansiedag vir ‘voorouers’ hê, by Maroela Media
  • Make chicken VAT-free as poor children are starving, FairPlay says, at BusinessLive
  • Mans glo beroof toe ‘verkeerspolisie’ hulle voorkeer, by Maroela Media
  • Institute of Directors slams SAA for failure to separate chair, chief executive, at Business Report
  • Man accused of killing car guard in Joburg inner city awaits judgment, at SowetanLive
  • Teachers at a Soweto high school working in parked cars as staffroom is too small, says SGB, at IOL
  • Spy agency boss cracks the whip: Staff warned to comply with forensic investigators or face action, at News24 (subscriber access only)

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page