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.

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


TOP STORY – SKILLS TO SAVE ESKOM

Solidarity sends list of 300 power experts to Pravin Gordhan, Eskom

Engineering News reports that Solidarity sent a list of skilled power experts to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Eskom CEO André de Ruyter on Thursday. This followed calls by Gordhan to identify energy experts to help the country address prevailing electricity generation deficiencies.   Solidarity CE Dr Dirk Hermann said the union’s list contained some of the country’s “leading experts” in the field of power. According to the trade union, the 300 experts on its shortlist have about 5,500 years of combined experience in the industry, as well as more than 400 accredited combined qualifications of which 14 are doctorate degrees in engineering and related fields. “At the moment, the main problem area in our power grid lies with generation, and for this reason, the largest percentage (about 70%) of the experts on our list are involved in generation, while 16% can be involved in distribution, 6% in transmission and about 8% of the experts offer commercial, management and other skills,” Hermann pointed out. Solidarity said the experts on its list possessed the skills and knowledge to stabilise Eskom. The union reported that, since Gordhan requested a list of power experts, the organisation has been inundated with more than a thousand requests from various experts and former Eskom employees. In consultation with specialists, and based on the most urgent issues at Eskom, the union shortened the list to 300. “The pressure is now on the government to muster the necessary political will to enable these experts to save Eskom,” Hermann noted.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Engineering News. See too, Solidarity hopes its energy experts are roped in swiftly to solve Eskom's woes, at EWN


COVID-19

SA reports first death triggered by J&J Covid-19 vaccine

BL Premium reports that SA’s medicines regulator announced on Thursday that it had recorded the country’s first death caused by a Covid-19 vaccine, in a person who developed Guillain-Barre syndrome after receiving the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) shot. Guillain-Barre syndrome is an extremely rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system, causing muscle weakness and potential paralysis. It can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, and was flagged by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2021 as a potential risk associated with the J&J vaccine. The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) said the benefits of Covid-19 vaccination far outweighed the risks, and it was not recommending any change to the guidance currently given to patients and healthcare professionals about vaccination with the J&J shot. The J&J vaccine is one of the two vaccinations being administered in the government’s immunisation programme, along with a jab made by Pfizer.   To date, more than 37.5-million vaccine doses have been administered, of which 9.135-million were J&J shots.   Sahpra had assessed a further 160 deaths reported to have occurred shortly after Covid-19 vaccination, all of which had been determined to be coincidental, Sahpra CEO Boitumelo Semete reported.

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

SAB withdraws case against government’s Covid-19 lockdown booze ban

Fin24 reports that South African Breweries (SAB) has withdrawn its litigation against government over the alcohol sales ban under lockdown, more than a year after it first took legal action. In court papers filed at the Constitutional Court on Thursday, SAB said it was withdrawing its application for leave to appeal, which it made after losing its battle to have the government's Covid-19 related liquor sales bans set aside. The state had imposed the bans to keep hospital beds clear of alcohol related trauma cases, during peaks of the pandemic. The move was meant to ensure that hospital capacity was available for patients with Covid-19. But the country's liquor industry pushed back, saying the sales bans were unnecessary and curfews were a better option. SAB took the legal route, arguing that the bans were unconstitutional and Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma did not have powers to implement regulations suspending liquor sales. The beer producer, which also put capital investments worth R5 billion on hold at the height of the bans in 2021, said it lost billions to the bans. But the AB InBev-owned company lost its case, which led to the case appearing before the Supreme Court of Appeal. However, that court denied SAB's application for leave to appeal, prompting the beer maker to lodge its case at the Constitutional Court.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Penelope Mashego at Fin24


CIVIL SERVICE WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Union claims government is stalling as public sector wage talks hit another delay

Fin24 reports that public sector wage talks have hit another speed bump, with the Public Servants Association (PSA) accusing government of using delay tactics to frustrate the process. This as government contested the PSA's bid to declare a fresh dispute. The PSA wanted to declare a dispute after unions reduced their demand to a 6.5% increase, but government largely stuck to its offer of 2%. The government also said it could only pay an increase from the date an agreement was signed, not from 1 April, which the PSA rejected.   The commissioner in the wage dispute will now consider arguments from both the PSA and the government on whether a new dispute can be lodged, with a final decision scheduled to be made in two weeks. PSA spokesperson Reuben Maleka said that the union was confident that the government's bid at objecting to the dispute would fail. A new dispute would, however, prove another roadblock in resolving talks that need most unions to agree to an offer in order to strike a deal.   Government and unions returned to the conciliation process on Wednesday after the PSA declared a dspute in July. National Treasury has since said that Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana would be more involved in the government's negotiation strategy during the talks. The PSA reported in a memo that the government tabled a final offer of 2% – with a sliding scale where salary levels 1 to 4 will receive 3%, levels 5 to 8 will receive 2.10%, and levels 9 to 12 will receive 1.50%.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Khulekani Magubane at Fin24. Read too, Public sector employees reject government's latest wage increase offer, at EWN


COSATU PROTEST

Cosatu protesters heckle and turn away City of Cape Town official, demand that mayor should address them

News24 reports that the chief of staff of Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis was heckled and turned away by fed-up Cosatu members, who took to the city's streets on Thursday to protest against violent crime and high fuel prices plaguing the working class. The labour federation demanded that the mayor himself come out and address union members, but instead Hill-Lewis' chief of staff, James-Brent Styan, came out to accept a memorandum on his behalf. Cosatu provincial secretary Malvern De Bruyn was adamant that they would only hand over their demands to the mayor, adding that it was very disrespectful of the City to "snub" them.   "We are not going to allow to be treated like this. We want the mayor to address us, and we have sent our communication to the mayor's office that we are going to be here," he stated. Angry protesters heckled Styan, telling him to leave immediately. De Bruyn said Cosatu was not budging on handing over the memorandum to the mayor, and insisted that they would be back in 14 days to present their demands to the mayor himself. Hundreds of union members came out in support of the protest as they moved on from the Civic Centre to the Western Cape legislature in Wale Street, before heading to Parliament. Styan said they had advised that the mayor would not be available and went on to comment: "We completely agree with the grievance against the police and the fuel increases. But the City is not the correct channel of government to address these matters. Safety is among our top priorities."

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Marvin Charles at News24. Read too, Cosatu protesters chase away officials during march against crime, at GroundUp. And also, Cosatu says DA all talk & no action when it comes to crime in Western Cape, at The Citizen


MINING SAFETY

DMRE reports overall improvement in mining health, safety record for year to date

Mining Weekly reports that the number of mining fatalities, injuries and diseases has decreased for the year to date as compared with the same period last year. This was revealed by Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) chief inspector of mines and Mine Health and Safety Council chair David Msiza during a virtual commemoration of the fifth National Day of Health and Safety in Mining on Wednesday. He said there had been a 34% reduction in the number of accidents that lead to fatalities year-on-year, while the number of actual fatalities had decreased by 14%. “It is worth noting that, during 2022, one area in which the industry achieved considerable success was in reducing the number of deaths caused by fall-of-ground (FoG) accidents. Once the biggest contributor to the death of mineworkers, FoG now accounts for 4% of the number of occupational deaths in the sector,” Msiza pointed out. He said it was also worth noting that the gold and platinum mines had not experienced any FoG-related fatalities this year. Since its inception in 2018, the goal of the National Day of Health and Safety in Mining has been to demonstrate efforts made by the industry in addressing health and safety-related issues, to reinforce its commitment, and for mining companies to learn from one another to reach the common goal of zero harm. The theme of this year’s National Day of Health and Safety in Mining was ‘Stepping Up To The Challenge’, which aimed to recognise excellence in health and safety in the industry.

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


ILLEGAL MINING

One dead, another narrowly escapes as West Rand residents descend on illegal miners

TimesLive reports that at least one person died after a day of protest action on the West Rand, where the community was on a mission on Thursday to rid the area of illegal miners. Col Noxolo Kweza said a man's body was found dumped in a field in Chamdor, near Krugersdorp, but it was not immediately clear that he was an illegal miner. She did not reveal how the man had died, saying it was part of the investigation.   "Police are monitoring protests [in the Kagiso area]," said Kweza, adding that a call for community members to restore calm to the township had been issued. As protests continued, a suspected illegal miner narrowly escaped the community's clutches. "When the community members arrived at shacks at Tudo shaft (in Soul City), where zama-zamas live, they started to damage their homes.   They found two alleged zama-zamas and one fled the scene, but the other couldn’t outrun the community.   They got him and attacked him," ward councillor Peter Modise reported. The man was rescued from the mob and taken by the police. Modise said the man claimed he wasn’t an illegal miner by choice but because of a lack of opportunities. Meanwhile, illegal miners, allegedly from Mozambique, found after residents searched a disused mine, were stripped naked by residents. The group was allegedly assaulted.

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Kgaugelo Masweneng at TimesLive. Read too, At least 20 people arrested following operation by SAPS in Kagiso, at The Citizen. And also, Kagiso residents demand police visibility following protests over illegal miners, at EWN

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Artisanal gold mining in SA is out of control, at Financial Mail
  • Government urged to regulate mining to curb lawlessness, at SowetanLive
  • Residents in Kanana near Orkney live in fear of being caught in crossfire between rival zama zama gangs, at SowetanLive


SANDF JOB LOSSES

SANDF to shed over 3,000 members in the next three years

The Citizen reports that the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) will shed in excess of 3,000 members over the next three years in order to stay within its budget allocation. Approximately 69% of the R49 billion defence budget, which is being consistently reduced, is swallowed by employee compensation. In an answer to a parliamentary question, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise explained that “in light of the reduced defence budget allocation and the conclusion that the compensation of employee [COE] allocation will be further reduced for the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), and also that relief to secure sufficient funding will not be forthcoming”. She went on to indicate: “The department of defence was forced to implement HR [human resources] cost-saving measures/interventions to reduce HR cost pressures. The intent of the planned HR interventions is to reach equilibrium between the COE allocation received and required personnel to maintain an effective defence capability.” Some personnel will leave the SANDF through a mobility exit mechanism (MEM). The National Treasury has allocated R1 billion to fund the MEM during the 2022-23 financial year (FY) and R800 million for FY2023-24. “This will translate in the planned exit of approximately 3,048 uniformed members through MEM over the indicated financial years,” Modise indicated in her reply.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Guy Martin at The Citizen


DOMESTIC WORKERS

Study shows that with sharp rise in cost of living, domestic workers are feeling it most

The Citizen reports that according to a survey by SweepSouth on pay and working conditions for domestic workers, at least 79% of domestic workers are sole breadwinners, with 64% being single mothers. The survey, which painted a grim reality for domestic workers in the face of the economic climate, conducted the study with more than 4,000 domestic workers currently employed in SA. That reality has darkened even more after it was reported that consumers have seen the highest inflation in 13 years.   According to the study, the average income of domestic workers is between R3,000 and R4,000 per month.   Even with the current mandatory increase in minimum wage rates – which increased to R23 per hour as of March 2022 – this figure has not changed by much. Outlining the monthly cost of living for the average domestic worker, SweepSouth drew up a budget of about R965 for food, R82 for airtime, R1,054 or rent, R481 for transport and R308 for electricity. Add to that R136 for school fees. That is a total of R3,026, leaving only R684 as disposable income. Victress Mtutu, a Johannesburg domestic helper, commented that while the budget put together by SweepSouth was fairly spot on, it was missing one of the larger expenses that domestic workers have to factor in – black tax.   “Yes, this is roughly how much I spend on food, transport and electricity, but we also have to send money back home for our families. So, we don’t really have this thing of left-overs or as you say, disposable income,” she explained.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Devina Haripersad at The Citizen. Read too, Dwindling wages a concern for domestic workers’ union, on page 6 of The Star of 4 August 2022

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Domestic workers face jobs carnage, at City Press


EXECUTIVE PAY

Investec budgets up to R2m for personal security costs in SA of each executive

BL Premium reports that Investec will pay up to £100,000 (R2.02m) to cover the personal security costs of each of its executive directors in SA due to concerns about the country’s rising crime levels.   During the bank’s annual general meeting on Thursday, questions were raised by shareholder activist group Just Share on a resolution that sought shareholder approval to amend directors’ remuneration policy so that the cost of personal security for executive directors in SA would no longer be deducted from their fixed pay. The resolution, which was approved by 99.79% of shareholders, means the security costs of the bank’s SA-based executive directors will now be borne by Investec. Tracey Davies of Just Share questioned Investec about the policy, asking whether it was reasonable to augment the remuneration of executive directors by covering their security costs when they were living in a country characterised by extreme income inequality and poverty. Henrietta Baldock, chair of the bank’s remuneration committee, responded: “We don’t actually see that as an increase to executive directors’ fixed pay per se.   Unfortunately, the personal security arrangements are something which we feel we need to put in place for the executives based in SA given their high profile and given the number of other examples ... of high-profile business people and other people in SA being targeted.” The bank declined to give details on what the £100,000 benefit would be spent on given the “sensitive nature of personal security.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Garth Theunissen at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). See too, Pushback against Investec's plan to pay for execs' bodyguards, at Fin24 (subscriber access only)

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Ranking the pay of SA’s bank bosses, at Financial Mail (subscriber access only)
  • MultiChoice rings changes after investors voice their concerns over executive pay at meetings, at Business Report
  • Transnet executives miss bonuses despite bounce back to profitability, at Business Times (subscriber access only)
  • Still no sign of lifestyle audits for Gauteng’s executive, despite promises made months ago, at Daily Maverick


NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

Forty-four experts to be appointed to design details of NHI scheme from January 2023

Financial Mail reports that forty-four technical positions for the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme have been approved by the minister of public service & administration, and the National Treasury has given permission for R30m of this financial year’s NHI budget to be used for salaries for the new posts. This has been indicated by Nicholas Crisp, the deputy director-general in the health department responsible for the implementation of the NHI. All the positions, which will be filled by people with technical skills – such as economists, public health medicines specialists, actuaries and lawyers – will be based at the health department’s head office in Tshwane. More positions would become available in the 2023/2024 financial year that would take the NHI’s technical and administrative staff up to a total of 132, Crisp indicated. The NHI, for which membership will be compulsory, aims to provide all South Africans, permanent residents, refugees, inmates and certain categories of foreigners with the same health insurance, regardless of their income. The scheme will do this by creating a single fund that the government will use to buy health-care services at set fees from accredited public and private health providers. The 44 NHI positions will be spread among five directorates – user and service provider management; health-care benefits and provider payment design; health product procurement; health systems digital information; and fraud management – each led by a chief director. Crisp advised that the health department would advertise the positions in the coming weeks – possibly in mid-August – but it could take months to sift through candidates. “But we will hopefully have at least some of the posts filled by the start of the 2023 calendar year and the rest by February and March,” Crisp said.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mia Malan at Financial Mail


COMMUTING

Bus subsidies need to be increased, says Putco as it pauses fare hike while waiting for government’s response

SowetanLive reports that bus company Putco wants the government to increase its subsidy, saying the rising fuel costs have made it difficult to continue operating. Last week, Putco suspended its 19% fare increase, which came only seven months after an earlier hike of 8% was implemented. The increase would have been implemented from 1 August, with Putco citing skyrocketing fuel prices and a low public transport subsidy rate from the Gauteng department of roads and transport. Putco spokesperson Matlakala Motloung said Putco had last week asked the department for a meeting to discuss the subsidy and ways to prevent a fare increase. “We have not yet met with the government. We sent a letter, and they acknowledged receipt of the letter. We are just waiting for a letter from them to give us dates of when we will have meetings. We want to meet with government so that they can come up with a long-term solution,” said Motloung. She indicated that the suspension of the fare increase came after talks with commuter organisations. Last week, angry commuters protested outside Putco’s depots in Dobsonville, Soweto and Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, over the exponential increase.   Motloung said the company would give commuters feedback on 15 August on whether there would be an increase.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mpho Koka at SowetanLive

OTHER HEADLINES / ARTICLES OF INTEREST

  • Opinion: Workers need protection from rising temperatures, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)
  • Prasa uncovers 3 000 'ghost employees', freezes their salaries, at Fin24
  • Transnet dumps employees involved in dodgy locomotives tender, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)
  • Electricity price is biggest worry for SA consumers, survey shows, at BusinessLive

 


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