DISPUTES, INDUSTRIAL ACTION & DEMONSTRATIONS

Comment: Violence and political interference in strikes

  • In analysing the IR Weeklies during the past two months at least 40% of all industrial action reported involved violence and damage to property.
  • In addition it appears that the EFF in particular are taking a keen interest in industrial action and wanting to become actively involved in the negotiations or resolution of industrial action.

Sibanye and Amcu

  • Following further discussions last Wednesday, Sibanye and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) announced that the planned strike by Amcu was suspended pending further engagement.
  • Amcu, which maintains it is the majority union at Sibanye, had said at the weekend it would pursue its demand and not be bound by a three-year agreement signed by three other unions.

Pikitup strike

  • The Pikitup strike was eventually resolved after more than a month under guidance of the CCMA.
  • No details of the agreement is as yet available but the parties indicated that normal services will commence on 11 April 2016.

Shoprite

  • The strike at Shoprite’s distribution centre in Centurion is continuing with workers vowing to continue until management meets their demands relating to the salary differential between employees supplied by labour brokers and that of permanent Shoprite employees.
  • According to the General Industries Workers’ Union (Giwusa), which is involved in the strike, about 90% of the 1,000 workers at the facility are employed by labour brokers who pay “poverty wages”.
  • The union said outsourced Shoprite workers were being paid R23/hour in a 44-hour week (i.e. R4,048 per month).  Workers are demanding a minimum monthly salary of R10,000.

Western Cape Metrorail

  • Striking Metrorail workers in the Western Cape temporarily abandon their industrial action, after Metrorial obtained an interdict.
  • The industrial action led by the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) was meant to be an indefinite strike over “poor management” of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and the “blatant exploitation of workers”.  The union was also demanding that temporary workers be made permanent.
  • Marring the action was the torching of ten passenger coaches of Metrorail on Sunday.

Durban harbour road blockage

  • According to Transnet the two-day blockage of Bayhead Road in Durban, which prevented trucks from going into the harbour, is resolved.
  • The Fuel Retailers Association’s Reggie Sibiya had let his frustration be known as trucks from BP, Shell and Total were prevented from getting into the harbour.
  • The problem related to industrial action by Transnet employees at the Pier 1 terminal in Durban.

Uber

  • Ride-sharing service Uber says reports about 200 of its partner drivers striking in Cape Town are exaggerated after its announcement of rate cuts of up to 20% to boost demand during the quieter Winter period in the major cities.
  • Alon Lits, Uber’s GM for sub-Saharan Africa, said that only about 50 partner-drivers headed to the Greenpoint office.  He added that he didn’t view the action as a strike.
  • Uber does not employ drivers but rather partners with them and gives them a percentage of each fare.

KwaMashu clinic

  • Patients at the KwaMashu Poly Clinic were left stranded on Wednesday when 500 staff members embarked on a go-slow, calling for the suspension of the HR and nursing managers.
  • Downing tools, the healthcare professionals said they had had enough of being abused by their seniors.
  • They called for their removal as the departmental investigation against them continued.
  • Meanwhile, patients were left in limbo, with disruptions to the dispensing of medication and treatment.

Wonderfontein Coal Mine (Umsimbithi)

  • Glencore, which is a shareholder and operator of Umsimbithi which owns Wonderfontein coal mine near Middelburg, laid criminal arson charges following the torching of two trucks and offices at the Wonderfontein coal mine.
  • The charges follow an increase in violent torching, stoning and intimidation incidents by striking employees in recent weeks.
  • Glencore said that Wednesday night’s arson took the petrol bomb incidents to ten since the start of the strike three weeks ago.
  • Glencore is currently involved in a wage dispute with employees of its mid-tier operations at which Amcu is the representative union. Although Wonderfontein is not part of the dispute it appears that striking employees are intimidating the contractors at Wonderfontein to also participate in the strike action.

Motor industry wage negotiations preparations

  • According to Ford Motor Company’s sub-Saharan Africa president and CEO Jeff Nemeth, the SA automotive industry has “worked hard this labour season”, holding a number of “pre-meetings and indabas”, in an effort to be ready for the triennial negotiations to thrash out a new multiyear wage agreement.
  • He indicated that the discussions with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA have been positive to date.  He remains hopeful that there will not be strike action in the industry.

JOB MARKET: JOB CREATION & RETRENCHMENTS

Ford SA’s R2.5bn plant expansions to create 1,200 jobs

  • Ford Motor Company South Africa is pumping R2.5-billion into plant expansions in preparation for production of a new range of vehicles including the Ford Everest.
  • The investment would help create 1,200 jobs in the company’s South African operations and within its local supplier base.

Telkom voluntary retrenchment

  • It appears that about 1,189 employees have left Telkom, either by accepting the company’s voluntary severance packages (VSPs) or early retirement packages.
  • Applications for packages closed on Thursday last week and according to Telkom a total of 1 629 applications were received and the company approved 73% of those applications, allowing for 1,189 people to exit Telkom.
  • Over the past two years, Telkom has been involved in a turnaround strategy which has seen some employees either being retrenched, transferred to outsourcing companies, or being given VSPs as well as early retirement packages.

REMUNERATION

SAMA: 7.6% salary increase from 1 April for public service employees

  • The SA Medical Association (SAMA) has released a statement to its members indicating that public servants who fall under the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) are to receive a 7.6% salary increase.
  • SAMA points out that the three-year agreement concluded under the PSCBC in 2015 provided for a 7% increase in 2015/16 financial year, while it was agreed that the salary adjustment for 2016/17 and 2017/18 would be based on the average projected consumer price index (CPI) plus 1%.
  • The agreement provided that in determining the average projected CPI, the forecasts of the National Treasury should be used.  The National Treasury has determined that the average projected CPI for the 2016/17 financial year is 6.6%.
  • Given that determination, the annual salary adjustment for the public service employees for the 2016/17 financial year has been determined by the Minister of Public Service and Administration to be 7.6% with effect from 1 April 2016.

PIC and executive pay policies

  • The Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which oversees the bulk of the SA government’s pension money, voted against pay policies at more than one third of the annual general meetings it attended between July and September last year.
  • The PIC refused to endorse compensation policies at Telkom and Investec, according to its voting report, published on its website.
  • While shareholders may vote on pay at most annual general meetings, the votes are not binding.  The PIC reasoning was that Tito Mboweni, a former governor of the SA Reserve Bank, is receiving “excessive” pay as chairman of Accelerate Property Fund.  Concerns around Telkom included that its short-term bonuses were based only on profitability, no sustainability targets have been set, and one-off items should not have been used in pay calculations
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