DISPUTES, INDUSTRIAL ACTION & DEMONSTRATIONS

Outsourced workers at uMlazi hospital

  • Outsourced workers, comprising mainly of security guards, cookers and cleaners, did not go to work for the second day on Wednesday, but instead remained at the entrance of the Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in uMlazi.
  • They are accusing their “outsourced” employers of raking in millions in government tenders while exploiting their employees.  The health department had claimed in a statement that striking employees had compromised health services at Montebello in Ndwedwe, Prince Mshiyeni in uMlazi, and EG & Usher hospitals in the Greater Kokstad areas

Vaal University of Technology

  • There is still no indication as to when academic activities would resume at the troubled Vaal University of Technology (VUT).
  • Management took a decision to suspend all academic activities at the campus following the torching of a building situated next to the student residences, which houses a study room, laundry room and an office.
  • VUT spokesperson Mike Khuboni said management had, for the past couple of days, been working on the rescheduling of exams as well as a catch-up programme.
  • The exams were initially scheduled to commence on Thursday last week, but due to the violent protests, the university decided to suspend academic activities until further notice, instructing all students to vacate the residences.

JOB MARKET: JOB CREATION & RETRENCHMENTS

UIF amendment bill

  • The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) amendment bill is one step closer to becoming a reality after it was passed in the National Assembly on Thursday.
  • The bill, which was introduced by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, was widely supported as a safety net for those who lose their jobs.
  • The new act will extend the period during which unemployment insurance is paid out to workers who have lost their jobs from 8 to 12 months.
  • In addition, unemployment insurance benefits will also apply to learners and civil servants who are undergoing learnership training.
  • The bill will now be sent to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

Ford investment in new community, jobs training centre

  • Ford announced that it would invest R11.5-million in the construction and operation of a new job training and entrepreneurial development centre at its SA assembly plant, in Silverton.
  • The Ford Resource and Engagement Centre (FREC) was slated to open in October.
  • Ford Motor Company (FMC) Fund and Community Services president Jim Vella said in Pretoria that the FREC was only the second resource centre of its kind to be created by the company in the world, with the first located in Detroit, US, where unemployment reached between 11% and 13%.
  • It was anticipated that the centre would assist around 200 people a year, most of them from the Mamelodi community.
  • The centre would operate in partnership with the nongovernmental organisation, Future Families.
  • There will be a strong focus on employability and the training will be for free.

LEGAL

Fake sick notes

  • Five employees of a business in KwaZulu-Natal who habitually produced fraudulent doctor’s notes have been caught out.
  • The investigation into the high absentee rate in the workplace led to the arrest of the five employees, along with three employees of a medical practitioner who were implicated in the issuing and purchasing of the fraudulent sick notes.
  • According to police, the company based in Richards Bay discovered inconsistencies with regard to falsified sick notes produced by their employees, all issued from a medical centre in Empangeni.
  • The doctor concerned has also opened up a case of fraud and is a complainant in this matter.

Sadtu jobs-for-cash

  • The SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) has vowed to take the report accusing the union of jobs-for-cash on legal review and has accused the task team of being biased.
  • The report paints Sadtu in a negative light by red-flagging its dominance in the basic education system by virtue of its allegiance to the tripartite alliance.
  • Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said on Wednesday that the report was riddled with inaccuracies, generalisations and seemed to target only Sadtu and not other unions.
  • Labour federation Cosatu also hit out at the DBE, saying it believed deferments of the report’s release “was a well-calculated move to denigrate Sadtu’s public standing.  This is a … classic smear job.”

REMUNERATION & COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Eskom wage negotiations

  • The second round of wage negotiations at Eskom are due to resume on Wednesday this week.
  • Eskom’s opening wage offer of between 5% and 6% was made in the context of its massive ongoing capacity expansion programme but was rejected by unions who are demanding wage increases of between 9.5% and 18%.
  • The NUM in particular is calling for a substantial increase in order to address inflationary concerns and continued income differentials at the utility.

Strikes could risk car industry’s reputation

  • Volkswagen SA (VWSA) managing director Thomas Schäfer, indicated this week that the international reputation of the country’s automotive industry would be completely destroyed if this year’s collective bargaining resulted in strikes like the industry experienced in 2013 and 2010.
  • Schäfer added that original equipment manufacturers were now making decisions about export contracts and the allocation of more volume to their plants.  “If we can’t prove we are a reliable partner that can handle labour disputes and so on, we’re in trouble,” he indicated.
  • Schäfer also advised that the company’s Uitenhage plant had just won an award as the best pure passenger car plant of the 19 plants in the VW group.

Margate Wimpy

  • Striking workers at the Wimpy in Margate, KwaZulu-Natal, returned to work on Friday after about 30 disgruntled workers downed tools and went on strike last month.
  • The restaurant had to shut down as staff picketed outside, threatening to continue until their demands were met.
  • The strikers were unhappy about various issues including change rooms, not getting a 13th cheque and being employed as “casual workers” for more than 15 years.
  • The restaurant’s owners said an agreement had been reached with the strikers after union federation Cosatu had intervened.

Health Department and casual workers

  • The main entrance of the Department of Health in Pretoria was shut for most of the week as hundreds of community health workers, led by the National Union of Public and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) continued their picket in support of being permanently employed.
  • These workers are home-based caregivers and lay counsellors who have been volunteering for many years.
  • About a hundred protesting workers slept at the entrance overnight‚ ensuring it was not open in the morning.
  • The protesting workers vowed to sustain the picket until the department gives them a proper response to a memorandum of demands they handed over to senior officials following a march on 3 May.

UNION POLITICS

New labour federation to focus on job creation

  • The new labour federation in the making will be embarking on mass recruitment and job campaigns in order to attract members among the 76% of South African workers who are not organised in unions.
  • To attract members, the steering committee of the federation, which will be launched by next year, will focus on issues they believe their competition has dealt with poorly.
  • They include demanding a living wage from employers and changing ownership patterns of the economy.
  • The steering committee, which is headed by Zwelinzima Vavi, former general secretary of Cosatu, said the campaigns would involve mass organisation in the workplace and communities and would focus on 16 key demands.  “Unemployment has now reached breaking point at 8.9 million of the adult population. The figures speak for themselves, we are witnessing nothing less than a jobs bloodbath,” Vavi said in Joburg on Thursday.

MINING INDUSTRY

Chamber of Mines annual meeting

  • The Chamber of Mines re-elected Mike Teke for a third term as president of the organisation to lead the industry during this crucial year of changes to the Mining Charter and the worst commodity price cycle in 55 years.
  • Andile Sangqu was re-elected as vice-president whilst Neal Froneman replaced Graham Briggs as the second vice-president (Graham Briggs was not available for re-election).
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