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 roundup of weekend and recent reports,
see summaries of our selection of South African
labour-related stories that recently appeared.


TOP STORY – ETHEKWINI STRIKE ACTION

Durban strike: Why it happened and what the fallout has been

GroundUp reports that on 27 February, hundreds of eThekwini workers affiliated with the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) downed tools in an unprotected strike to demand better wages. The strike went on for over two weeks leaving residents in some areas without services, including water, electricity, refuse removal and sewer repairs and maintenance. Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda indicated on Wednesday that workers had begun to return to work and services would start to resume. He said it was going to take two weeks for services to be properly restored. Workers went on strike for higher wages, complaining that their pay was lower than their counterparts in other metros such as Ekurhuleni and Tshwane. A general worker in eThekwini earns about R10,000 a month, while general workers in Tshwane and Ekurhuleni earn about R13,900, according to Samwu’s Xolani Dube.   The municipality has called the strike “illegal” and has applied the “no work, no pay and no benefits” principle.   According to Dube, the union leadership met last Monday with Kaunda, and they came to an agreement that workers would go back to work while talks were ongoing. On Friday, hundreds of Samwu members waited outside the municipal offices to hear if they would receive a pay increase. Last week in Phoenix two municipal workers were shot at and injured while on site trying to restore electricity to the area. A municipal water truck driver in Phoenix was attacked and had to be hospitalised.   So far 81 municipal workers have been put on precautionary suspension, and 88 have been dismissed for participating in the “unlawful industrial action”, the mayor said on Wednesday.   A further 1,891 employees have also been given notices of misconduct.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tsoanelo Sefoloko & Joseph Bracken at GroundUp

Another eThekwini strike looms that could halt service delivery again

Sunday Tribune reports that eThekwini residents should brace themselves for another strike that could again halt service delivery as another union has obtained a certificate from the SA Local Government Bargaining Council to down tools. According to the Municipal and Allied Trade Union of SA (Matusa), its looming strike action, the date of which has yet to be decided, would be legal unlike the strike just experienced by the City. Residents are still trying to recover from a violent SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) strike, which threw the city into disarray for almost three weeks. On Wednesday, eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda announced that Samwu had backed down by calling off its illegal strike, which had commenced on 27 February, and was willing to engage in salary adjustment discussions with the City.   Matusa, like Samwu, is also demanding the benchmarking of workers’ salaries against other metros.   Matusa’s Joe Mabaso said, unlike Samwu, his union had already declared a dispute with the municipality through the bargaining council, which had issued a strike certificate. He reported: “Late last week we embarked on a ballot process whereby we had to call all our members to vote whether or not we are going on strike. The strike date is yet to be decided because we are finalising the voting process.” Matusa’s eThekwini secretary, Thokozani Maxego, said on Friday that the union would possibly only know on Sunday whether its members supported the strike.   “We are hoping to write to the employers on Monday, if that is the mandate from the workers,” Maxego advised.   According to Mabaso, Matusa had more than 90,00 members out of a total of 23,000 municipal employees.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Bongani Hans at Sunday Tribune


USHAKA WAGE STRIKE ENDS

uShaka Marine World reopens after month-long wage strike ends

Daily News reports that uShaka Marine World has reopened a month after it announced its closure due to a strike. On 12 February 2024, uShaka announced that due to industrial action, it would be closed from that day until further notice.   The workers went on strike after wage negotiations deadlocked.   When the strike began, SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) regional secretary Xolani Dube said workers had suffered enough with low salaries, not being supplied with uniforms since 2017 and selective payment of 81 employees during salary-scaled realignment. He demanded the full implementation of the 2016 Deloitte Job Evaluation and Benchmarking Report, which was partially implemented in 2016 and in respect of which only senior management allegedly benefited. On Friday, 15 March 2024, uShaka announced the end of the industrial action by its employees and said it welcomed the settlement of the wage dispute with Samwu, the union representing the bargaining unit employees. The strike was suspended officially as of Friday. Commenting on the end of the strike, Dube confirmed: “The strike is over, a settlement agreement was signed on Friday.” He said some employees started work on Saturday, while others would start on Monday.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Thobeka Ngema at Daily News


COST OF LIVING / FUEL PRICES

Fuel prices set to increase in April, but less than expected

BusinessLive reports that motorists are to be hit with fuel price increases again in April, though they look to be less than initially expected. Earlier in March, the Central Energy Fund reported an under-recovery of more than R1/l for petrol and 65c for diesel due to rising international oil prices and the weakened rand. However, with the subsequent recovery of the rand against the dollar from more than R19 to R18.70, the data points to a more modest increase of about 12c for petrol and 30c for diesel in April. With the volatile oil price and exchange rate it is too early to make a definite call but if there is an increase it would be the third consecutive one after 2024 started off well for motorists with major cuts in January. February saw petrol go up 75c and diesel 73c and March brought hikes of more than R1 for all fuel grades. Some good news is the two main levies on fuel — the general fuel levy and the Road Accident Fund levy — will not increase for the third consecutive year.

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


ELECTRICITY SUPPLY MARKET

Solidarity cautiously optimistic about adoption of the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill

Solidarity released a statement on Friday indicating that it was cautiously optimistic that the adoption of the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill might be a positive step in the direction of free market principles within the electricity sector.   The Bill was approved by the National Assembly on Thursday, and, according to the trade union, if it were to become a reality, it could mean that South Africans would be granted the space to walk away from load shedding. Connie Mulder, head of the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), said there was hope that within the next decade consumers would be able to choose their electricity supplier in the same way they were currently able to choose between mobile phone service providers. “For the first time, we are now seeing a structured movement by government away from perpetual government monopolies in the energy sector. This paves the way for the private and community sectors to tackle our energy crisis. With this, the government is dipping its toes into the water of free markets rather than state monopolies,” Mulder said. According to Mulder, this decision should have been taken years ago and the delays have cost the country dearly, not only financially, but also in terms of lost opportunities for innovation and growth in this sector.   He said the streamlining of processes and elimination of bureaucratic barriers would now be decisive factors.   Nevertheless, Solidarity also believes it is important to give entities such as Eskom and its coal generation plants the necessary protection as the new market-oriented framework comes into being.

Read Solidarity’s full press statement in the above regard at SA Labour News


SARB APPOINTMENTS

Mampho Modise appointed new Reserve Bank deputy governor

BL Premium reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Mampho Modise as the new deputy governor of the SA Reserve Bank (SARB), replacing Kuben Naidoo who resigned in December. The President has also reappointed SARB governor Lesetja Kganyago for a period of five years, along with Nomfundo Tshazibana and Rashad Ismail Cassim as deputy governors. Modise is currently the deputy director-general for public finance and the Treasury. She will begin her new role at the Reserve Bank on 1 April for a period of five years.   Modise previously served at the central bank as an intern in 2004 and then as an economist in 2009 before moving to the Treasury. She holds a BCom economics, BCom honours econometrics, MCom econometrics (cum laude) and a PhD in economics from the University of Pretoria. The appointments were announced on Friday in line with SA Reserve Bank Act, which empowers the President to appoint the governor along with three deputy governors and four directors of the Reserve Bank.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Thando Maeko at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read too, Reserve Bank appointments ensure continuity through two elections, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)


CADRE DEPLOYMENT ‘UNLAWFUL’

PSC rejects ANC deployment committee’s appointment advice as unlawful

BL Premium reports that according to the Public Service Commission (PSC), which monitors and evaluates performance of the public sector, it would be unlawful for an executive authority to consider a recommendation of the controversial ANC deployment committee in making an appointment. In a 191-page report on the study released in February that reflected on the pre- and post-1994 public administration ideology, practices and reforms, the PSC said the state capture commissioned, chaired by chief justice Raymond Zondo, “shone a very clear light” on the governing party’s cadre deployment committee.   President Cyril Ramaphosa “tried to emphasise that the ANC deployment committee only makes recommendations”. The commission however, found that in many cases it “amounted to instructions”.   “After analysing the relevant provisions in the constitution and the Public Service Act, the commission concluded that it will be unlawful for an executive authority to consider a recommendation of the ANC deployment committee when he/she makes an appointment.”   The PSC said that an appointment on the recommendation of the deployment committee “would be actionable as an unfair labour practice. Various commentators have concluded that accountability in the public service has been eroded.” The DA has long advocated abolishing the policy, which it says is at the centre of the weakening of state institutions through the deployment of cadres who often lack the skills and experience to run government agencies, enterprises and departments.

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


HIGH-RANKING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT

North West official in SA illegally, home affairs minister Motsoaledi says

BusinessLive reports that according to Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, the CFO of a North West government entity who accused the department of not responding to his court papers is using fraudulent documentation to be in SA. Motsoaledi advised on Sunday that Kudakwashe Mpofu, the suspended CFO of North West Development Corporation, had been informed had been informed as “far back as June 23 2023 that his purported permanent residence permit is actually fraudulent”. He added: “We can confirm the permanent residence permit number appearing on Mr Mpofu’s document does not exist in our systems. We can further confirm that the control number appearing on Mr Mpofu’s purported document was not issued by the department ... but rather it was legitimately issued to somebody else. As to how Mr Mpofu came across that control number, we do not know.”   On 10 March, the Sunday World reported that Mpofu, a Zimbabwean national, was fighting to stop the DHA from deporting him. The newspaper reported he had complained that the DHA had failed to reply to his court papers. Motsoaledi said it was disappointing and a matter of national embarrassment that Mpofu was able to work in a high position in government while using a fraudulent document. However, Motsoaledi questioned why DHA officials who had discovered the fraud had not opened a case with the police. He also questioned why the human resources division in the North West department of economic development had not done a due diligence to verify Mpofu’s documentation.

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


MANGO BUSINESS RESCUE

SCA denies Pravin Gordhan’s bid to appeal in Mango sale case

BL Premium reports that in a second blow last week for Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) Minister Pravin Gordhan, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) denied his application for leave to appeal against a ruling by the High Court relating to the proposed sale of Mango. Earlier last week Gordhan also had to announce that his proposed strategic equity partnership between SAA and the Takatso Consortium, had failed – almost three years after he first announced it. In the case of Mango, the low-cost subsidiary of SAA, Gordhan received the business rescue practitioner’s application for approval of a proposed sale in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) in November 2022. The rescue practitioner, Sipho Sono, eventually turned to the courts when Gordhan did not make a decision. Sono had been hoping Mango could restart operations already in December 2021. Litigation between Sono and Gordhan dragged on throughout 2023 and continued into 2024. The High Court had given Gordhan 30 days to make a decision about the proposed sale, failing which it would be deemed that he had approved it. When Gordhan did fail to make a decision within the given time period, and also filed for leave to appeal too late, Sono announced to stakeholders that he was going ahead with the process for the proposed sale to a selected consortium. If the sale of Mango fails, Sono will have to implement a wind-down process in terms of the airline’ business rescue plan.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Carin Smith at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read too, Pravin’s delay in selling Mango adversely affects members, says Numsa, at Sunday Independent


SIGN-ON BONUSES ‘BREACH’

Regulator to investigate Old Mutual breach over sign-on bonuses, as fall out with former senior staffers deepens

BL Premium reports that the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) is investigating allegations that Old Mutual’s independent financial advisory business Adviceworx adviser acquisition model breaches regulations, putting clients’ interests second. Meanwhile, the falling out between Adviceworx (ADX) and its former senior employees turned whistle-blowers is growing. One of the whistle-blowers, in his communication with Old Mutual top brass, describes the alleged breach as the "largest financial advisory and intermediary services breach in SA history".   The investigation, which has been in the works for more than a year, is looking into allegations that ADX is in breach of regulations by paying financial advisers sign-on bonuses, disguised as vocational restraints of trade (ROT) payments. That would be at odds with rules determined by the Financial Services Board in 2014, as it was called at the time, which prohibited sign-on bonuses being offered by insurance companies to advisers to entice them to leave their current insurer and join them. This rule was in response to a trend of advisers receiving generous sign-on bonuses and churning clients to other companies by convincing them the new policies or investments were better options, which was not always the case. At the heart of the accusations levelled at ADX is that it used ROT payments as sign-on bonuses and enhanced commission incentives to churn clients’ investment assets into higher income-generating assets for ADX and Old Mutual.

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


UNFAIR JRA DISMISSAL

Joburg Roads Agency ordered to pay R2 million to fired CEO Tshepo Mahanuke for unfair dismissal

Sunday Independent reports that the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) has been ordered to compensate its fired chief executive officer (CEO) Tshepo Mahanuke more than R2 million after an arbitrator found that he did not misrepresent his qualifications and that his dismissal had been unfair. In June last year, JRA CEO Tshepo Mahanuke was fired after he was initially suspended in November 2022 after the JRA alleged that he had faked his qualifications, which included a purported Harvard Master’s degree. Following this, the dispute was referred for conciliation to the SA Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) on 7 July 2023.   Eight months after the referral and the cross-examination by the arbitrator, the Bargaining Council found that the agency failed to prove that there “was a fair reason for the Mahanuke's dismissal and that the dismissal was preceded by a fair procedure allegations that its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) falsified information in his job application”. According to the award, Mahanuke was placed on suspension by a previous board, charges were formulated and disciplinary processes initiated. However, when Charles Cilliers became JRA chairperson of the new board, he cancelled the disciplinary process and fired Mahanuke.   Senior Arbitrator Timothy Boyce found that “given that the respondent completely disregarded the SALGBC Disciplinary Procedure Collective Agreement when the JRA Board cancelled the applicant's disciplinary hearing, it is plain that the applicant's dismissal was procedurally unfair.” He also found that Mahanuke did not misrepresent his work experience in his CV.   “The respondent, Johannesburg Roads Agency, is ordered to pay to the applicant, Tshepo Mahanuke, compensation in the amount of R2,035,873.76, being the equivalent of 8 months' remuneration calculated,” Boyce ruled .

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Thabo Makwakwa at Sunday Independent


SEXUAL ABUSE

State housing entity employee demands R7m for rape, sexual violence

Sunday Independent reports that a Housing Development Agency (HDA) official is demanding R7 million in damages from the state-owned entity after she claimed she was gang-raped by some of her bosses and had sex with them for a promotion. The official, who cannot be identified as she is allegedly a rape victim, stated in the South Gauteng High Court that between December 2018 and February 2019 two of her colleagues, who were named in court documents, sexually harassed her, and a senior officials demanded sexual favours for her secondment to one of the sections in the HDA. She also claimed to have been gang-raped. She accused the two men of bringing the HDA's good name into disrepute in that at an assembly party held in September 2017 one of the alleged culprits allegedly took advantage of the woman, who was extremely intoxicated, and he was allegedly seen engaging in sexual acts with her in full view of others passing by as the doors and windows were left open and the lights were on. The complainant further claimed that she had sexual intercourse with senior executives employed by the HDA, an agency of the National Department of Human Settlements, in return for job promotions. The woman detailed that as a result of the conduct of the HDA and its employee she suffered emotional shock and trauma, suffered and still suffers impaired mental health, for which she requires medical treatment.   She also suffered financial loss and constitutional damage, and blamed the HDA for her troubles as its employees were the sole and/or the main cause of the consequences she suffered.

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


OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST

  • Solidarity: President Ramaphosa should talk less and do more about mother tongue education, at SA Labour News
  • Naptosa slams pupils' reliance on 'exemplar' question papers to study for matric exams, at News24 (subscriber access only)
  • Ousted judge president John Hlophe takes on department of justice for his benefits, at Sunday Independent
  • Nehawu snubs Lindiwe Zulu, refuses to appear before panel of investigators, at City Press (subscriber access only)
  • Unisa Enterprise board chairperson, interim CEO accused of targeting secretary for whistleblowing, at City Press (subscriber access only)

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page