DISPUTES, INDUSTRIAL ACTION & DEMONSTRATIONS

Provident fund reform

  • The Treasury announced this week that the retirement system would be vulnerable to “massive leakage” from pension funds to provident funds as a result of the recent postponement of compulsory annuitisation of provident savings on retirement.
  • This is because without annuitisation, provident fund members would benefit unfairly both from the new tax deduction of their contributions and the tax-free status of cash lump sums.
  • Compulsory annuitisation of two-thirds of provident fund savings has been postponed for two years to allow for further consultation with Cosatu.
  • However, during these two years, provident fund members will nonetheless benefit for the first time from the 27.5% tax deduction of their provident fund contributions.
  • The Treasury decided to keep the tax deduction because employers had already changed their IT in preparation for it.
  • Treasury deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat stressed in a briefing to Parliament that the tax-deduction provision would have to be withdrawn in two years if no agreement was reached with trade unions on annuitisation.

 

Pension fund reform for politicians

  • The Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers submitted a proposal to President Zuma for changing the rules of the Political Office Bearers Pension Fund (POBPF) so that the politicians – including the president, ministers, MPs, premiers, MECs and MPLs – could avoid the new taxes which start this month and which could cost them up to R22,000 a month more.

Pretoria bus drivers

  • Drivers of Tshwane’s A Re Yeng bus service are on strike again since Thursday.
  • No reasons for the strike have as yet emerged.

Unisa insourcing dispute resolved

  • The University of SA (Unisa) and representatives of outsourced workers announced that they had resolved their dispute on wage hikes and insourcing of workers.
  • As such the strike has been called off.

JOB MARKET: JOB CREATION & RETRENCHMENTS

Lonmin Restructuring

  • At the end of the Section 189 retrenchment process Lonmin will have 5,183 fewer employees than it did in July last year.
  • At that time, CEO Ben Magara said 6,000 jobs would be affected as the platinum producer would shut three shafts and keep its new K4 mine, which is in development, on care and maintenance.
  • The retrenchment process ended on Monday and Lonmin told the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) that a total of 5,108 people had left the company through voluntary severance packages, early retirement and natural attrition.  A further 1,297 employees had been moved to other mines within the company.  Another 75 people will receive retrenchment letters on Wednesday and leave Lonmin on 4 March.
  • Of the 5,108 people leaving Lonmin, 2,979 were its own employees and 2,129 were contractors.
  • Amcu said it was “delighted” at the low number of forced retrenchments (75).  Lonmin now employs 32,970 people after the restructuring.

SABMiller merger

  • Cosatu has vowed to fight the pending merger between SABMiller PLC, Gutsche Family Investments and Coca-Cola unless a guarantee is given that no jobs would be lost.
  • The federation is worried about the potential devastating impact the merger would have on jobs, small businesses and the economy at large.
  • In a letter to the Competition Tribunal, Cosatu appealed with the entity and the Competition Commission to ensure that there was a binding contract protecting workers.
  • SABMiller announced last year it had accepted a takeover bid by the world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev).

REMUNERATION AND WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Prasa’s protracted suspensions

  • The SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) says it’s not to blame for protracted suspensions at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) after it emerged that over R37 million has been paid in salaries to more than 2,500 suspended Prasa workers.
  • All employees were suspended on full pay, with some of them having been on suspension for more than a year.
  • Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has blamed what she calls “interference” by trade unions for the drawn-out suspensions.  She also blamed a shortage of investigative staff.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Lily Mine

  • Management at the Lily Mine indicated that they are now waiting for a team of experts to give the go-ahead for recovery operations in respect of three mineworkers trapped underground to resume. Initial indications are however that the rescue shaft is not considered safe.
  • On Thursday, drilling of an emergency escape shaft was completed and declared safe.  Experts are combing the scene underground, assessing the safety of the mine near Barberton, where Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyerende and Yvonne Mnisi have been trapped in a container for almost a month.
  • The team is expected to report back to the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the families of the trio, with readings on the stability of the ground.

UNION POLITICS

Limusa’s dismissed president

  • The Liberated Metalworkers Union of SA (Limusa) says it will refer the unfair dismissal case of its president, Siboniso Mdletshe, to the Labour Court.
  • This decision follows a ruling issued by the Metal Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) that Mdletshe’s dismissal from automation company ABB was automatically an unfair dismissal.
  • Mdletshe was dismissed for alleged gross misconduct involving membership forms, and for encouraging workers from supplier companies to join Limusa.
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