Sunday 11 October 2015

Issues covered

Headlines

COSATU and Numsa marches

The Cosatu marches in both Cape Town and Johannesburg were not well attended with about 3,000 people participating in the Johannesburg march. Cosatu supporters handed over memoranda to Telkom, Prasa and Eskom, the Premier’s office, the banking sector and the Department of Labour.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) used the opportunity to urge Sibanye Gold to sign the wage agreement at the Chamber with the Num instead of waiting for Amcu to also first agree. It also lashed out at the Chamber of Mines which the union says is resisting transformation.

In the meantime it seems that the Numsa arranged marches in Pretoria and Cape Town will proceed on Wednesday this week.

Chamber of Mines: Coal

Coal workers last Sunday went on strike over higher wages after the CCMA issued a strike certificate following failed conciliation between the parties.

The strike has affected Anglo Coal, Exxaro Coal, Glencore and other smaller coal companies. The NUM indicated that its latest demand for its lowest-paid members was for increases of R1,000 a month, which amounted to about 13% according to the NUM.

The Chamber made a revised offer to the NUM on Thursday last week which was discussed with the union on Friday. The NUM however indicated on Friday that it would continue with the strike since Glencore did not revise its offer.

Retrenchment

Telkom

Solidarity has cautioned that 255 former Telkom employees transferred to business process outsourcing company WNS earlier this year as part of the telecoms group’s Section 197 business transfer process are likely to lose their jobs.

This came after WNS last week issued a notice stating its intention to consolidate its operations. According to the union, WNS planned to consolidate the nine existing Telkom service centres with the two existing WNS service centres, resulting in the impending relocation of the Telkom service centres in Gauteng, Bloemfontein and Cape Town to Durban and Port Elizabeth.

Employees who did not accept voluntary severance packages or who could not be transferred were likely to be retrenched, the union held. This followed the issuing of a similar notice by Barloworld Logistics last month, in which the logistics company outlined that a planned reduction in its work premises from 35 to 17 would likely result in the retrenchment of around 112 former Telkom employees who had been transferred to Barloworld Logistics as part of the business transfer process.

Solidarity however said that WNS may not, in terms of the Labour Relations Act, retrench former Telkom employees that had been transferred under the restructuring.

Strikes & Protest Action

Johannesburg City Power

City Power assured clients that it has contingency plans in place to ensure that the city’s power supply is not disrupted during a planned strike by the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) due to commence on Monday, 19 October 2015.

It has also reiterated its warning that any disruption would constitute an act of sabotage. City Power warned in a statement: “The threats that have been attributed to the union of a total blackout would, if correct‚ constitute an act of sabotage against the City of Johannesburg and its residents.

The utility also advised that it has asked Samwu to provide concrete evidence to support the union’s allegations concerning the integrity of the MD‚ Sicelo Xulu, but this has not been forthcoming. Samwu has accused City Power of failing to address issues of corruption.

It also insists that the strike action would be legal, but the CCMA has seemingly not issued a certificate to that effect.

Ceres fruit growers

In Ceres, more than 1,200 Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) members have been on strike for almost a month.

The union initially asked for a 12.5% wage increase and a share in profits, but has revised its demands to a 9% rise, a once-off bonus when employees return to work, and funeral cover.

The company (Ceres Fruit Growers Association) has tabled an improved offer of 8% plus benefits, which apparently amounts to a total year-on-year wage cost increase of more than 10%.

Limpopo Department of Public Works

Six protesting employees from Limpopo’s Department of Public Works were arrested for public violence in Polokwane.

The protest started when disgruntled members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) locked two entry points to the department’s headquarters with locks and chains, demanding that Public Works MEC Jerry Ndou respond to their grievances.

Department head Kate Machaba was trapped inside and other senior management members were barred from entering the building.

When Ndou arrived he was met with protesters chanting in the streets. The disgruntled employees complained that the department had allocated performance bonuses unfairly to senior managers. They also want the department to fill vacant positions.

It took police more than an hour to cut the locks and make the arrests. Outside the building, protesters resisted arrest and a scuffle broke out between union leaders trying to stop the arrests and police officers.

Kumba

Solidarity has referred a case on behalf of 97 of its members employed by the Sishen iron ore mine (part of Kumba) to the Labour Court.

It claims that the members did not receive their full performance evaluation bonuses, to which they had been entitled, for two years. The union’s total claim amounts to R10.7-million. The disputed appointments are for cleaners and kitchen staff.

General

Ceppwawu

Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu) will find out this week whether it will be given a chance to get its house in order or be placed under administration.

The union has been handed a potential lifeline by acting labour registrar Malixole Ntleki, who in Labour Court papers has requested that he be allowed to make amendments to the original application made by the Department of Labour against the union.

Newly reinstated labour registrar Johan Crouse, who was removed from the position in July for apparently defying orders not to pursue the Ceppwawu litigation, had wanted the court to give him the powers to place the union under administration.

Ntleki said in court papers that he was of the opinion “it would not be prudent to place the first applicant (Ceppwawu) under administration”. He has instead suggested an alternative remedial action for the union, which has failed to convene regular constitutional meetings, among other contraventions.

Conditions of withdrawal of the application as it stood are that Ceppwawu should convene and hold the relevant meetings to enable it to provide the registrar with proper audited financial statements for the years from 2010 to 2014. The conditions would have to be adhered to within three months, failing which, the union would be placed under administration.

The labour department has also said it will appeal against last week’s Labour Court judgment that reinstated Crouse to his former position. Ceppwawu also apologised earlier in the week to employees for (yet again) paying salaries late.