DISPUTES, INDUSTRIAL ACTION & DEMONSTRATIONS

Lily Mine

  • The woes at Lily Mine are compounded by union demands in the business rescue process which seemingly not only is unaffordable at present but also delaying the start-up process at the mine. The latter is required to be able to get cash flow to, amongst others, pay salaries.
  • Also perturbing is that a DMR official allegedly involving himself in the process and making promises to the workers as well as the community. Although this is an unmandated action by the official it remains disturbing due to similar seemingly unlawful actions by DMR officials in other areas.
  • Solidarity handed food parcels to more than 50 families of Lily Mine workers after they were only paid R650 at the end of April.
  • “They only received R650 towards their April pay and you know that was not even enough to cover the fines they incurred for not being able to honour their debit orders on their bank accounts,” trade union Solidarity secretary general Gideon du Plessis said on Thursday evening.

Post office strike

  • CWU launched a nationwide strike on Thursday to demand higher annual pay increases for workers and the conversion of casual Sapo workers to permanent employees.
  • The strike came to an end after Sapo said that less than 1% of its approximately 22 000 employees were involved in this latest industrial action.
  • In a joint statement from Sapo and the CWU on Friday, the two parties said they “have agreed on a process to resolve the outstanding labour issues”.
  • The suspended strike action comes as the Post Office – which recorded a R1.5bn loss for 2015 – awaits key capital injections from banks to help with its turnaround.

Sanral strike

  • Picketing Sanral contract workers blocked the N1 highway in Midrand as they marched to their head office on Tuesday morning to demand wage hikes.
  • The workers, some carrying knobkerries, marched on the N1 from the New Road offramp to their head offices and, in the process, disrupted the flow of traffic.
  • Operations manager of Teti Traffic, the Sanral contractor which employs the picketing workers, Peru Pillay, said: “There were salary negotiations with workers, who were looking at getting a 130% increase but the company was offering 7%”. Pillay said the workers were allowed to have a protected picket, which was meant to be around the Samrand area, and not on the N1 highway.
  • The contract workers claim that their wages have not been increased since 2012

JOB MARKET: JOB CREATION & RETRENCHMENTS

It is the first week in 18 months that there are no news regarding retrenchments that we are aware of!

Comments made by Solidarity on Workers’ Day

We thought that readers may find interesting the following research and comments made by Solidarity’s Gideon du Plessis as part of the Workers’ Day celebrations in South Africa:

  • “The origin of Workers’ Day dates back to the so-called Haymarket affair of 1886 in Chicago when workers, who went on strike for an eight-hour workday, clashed with police and 11 people died in bloody riots. That same year happened to have been the year in which the largest gold deposits were discovered in South Africa, which led to the rapid growth of the South African mining industry.
  • In 2012,preceding the Marikana incident, this industry had provided jobs for 534 000 permanent miners; however, in 2016 this very same industry is characterised by a retrenchment bloodbath, with the mining sector shrinking to 487 000 workers.
  • According to retrenchment statistics announced by Solidarity last week, the mining industry has been hardest hit by retrenchments. A total of 29 261 miners out of an approximate 60 000 South African employees, who are facing retrenchment, are being affected.
  • However, the retrenchment figure is but a drop in the ocean compared with the number of voluntary and early retirement packages granted; jobs that have been frozen after workers had resigned or had been dismissed; the cancellation of the contracts of contractors and service providers as a result of downsizing by the client; a 2015 labour law amendment that entitle contract workers to be treated as permanent employees, if they have been with a company for six months, and employers have responded by dismissing their contract workers in large numbers; and the fact that hardly any new jobs are being created due to financial constraints, and economic and political uncertainty.
  • While it is the role of trade unions to protect workers and to negotiate better conditions of employment for them, the number of registered trade unions in the country has dropped from 485 in 2001 to 188 in 2016.
  • Trade union representation of South African workers has also dropped below 30%. According to Statistics South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the final quarter in 2015, trade unions were responsible for only 20.6% of wage settlements reached on behalf of workers at company level; 8.1% of the wage settlements were reached under the auspices of a bargaining council; 65% of South African workers received an increase based on employer discretion; and 6.3% of the workers did not get any increase. The vast majority of South African workers are thus left to their own devices in the workplace, but it also reflects negatively on workers’ trust in trade unions.
  • A study by Pierre du Toit and Hennie Kotzé on the confidence South Africans have in institutions that was published in their book,Liberal Democracy and Peace in South Africa (2011), confirms the lack of confidence in trade unions (Cosatu trade unions in particular). According to the research results, confidence in trade unions is ranked second last on a list of twenty state and non-state institutions. (Fortunately, confidence in churches tops the list at least.)”

NATIONAL POLITICS INFLUENCING LABOUR ISSUES

EFF and Rustenburg houses

  • People who allege that they are part of the Marikana community, occupied the new Marikana housing development claiming through the EFF that they occupied the houses because they received no clarity regarding processes to be followed.
  • The EFF in the North West Province has strongly condemned the Marikana housing allocation by the ANC-led Rustenburg municipality.
  • “The ANC’s mismanagement of this process has the potential to result in another Marikana bloodbath,” the EFF said on Friday.
  • The Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu handed over the Marikana housing development to the ANC-led Rustenburg municipality.
  • The community said they would not move until the government outlines the process for the housing allocation.
  • The police had attempted several times to forcibly remove community members from the houses.
  • “We will continue to support the Marikana community in their fight for justice and accountability from the ANC government. The EFF will continue exposing the desperate illegal electioneering tactics of the corrupt ANC – it is the last kicks from a dying horse,” the EFF said.

COSATU taking Gupta issue to Nedlac

  • The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said it would table before the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) the decision by SA’s four major banks to terminate banking services for companies owned by the politically connected Gupta family.
  • This issue could therefore become grounds for national industrial action by Cosatu.
  • The federation remained concerned at the possible negative effect on the employees of these companies, but investigations into the family should continue, said Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini during a post-Workers’ Day briefing in Johannesburg.
  • The family’s business vehicle, Oakbay Investments, maintains that 7,500 jobs are at risk following the decision by financial institutions in SA to cut all ties with the firm.
  • A report by a ministerial team appointed to discuss the issue with the banks is expected to be handed to the Cabinet early in May.

Sadtu jobs-for-cash scam

  • Teachers’ union Sadtu is threatening to haul the department of basic education to court over its report into the union’s jobs-for-cash scam.
  • The report, which was first supposed to have been released in February, was due for release on Friday by Minister Angie Motshekga.
  • The release was delayed yet again, for a further two weeks, the department said in a statement on Friday.
  • However, Sadtu has threatened to take the department to court if it does not allow it to make submissions to the report’s author, Professor John Volmink, who headed the ministerial task team investigating the scandal.
  • Sadtu secretary Mugwena Maluleke told City Press newspaper on Friday: “We are not going to interdict the minister from releasing the report. We also want it to be released. After all, it is us who called for the investigation into the jobs-for-cash scandal. But we will go to court to enforce our rights. We will go to court to force the task team to allow us to make representations to it, it is our right.”
  • The scandal was exposed by a City Press investigation two years ago, which revealed that principals’ positions were being sold for upwards of R30 000. Teachers’ posts were also being sold for livestock and cash amounts of as little as R6 000.
  • A draft report, the findings of which City Press published in December, found Sadtu was in “de facto” control of six provincial education departments. Volmink also found Sadtu had gained control by “using militancy to exert pressure on its members to be unionists first and professionals second”. The report also found the wide-scale selling of posts.
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