DISPUTES, INDUSTRIAL ACTION & DEMONSTRATIONS

NUM and Afrisam in Northern Cape

  • The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) picketed outside Afrisam’s mine near Ulco in the Northern Cape on Thursday, accusing the company of racism.
  • This came after five white employees allegedly called their black colleagues baboons, and other derogatory names.
  • Angry union members demanded the immediate dismissal of the five employees, as well as their manager and HR personnel.

Lonmin miners hijack Marikana houses

  • Lonmin mineworkers have allegedly hijacked some of the 292 RDP homes that were meant for destitute families in Marikana, North West.
  • The illegal occupation started this week when people believed to be Lonmin employees broke into some of the unfinished homes in Marikana West.
  • The illegal takeover escalated to chaos as legitimate beneficiaries were kicked out and forced to find alternative accommodation.
  • Marikana West remained tense on Thursday.
  • The provincial human settlement department is reportedly drawing up a court application to have the illegal occupants evicted.
  • Wonderkop ward councillor Sivuyile Mpongwana blamed Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) leader Joseph Mathunjwa for hijacking a government initiative and making it theirs.
  • Lonmin spokesman Happy Nkhoma said the confusion was caused by a breakdown in communication between them and their employees.

Pikitup workers on strike again

  • Employees of waste management company Pikitup have again embarked on an illegal strike, resulting in service delivery disruptions around Johannesburg.
  • Pikitup’s Jacky Mashapu said workers stopped working on Thursday and added:  “Every effort is being made to speedily address this unsolicited work stoppage.”
  • But officials of the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) on Thursday said that their members had not downed tools, but instead had been attending a disciplinary hearing.
  • Samwu members apparently laid criminal charges against Pikitup managing director Amanda Nair on Thursday.  They also demanded that charges against shop stewards be scrapped.

Truck drivers in Limpopo

  • Apparently more than 600 truck drivers employed by Ngululu Bulk Carries Transport Company contracted to mining companies in Limpopo have embarked on an illegal strike.
  • Drivers allege that the company based at Steelpoort outside Burgersfort reduced its fleet, which affected their working hours and wages.
  • The drivers, who are affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and who embarked on the illegal strike on Monday, allege that the management is refusing to discuss the matter.
  • Ngululu Bulk Carries Transport Company CEO Ailwei Freddy Sinthumule indicated that the drivers have been dismissed.
  • He claimed that they embarked on an illegal strike while management was busy negotiating with them on retrenchments.

Cosatu plans general strike on 1 March

  • Labour federation Cosatu is planning a general strike for 1 March to protest recent retirement law reforms.
  • Speaking at a briefing following a special central executive committee meeting on Wednesday, Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said the federation was gearing up to ensure “the shortest, quickest way that workers interests are protected on this issue”.
  • Cosatu was scheduled to meet at Nedlac on Friday to discuss its ‘section 77’ notice for a socioeconomic strike in March.
  • Cosatu is also planning for pickets outside the Treasury in coming weeks.

Walkout threats at PE’s Dora Nginza Hospital

  • Threats of a mass exodus of doctors and a potentially crippling strike at Port Elizabeth’s Dora Nginza Hospital have forced Bhisho to take immediate steps to address staff grievances.
  • A recent visit to the hospital by the Eastern Cape portfolio committee on health laid bare debilitating problems, including critical equipment and supply shortages.
  • The hastily arranged visit came about as a result of a litany of concerns raised with the committee by unions and staff.
  • As a result of the intervention, the Department of Health, unions and staff were expected to sign a plan setting out a strategy to fix most of the problems.

JOB MARKET: JOB CREATION & RETRENCHMENTS

Eskom’s additional tariff hike will cost 40,000 mining jobs

  • The Chamber of Mines of SA (CoM) warned on Thursday that a further 8% hike in Eskom’s electricity tariffs could cost up to 40,000 jobs in the gold and precious metals sectors.
  • It also said Eskom’s increase application, which is under consideration by the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa), would merely reward Eskom for operational and budgetary failures.
  • If the 8% tariff hike is approved, it will take the annual tariff increase to 16.6%.
  • This would jeopardise an additional 20,000 of the 119,000 jobs remaining in the gold sector, and another 20,000 of the 189,000 jobs in the platinum sector, the CoM indicated. 

South32 restructuring, inclusive of 620 SA layoffs

  • South32 announced major restructuring plans for its South African manganese division, which included laying off 620 employees.
  • Samancor Manganese is the joint venture between South32 and Anglo American and the world’s largest producer of manganese, largely used in the making of steel and aluminium.
  • It has operations in SA and Australia.  South32 was spun off from conglomerate BHP Billiton last year.

Kumba and the EFF

  • The Economic Freedom Fighters says they will stop at nothing to prevent Kumba Iron Ore from going ahead with their intended massive job cuts.
  • A handful of members of the EFF picketed outside the mine’s premises in Kathu in the Northern Cape on Wednesday morning.
  • Kumba recently announced that 4 000 jobs will be cut, a decision influenced by lower iron ore price and increasing operating costs.

LEGAL

City of Cape Town official faces ‘R70m fraud’ hearing

  • The City of Cape Town says a disciplinary hearing has been constituted against one of its administrators, Paul Hatting, who was arrested for alleged fraud of R70 million.
  • He allegedly awarded tenders to his company, his wife’s company and his girlfriend’s company between 2008 and 2014.
  • Hatting, along with his wife and girlfriend, were released on R50,000 bail each after they appeared in the Bellville Commercial Court for fraud and corruption charges.
  • The three will appear in court again on 17 March.

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Minimum farmworkers’ wages

  • The Labour Minister, Mildred Oliphant, has increased the minimum wage for farmworkers and labourers in the forestry sectors by just under R1 for an hour’s work.
  • In a statement on Wednesday, the department said the wages would increase from R13.30 an hour to R14.25 an hour.
  • Monthly wages would go up from R2,772.33 to R2,778.83.
  • Weekly workers would be entitled to R641.32 and those who worked one nine-hour-day would receive a daily wage of R128.26.
  • The changes will come into effect on 1 March.

HEALTH & SAFETY

Trapped miners at Lily mine rescued

  • All mineworkers trapped underground after the Lily Mine in Mpumalanga’s Nkomazi area collapsed on Friday morning have been rescued, paramedics said.  “Initial reports were 100 were trapped, what we now know is 76 were trapped underground and all 76 were brought to the surface,” ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring said.
  • However, there were still three people unaccounted for, but they were not miners, he indicated.
  • The three were in what was called a lamp room which also collapsed.  Meiring said efforts to find the three were still under way.

Illegal mining contractor dies in Sibanye mine

  • A worker was killed in a rockfall and another injured when an illegal mining operation went wrong at Sibanye Gold’s Cooke mine, the company said on Wednesday.
  • The two contractors had been trapped by a fall of ground at Sibanye Gold’s Cooke 1 Shaft in Westonaria, west of Johannesburg, since Monday afternoon.
  • Rescue then commenced immediately.
  • Sbanye’s James Wellsted said one of the trapped workers was declared dead on Wednesday morning at around 7am, while another was airlifted to hospital with severe injuries.
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