DISPUTES, INDUSTRIAL ACTION & DEMONSTRATIONS

Pikitup strike

  • Negotiations to end the four-week strike between Johannesburg waste-management company Pikitup, the City of Johannesburg and workers affiliated to SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) broke down again late Thursday.
  • Pikitup blamed Samwu for the breakdown, alleging it was not being flexible during negotiations, while the union claimed the company was negotiating in bad faith.
  • About 4,000 Pikitup workers went on an unprotected strike on 9 March, demanding wage hikes from R6,000 to R10,000 a month and that MD Amanda Nair, whom they accuse of graft, should step down.
  • This was the fourth strike by Pikitup workers since November 2015 over the same reasons, though Nair was cleared by the courts on charges of corruption.
  • It is also reported that Pikitup on Thursday paid salaries to its workers as normal despite them having been on strike for most of March.

Wonderfontein Coal Mine (Umsimbithi)

  • Production at Wonderfontein Coal Mine in Mpumalanga has been halted for nearly three weeks with more than 260 workers affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on strike.
  • The strike is as part of Amcu’s wage demands in Shanduka but is also now affecting Wonderfontein (seemingly the contractors at Wonderfontein is intimidated not to go to work).
  • Shanduka workers want their basic monthly salary to be doubled from R4,000 to R8,000 and also asking for medical aid, transport and housing allowances.
  • The strike has been marred by acts of violence.

Botselo Milling (Delareyville, NorthWest)

  • Striking workers at Botselo Milling in Delareyville have burnt out two company trucks, and have continued with their three week strike action despite a court order.
  • The strike is marred to date with acts of violence, intimidation and damage to property.
  • Of concern is the involvement of the EFF in the strike, something that is recurring more and more in strike action.

Nelson Mandela Bay contract workers

  • Two groups of contract workers protested outside the Nelson Mandela Bay council chambers on Wednesday, pleading with the municipality to hire them permanently.
  • About 30 of the 50 protesters were people working as ward councillors’ assistants or cleaners.  The rest were water meter readers employed by a company contracted to the city.

UNTU rail strike

  • The strike planned for 4 April by members of railway workers’ union Untu (United National Transport Union) has been suspended.
  • This follows talks between the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and Untu and the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) on Wednesday.
  • Prasa spokesman Victor Dlamini said all parties had agreed that the matters that were the subject of a strike certificate issued to Untu were not insurmountable and that they could be resolved through negotiations.
  • The parties further agreed that they would participate in a resolution process that would take place from Monday to Wednesday next week.
  • In the event that the matters are not resolved in those three days, the parties agreed to engage for an additional period on 7 and 8 April.
  • Satawu indicated that it was not in support of a strike because it has full confidence in the bargaining forum process to resolve all outstanding issues.

JOB MARKET: JOB CREATION & RETRENCHMENTS

Atlatsa Resources (Bokoni platinum operations)

  • Atlatsa Resources is to cut more than half of some 6,101 employees at its Bokoni Mines operation in terms of a restructuring plan first announced in September.
  • It has also agreed to co-operate with plans by its joint venture partner Anglo American Platinum to divest of its 49% stake after accepting a R334m interest-free loan.
  • The funds from the loan will cover Bokoni’s capital expenditure, operating and working capital expenses.
  • As of 31 December, mining employees had been reduced to 5,613 from 6,101, a reduction of 8%, consisting of a 13.4% decrease in contractors and a 4.3% decrease in ‘own mine employees’.
  • Recognised unions agreed to the labour cuts following an agreement signed on 8 February.

Western Cape aims to create 300,000 new jobs

  • Leveraging off the Western Cape’s reputation as the “digital gateway to Africa” and a growing platform for new entrepreneurs, provincial Economic Opportunities Minister Alan Winde on Wednesday recommitted his department to further promoting job creation.
  • His goal is to add over 300,000 jobs to the economy in the next five years.
  • In his Budget Vote Speech for the 2016/17 financial year, Winde revealed that the Department of Economic Development and Tourism had received R486-million to fund its fight against unemployment in the province.
  • Amongst the various departmental allocations, the Skills Development and Innovation programme would receive R63.24-million in the current financial year.  “Our drive to boost the number of young skilled people in this province will go beyond government to involve academia and the private sector,” Winde promised.
  • The department would also invest R12.4-million in providing young people with technical and vocational skills, but Winde noted that they needed partnerships to make this a success.

Mercedes-Benz, Jobs Fund open R130m Learning Academy in East London

  • Mercedes-Benz SA (MBSA) has opened the doors to its new Learning Academy in East London, construction on which started in August 2014.
  • The academy is the result of a R130-million joint investment by MBSA and the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund, which saw the MBSA Technical Training Centre transform into a fully-fledged Learning Academy.
  • The original centre opened in July 1981 and for more than three decades it served as the main source of technical skills for the vehicle manufacturer’s East London assembly plant.
  • The joint agreement with the Jobs Fund came at a time when the rapid advancement of automotive technologies, such as robotics and automation, placed significant training demands on the MBSA manufacturing plant and the broader industry around the plant, requiring a continuous upskilling of the workforce.
  • The Academy currently has around 180 learners, but is expanding this number in order to have surplus capacity available to also provide artisans for the broader community.  It employs 14 technical instructors.

United Manganese of Kalahari

  • Amidst the current spate of retrenchments in the Northern Cape, United Manganese of Kalahari achieved agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers and the Employee Consultative Forum at the mine regarding avoidance measures to prevent forced retrenchments at the mine.
  • The agreement to date has been successful in that it appears that no forced retrenchments would be required when the consultation period ends on 13 April 2016.
  • The consultation process was facilitated by the CCMA.

COMMUNITIES

Mines’ social and labour plans seemingly don’t meet communities’ needs

  • One of the findings contained in a study released this week by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at Wits University, which evaluated the SLPs of 50 mining companies, is that Social and Labour Plans don’t meet communities’ needs.
  • Although, according to the law, mining rights applicants are required to set out how their operations would benefit their workers and the communities in the area of their operations, the study points out that after this process, very little monitoring is conducted to ensure plans are realised.
  • “There is mounting evidence of a stark disjuncture between the rhetoric in SLPs and the lived realities of mine-affected communities who do not see the promised benefits of mining development materialising,” the study indicated.
  • CALS has committed to establishing a toolkit to assist communities in planning engagement with companies and government role-players.

UNION POLITICS

Samwu Eastern Cape axes provincial secretary

  • Luthando Juju, Deputy Secretary of the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) in the Eastern Cape, on Thursday said that the Provincial Executive Committee had fired provincial secretary Milton Myolwa.
  • Responding to questions after the Eastern Cape chairman of Samwu, David Toyis, was reportedly expelled by the union for ill-discipline and allegedly sowing divisions within union structures, Juju said Myolwa had been taking decisions on his own and was not working within the collective.
  • “Milton (Myolwa) was recalled last week.  He does not have the authority to issue statements.  The statement released about Toyis is false,” said Juju.  He indicated that Toyis was still active as the elected Samwu chairperson, as well as the Eastern Cape chairman of Cosatu.
  • Meantime, pursuant to a Samwu Central Executive Committee (CEC) decision last month, President Pule Molalenyane, 1st Deputy President John Dlamini and National Treasurer Portia Lindi were expelled on 14 March.
  • Juju said the CEC had applied for an interdict at the Johannesburg High Court to stop the trio from entering the national office or from misusing the union’s money.
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