DISPUTES, INDUSTRIAL ACTION & DEMONSTRATIONS

Northam’s Zondereinde mine

  • The management of Northam Platinum indicated that talks would continue with all parties to resolve the current unrest at its Zondereinde platinum mine, in Limpopo, and ensure its employees returned to work.
  • This will be in the wake of two mineworkers having been murdered on Sunday and Monday last week respectively
  • The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) are the two union parties involved.  The Num is the majority union at the mine.

Numsa to strike in defence of MEIBC

  • The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) is planning rolling mass action in defence of centralised collective bargaining, which could signal a further blow to the troubled steel industry.
  • The union has declare a dispute with employers over the fate of the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC).
  • Irvin Jim, general-secretary of Numsa indicated that once the union got a certificate of non-resolution it would announce a date for the strike.
  • He has blamed two employer organisations, the National Employers Association of SA (Neasa) and the SA Engineers and Founders Association, for refusing to agree to the extension of lapsed MEIBC levy agreements to non-party members.
  • Employers have apparently also refused to agree to the council’s budget.

Nehawu strike at Free State University

  • Nehawu members at the University of Free State’s (UFS’s) Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa campuses on Tuesday last week halted their strike so that new proposals can be discussed between the university and the union.
  • Nehawu members, who include general workers, lecturers and admin staff, have been protesting since over a 4% wage increase implemented by management without agreement.  The workers are seeking a 7% increase.

AB InBev and Fawu

  • Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has proposed enhancing an employee-share programme after the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu) threatened to protest regulatory consent of its takeover of fellow brewer SABMiller.
  • AB InBev will ensure participants of the plan receive the same premium offered to SABMiller shareholders by guaranteeing a minimum rand value for the so-called Zenzele shares when the programme matures in 2020, based on the £44 per share offered to SAB shareholders.
  • It is also proposing an upfront cash payment, which would be paid soon after the takeover is completed and would be included in the guaranteed amount.
  • However Fawu is not yet satisfied since they want the employee-share programme to be wound up immediately, not when it matures, and to be replaced with a new plan that is more relevant to the enlarged company.

JOB MARKET: JOB CREATION & RETRENCHMENTS

Netcare’s pharmacy outsourcing

  • Hospital group Netcare’s plans to outsource its Medicross pharmacies and its hospital retail outlets to retailer Clicks have drawn angry criticism from independent pharmacists and union Hospersa.
  • Netcare will continue to run its own hospital pharmacies.
  • The Independent Community Pharmacy Association said the development threatened small businesses, while Hospersa (The Health & Other Service Personnel Trade Union of SA) said Netcare had failed to consult employees about its plans to transfer them to Clicks.
  • Hospersa is also unhappy about Netcare’s broader restructuring plans, and voiced its concerns to the company last week.
  • Netcare CEO Richard Friedland said on Wednesday that affected Netcare and Medicross staff would be transferred to Clicks on similar conditions of employment, and no jobs would be lost as a result of the transaction.

Telkom deal with unions

  • In a two-year collaborative partnership agreement with Solidarity and the SA Communications Union, Telkom undertakes that it will set aside R750m for the 2017 financial year so as to give its employees incentives.
  • It will also place a moratorium on retrenchments over the next two years.
  • Telkom also agreed to limit the proposed outsourcing within its Openserve subsidiary, as well as its consumer and small business and corporate centre departments, to less than 1,000 people.
  • The agreement, with 11,000 employees belonging to trade unions, will also see the introduction of performance-based remuneration for employees.
  • The agreement currently does not include the company’s largest union, the Communications Workers Union (CWU). Both Telkom and the CWU have however indicated that they are near to achieving agreement.

SAFETY

Lily Mine operations

  • Lily Mine would be able to resume operations in about eight to 10 months when full funding has been obtained, but permission will not be granted until a container in which three employees has been trapped for months is retrieved. The latter was indicated by Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.
  • Operations at the Vantage Goldfields mine near Barberton were halted in February after a cave-in.  But three employees are still unaccounted for.

REMUNERATION & COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Grain sector strike

  • Fawu, which represents almost 10,000 workers in the industry served eight employers in the grain industry with a strike notification last Monday when wage negotiations failed.
  • The strike could start this weekend.
  • The workers are demanding a 9% wage increase, while the employers are offering between 3% and 8%.  Among other demands, workers want an annual guaranteed 13th cheque as well as a housing allowance of R850.
  • The eight employers are OVK, VKB, Suidwes, Senwes, Grain Field Chickens, GWK, NWK and Obaro.

South African firefighters in Canada

  • About 300 firefighters who went to Alberta, Canada last month to help fight the Fort McMurray fire did not report for work since Wednesday last week because of a pay dispute.
  • A contract between the firefighters and their South African employer seems to show they would be paid a total of $50 a day, split into two payments, namely $15 a day now, with the balance of $35 a day paid out within six months of their return to South Africa.  They want both payments immediately and be paid the same as Canadian firefighters.
  • The contract also makes it clear the money the firefighters are being paid is over and above their home wages, which were not disclosed.
  • Alberta Agriculture and Forestry said if there was a disagreement, it was between the firefighters and their employer and not with the Government of Alberta.
  • The SA government has also despatched a mediator in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
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