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 South African
labour-related reports.


TOP STORY – ETHEKWINI LABOUR UNREST

Service delivery in eThekwini worsens as Samwu strike continues and EPWP workers stage protest

News24 reports that Tuesday brought eThekwini metro residents more service delivery woes when workers attached to the extended public works programme (EPWP) downed tools and staged a picket outside Durban City Hall, calling for higher salaries and permanent absorption into the municipality. The   EPWP workers are deployed to various service delivery departments, including Durban Solid Waste (DSW), Parks and Recreation, and eThekwini Electricity. The Municipal and Allied Trade Union of SA’s (Matusa’s) Thokozani Maxhagwe, who led Tuesday's demonstration, said there were workers who have had temporary contracts with the municipality for more than 10 years.   He clarified that the demonstration was separate from ongoing strike action by city staffers aligned with the SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu), which started on 27 February. He also claimed that the EPWP employees had previously taken their plight to the CCMA, and it had ruled that workers must be absorbed permanently by the municipality. But, the municipality has filed a rescission application.   The picket on Tuesday followed an earlier demonstration by a group of students aligned with the EFF Student Command (EFFSC). As of Tuesday afternoon, uncollected rubbish continued to pile up on several roads throughout the eThekwini metro and residents still complained about unattended water and power outages. EFF KZN chairperson Mongezi Twala said while they supported Samwu's strike action, they did not condone the infrastructure damage and poor service delivery that had characterised the workers' demonstrations.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nkosikhona Duma at News24

Samwu urges striking eThekwini workers to return to work after mayor agrees to holding a workshop on benchmarking and salary levels

TimesLIVE reports that eThekwini employees affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) have been urged to return to work after a breakthrough in the union’s engagement with the city. Some of the workforce went on an illegal strike two weeks ago, despite a court order to stop them, as they sought salary benchmarking with other metros, particularly the Ekurhuleni municipality. The City has responded that it is unable to make changes to salary levels because the matter is negotiated at national level.   The strike has affected service delivery in the city, leaving many suburbs without waste removal, water and electricity. There have been reported acts of violence and intimidation against non-striking workers and destruction of property. Thirteen workers were arrested last week for taking part in the wildcat strike. In an update to the workers on Monday, Samwu’s Dumisane Magagula expressed the union’s support for the workers’ demands and said he was concerned about the city’s failure to “correct” their salaries. However, Magagula announced the union had had positive engagements with mayor Mxolisi Kaunda where they agreed to hold a workshop on benchmarking and salary levels, which the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs would co-ordinate. “The processes of the workshop started on March 11 2024 and the report will be shared within 14 days,” Magagula reported. He urged union members to report to work and adhere to the court interdict while the union fought it.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lwazi Hlangu at BusinessLive

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Calls for KZN premier to intervene as crippling Samwu strike in eThekwini enters third week, at IOL News


RAF SHUTDOWN

Numsa set for national shutdown of RAF offices on Thursday, citing ‘incompetent’ CEO

BL Premium reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) is set to embark on a “national shutdown” of all Road Accident Fund (RAF) offices on Thursday, to demand the removal of CEO Collins Letsoalo for alleged “gross incompetence” and presiding over the “disastrous” state of affairs at the state-owned entity. The RAF was set up in 1996 to compensate victims of traffic accidents. It is among state organs hollowed out by years of mismanagement, huge backlogs and corruption. The total amount of default judgments issued against the RAF for cost and fees from 2018 until the second quarter of 2023 amounts to R4.7bn. Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the fund had been served with a 48-hour strike notice and the union was mobilising members for a shutdown on Thursday. The union is expected to hand over a memorandum of demands to Chikunga “listing all the problems at the organisation”. The union leader said at least 200 claims handlers have remained on suspension since 2022 when they were accused of fraud by the management with “no disciplinary action against them”. He also said the RAF intended to retrench workers because it had procured an automated system that cost more than R900m, which would make claims handlers and claims admin assistants obsolete.

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


MINIMUM PAY IN FINANCIAL SERVICES

Santam latest financial services company to set minimum pay at R15,000 per month

BusinessLive reports that Santam, SA’s largest short-term insurer, has joined Old Mutual in setting its minimum wage at R15,000 per month, putting pressure on other financial services companies to reconsider their minimum wages. The company, majority owned by insurance major Sanlam, said in its annual report that the minimum wage had increased to R180,000 annually by September. Norah Sehunoe, executive head of HR, pointed out that the financial services industry lacked a sectoral minimum wage as it was not viewed as a vulnerable sector. “Therefore, the financial services minimum wage equates to the national minimum wage of R4,350 per month (depending on the number of hours worked). Santam however decided effective September 1 2023 that it would formally adopt the principle of not paying employees (permanent, noncommission earning) below the accepted living wage of R15,000 per month or R180,000 per annum, which equates to three times the legislated minimum wage,” Sehunoe indicated. She added: “Santam’s remuneration policy has ensured that we remain competitive against market salaries, so as a result of this policy we had a very low number of employees below the living wage. However, as part of our commitment to fair pay, we formally adopted the principle of paying a living wage at minimum.” It was reported last year that Santam’s rival Old Mutual had set its minimum wage at R15,000 per month with effect from April. With Santam now having increased its minimum wage, it seems R15,000 is the unofficial minimum wage in the lucrative but highly competitive financial industry facing a skills crunch.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Kabelo Khumalo at BusinessLive


MINING LABOUR

Amplats admits in annual report that it didn’t follow up on Thabi Leoka’s ‘PhD’

BL Premium reports that Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) has broken its silence on the qualifications of former board member Thabi Leoka, who resigned in January following revelations that she did not have a PhD as she had claimed for the past 15 years. The platinum producer in its annual report published on Monday admitted that it dropped the ball in confirming Leoka’s qualifications before appointing her to the board and the key committees of audit and risk, remuneration and governance. “A process of verification was done on her qualifications. The verification report confirmed that all qualifications, other than the PhD qualification, had been verified and confirmed. The verification of the PhD qualification was still ongoing at the time of the interview process. Regrettably, the completion of the verification process was not subsequently followed up,” the company indicated in its governance report.   Amplats outlined an elaborate process it followed when appointing directors. It was reported in January that Leoka did not hold a PhD in economics from the London School of Economics as she claimed. She has since resigned from the board of MTN SA, while President Cyril Ramaphosa terminated her membership of the presidential economic advisory council. Lapses in due diligence in Leoka’s appointment are likely to come up when Amplats holds its AGM in May.

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


MISSING JOB QUALIFICATIONS

Qualifications of nearly 1,800 public service managers a mystery

BL Premium reports that at the end of 2023, the qualifications of 1,779 management service staff in the government were not specified on the central system used for the administration of the public service payroll (Persal). This was disclosed by Department of Public Service & Administration (DPSA) Minister Noxolo Kiviet. Out of the total, 1,427 individuals held senior managerial positions, with 989 of them being hired before 1 August 2016, before the implementation of minimum requirements, and 448 being hired after that date. DA spokesperson Mimmy Gondwe said on Monday that the issue of a lack of qualifications was critical as it could possibly be linked to poor service delivery and to cadre deployment where individuals were appointed to senior government positions by the ANC when they were not qualified for them. The total composition of senior management service (SMS) members in the public service on 31 December was 9,278. This means that 19% either did not have qualifications listed on Persal or did not have the minimum National Qualification Framework level qualifications required, said Kiviet in a written reply to a parliamentary question.   “The Public Service Commission (PSC) initiated an investigation to establish the employment circumstances of senior managers without qualifications. The outcome of the investigation will determine the course of action as the impact of having unqualified managers could erode public trust in government institutions and undermine the government’s standpoint for the professionalisation of the public service,” the Minister indicated.   Kiviet cautioned that public service performance did not only depend on academic qualifications, which were not the exclusive measure of competence. “Competency includes the acquired knowledge, skills, behaviours and aptitudes an employee contributes to their position. The public service has implemented a comprehensive performance management and development system for assessing the performance of individuals in their designated roles,” she indicated.

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


CABINET LIFE STYLE AUDITS

Ministers, deputy ministers finally slapped with lifestyle audits, more than six years after Ramaphosa’s promised them

News24 reports that if any of President Cyril Ramaphosa's Cabinet members are knee-deep in debt, or their dependents are enrolled at the most expensive schools in the country, the Presidency wants to know as it finally embarks on lifestyle audits. The Presidency, through a novel audit form, has asked Ramaphosa's executive to bare it all, more than six years since he promised in his 2018 State of the Nation Address that he would introduce lifestyle audits for ministers and deputy ministers. In addition to the usual identity documents, Cabinet members have been asked to submit their bank account details as well as information about credit cards and other credit facilities they might have. Ministers and deputy ministers must now declare deeds of trust, whether they own cars or have finance for any cars. Should they have any personal loans, the Presidency wants to know. They must also state clearly whether they have any clothing accounts or may be under debt review. The Presidency moreover wants to know whether any of the ministers and deputy ministers' dependents work for the state. It is unclear what arm of the state will be commissioned to do the lifestyle audit work. Ramaphosa, in October 2023, told MPs that the director-general of the Presidency, Phindile Baleni, was mulling over two options for conducting lifestyle audits on members of the executive. The first option was to use the State Security Agency or the Special Investigating Unit, while the second option was to fully outsource the process to an external audit firm or consortium of experts and closely manage the rollout of the audit.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Siyamtanda Capa at News24 (subscriber access only)


PENSION FUNDS

Government Pensions Administration Agency hacked by LockBit in February and data released publically on Monday

The Citizen reports that the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) is extremely concerned after the data of its administrator was hacked and released publicly by the ransomware group LockBit.   The GEPF was initially informed by its administrator, the Government Pensions Administration Agency (GPAA), that no data breach had occurred after an attempt was made by unknown individuals on 16 February 2024 to gain access to the GPAA systems. The GPAA later established that this was an attempt by the ransomware group LockBit. “This morning, 12 March 2024, following the release of certain GPAA data by LockBit on 11 March 2024, the GEPF has been informed by GPAA that preliminary investigations has found that certain GPAA systems were compromised,” the fund’s spokesperson Matau Molapo revealed. He went on to say: “GPAA has reconfirmed that preventative action was taken when it became aware of the attempted access to its systems, which included ‘shutting down’ all systems to isolate affected areas. GPAA further confirmed that pension payments are not affected.” The GPAA is investigating the alleged data breach and whether this impacts the GEPF. Molapo said the fund was engaging with the GPAA and the administrator’s oversight authority, the National Treasury, to establish the veracity and impact of the data breach. The GEPF said it would provide an update on the matter “in due course”.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nicholas Zaal at The Citizen. Read too, Government pension data leaked in ransomware attack, at Fin24

Concern about delays with two-pot retirement system, but government pushes ahead

The Citizen reports that there is concern about delays in implementing the two-pot retirement system and whether consumers understand it properly, but government is pushing head and has published the proposed amendments to various pieces of legislation governing public sector pension funds. The two-pot retirement system divides retirement fund contributions into a retirement pot and a savings pot. The retirement pot will hold two-thirds of contributions and will be strictly preserved for retirement, while consumers will be able to access the savings pot, holding the remaining one-third, before retirement to use the money for financial emergencies. The industry is worried that the implementation date of 1 September 2024 is too soon to get everything done. Participants at a recent LexisNexis SA webinar raised concerns about delays in implementation and whether South Africans have sufficient understanding of the system. Cosatu’s Matthew Parks, retirement planning specialist Radesh Maharaj and Keith Peter of Old Mutual SA were panel members. They said the two-pot retirement system was garnering substantial public interest and support and was poised to balance the pressing need for short-term financial relief with the crucial objective of ensuring long-term retirement security. But, they emphasised that the true efficacy of the system hinged not only on its structural design, but on the comprehensive understanding, engagement and cooperation of all stakeholders, from policymakers and industry experts to employers, employees and consumers. Maharaj stressed the importance of education, highlighting the distinction between retirement fund savings and short-term bank accounts and advocating long-term savings perspectives. Peter emphasised that individual members accessing their retirement funds must understand the long-term impact on their retirement capital.

Read the full original of the informative report in the above regard by Ina Opperman at The Citizen

Two-pot pension system faces legislative hiccups with contradictions between Pension Funds Amendment Bill and Divorce Act

BL Premium reports that complications have arisen with proposed legislation vital for the implementation of the two-pot retirement system because it contradicts provisions in the Divorce Act. This emerged from presentations by the Association for Savings and Investment SA (Asisa) and the Institute of Retirement Funds Africa (Irfa) to parliament’s standing committee on finance which is considering the Pension Funds Amendment Bill. The bill will allow pension funds to change their rules to accommodate the two-pot system, which comes into effect on 1 September. There is urgency that the legislative foundation for the system, namely the Revenue Laws Amendment Bill and the Pension Funds Amendment Bill, are promulgated as soon as possible so that retirement fund administrators can prepare for the new system by changing their systems and rules. Asisa’s Adri Messerschmidt told MPs that the Pension Funds Amendment Bill proposed a division of retirement fund assets on divorce in a different way from the Divorce Act, which had a trumping provision stating that the act superseded all other acts and the rules of any fund. The sharing of retirement funds on divorce would be less favourable after implementation of the system on 1 September for occupational funds, preservation funds and retirement annuity funds. Also, Messerschmidt said the allowable deductions for housing loans needed to apply across all three pots in the system, namely the vested pot; the savings pot and the retirement pot. A Treasury official said they would propose a trumping provision in the bill over the Divorce Act, but Messerschmidt pointed out that this would mean both the Divorce Act and the Pensions Fund Act would have trumping provisions.

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


DATA BREACH DISMISSAL

IEC fires official who leaked ANC, MK Party candidate lists

News24 reports that an employee of the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) has been identified as having leaked the ANC and uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party candidate lists on Friday. In a briefing on Monday evening, IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo said a preliminary investigation had found that the leak emanated inside the commission.   On Tuesday morning, he told Newzroom Afrika that the official had been fired.   "The official was given an opportunity to make representation as to why they should not be terminated and we received the representation, and on that basis [the commission] terminated the relationship of employment," he reported. In a statement later that day, confirming that an official had been dismissed because of the incident, the IEC said the official had rights to access the system and reports but was not authorised to distribute or circulate the information. "The motive for the unauthorised circulation will be pursued as part of the ongoing investigation," the statement advised.   The commission said the employee was from one of its local offices. On Friday, hours after parties submitted their candidate lists to the IEC, the ANC and MK Party's lists, containing people's ID numbers, started making the rounds on social media. This was despite the ANC having announced at a press briefing earlier in the day that it would only make its list public on Monday. Mamabolo said the commission only became aware of the leak, and that the lists were circulating on social media, on Saturday.   The commission is cooperating with the Information Regulator in regard to the matter.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Bongekile Macupe at News24. Lees ook, Amptenaar afgedank oor uitgelekte kandidaatlyste, by Maroela Media


MAGISTRATE’S SUSPENSION LIFTED

Suspension lifted for KZN magistrate accused of being lenient on child rapists

News24 reports that the National Assembly (NA) agreed on Tuesday to lift the suspension of a magistrate accused of being too lenient on child rapists. This was so she could assist with compiling a court record for an appeal against one of her rulings. In July 2020, Emlazi Regional Court acting magistrate Kholeka Bodlani was provisionally suspended, pending an investigation by the Magistrates Commission into her fitness to hold office. "A judicial quality assessment of Ms Bodlani's work revealed serious irregularities and shortcomings, most notably that a number of her cases had to be sent on special review in terms of Section 304[4] of the Criminal Procedure Act as several serious shortcomings and incompetent sentences were imposed by her," the Justice Minister’s spokesperson Chrispin Phiri, said at the time. Among the complaints against Bodlani was she handed down suspended sentences to perpetrators found guilty of rape, including of minors. The Magistrates Commission's investigation has not yet been concluded. However, the acting regional court president of KwaZulu-Natal wrote to the commission requesting that Bodlani's provisional suspension be lifted for her to attend to the reconstruction of a court record relating to a case over which she presided. The commission recommended Bodlani's suspension be lifted to comply with the High Court order, pending the conclusion of the inquiry into her fitness to hold office. However, a number of conditions have been imposed on the lifting of the suspension.   The NA also unanimously agreed to remove Caledon magistrate K Maharaj from office due to continued ill health.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jan Gerber at News24


OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST

  • Waste pickers create their own recycling centre in Selby, Johannesburg, at GroundUp
  • Nompumelelo Mokou quits as Dimension data Southern Africa MD, at BusinessLive

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page