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 - CABINET LIFESTYLE AUDITS

Cabinet's lifestyle audits are finally under way, Ramaphosa reports

TimesLIVE reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa told parliament on Tuesday that after several delays, the much-awaited lifestyle audits of members of his executive were firmly under way. “This process is being led by the director-general (Phindile Baleni), and one of the reasons [for this] is because even members’ interests are managed by the DG in her office and we wanted this process to reside there and to be properly administered. It is in that regard that these audits are now continuing,” he said when answering MPs’ questions in the National Assembly. The aim of the audits is to collect as much information as possible, some of which already resides in Baleni’s office as she is the repository of the information on all of the members of the national executive.   “This had initially been outsourced, [but] in the end we found that the coverage of what we sought was not as effective as we wanted it. It is now in the right place, under the right management, and the process continues,” Ramaphosa explained. He added that the office “has sourced competent, skilled personnel with experience in conducting lifestyle audits. A capacity-building exercise took longer than anticipated, but it is firmly under way.” The DG will decide on the appropriate way to communicate the outcomes of the audit once completed.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Andisiwe Makinana at TimesLIVE

Any Cabinet member mismanaging state funds must face consequences, says Ramaphosa on lifestyle audits

The Citizen reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa says law enforcement will be roped in should lifestyle audit outcomes reveal any alleged misconduct by his Cabinet members. In a Q&A session in Parliament on Tuesday, Ramaphosa confirmed that lifestyle audits on the executive had finally commenced. The process is being handled by the office of Presidency director-general, Phindile Baleni. All Cabinet members, including Ramaphosa and Deputy President Paul Mashatile, are currently in the process of submitting additional information required for the audits. “As I have indicated before, the aim of a lifestyle audit is to collect as much information as possible on an individual’s lifestyle to be able to identify when an individual’s expenditure exceeds his or her income.   In itself, a lifestyle audit is not conclusive but may indicate that further investigation is required to establish if there is any wrongdoing,” Ramaphosa told MPs. The President said the audits had been delayed partly because the process was initially outsourced. “This is the first time that national government is conducting lifestyle audits of members [of the executive] and it requires new systems, processes and methodologies that should be employed,” he indicated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Molefe Seeletsa at The Citizen


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY

Bolt enhances safety features for riders and drivers after ex-driver’s conviction for preying on riders

The Citizen reports that in the light of the two life imprisonment terms served on ex-Bolt driver Emmanuel Mudau, who preyed on women requesting transport in 2022, Bolt has introduced new safety features. On Friday, the Johannesburg High Court sentenced the 30-year-old former Bolt driver who preyed on women who used the app to seek transport from Cosmo City, Johannesburg, to other locations between January 2022 and February 2022.   Mudau was sentenced to two life imprisonment terms and 60 years for rape, kidnapping, and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. In response to Mudau’s conviction, Bolt commended the police and justice system for their efforts in securing a conviction and said: “Bolt has a zero-tolerance policy towards drivers who engage in misconduct or criminal behaviour. Our platform has no place for individuals who perpetrate such heinous acts.” In an effort to enhance rider safety, the company has implemented various new safety features, including giving drivers and riders access to an emergency response service in the app through a partnership with the AA. When this service is activated, private security and emergency services are sent, and the driver/rider’s details and location are shared with AA’s 24/7 contact centre. While travelling, drivers and riders can also start an audio recording of their journey through the Bolt app and submit the recorded audio to Bolt’s customer support team.

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


ETHEKWINI STRIKE

eThekwini Municipality teams working to restore services impacted by Samwu strike

IOL News reports that eThekwini Municipality teams are working to restore crucial services impacted by the protracted strike by SA Municipal Workers Union-affiliated staff that was suspended last week.   City spokesperson, Gugu Sisilana, said that electricity department teams were working tirelessly to address the electrical outages, which had been exacerbated by the illegal strike action and vandalism of critical infrastructure. On Monday, the City said massive clean-up operations and the clearing of waste collection backlog had already commenced. "eThekwini Municipality informs residents and businesses that refuse collection and street sweeping services, which were affected by the recent illegal strike action, have resumed. Residents are requested to take out their refuse bags on the morning of their scheduled collection days," the City advised.   eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the strike, which began on 27 February, had not only crippled service delivery city-wide but had also claimed the life of a supervisor at the Cemetery and Crematoria Department in Umlazi and had left some staff injured.   He said 81 employees were placed on precautionary suspension for misconduct while 1,891 employees were given notices of misconduct and 88 employees had been dismissed for their participation in the unlawful industrial action.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Se-Anne Rall at IOL News

Letter reveals disciplinary action against eThekwini electricity head for his failure to act against striking workers

The Mercury reports that the head of electricity in eThekwini Municipality, Maxwell Mthembu, is allegedly on the verge of being suspended for failure to fire staff members in his unit who took part in the unprotected strike which crippled the metro for almost two weeks.   The strike was led by workers affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) who were demanding to be paid the same as workers in other metros. According to eThekwini, it has fired more than 80 workers who took part in the strike and another 81 are attending disciplinary hearings. The Mercury reports that it has seen a letter of intention to suspend in which it is alleged that Mthembu failed to act against the striking workers. “You (Mthembu) are being investigated by the employer for the allegation of your failure to obey lawful instruction of the city manager to issue summary dismissal to Electricity employees who participated in the unprotected strike. That you gave misleading and contradictory information to one of the councillors of eThekwini Municipality that the strike was still on, which contradicted the city manager’s media briefing that the strike was off and also contradicted the information you presented in one of the teleconference meetings with other unit heads that your employees are back at work, which is tantamount to sabotage,” the letter indicates. Samwu’s Xolani Dube,said: “We are aware of the letter and we are dealing with it. We have received many letters; Mthembu is one of them.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Thami Magubane at The Mercury. Read too, ‘Suspension of Mthembu illegal’, at Daily News


WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

SABC and CWU fail to reach agreement in CCMA wage dispute conciliation

SABC News reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has provided an update regarding the wage negotiations for the 2023-24 financial year between the public broadcaster and the Communications Workers Union (CWU). The SABC says that after numerous engagements over a period of four months, the parties were unable to reach an agreement on the backdating of the agreed increase from April 2023. The CWU then declared a dispute of mutual interest. This dispute was conciliated by the CCMA, but remains unresolved.   As of 8 March 2024, the CCMA has issued the default picketing rules, which have yet to be signed by both parties before a certificate of non-resolution of the dispute can be issued.   According to the SABC, it overstretched its financial reserves to meet the requests of organised labour.

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Thabiso Malesele at SABC News


STAFF RETRENCHMENTS

Vodacom to cut about 80 jobs in SA

BL Premium reports that Vodacom aims to cut about 80 jobs in SA as part of a cost reduction effort as the company changes its operations. On Tuesday, Vodacom SA said the move was in line with its strategy of moving beyond traditional telecom. “We routinely ensure that our business operations are fit for purpose as we transition from a telco to a leading technology company. To ensure the continued efficiency of key functions and maintain our competitive edge, we anticipate that our latest operational review will affect fewer than 80 employees,” a Vodacom spokesperson indicated   Corporate SA has experienced a spate of retrenchments and job cuts in recent years. Telecom operators particularly have been slimming down their workforces for various reasons.   In 2023, rival Telkom moved to cut 15% of its workforce, which at the time equated to about 1,770 jobs. In early 2022, MTN said a strategy shift would affect up to 327 jobs, primarily in its finance department. In 2021, Cell C reported a headcount reduction from 2,600 to 1,340.   The company now has fewer than 1,000 employees. In mining, Anglo American announced job cuts at its head office in 2023. Steel producer ArcelorMittal announced plans to cut thousands of jobs due to economic challenges.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mudiwa Gavaza at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read too, Vodacom Group plans to cut 80 jobs in its biggest market, at Moneyweb

SA Post Office to close some 235 branches nationwide, says Gungubele

Cape Times reports that about 235 SA Post Office (Sapo) branches are set to be closed, leading to employees being retrenched, after the conclusion of a ‘section 189’ process conducted by the CCMA. Among these branches, 104 are in the Central region (Free State and North West) 41 in the Northern region (North Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West), 28 in the Western region (Western Cape and Northern Cape), 24 in the Eastern Cape, 21 in KwaZulu-Natal and 17 in Gauteng (most of Gauteng and the Vaal Triangle). The embattled public entity is currently undergoing a business rescue process. However, Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele could not tell MPs which Sapo branches would be closed and he also could also not give the exact number of employees to be retrenched. “The joint business rescue practitioners are not prepared to share the actual list of branches as it stands whilst the process of liaising with landlords is in progress and the possibility of branch relocations are at hand,” he indicated. Gungubele made the remarks in response to parliamentary questions from DA MP Natasha Mazzone. David Mangena of the SA Postal Workers Union said it was shocking that Gungubele would not disclose the number of Sapo employees to be retrenched when he last year put the number at 7,000. Sapo would be left with about 3 000 employees if Gungubele’s statement last year was true. He also questioned why Sapo was allowed to degenerate when the entity did not pay statutory obligations such as pension and Unemployment Insurance Fund contributions to ensure that it met its obligations.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mayibongwe Maqhina at Cape Times


CADRE DEPLOYMENT

PSC’s role limited to public service only, not political appointments

The Star reports that the Public Service Commission’s (PSC’s) scope of work is limited to public services, and once a person is a public office-bearer the Public Protector would be the agency dealing with such investigations, Public Commissioner Somadoda Fikeni advised on Tuesday. Fikeni said the PSC would investigate deputy director-generals only if they were found flouting the recruitment rules and cited the cadre deployment.   “If it is a political leader, a minister, it is the political parties, we enter nowhere. But what we have done as the PSC was not to respond to political parties. All that we have done is to work on public sector reforms after reading Judge Zondo’s commission report and the National Development Plan (NDP) Chapter 13. We need to professionalise public service. There is a need to clearly delineate a promise between a political and administrative sphere,” he said. The PSC commissioner’s comments came after reports that the commission had rejected the ANC’s deployment committee’s appointment as unlawful. The reports sought to suggest that the PSC was in agreement with the DA’s assertions that it was unlawful for an executive authority to consider a recommendation of what it called a “controversial” ANC deployment committee in making an appointment. According to Fikeni, the PSC’s stance on the matter was that it as it was not its mandate to venture into the political space.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sipho Jack at The Star


UNDOCUMENTED FOREIGN WORKERS

Labour department talks tough on undocumented foreigners employed in SA

The Star reports that the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) has issued a stern warning to SA companies that employ undocumented foreigners in their workplaces. This comes just a month after Department of Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi called for harsher sanctions against business owners who knowingly employed undocumented foreigners. On Friday, the DEL said it was concerned about the increasing number of undocumented immigrants employed in the wholesale and retail sectors following a recent three-day crackdown in Rustenburg. “During the blitz inspections, a total of 20 undocumented foreign nationals were arrested, prompting the department to immediately implement the Employment Services Act. This act demands that an employer make sure that a person employed in South Africa from a foreign country has the relevant work permit and a skill that is not found in the country,” the DEL pointed out. The DEL’s provincial chief inspector, Chris Sithole, said employers found to have contravened the act would be fined and their employees arrested. Following the blitz, Sithole indicated that 54 foreign nationals had been arrested and 120 compliance orders issued to errant employers, who were ordered to get their affairs in order within a stipulated time period. “These inspections have revealed that most employers are still underpaying their employees. They make illegal deductions, and they do not provide them with payslips and contracts of employment. Some employers do not comply with the general safety regulations, while others have not registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the Compensation Fund,” said Sithole.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Siyabonga Sithole at The Star


SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

Communities close to SA national parks benefit from R2 million bursary scheme

Saturday Star reports that communities around national parks have benefited from a R2 million bursary scheme that saw 17 deserving university students get assistance to study this year. The students, who come from six of the nine provinces across the country, were part of the SA National Parks (SANParks) community legacy programme. SANParks explained that the programme was aimed at addressing a broad spectrum of community social needs. The scheme covers full tuition, accommodation and a living allowance for the student whilst studying. SANParks’ GM Media and Stakeholder Relations Rey T Thakhuli said that the social projects were funded from the 1% tourism income levy, initiated in 2012 on all accommodation bookings, and provided a perfect opportunity for both SANParks and its guests to be philanthropic and assist in the creation of legacy projects in the communities around the park. The project was targeting students who had applied to study in fields such as a BSc Biodiversity and Ecology, Bachelor of Environmental Sciences, Diploma in Sustainable Development, Diploma in Tourism Management, Diploma in Hospitality Management and Diploma in Business Management. Thahuli added that the bursaries were comprehensive and for full-time studies towards an academic diploma or degree at an accredited public SA college or a university of technology/university.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mashudu Sadike at Saturday Star


COP CORRUPTION

Durban cop who demanded bribes to squash case dockets sent to jail for 12 years

IOL News reports that a KwaZulu-Natal policeman, who was found guilty of demanding a gratification to get rid of case dockets, was this week sentenced to direct imprisonment of 12 years. Warrant Officer Claude Ince, 51, who was stationed at the Bellair SA Police Service (SAPS) as a detective, was sentenced in the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on two counts of corruption.   KZN Hawks spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo reported: “In May 2017, Warrant Officer Ince was investigating a case of fraud and he demanded a gratification of R5,000 in order to destroy evidence against the accused. A case of corruption was reported and an undercover operation was conducted which led to the arrest of Ince. He was found in possession of cash that was paid to him by the complainant.” In the second incident, Ince was investigating a case of theft by shoplifting against another accused. “In the process Warrant Officer Ince demanded a gratification of R3,000 in order to withdrew the charges against the accused.   The accused managed to pay a gratification of R1,000 and she did not attend court as per his instruction. A warrant of arrest was issued against her and when she appeared before court she explained that Warrant Officer Ince took money from her and told her to not come to court,” Mhlongo reported.   The policeman was granted leave to appeal, which will be heard on 11 April 11, pending which he remains behind bars.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Jolene Marriah-Maharaj at IOL News


COST OF COMMUTING

Cosatu calls for more public transport investment as petrol prices set to climb again

Cape Times reports that with fuel prices expected to increase again, trade union federation Cosatu says the government should invest more in public transport and Transnet to cushion the poor from the rising cost of living. This comes with the AA expecting a slight increase petrol prices in April based on unaudited data from the Central Energy Fund (CEF). It added that the data also pointed to a marginal decrease in diesel and illuminating paraffin prices. Cosatu’s Matthew Parks said the expected decrease in diesel and paraffin would provide welcome relief for workers and the economy, though that might be offset by the increase in petrol. “While there is little government can do about the price of oil, it should reduce the fuel taxes, ensure all Metrorail lines are running, invest more in public transport and Transnet to cushion the poor from the rising cost of living.   It is also important Eskom be assisted to reduce its dependency on double-digit tariff hikes and solar panels be rolled out across working-class communities,” Parks commented. Bureau for Economic Research economist Tracey-Lee Solomon advised: “So far the March average for the benchmark Brent Crude oil price is above the average recorded in February. Although oil prices are up, there is a divergence between the different oil product prices, namely petrol (gasoline) and diesel. This is due to refinery output.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nicola Daniels at Cape Times


OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST

  • Landboubedryf werk hard om logistieke probleme te pak, by Maroela Media
  • Storm oor visumbrief belemmer SA toerisme, by Maroela Media
  • Suspended judge Maumela is hospitalised, tribunal hearing adjourns, at TimesLIVE

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page