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


GEORGE BUILDING COLLAPSE

Don’t worry, the government will help, Ramaphosa tells families of victims of collapsed George building

News24 reports that the families of the 33 people killed when a building under construction collapsed in George have been reassured they will receive assistance from the government. President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the scene of the tragedy on Thursday and met with grieving family members. By Thursday, only 47 of the 62 recovered bodies had been formally identified by their families. Of the 81 people estimated to have been on site at the time of the collapse, only 29 were pulled from the rubble alive. Nineteen remain unaccounted for, while the death toll sits at 33.   During his visit, Ramaphosa assured the bereaved families the government would provide them with assistance, including the repatriation of bodies. He told the families there would be assistance for burials, and compensation would be given where it was available. Deputy International Relations and Cooperation Minister Alvin Botes said that, among the victims, were people from Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho and Zimbabwe. He advised that consular services were activated to engage with the embassies of the relevant countries to assist with the repatriation of bodies. Botes called on the employers of the victims to show "ubuntu diplomacy", and to assist with the repatriation of the bodies. The number of bodies needing to be repatriated still has to be determined.   "We are still in recovery and rescue mode, and we'll be able to know our definitive figures by the end of the weekend," Botes indicated. Ramaphosa said it might "take some time" to examine the cause of the accident and who might be responsible. He pleaded with family members to have patience, saying government officials would be as transparent as possible with the process.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nicole McCain at News24

Rescue workers searching two remaining sections at George building collapse site

Engineering News reports that the George municipality says about 2,500 t of building rubble have been removed from the site of the collapsed building in the town, which has so far claimed the lives of 33 people.   As rescuers neared day ten of rescue and recovery efforts, about 500 t of rubble remained on site. The municipality pointed out that the site had been divided into six sections for the purposes of the rescue operation.   Two of the six sections have not yet been fully cleared down to the basement level and that work continued.   Of the 81 people on site when the building collapsed on the afternoon of 6 May, 19 are still unaccounted for, 12 are in hospital and 33 have died. President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the site on Thursday, along with other ministers and Western Cape Premier Alan Winde.

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

Other internet posting(s) in this news category


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY

Labour department investigates Gqeberha steel plant after two employees burn to death in furnace

News24 reports that the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) has launched an investigation after two employees fell into a furnace and burnt to death at a Gqeberha steel plant on Tuesday. The nightmare unfolded shortly after 13:00 when the police and emergency services were called to Agni Steels, formerly Coega Steels Limited, on the city's outskirts. Lizo Njamela, a local resident who worked as a dishwasher at the factory, died in the incident. The second deceased will only be identified after the company has notified his family. Two other men sustained burn wounds and were rushed to hospital. On Wednesday afternoon, police spokesperson Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said details surrounding the incident were sketchy.   She said authorities had no idea whether an explosion had caused the men to fall into the furnace or whether something else had transpired. After the company alerted the DEL, inspectors were immediately sent to the site to start a preliminary investigation. They met with employer representatives, safety officers and a SAPS investigation team. The incident came almost three years after DEL inspectors issued a prohibition notice to the company when it was found to have flouted various health and safety regulations.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Candice Bezuidenhout at News24


STEEL & ENGINEERING DEAL QUESTIONED

Solidarity slams ‘wage arrangement’ between Seifsa and Numsa and is in talks with like-minded employer organisations

BL Premium reports that trade union Solidarity, which represents mostly skilled artisans and engineers in the steel and engineering sector, has come out against the multi-term, above-inflation wage deal signed by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa), dismissing it as a “wage arrangement” between the two parties. Numsa, which speaks for the majority of workers in the Metals and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC), and Seifsa signed a pay deal on Monday for increases of 7%, 6% and 6% a year over each of three years, beating the prevailing consumer inflation rate of 5.3%.   However, the wage deal, effective from 1 July 2024 to 30 June 2027, is based on the minimum rates of pay and not on actual rates of pay, a move that forced Solidarity to reject it.   Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis pointed out on Thursday that a 6% increase on the R98 per hour that skilled employees earned translated to a mere increase of R5.88c. “That’s an average increase of 3%. The higher you go [earn] the lower the percentage increase. Highly skilled artisans and engineers will end up getting exceptionally low increases. So, we said you can’t sign an anti-artisan or anti-skilled worker agreement,” said Du Plessis. He added that Solidarity did not like what had been happening “behind-the-scenes, as there seems to have been a deal between Seifsa and Numsa, outside the bargaining process with regards to the housing issue”. He went on to say: “This was not a wage negotiation. There was a wage arrangement made outside the plenary between Seifsa and Numsa.   We are all uncomfortable.” Du Plessis reported that Solidarity on Thursday commenced with consultations with like-minded employer organisations “who are concerned at the way the negotiations were conducted and the agreement concluded”.

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


PIKITUP INDUSTRIAL ACTION

Further refuse collection delays for Joburg residents after Pikitup strike entered second day on Thursday

News24 reports that residents in Johannesburg have been warned that refuse collection may be delayed further after a two-day strike.   Workers contracted to Pikitup have accused the City of Johannesburg's waste management entity of exploiting them for poor pay, and selling jobs to contractors. Contract workers took to the streets on Wednesday and were back on Thursday, demanding an audience with the entity. Videos on social media showed trash-strewn streets as protesters marched to the Pikitup offices in Braamfontein. Pikitup said its services would be disrupted in some parts because casual workers "whose contracts are about to expire are forcefully demanding jobs". In a statement on Thursday, the entity said casual workers and members of the community around Norwood, Marlboro, Waterval, Selby, Randburg, Midrand and Diepsloot depots were protesting outside the gates "preventing Pikitup employees from servicing residents". "Pikitup management is actively exploring various options to normalise the situation and restore service delivery in the affected depot areas," Pikitup said. On Wednesday, protesting workers said the entity's management did not accept their memorandum. But, on Thursday, the general secretary of the Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Union of SA (Demawusa), Meshack Ntshauba, advised that contract workers were able to meet with City leaders. Ntshauba said the contractors were demanding permanent employment, personal protective equipment and an investigation into allegations of corruption.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Alex Patrick at News24. See too, Pikitup accused of ‘selling jobs for R5,000’ while frustrated workers trash Joburg streets, at The Citizen


MINING

Anglo American says it will freeze hiring globally

Reuters reports that Anglo American confirmed on Thursday that it has suspended hiring globally as it gets plans under way to simplify itself, build value and avert a R785bn takeover bid by Australia’s BHP. Anglo laid out plans on Tuesday to refocus its company on energy transition metal (copper) while spinning out or selling off its less profitable coal, nickel, diamond and platinum businesses.   “Having set out the results of our strategy review and the changes we will be making to our portfolio, this (a hiring freeze) is an appropriate measure. Clearly there will be exceptions for critical roles,” an Anglo spokesperson indicated. Reuters had earlier reported the hiring freeze based on an internal memo from people and organisation director Monique Carter, who wrote: “Following yesterday’s announcement of our plans to unlock significant value through a simplification of our portfolio … it is appropriate that we put in place a freeze on the recruitment of all non site-based permanent employees and contractors across all businesses and group functions. In instances where formal written offers have been made to a candidate, we will honour those commitments however no new offers should be made.” Site-based employees are workers who are based at mines. Anglo employs about 60,000 staff globally of which slightly more than half are based in SA. Australia’s mining and energy union said on Wednesday it would seek urgent meetings with Anglo to discuss workers’ job security.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Scott Murdoch & Melanie Burton at BusinessLive

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining

  • Mashatile says Jagersfontein house rebuilding project is advancing, at Mining Weekly


JOBS PROTEST INTERDICTED

ANC gets court interdict to stop job seekers from protesting outside Luthuli House

City Press writes that the ANC has reportedly been granted an interdict against a group of security contractors who have been randomly protesting outside the ruling party’s headquarters at Luthuli House in Johannesburg. The protesters have been identified as members of the SA Cleaners Security and Allied Workers Union (Sacsaawu). On 9 May, the ANC headed to the Gauteng High Court to interdict the arbitrary protests, citing that the gatherings were dangerous and unlawful. The ANC’s lawyer Ephraim Malapane confirmed that an urgent interdict was granted on the same day of the application. “Yes, the interdict was granted by Judge (Raylene) Kightly at the South Gauteng High Court,” he stated. After the Gauteng provincial Treasury's alleged failure to renew the disgruntled contractors' agreement, they started protesting outside the premises of the ANC in an attempt to get the party to put pressure on the Treasury to reinstate their contracts. “Treasury has since ended the contracts, and they are actively instigating unlawful acts. They have also acted in contravention of the by-laws relating to hygiene and other health-related matters,” the interdict application indicated. It added that the contractors were seeking undue political intervention for entities such as the Gauteng provincial department of health to absorb them. “As it can also be seen on social media platforms that they are seen staying overnight, sleeping in front of the building, making fires, cooking and eating... These are acts of public indecency, violating the rights of the ANC and its employees and blocking access to the offices,” the application added. Sacsaawu representatives did not respond to enquiries about the matter.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mduduzi Nonyane at City Press (subscriber access only)


TOP UCT APPOINTMENT

UCT council appoints top University of KwaZulu-Natal academic as its new vice-chancellor

News24 reports that the council of the University of Cape Town (UCT) has appointed top University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) academic and clinician scientist Professor Mosa Moshabela as its new vice-chancellor.   The appointment was apparently made by the UCT's council on Wednesday evening. Moshabela, who is UKZN's deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation, was among three final shortlisted candidates for the top post.   The other two were Professor Nosisi Nellie Feza, deputy vice-chancellor for research and postgraduate studies at the University of Venda, and Professor José Frantz, deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation at the University of the Western Cape.   The institution has been without a vice-chancellor for more than a year after Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng took early retirement in March 2023. A report released in October 2023 by an independent panel that conducted a probe into UCT governance found that the council headed by Babalwa Ngonyama, as well as the previous council, led by Sipho Pityana, failed to hold Phakeng to account and "to take the necessary steps to terminate her contract despite the risks that her behaviour posed for UCT". Professor Daya Reddy was appointed interim vice-chancellor after Phakeng's departure.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Prega Govender at News24


‘SCHOOLS CAPTURE’

Solidarity vows to strenuously fight BELA legislation

Maroela Media reports that Solidarity said on Thursday that the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill – better known as BELA – was nothing less than “capturing of schools”. The trade union is one of several organisations that leveled heavy criticism after the proposed legislation was approved by the National Assembly (NA) on Thursday. The Bill was approved by 223 votes in favour and 78 against. It still requires President Cyril Ramaphosa’s signature in order to become law. A meeting between Solidarity, civil rights organisation AfriForum and the Solidarity Support Centre for Schools (SCS), which are joining forces in a legal battle against the legislation, took place on the same day that the Bill was approved. Court documents challenging BELA have apparently been prepared. “We are now seeing the dawn of a tragic new era.   This is capturing of schools.   The new amended BELA Bill leaves no doubt that the head of the Department of Basic Education has the final authority of language and admission,” Dr Dirk Hermann, chief executive of Solidarity stated. He added that it was clear that the government was now breaching an agreement which had been concluded in 1994 on the protection of language and culture.   According to him, “communities are, however, not going to simply accept the government’s attempt to gain control of their schools as well as the brazen breach of the 1994 settlement.”   Hermann went on to indicate: “The government is going to realise that it has underestimated the value of education for the Afrikaans community … The battle begins now and one of the concrete actions of this process will be litigation.”

Read the full original of the above report in Afrikaans by Mariska Nanni at Maroela Media. Read Solidarity’s press statement on this matter at Politicsweb


‘TWO-POT’ RETIREMENT SYSTEM

Two-pot retirement system a signature away as Pension Fund Amendment Bill clears last hurdle

Fin24 reports that retirement fund administrators will soon be able to officially implement the new two-pot system for their members after the National Assembly passed the Pension Fund Amendment Bill (PFAB) with amendments on Thursday. The passing of the PFAB, which allows for the necessary amendments of retirement rules, only requires President Cyril Ramaphosa's assent before it becomes law.   Meanwhile, the Revenue Laws Amendment Bill (RLAB), which officially introduces the retirement system, also requires Ramaphosa's assent after it was passed by the National Council of Provinces earlier this year. The implementation date for the two-pot system is 1 September this year. A majority of parties, including the ANC, DA and EFF, supported the passing of the Bill. With the introduction of the system, members' retirement fund contributions will be divided into a savings component and a retirement component.   After the system is introduced, members will be able to withdraw 10% of their savings, or a maximum of R30 000, from their savings component. A minimum amount of R2,000 will be necessary in the savings pot for members to be eligible for withdrawal of funds.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Na'ilah Ebrahim at Fin24


NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

SA Medical Association to mount legal challenge against the NHI

News24 reports that the SA Medical Association (SAMA) has announced it will be mounting a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the National Health Insurance (NHI). This was announced by SAMA's chairperson, Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa, during a webinar on the NHI on Thursday evening. President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the NHI Bill into law on Wednesday.   Mzukwa said the NHI would fail to address SA’s health system issues and added: "The NHI is not a viable solution to realise universal health coverage for the South African population. As the South African Medical Association, we believe it is our duty to advocate for equitable access to affordable essential healthcare services - and it is a cause we are ready to fight for." SAMA's CEO, Dr Mzulungile Nodikida, stressed that they were not opposing universal health coverage. He elaborated as follows: “Even though we support the overarching principles and objectives of the NHI, in its current form it really fails to address the county's complex health issues. So we just can't support it in its current form.” Without giving too much away about the legal challenge, legal expert Elsabe Klinck said SAMA would launch a constitutional challenge against the NHI.   The move by SAMA comes as no surprise, as it has repeatedly raised its concerns about the NHI in its current format.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Alex Mitchley at News24

'Please don’t cancel your medical aid,' urges Phaahla after NHI Act given green light

News24 reports that Health Minister Joe Phaahla has advised South Africans to hold on to their medical aid schemes until the National Health Insurance (NHI) Act is fully implemented. Speaking to the media after President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law the NHI Act on Wednesday, Phaahla said the government would communicate when medical aid schemes were no longer relevant. He advised: "Keep your medical scheme. Everything will be transparent, the Medical Schemes Council and the ministry will communicate when all basic services are covered. Hopefully, by 2028, those announcements will be made. Please don't throw away your medical schemes, and don't stop paying your debit orders tomorrow [Thursday]." The legislation was signed into law despite threats by Business Unity SA, trade union Solidarity, the DA and other organisations to challenge the legislation in court. Business and healthcare bodies have warned that implementing the NHI would knock investment confidence and result in a mass exodus of doctors from the country. Phaahla said criticism of the legislation was driven by people with "serious vested interests". The law, he said, would assist the government in building a legal framework for a system that would ultimately achieve equitable access to health facilities countrywide. Deputy Health Minister Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said those who intended to challenge the act in court were not picking holes in the process: "They are not saying that we flouted the process. The process was clear legally. They might be going to court to argue the content, but none of them will say they were left behind.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Amanda Khoza at News24


FAKE COPS ARRESTED

Three suspects who pretended to be policemen to gain entry to a victim’s house arrested for kidnapping

The Citizen reports that three persons who posed as police officers have been remanded in custody for a kidnapping. The Hawks from the Newcastle Serious Organised Crime Investigation on Wednesday arrested 40-year-old Irfan Ullah khan, 49-year-old Saif Ullah and 22-year-old Ali Rao Raza for kidnapping, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, malicious damage to property as well as attempted murder. The trio allegedly committed the crimes in Ladysmith in January this year.   According to Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Simphiwe Mhlongo, the three went to a victim’s residence in Newcastle pretending to be police officers and demanding entry into the home.   “They kicked the door opened and forcefully took him [the victim]. They drove to the Madadeni area in Newcastle where he was severely beaten with hockey sticks. He was left helpless on the roadside and was assisted by a person who was passing by.   He was taken to hospital for medical attention,” he indicated. A case of kidnapping was reported at Ladysmith police station. The case was postponed to 23 May for bail applications.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Faizel Patel at The Citizen

See too, Trio pretending to be cops arrested for kidnapping and attempted murder in Ladysmith, at IOL News


OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST

  • Why SA needs more detectives to fight alarming crime levels, at City Press
  • KZN teacher fired after explicit WhatsApps, allegedly showing schoolgirl penis during video call, at News24
  • SIU fails to get interim interdict to stop Lepelle Northern Water employee from drawing pension, at News24

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page