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 – NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

President Cyril Ramaphosa signs NHI Bill into law

BL Premium reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill into law, setting in motion the government’s fiercely contested plan for universal health coverage.   “The NHI is a commitment to eradicating the stark inequalities that have long determined who receives adequate healthcare and who suffers from neglect. The financial hurdles facing the NHI can be navigated with careful planning, strategic resource allocation and a steadfast commitment to achieving equity,” he said at a signing ceremony on Wednesday. The signing prompted immediate legal challenges from trade union Solidarity and civil rights organisation AfriForum. The DA, organisations representing healthcare professionals, and industry bodies for medical schemes have indicated they too intend to litigate. While signing the bill was politically significant for the ANC, it does not immediately change the status quo as none of the mechanisms required to implement the ambitious scheme have come into effect. Medical schemes will, for now, continue to provide cover for private healthcare services, and patients will be required to pay out of pocket for private care if they are uninsured. Health minister Joe Phaahla urged medical scheme members to retain their cover, saying NHI would take time to implement. Under NHI, a government-controlled fund will purchase services for all patients from public and private providers. Medical schemes will be banned from covering services provided by the fund. The next step will be for sections of the bill to be proclaimed by the President.   The government will need to establish the governance structure for the NHI Fund, accredit service providers and register beneficiaries before it can start providing free services to patients under the scheme. It will also need to introduce measures for financing the fund, which have yet to be determined.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tamar Kahn & Tauriq Moosa at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read too, Legal storm brews over the NHI Act, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)

Solidarity and AfriForum bring legal challenges to NHI after bill signed into law

BL Premium reports that legal challenges to the National Health Insurance (NHI) Act have already started against President Cyril Ramaphosa, after his signing of the bill into law. In a letter of demand dated Wednesday and sent minutes after the president signed the law, trade union Solidarity’s attorney Carel Nicolaas Venter said “the governing party has disregarded substantive and procedural issues raised by industry stakeholders, citizens, and organisations ... in favour of pushing through impractical and unconstitutional legislation”. Solidarity said the government failed to conduct a proper cost analysis.   “Government has not adequately examined the concerns raised,” Venter said. These concerns were, among other things, “governance structures, operational efficiency ... (and) the risk concentration in a single-payer system within an unstable economy plagued by endemic corruption”. The government’s dismissal of these “is shortsighted, unwise and ultimately unconstitutional”, Venter indicated. He added that the NHI regime would infringe on healthcare rights “compelling many who now use private medical care via medical schemes to rely on an inadequate public healthcare system”. Solidarity said it would institute its “challenge (to) the constitutionality of the NHI Act” in court, unless the government confirmed it would repeal the act. The trade union has given the government until next Thursday to reply.   AfriForum also delivered a letter of demand to the President on Wednesday, declaring the NHI regime “unconstitutional, unaffordable, unimplementable policy”. The civil rights group said it would be instituting a class action against “the government of SA, the president, parliament and the minister of health”.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read Solidarity’s press statement in the above regard at Politicsweb

Health minister says NHI will be implemented over next four years

The Citizen reports that answering questions from the media after President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the National Health Insurance (NHI) bill into law, Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla indicated that the scheme would be implemented over the next four years. Asked about the memes doing the rounds on Wednesday of people going to get a gold tooth or visiting a private hospital for a headache without being a member of a medical scheme, Phaahla just laughed and said even if South Africans were stressed they always found a place for humour. He indicated that the NHI would be implemented in two phases and that the first phase had already started and would continue until 2026. This phase deals with the establishment and strengthening of the health platform, as well as implementing quality improvement programmes in all provinces. The second phase will run from the second half of 2026 to 2028 and will include a more intensive conclusion of implementing NHI programmes built up in the first phase. Phaahla added that the first phase of NHI would be funded not only from the fiscus and that other funding measures would have to be considered. Government already has “some low hanging fruit” in mind, he said. Phaahla noted that, although government already offered free health services, there was still not sufficient access to physiotherapy, audiology, dentistry and general practitioners providing services from their own rooms. He said part of the NHI would also be to build a reliable system where citizens would be able to register once with biometrics and go to various facilities for service. On legal challenges to the scheme, Phaahla commented: “But we live in a democratic country and the courts are part of it. People with serious vested interest will take us on and we have to be ready to present our case.”

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • What you need to know about National Health Insurance Bill being signed into law, at Sunday Tribune
  • HAITU urges nationalisation of private hospitals to aid NHI roll-out, at The Star
  • NHI will ravage SA’s public finances, IRR warns, at HeraldLive


GEORGE BUILDING COLLAPSE

George building collapse: 47 persons identified out of estimated 81 on site

TimesLIVE reports that authorities in George have identified 47 of the estimated 81 people who were on site when a partially completed block of flats collapsed last week in George. The number of dead is 33, of whom 27 are men and six women.   Twelve people are in hospital.   The identified workers are from SA, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique. President Cyril Ramaphosa is due to visit the disaster site on Thursday. The Western Cape department of social development has committed to providing a range of services to the affected families for a minimum of six months.   The George municipality said donations of fresh food received for the affected families, who remained in the civic centre, were adequate, adding: that “the families remain supported and provided with meals.”

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

Officials hope to complete operations at George building collapse by Friday, while death toll remains at 33

News24 reports that it was quiet at the scene of the collapsed building in George on Wednesday, with little progress in the rescue operation. The death toll remained unchanged at 33 since 15:00 on Tuesday. Nineteen people have not yet been found. George municipality fire chief Neels Barnard said the primary focus was on clearing rebar to gain access to the front right of the site. "Then, from there, we are going down to the basement. We are very close to the basement,” Barnard indicated. He said the site has been split into different zones. Despite the unchanged number of casualties and recoveries, officials remained hopeful.   "I think we will get more recoveries in front at [the left and right side of the building] because there's a certain area where we didn't work," Barnard pointed out. He said he hoped to complete the recovery operation by Friday and indicated: "We just want to reassure all the families, loved ones, and the community out there that we are going to do our best to finish by Friday.   We will stand until the last minute." On Wednesday, the Garden Route District Municipality said that the Victim Identification Centre and Forensic Pathology Service (FPS) had completed the formal identification process. "Up to now, 47 victims have been linked to their families," the municipality advised. President Cyril Ramaphosa and Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi are expected to visit the area on Thursday.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Iavan Pijoos at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Bodies of two electrical students who were conducting employer workplace exposure recovered from George building rubble, at Sunday Times Daily (subscriber access only)


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY

Ambulance spiked on N4 highway on Saturday while en route to emergency

Rekord reports that in a shocking incident, an ambulance was spiked on Saturday night on the N4 highway before the R80 intersection, leaving the crew vulnerable and highlighting the growing concern of spiking incidents in Gauteng. The ambulance was reportedly en route to an emergency call in Soshanguve. While the ambulance tyres were severely damaged, the occupants did not suffer any injuries. Spiking is often used in hijackings, robberies, or other illegal activities. Criminals often use sharp objects like nails, screws, or even spikes to damage the tyres. In some cases, they may also use other tactics like throwing rocks or debris onto the road to cause damage. Various incidents of spiking have been reported, predominantly in the R80, N4 and N1 roads. A concentrated police operation conducted on Monday led to the arrest of ten suspects allegedly associated with highway spiking. One more suspect was shot and killed by the police during the operation, after he allegedly attacked the officials.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Enkosi Selane at The Citizen


MINING LABOUR

Mantashe engages with stakeholders over reopening of Lily, Barbrook mines which will allow recovery of three missing bodies

Mining Weekly reports that on Wednesday Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) Minister Gwede Mantashe held a stakeholder engagement session that deliberated on the plans to reopen the Lily and Barbrook gold mines in Mpumalanga. The bodies of the three deceased mineworkers remain trapped underground in a shipping container at the Lily Mine following the collapse of the mine’s crown pillar in 2016. Attended by stakeholders representing Vantage Goldfields, the Lomshiyo Traditional Council, the business rescue practitioner, organised labour and government leaders, the session sought to promote cooperation between all stakeholders involved in the efforts to reopen the two mines. The DMRE has given Vantage Goldfields permission to reopen the mines under Section 11 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act. The company is expected to sink a decline shaft at Lily mine to gain access to the underground workings to retrieve the container and the three missing employees.   “We all agree that at the centre of our work is to reopen Lily mine, retrieve the bodies and bring closure to the affected families and fellow mineworkers,” the DMRE said in a statement.   All stakeholders, including representatives of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and the Congress of South African Trade Unions expressed support and confidence in the efforts to reopen the mines, the DMRE averred.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Mining Weekly

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Siyanda Bakgatla Platinum Mine achieves 3m fatality-free shifts, at Mining Weekly


STEEL WAGE AGREEMENT SLAMMED

Steel and engineering sector faces exodus of skilled artisans in the wake of lacklustre wage deal, says Solidarity

The Star reports that a skills shortage in the steel and engineering industry is said to be looming following the signing of the three-year wage agreement by the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).   These concerns were raised by Solidarity Trades’ Network after Seifsa signed the wage agreement on Monday for the period from 1 July 2024 to 30 June 2027. Workers in Rate A will reportedly get a 6% rise in the first year, followed by a 5% rise in the second and third years. Workers in Rate H, on the other hand, will a 7% rise in the first year, and a 6% rise in the next two years. While many have commended the two organisations for coming to the speedy agreement without clashes or protracted strike action, Solidarity Trades’ Network said they were concerned that the “unacceptable” wage agreement could instead lead to the large-scale emigration of artisans from the country. The union’s Stef Pretorius indicated: “We (The Trades’ Network) are involved in retrenchment processes on a daily basis, and one of the reasons for failed organisations is that skilled workers are not valued, as can be seen by the wage proposal Seifsa made to skilled employees.” According to Solidarity, the main problem with the wage proposal was that the increases applied to the industry’s fixed minimum wage rates and not on employees’ actual wage rates, meaning the increases for skilled workers and artisans would in reality only be between 1% and 2%. Pretorius pointed out that given the industry’s fixed minimum wage rates were outdated and no longer reflected reality, the impact of the proposed increases on skilled employees was huge. Willie Venter, head of the Trades’ Network, added: “The agreement will be the death knell for skills in the metal and engineering industry, all because these short-sighted actions will leave artisans with no choice but to take their skills to other industries and even to other countries where their skills are valued.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Goitsemang Matlhabe at The Star. Read too, Labour taunts government on metalworkers housing as R2 billion deal sprouts, at Business Report


COST OF LIVING / FUEL PRICES

Significant fuel price cuts likely in June, says AA

BusinessLive reports that according to the Automobile Association (AA), motorists can look forward to significant fuel price cuts in June. Based on unaudited midmonth data from the Central Energy Fund (CEF), 95 ULP (unleaded petrol) is expected to drop by about 61c/l, and 93 ULP by about 63c/l.   The wholesale price of diesel is expected to decrease by about 74c/l and the price of illuminating paraffin by 69c/l. The main drivers behind the decreases are a strengthening rand and lower international oil prices. “Movements in international product prices decreased a lot at the beginning of the month resulting in expectant lower fuel prices aided by the downward trajectory of the rand trading stronger against the dollar since the end of last month,” the AA explained. The organisation added: “The expectant decreases are good news for consumers who have been battered and bruised by these prices in the past couple of months. With these expected decreases, the price of 95 ULP will dip slightly to below the R25/l mark and the price of 93 ULP will cost R24.52/l.   While fuel is still more expensive now than it was at the beginning of the year, these forecast decreases do offer some relief.”

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


SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / TRAINING

Tshwane Automotive SEZ celebrates training of first cohort of 526 youths

Engineering News reports that on Tuesday the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (TASEZ) celebrated the first cohort of 526 local youths trained in safety, health, environment and quality to participate in different parts of the automotive value chain. These skills were critical in all aspects of the automotive value chain, said TASEZ CEO Dr Bheka Zulu. The event also saw the formal launch of the TASEZ Academy, with a new bespoke training centre to be built. Students are currently using existing buildings in the automotive manufacturing zone until the new centre has been completed. The TASEZ will rely on sector education and training authorities (Setas) to provide learnership, internship and skills development programmes, as well as coaching and mentoring, until the TASEZ Academy has been built. Subsequent skills development will focus on different technical skills along the automotive value chain and courses are being developed in partnership with the automotive manufacturers and their suppliers to ensure that the skills are not only in demand, but also bolster the local operations of these companies in step with their objectives. "We want our townships and people residing in them to see economic development.   We are committed to developing township economies. Interventions such as skills development initiatives in line with global automotive standards will support economic development in our communities, in Gauteng and the country," Zulu indicated. TASEZ has established a community participation committee (CPC) with the local Mamelodi, Eersterust and Silverton communities. The ownership of the academy is vested with these communities

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

Nasi Ispani gets R8.4bn to train half a million youths in Gauteng

TimesLIVE reports that the Gauteng government has partnered with the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) to introduce another leg of Nasi Ispani, which the government says will result in almost 500,000 youths being trained in specialised skills before being placed in employment. On Wednesday, in the first phase of the Nasi Ispani labour activation programme, more than 7,000 youths gathered at the Rhema Bible Church in Randburg where they filled in forms with the organisations that will provide the skills to help them find jobs. Edward Mosuwe, director-general of Gauteng government, said Nasi Ispani had enabled unemployed people to get jobs that were available in the entire provincial government sphere. In the project, more than 95,000 people found employment but some of the jobs were time bound. “What this programme does is provide for the skilling of young people where they learn skills and, as they go through the programme, they get paid a stipend which differs for each programme,” Mosuwe indicated. He said in Gauteng, the DEL had identified 482,000 skills-training opportunities that would be made available to the youth. The opportunities are also open for those older than 35. The DEL has provided R8.4bn to implement the programme. Nationally, the expenditure stands at R23.7bn on labour activation initiatives. Companies that have partnered with the provincial government were at the venue to meet their prospective trainees face-to-face. Among the many sectors involved were security services, town planning, technological innovation, cosmetics, beauty, industry, farming, real estate, textiles and clothing, finance, and construction.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Penwell Dlamini at SowetanLive

SA’s first centre of specialisation of green hydrogen skills to be created

Mining Weekly reports that Yershen Pillay, CEO of the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA), announced at this week’s Green Hydrogen Roundtable, which was hosted by Nedbank, the establishment of the first centre of specialisation of green hydrogen skills. CHIETA is working on this with the mining and the transport sector education and training authorities (Setas). The need for artisans and electrolyser technicians for what is expected to be a very fruitful new era of significant near-term growth for the SA economy was emphasised by Pillay. He said the centre of specialisation would be able to produce the required technical skills, while many of SA’s chemical engineers could conceivably be upskilled to hydrogen systems engineers. “We need to start planning now for 2030,” said Pillay, who emphasised the absolute necessity of the kind of collaboration that the event exemplified in bringing together banking, industry and government, which was represented at the event by Higher Education and Training deputy director-general Zukile Mvalo. Structured agreements on mining, transport, manufacturing, chemicals and agriculture are emerging and CHIETA has established a R5-million fund with the University of the Witwatersrand to foster more investment into research and development on green hydrogen.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Mining Weekly


OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST

  • The impact of the minimum wage on farmworkers, at Moneyweb
  • South African youth bear the brunt of unemployment, at Cape Times
  • Trade union Uasa concerned about increase in unemployment rate, at The Mercury

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page