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


TOP STORY – VACANT SCHOOL POSTS

Vacant teacher posts in state schools rocket by 28% in past three years to more than 31,000

BL Premium reports that the number of vacant teacher posts in SA’s state schools soared 28% in the past three years, from more than 24,000 in 2021 to more than 31,000 in 2024. Responding to a parliamentary question from the DA, Department of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga told MPs that 31,462 teacher posts were unfilled, while in 2021 some 24,556 teacher posts had stood empty. Motshekga added that positions were filled on a continuing basis and schools were allowed to make temporary appointments while recruitment processes were under way.   Her written reply shows there were 7,044 unfilled positions in KwaZulu-Natal, 6,111 in the Eastern Cape and 4,933 in Limpopo. Gauteng has 3,898 vacancies and the Western Cape has 4,497, with 1,931 in Mpumalanga, 1,205 in North West, 1,117 in Free State and 726 in the Northern Cape.   The DA’s Baxolile Nodada said unfilled vacancies were just the tip of the iceberg as state schools lacked vital infrastructure. The government’s planned education reforms, set out in the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill now before parliament, would only worse education outcomes, said Nodada. Trade union Solidarity has objected to the bill’s proposals to transfer decision-making on language and admission policies from school governing bodies to government. While it is not opposed to making grade R compulsory, it is concerned about the lack of a plan to fund it.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tamar Kahn at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read Solidarity’s press statement on the BELA Bill at Politicsweb. Lees ook, Byna 32,000 poste by skole vacant, by Maroela Media


UNEMPLOYMENT

SA's unemployment is only going to get worse, IMF warns

Fin24 reports that according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), SA's unemployment rate is projected to rise to 33.5% this year and worsen to 33.9% in 2025. The unemployment rate was 32.1% in the fourth quarter of last year, according to the most recent data from Statistics SA. The figures showed there were 7.9 million people without jobs and that almost one in every two South Africans younger than 35 was unemployed. This despite the ANC's promises and plans ahead of elections in 2019 to make job creation its biggest priority. The governing party has made the same promise in its current election manifesto.   While growth in employment and incomes held steady in many of the countries covered by the IMF report, SA was an outlier. The country's real per capita output is predicted to shrink from 0.9% last year to 0.6% this year and 0.3% next year. The IMF expects SA's annual consumer inflation to average 4.9% in 2024.   Its gross domestic product (GDP) forecasts for SA are lower than those of National Treasury and the SA reserve Bank, both of which estimate economic growth at more than 1% in 2024. But, the IMF sees real GDP at 0.9% this year, versus 0.6% last year, and 1.2% in 2025.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Renée Bonorchis at Fin24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Employment initiatives are not an election ploy, Nxesi claims, at SABC News


STER-KINEKOR RETRENCHMENTS

With load shedding and Hollywood strike dimming cinema lights, Ster-Kinekor to retrench 236 employees

Business Report writes that Ster-Kinekor has confirmed that it has been forced to issue retrenchment notices to 236 employees as it restructures its business and streamlines costs due to dwindling attendance numbers at its SA cinemas, coupled with other challenges. The cinema group said all staff members had been issued with notices informing them of the company’s intention to proceed with a restructuring exercise under Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act. “In recent months, the business has suffered a significant decline in attendances. This is largely as a result of a challenging economic environment, prolonged and more intense load shedding as well as the impact of the Hollywood actors’ and writers’ strikes,” the company advised. The Hollywood strikes in 2023 resulted in content scheduled for release in 2023 and 2024 being moved to 2025. The company said it was also being hobbled by intensified load shedding and a poor macro-economic environment locally and that it needed its cinemas to operate on streamlined structures. The retrenchment of 236 employees comes a few months after the company, now managed by UK based Blantyre Capital and Greenpoint Capital, exited business rescue. Although Ster-Kinekor has blamed load shedding for its operational challenges, employees at the company are concerned that this is a misrepresentation as most of the operator’s cinemas have back-up generators. Moreover, there has been an improvement in electricity availability in the past few months.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tawanda Karombo at Business Report


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Cop killed responding to a domestic violence complaint in Mamre in the Western Cape

News24 reports that Western Cape police are investigating the death of a police officer shot during a domestic violence dispute in Mamre.   Police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa said the 44-year-old sergeant and his colleague responded to a complaint at Klapmuts Street at 12:45 on Wednesday. The perpetrator allegedly disarmed the sergeant, shot him dead, and also fired at the colleague, who was unharmed. Potelwa said more officers had since been deployed to search for the shooter, who had fled the scene on foot. The Hawks are investigating a murder case.   Provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile condemned the killing of the police officer and went on to say: "It is disheartening that a police official responding to a complaint is shot with his service pistol. Police are there to protect community members. They should not come under attack."

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Cebelihle Bhengu at News24. See too, Manhunt launched for suspect who shot and killed on-duty Atlantis police officer, at IOL News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • John Brand: Silicosis trust has made steady progress despite hitches, at BusinessLive
  • Petroljoggie sterf ná rowers by Pta-vulstasie toeslaan, by Maroela Media


NAKED PROTEST

Female security guards strip naked in protest outside Gauteng health department

News24 reports that some female security guards who claimed their contracts were terminated without reason stripped off their clothing during a protest in the hope of getting the attention of the Gauteng Department of Health (DOH). But, the SA Cleaners, Security and Allied Workers' Union’s (Sacsaawu’s) Diphapang Potsane said the move was not planned. "We were also surprised when our mothers and sisters decided to undress themselves and remain naked for almost two hours," he indicated.   Potsane said workers have been sleeping outside the department, demanding they get their jobs back and get better pay. "We also want our provident funds, UIF, and medical aid back because they were being deducted from our salaries but were not being paid into the fund," Potsane claimed. On 22 March, they submitted a memorandum of demands to the Health MEC, but apparently have not received a response. Portia Mothibi, who participated in the protest, said their biggest concern was that other people were being absorbed in their places, but they had been let go without explanation and without any retrenchment benefits. She explained that the reason they decided to strip naked was to get the attention of the department. The DOH’s Khutso Rabothata said the department had never had a contract with any of the protesters and that the security officers in question had had month-to-month agreements with their contractors.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Aphelele Mbokotho at News24


LABOUR LAW REFORM

After 100 years of trial and error, SA’s labour laws need reform

In Thursday’s editorial, Business Day notes that this month marks 100 years since the promulgation of the Industrial Conciliation Act in 1924, a pivotal piece of legislation that formed the basis for future SA’s labour relations. It introduced industrial councils and a system of voluntary collective bargaining.   This act was in response to the Rand Rebellion of 1922, when about 25,000 mineworkers went on strike, resulting in 5,000 strikers being arrested and 150 people killed. However, the legislation had a major flaw in that it discriminated against black workers by excluding them from the definition of “employee”, so preventing them from forming or joining registered trade unions.   That exclusion persisted until 1979, when black trade unions were first granted statutory recognition.   The new era of collective labour law was given effect by the jurisprudence developed by the labour courts.   But, after 100 years of trial and error, the time is said to have come to reform SA’s labour laws, regulations and processes. This is particularly crucial for cutting red tape and administrative costs for small medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). Greater attention needs to be on job seekers.   Moreover, the government needs to come up with a bold strategy to reform labour market institutions to enable them to tackle the root causes of extreme structural unemployment. The IMF has already suggested some reforms needed to align SA’s labour laws with contemporary needs. It says that minimum wage setting should carefully balance reducing in-work poverty and enhancing the job prospects of disadvantaged groups. Also, wage bargaining co-ordination could be strengthened by adopting a norm that facilitates negotiation based on productivity gains and inflation, and having the government highlight more prominently the employment cost of excessive wage growth.

Read the full original of the editorial at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)


COST OF LIVING / FUEL PRICES

Petrol price set to rise in May, while price of diesel to decrease

BusinessLive writes that fuel prices have reached record-high increases over the past three years, despite the government not increasing the General Fuel Levy or Road Accident Fund (RAF) levy.   Commenting on unaudited data from the Central Energy Fund (CEF), the Automobile Association (AA) pointed out that unleaded 93 petrol inland in May 2022 cost R21.51/l but increased to R23.01 in May 2023. According to current CEF data, this price will again increase by 37c/l in May pushing the price close to R25.15/l. The outlook for unleaded 95 inland is not much better, with the CEF data showing an increase of 38c/l. Yet, diesel is set to decrease by 35c/l, while illuminating paraffin is also set to come down by 28c/l. “The decrease to diesel prices is especially welcome as it will not result in higher input costs across various sectors, and this won’t be a driving factor in consumer prices increasing,” the AA noted. The AA commented the expected petrol increases reaffirmed its belief that a review of the fuel price structure was necessary to establish if any components within the current pricing model could be revised by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to mitigate against rising costs.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at BusinessLive. Lees ook, Goedkoper diesel wink, maar petrol wéér duurder, by Maroela Media

Consumer inflation slows to 5.3%, but midyear interest rate cut is unlikely

BL Premium reports that despite the slight moderation in consumer prices in March, economists say it is becoming increasingly unlikely inflation will dip below 5% during the first half of the year.   The likelihood of the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) initiating rate cuts at midyear is thus shrinking, with some economists expecting interest rate cuts to only occur from September or even later this year. Stats SA reported on Wednesday that consumer prices eased slightly and for the first time in 2024 to 5.3% in March, down from 5.6% in February. On a month-on-month basis the consumer price index (CPI) increased 0.8% in March. The main contributors were housing and utilities, with the cost of electricity increasing as well as water and other services related to housing and utilities. Miscellaneous goods and services contributed 1.2%, including items such as personal care, and insurance with an inflation rate of close to 10%. The third-largest contributor to inflation in March was food and nonalcoholic beverages, which contributed 0.9%.   After the increase in fuel prices earlier this year, transport was the fourth-largest contributor. A recent survey by the Bureau for Economic Research (BER) showed that inflation was likely to average 5.4% in 2024, down from 6% in 2023.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Denene Erasmus at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read too, Inflation cools to two-month low in March, at Moneyweb. En ook, Inflasiekoers daal eerste keer in 2024, by Maroela Media


NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

Billions in unforeseen expenditure spent on NHI jobs

Maroela Media reports that billions of rand in unforeseen expenses to pay employees of a non-existent National Health Insurance (NHI) is now on the cards for SA and South Africans. In a written reply to a question from the DA, Health Minister Joe Phaahla indicated that his department has already allocated approximately R5 billion to the NHI – even though only a little over R1 billion has been allocated to the NHI in terms of the national budget. A large part of this almost R5 billion is indeed used to employ staff for the NHI. Apparently more than 28 people earning salaries of more than R1 million per year have already been appointed to NHI-specific positions. Earlier this year, trade union Solidarity brought a court application against the department because of the premature advertising of NHI jobs.   The application was dismissed without costs. According to Theuns du Buisson, economic researcher of the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), money is now “carelessly being thrown around for these jobs without even an existing budget for this.” He remarked: “It was precisely to prevent such misappropriation of funds that Solidarity went to court earlier this year regarding these NHI jobs.” Du Buisson is also convinced that the premature rollout of NHI plans will have negative consequences. “The Department of Health is wasting billions that could have been used to provide and improve actual healthcare in the public sector. There is a pressing need for improvement,” he lamented. A 2023 cost report on the NHI estimated that at least R660 billion would be needed in the budget for the system to be implemented.

Read the above report in full in Afrikaans at Maroela Media


ALLEGED FRAUD / CORRUPTION

Businessman added as twenty-first accused in Fort Hare University fraud case; granted R50,000 bail

The Citizen reports that businessman, Justin Peter King, has been added as the twenty-first accused in the University of Fort Hare (UFH) fraud and corruption case. King was granted R50,000 bail on Wednesday, just like 12 other accused at the Alice Magistrate’s Court, sitting in Dimbaza, Eastern Cape. National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said the businessman was alleged to have used his cash loan business to provide cash payment gratifications to UFH staff. Meanwhile, the bail application of two of the accused – Terrence Joubert and Anwar Khan – is proceeding and will be back in court on 19 April for a decision.   The 21, nine of whom were UFH employees, and the rest being service providers and their companies, are accused of having colluded in giving each other tender contracts at the university in return for gratifications. “One of the accused, Isaac Plaatjies, has since abandoned bail, and should he decide to still apply for bail, the state will oppose his application,” Tyali advised.   Plaajties is charged in a separate matter, along with nine people, for the murder of the UFH’s fleet manager Petrus Roets and the UFH vice-chancellor’s bodyguard Richard Vesele, and attempted murder of the vice-chancellor Professor Sakhele Buhlungu and his deputy Renuka Vithal.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nicholas Zaal at The Citizen. See too, Businessman in Fort Hare corruption case gets R50,000 bail, at BusinessLive. En ook, Nóg ʼn beskuldigde tot Fort Hare-korrupsiesaak bygevoeg, by Maroela Media

Fort Hare service provider allegedly concealed that accomplice had fake qualifications, court hears

News24 reports that University of Fort Hare (UFH) service provider Terrence Joubert is alleged to have concealed information that his alleged accomplice, Isaac Plaatjies, had fake qualifications.   Plaatjies is believed to be the mastermind behind a racketeering scheme that milked the university out of R171 million. He was the university's director for investigations and vetting, until his arrest in November. Joubert is the director of Tarlec Security Solutions, a company that allegedly received R7.7 million to vet the qualifications of UFH staff. According to the investigating officer, Plaatjies had no MA degree, which was supposedly awarded by the University of KwaZulu-Natal. On Wednesday, Joubert and celebrity bodyguard Anwar Khan appeared in the Alice Magistrate's Court sitting in Dimbaza. They applied for bail, which the State opposed. They are among 15 people arrested over the Easter weekend in connection with the multimillion-rand UFH fraud case.   Other accused in the case, except Plaatjies, have since been released on bail of R50,000 each. According to the investigating officer, Joubert, Khan and Plaatjies conspired to have Mboneli Vesele, the bodyguard of the university's vice-chancellor, killed in January 2023.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sithandiwe Velaphi at News24

Fine of R20,000 or imprisonment for Eastern Cape nurse found guilty in birth certificates scam that saw Sassa defrauded

IOL News reports that an Eastern Cape nurse who was found guilty of fraud and corruption has been sentenced this week to either pay a fine of R20,000 or serve four years direct imprisonment. Gladys Ntlawuzana-Komboyi, who had been employed as a professional nurse by the health department at the Bambisana Hospital in Lusikisiki, was arrested alongside three other suspects on 11 September 2023, and released on R3,000 bail. She was sentenced in the Mthatha Regional Court this week after having been found of fraudulently registering the birth of twins, which did not exist, on 18 November 2022. The Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (Hawks) said the case against the remaining trio was still pending in court. Hawks spokesperson, Warrant Officer Ndiphiwe Mhlakuvana, reported that an investigation exposed that fraudulent Child Support Grant (CSG) payouts valued at R4,892 were made by the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) at Bizana on the basis of the bogus birth certificates

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Fort Hare corruption: Long face-off as detectives battle for 20 days to unlock cellphone, at News24


OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST

  • Pupil raped during extra lessons, teacher arrested, at SowetanLive
  • Cabinet approves plan to overhaul immigration laws, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)
  • Binnelandse sake verloor 77 jaar se werksure in 5 jaar, by Maroela Media
  • Ockert Janse van Rensburg to succeed retiring Osman Arbee as CEO of automotive group Motus in November, at Engineering News

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page