DISPUTES, INDUSTRIAL ACTION & DEMONSTRATIONS

iSithebe riots (KwaZulu-Natal)

  • Cosatu has expressed concern about job losses if companies quit iSithebe (near Mandini on the North Coast) in the wake of the rioting and looting which has destroyed millions of rands in property.
  • KwaZulu-Natal secretary Edwin Mkhize said the closure of factories, after looting, rioting, striking, would leave many of the 20,000 people employed in the industrial area out of work.
  • The protests started last Sunday and since then business has ceased and schools have closed.

Sit-in at Keaton’s Vaalkrantz colliery

  • Production at Keaton Energy’s Vaalkrantz Anthracite Colliery was not much affected by an illegal underground sit-in which took place last week.
  • A number of workers, employed by the liquidated Nasonti Mining Services and contracted to Keaton subsidiary Leeuw Mining & Exploration, embarked on the protest over a pay dispute which arose on 29 February.
  • The employees only agreed to exit the underground workings after Leeuw’s mine management presented a proposed three-part resolution plan.

Pikitup illegal strike

  • Pikitup employees belonging to SAMWU (SA Municipal Workers’ Union) embarked on illegal strike action whilst negotiations regarding wages and benchmarking were in progress.
  • They were given an ultimatum to return to work by Thursday afternoon, which they ignored.

Tshwane’s bus strike

  • The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) has questioned Tshwane Metro claim that a strike by bus drivers was caused by rivalry between two unions affiliated to labour federation Cosatu.
  • According to the metro, the strike action was the result of an on-going recognition dispute between Samwu and the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu).
  • Samwu regional secretary Mpho Tladinyana claimed the strike was triggered by the company contracted to operate the Tshwane Rapid Bus Service.

Effect of Nehawu, Sasco presence at Unisa

  • The EFF Students Command (EFFSC) said on Monday that the presence of the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) and Sasco at the University of SA (Unisa) was likely to cause serious tension.
  • This came as issues ranging from outsourcing, language policies and salary demands remain unresolved at the institution, which saw operations suspended last week amid the continuation of protests.
  • EFFSC chairperson at Unisa, Neo Hlabirwa, said on Monday:  “As things stand, the protest action by workers continues, while a meeting to deal with student issues has been scheduled for Tuesday morning.”
  • Commenting on Sasco and Nehawu members, Hlabirwa said:  “We are likely to see ugly scenes if our members are provoked.  We do not want violence, but if we are provoked, we will confront them.”

JOB MARKET: JOB CREATION & RETRENCHMENTS

ARM Job Cuts

  • African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) announced on Friday its first-half profit halved due to sharply softer commodity prices, prompting layoffs and costs cuts to stay afloat.
  • The company said it would cut jobs at its platinum mines Modikwa and Nkomati, Beeshoek iron ore mine and Khumani chrome mines, but did not say how many positions were on the line.
  • ARM, which has interests in platinum, iron ore, coal, copper, and gold saw lower prices in all of its commodities except for chrome.
  • The company operates joint ventures with Anglo American Platinum, Assore, Impala Platinum, Glencore and Vale.

Agreement at UMK regarding job cuts

  • United Manganese of Kalahari and the NUM as well as Employee Consultative Forum at the Northern Cape mine, reached agreement regarding the offering of voluntary packages to avoid forced retrenchment at the manganese producer.
  • The parties will review the success of the agreement towards monthend to determine if there still will be a need for forced retrenchment.

REMUNERATION AND WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Hawks’ arrested seven Impala Workers Fund trustees

  • More facts are emerging regarding certain trustees on the board of the Impala Workers Provident Fund (IWPF) having allegedly solicited R2 million in bribes from an insurance company that administers the fund.
  • The seven trustees are believed to be Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) members, although that has not been confirmed.
  • It appears that these trustees have solicited an insurance provider for bribes amounting to R5,000 per month per individual (R35,000 combined) to keep the service provider approved by the fund.
  • They did not have access to the insurance premiums paid by the members and workers savings not at risk.
  • Amcu is instituting its own investigation into the matter and will work closely with the police.

Increase in February year-on-year pay

  • Data published in the BankservAfrica Disposable Salary Index (BDSI) shows that South Africans working in the formal sector took home 8,7% more money in February than they did a year ago.
  • This means that, despite the inflationary increase, take-home pay also rose by about 2.3% above the inflation rate to an average of R13,511 in January 2016.
  • Banked pensions on average increased by 6.9% on a year ago to R6,131.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

36% rise in mine fatalities

  • Speaking at the SA Colliery Management Association’s 2016 CoalSafe conference in Secunda, Department of Mineral Resources Mpumalanga principal mines inspector Elliot Letsoko lamented the tragic loss of life that had already occurred this year.
  • This year has seen 15 mining-related deaths to date, up 36% from the 11 fatalities recorded between 1 January and 7 March 2015. He pointed out that the coal sector was the worst-performing sector in terms of lives lost, claiming seven lives to date – a 133% increase in fatalities from the three lives lost during the same period in 2015.
  • There was also a 100% increase in fatalities in the gold sector, with six deaths recorded to date (excludes Lily Mine) compared with three deaths recorded during the same period in 2015.
  • Yet, several coal miners achieved more than one year without recording any fatalities.
  • There have been no fatalities recorded in the platinum sector this year to date, compared with three fatalities during the same period in 2015.

UNION POLITICS

Doctors’ trade union SAMA dissolved

  • The South African Medical Association (SAMA) trade union has been dissolved as the organisation admits to service delivery challenges to members under its current model.
  • The move will have a number of ripple effects, including Cosatu’s loss of an affiliate.
  • Public sector doctors were the union’s main members, while specialist and private practice general practitioners were catered for within other divisions of the association.
  • SAMA’s board of directors said after a number of failed attempts to expand the union’s functions and structures, it had decided to move the public sector doctors back into the main organisation.
  • It is unclear what will become of existing union leaders who were elected in line with the union’s constitution.
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