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 – STRIKES IN 2023

SA strike action dipped again in 2023, but more than half were wildcat stoppages

Fin24 reports that industrial action continued to decrease in 2023, with 83 worker strikes reported last year, according to the Casual Workers Advice Office’s (CWAO’s) Strike Barometer. The number reported is nearly half that seen in 2018, when 165 different strikes were recorded, and a smaller drop from the 86 strikes in 2022. However, this figure excludes at least seven strikes at hospitals, universities, private companies contracted by municipalities, and institutions such as Productivity SA and the State Information Technology Agency. According to the Strike Barometer, some six out of every ten strikes (51 incidents) in 2023 were wage-related, and 41 occurred in the public sector. Other prevalent reasons for strikes included stoppages for permanent jobs and extended contracts (20 strikes) as well as trade union-related issues, such as relating to the recognition or reinstating union officials. CAWO drew attention a trend, which has been ongoing for several years, of wildcat action outstripping protected strikes. Twenty-four unions were involved in these strikes, but in nine cases there seems to have been no union involvement. The longest strike recorded last year took place from July until November (104 days) by members of the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) against the City of Tshwane’s decision not to implement salary increases in terms of a bargaining council agreement. The second-longest strike was between the SA Commercial, Catering, and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) and Makro, which lasted 76 days and related to wages. So far in 2024, 26 strikes have been recorded.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Na'ilah Ebrahim at Fin24. Read too, Public sector hard hit by strike action, at GroundUp


HEALTH & SAFETY

Social media posting about deadly Covid-19 strain is fake, says health department

TimesLIVE reports that the Department of Health (DOH) has dismissed social media reports of a new Covid-19 variant and asked the public to ignore the misleading message. The old, fake news post about Covid-19 Omicron XBB variant circulating on social media platforms advises people to wear face masks and claims that the variant is deadly and not easily detectable. “This is a misleading message which resurfaced during the peak of the pandemic without a traceable source. We urge members of the public to be vigilant and ignore this malicious social media content whose intent is to cause unnecessary panic and confusion, especially as the country is entering influenza season,” the DOH advised in a statement. The department said Covid-19 was still circulating at relatively low levels around the country, just like in other parts of the world. It went on to say: “Thus, there is no need for the public to panic because many people have developed some level of immunity from both the vaccine and infections. The current strain or variant in circulation is less severe and less transmissible.”

Read the original of the short report in the above regard at TimesLIVE. Lees ook, Boodskap oor nuwe Covid-19-variant is bog – department, by Maroela Media

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Plot to kill Home Affairs Minister being investigated by Hawks, at The Mercury
  • KZN gunman caught minutes after shooting meter taxi boss dead in Pretoria on Tuesday, at The Citizen


WORKERS DAY / LABOUR & POLITICS

We still need to deal with damage done by apartheid, Ramaphosa indicates at Workers Day rally in Cape Town

News24 reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa says more still needs to be done to reverse the scars of apartheid 30 years later.   He was speaking at trade union federation Cosatu's National Workers Day rally in Athlone, Cape Town, on Wednesday. This year, the country celebrates 30 years of democracy. The president, in his capacity as ANC leader, delivered the keynote address and stated: "We need to deal with the damage that was done by apartheid; we still need to return the land to those who work the land. We still need to provide our people with basic requirements for a decent life. We still need to undo the effects of Bantu education. We know that we still need to tackle high unemployment." The ANC is facing its biggest political test in the upcoming general elections, with the steep unemployment rate a key voter issue. Ramaphosa said Cosatu, a long-time ANC ally, had always come up with innovative ideas that have taken the country forward. "When we introduced the social distressed grant, it was you [unions] who said that they want this to be extended, and we are on the way to move into the direction urged and led by yourself to get a basic income grant," he indicated. The president also spoke about the National Health Insurance Bill (NHI) and said he would sign the bill soon.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Marvin Charles at News24. Read too, May Day celebration: Ramaphosa says SA is moving towards Universal Basic Income cushion, at EWN

Cosatu champions ANC ahead of elections, slams DA's economic policies

News24 reports that the ANC's long-standing ally, trade union federation Cosatu, has sung the ruling party's praises, insisting it did a lot for workers and that the DA was threatening to reverse its progress.   On Tuesday, Cosatu's Zingiswa Losi addressed the media ahead of the National Workers' Day celebrations at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on Wednesday and said the event was an opportunity to mobilise workers to vote for the ANC. "What I can say is that workers who are members of the federation made a conscious decision that there is no other political party that understands the plight of workers in this country and that stands with workers.   This has been evident in the 30 years of the ANC administration being in government," Losi stated. She said Cosatu had not forgotten its mandate and added: “The ANC government has delivered. The DA wants to reverse this; the DA wants workers to be slaves to the employers.   The ANC continues to change the lives of the most vulnerable.” Last week, the DA unveiled its mandate, saying that if it won next month's elections, the national minimum wage would not be increased "any further", and its monetary value would be allowed to be "eroded" by inflation. Losi hit back, saying the National Minimum Wage Act had lifted more than six million vulnerable workers in the country out of poverty. However, the DA's head of policy, Mat Cuthbert, accused the ANC and Cosatu and their affiliates of contributing to the unemployment rate. "Over the past 30 years, this unholy alliance has deliberately created a system of economic exclusion that has left South Africa with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world," he claimed.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Marvin Charles at News24. Lees ook, ‘Noem dit eerder Werkloosheidsdag’, by Maroela Media

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Werkers sal nie toelaat dat ANC onder 50% daal – Ramaphosa, by Maroela Media
  • Ramaphosa assures workers their rights to collective bargaining and striking are protected, at EWN
  • Workers and the rise of the algorithmic boss, at Mail & Guardian


ELECTION DAY

Nedlac urges employers to allow workers who have to work on 29 May time off to vote

Engineering News reports that organised business, labour, community and government represented in the National Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) have urged all employers to support and allow their employees to vote in the upcoming general elections on 29 May. Nedlac noted that that, while election day would be a public holiday, there would still be those who would be required to work, such as those in essential services and in the retail and agricultural sectors.   Nedlac encouraged all employers to observe election day as a paid public holiday. The Council added that for those employers providing an essential service or needing to work on election day, they should provide adequate time for their staff to go to their voting stations. Nedlac also requested that where it might not be practically possible and where it was absolutely essential for workers to be at work or on the road, they should go to their nearest Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) office in their municipalities to register for a special vote. Registration for special votes closes on 3 May.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Engineering News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Home Affairs to keep doors open on Voting Day, at IOL News


MINING LABOUR

NUM plans march with other unions on 11 May over Sibanye’s planned retrenchments

SABC News reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has threatened mass action against the mining sector over planned retrenchments. Several mining companies have issued retrenchment notices to employees, with many other mine workers having already been already laid off.   Speaking on the sidelines of Cosatu’s Workers’ Day rally in Potchefstroom in the North West, NUM President, Dan Balepile, indicated that they would march to Sibanye-Stillwater to protest over the planned retrenchments. The company aims to retrench 4,000 workers in the gold sector.   “It is very much unfortunate what Sibanye is doing. It’s not only limited to Sibanye. We’re counting now thousands and thousands of members that are already retrenched.   As NUM, together with other unions, we’re embarking on mass action on the 11th, this coming Saturday, we’ll be marching to Sibanye, just to show them that we’re not happy about what is happening. If they don’t listen to that, we’re envisaging to apply for section 77, to march throughout the country, stay away, so that we march to all these companies that are retrenching our members in the numbers that they are retrenching,” Balepile stated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by SABC News

Long-serving Gold Fields CFO takes early retirement, Alex Dall appointed on interim basis

Engineering News reports that long-serving Gold Fields CFO Paul Schmidt, who is also an executive director of the listed gold mining company, is to proceed on early retirement. Although his step down was effective from 30 April, Schmidt will remain in Gold Fields’ employ until 30 June. Schmidt, who was appointed CFO at the start of 2009 and joined the board in the same year, was financial controller from 2003 after joining Gold Fields in 1996. In the meantime, Alex Dall, currently Gold Fields VP corporate finance, has been appointed as interim CFO with effect from 1 May, pending the appointment of a permanent CFO and executive director. With the process to appoint the new CFO in its final stages, Gold Fields says it will make an announcement as soon as negotiations have been finalised.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Engineering News. See too, Gold Fields appoints Alex Dall as interim CFO, at BusinessLive

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Proposed coal mine in Mpumalanga grasslands back in court, at Moneyweb


POST OFFICE RETRENCHMENTS

Thousands of Post Office job cuts set to go ahead as ‘unpersuasive’ bid for TERS funding fails

Fin24 reports that business rescue practitioners (BRPs) for the SA Post Office (SAPO) say their application for funding from the Temporary Employment Relief Scheme (TERS) has been rejected. This means retrenchments – which the application had hoped to limit – will have to be implemented as planned. Nearly 5,000 staff will be affected. In a statement on Tuesday, the BRPs said the ruling had been issued by a CCMA after the Single Adjudication Committee had not recommended the application. The Unemployment Insurance Fund’s TERS scheme continued after the Covid-19 pandemic to help employers in financial or operational distress, and the Post Office's BRPs hoped that securing funding would ward off some job cuts.   The BRPs and labour unions at SAPO applied for funding for the bargaining unit staff. But in a bruising ruling, Commissioner Willie Hlophe said while the application clearly affected a large number of employees and was in the public interest, "the business case was unpersuasive" that the Post Office would be able to honour its contractual, statutory and employment obligations going forward. "Should TERS be successful, it would only delay and not prevent the retrenchments, which is against the primary purpose of the scheme," Hlophe indicated. He also noted that due to financial challenges at SAPO, UIF, pension fund, medical aid and SARS obligations had gone unpaid, leaving a "quite significant" total debt. Joint BRP Anoosh Rooplal said he was "very disappointed" at the outcome and "very sorry" for the impact on employees and their families.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard compiled by Marelise van der Merwe at Fin24. See too, Application for some SAPO workers facing axe to receive TERS funding rejected, at EWN


EMPLOYMENT EQUITY

Draft numerical racial targets for sectors contradict settlement with government and the constitution, says Solidarity

Maroela Media reports that according to Solidarity, the government’s draft regulations on sectoral numerical racial targets disregard the settlement reached with the trade union last year. In comments on the regulations submitted by Solidarity, it is also stated that they are contrary to international laws on discrimination in the workplace. The period to comment on the regulations regarding the Employment Equity Amendment Act, which was published in the Government Gazette in February, expires later this week. According to Anton van der Bijl, Solidarity's deputy chief executive for legal matters, the sectoral targets “are in fact blatant and rigid quotas which are in truth prohibited by SA’s Constitution.” He commented further: “The regulations were published prematurely as the amendment law has not yet been ratified by the President. The bigger problem, however, lies in the content of these regulations. It continues to disregard the prescription of the timeliness of affirmative action measures. Then the targets are also not nuanced either and this envisages mandatory racial targets.” The settlement between Solidarity and the government that took place under the supervision of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), was also made a court order in October 2023. “These regulations must therefore be consistent with this settlement which states that race is not the only factor that may be taken into account when hiring or firing employees,” Van der Bijl noted.

Read the full original in Afrikaans of the report in the above regard at Maroela Media


FAKE QUALIFICATIONS

Eastern Cape health department spokesperson's fake qualification case transferred to commercial crime court

News24 reports that an attorney has questioned what prompted the State to charge his client in connection with allegations that he submitted a fake matric certificate to the Eastern Cape government when he was hired in 2002, even though the client had already been cleared in disciplinary proceedings. The attorney, Elias Makhanya, was representing Eastern Cape Department of Health (DOH) spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo in the Zwelitsha Magistrate's Court on Tuesday when he told the magistrate: "We have not received copies of the docket. We really do not know what might have influenced the State to charge him regardless of the outcomes of the disciplinary committee of the department." Kupelo's fraud, forgery and uttering case was transferred to the East London Commercial Crime Court and he will appear there on 22 May. He is out on R30,000 bail. Kupelo applied for a communication officer post in the Office of the Premier in Bhisho in March 2002 and he was appointed a month later.   In 2020, the department apparently decided to conduct a skills audit, during which it was established that Kupelo had never had a matric certificate. The matter was referred to the Hawks for a thorough probe, which confirmed the allegations. Kupelo was suspended by the DOH, but returned after a disciplinary committee ruled in his favour. He has maintained his innocence since.

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


HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Thai national arrested in Edenvale for alleged trafficking women under pretenses of job opportunities

News24 reports that a Thai national accused of human trafficking will remain in police custody pending further investigations and the attendance of a Thai court interpreter. Police spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha indicated that Anupong Chaiprasit appeared in the Germiston Magistrate's Court on Monday following an intelligence-led police search last Friday. Tip-offs led the police to a property on Terrace Road in Edenvale, where they rescued seven trafficked Thai women and arrested Chaiprasit. “The victims were rescued and transported to a place of safety. The victims further stated that they were lured into the country under false promises of better job opportunities," said Ramovha.   Chaiprasit faces human trafficking-related charges. More charges may be added after his court appearance next week. The provincial Head of the Hawks in Gauteng, Major General Ebrahim Kadwa, commented: "Trafficking in persons remains a scourge in our country. We will continue doing our best to address this wherever it occurs."

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Cebelihle Bhengu at News24


ALLEGED CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Former top cop Khomotso Phahlane’s R54m SAPS tender fraud case moved to regional court

IOL News reports that former Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and his five co-accused, who were arrested in connection with two police tenders totalling more than R54 million, will have their case heard in the Pretoria Regional Court. The group appeared briefly at the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Tuesday, when the case was postponed for disclosure and transfer to the regional court. The court ordered the state to disclose an outstanding document to one of the defence attorneys by 17 May. The accused are out on bail ranging from R5,000 rand to R50,000. Phahlane and the others face charges of fraud, corruption, theft and violation of the Public Finance Management Act relating to two police tenders issued in 2016. Henry Mamothame, spokesperson for the Investigating Directorate, explained further that the charges stemmed from the October 2015 university student #FeesMustFall protests when the SA Police Service Crime Intelligence Division undertook an emergency procurement of software systems. The matter was postponed to 3 July 2024.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sinenhlanhla Masilela at IOL News

Bronkhorspruit police detective arrested for allegedly pocketing R500 meant for drunk driver’s bail

IOL News reports that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) has arrested a Bronkhorspruit Detective Services police officer who allegedly pocketed R500 that was meant as part of the bail money of a suspect who was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.   The incident happened on 6 April.   Ipid spokesperson Phaladi Shuping explained further: “It is alleged that the police sergeant attached to Bronkhorspruit Detective Services, was working night shift on Saturday, 06 April 2024, when, during the performance of his duties, he escorted a suspect in a driving under the influence of alcohol case, to the bank, at around 3am, to withdraw money for bail. The suspect withdrew R1,000 and gave it to the police sergeant as payment of bail.   The police sergeant allegedly wrote R500 as the amount paid for bail, instead of R1,000.” The matter was reported to the police watchdog for investigation and a case of corruption against the police sergeant was opened.   The 43-year-old police officer is expected to appear in the Bronkhorspruit Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sihle Mlambo at IOL News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Clean up at Masters’ Offices ‘long overdue’, at Cape Times


OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST

  • Looking for a job? Beware of these job scams and update your CV, at The Citizen
  • NBI launches pragmatic Just Energy Transition Skilling for Employment Programme, at Mining Weekly
  • Visum-agterstand styg met 20,000 binne 6 maande, by Maroela Media
  • 37,000 civil servants earn above R1 million, minister confirms, at Fin24
  • Tshwane metro cop in court for raping woman who needed shelter for the night, at IOL News

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page