DISPUTES, INDUSTRIAL ACTION & DEMONSTRATIONS

LSG Sky Chefs strike

  • About 550 workers from LSG Sky Chefs, which provides catering services to international airlines, are striking against alleged “bullying and shouting” at staff.
  • The protected strike started last Monday and an interdict application by the company failed.
  • The unions’ (Numsa, NTM and Satawu) basket of grievances include allegations of favouritism towards certain employees‚ bullying and shouting by management‚ and unfair discrimination as workers are not allowed to wear religious‚ cultural jewellery or hand bands.
  • Some workers claim to be paid R3,000 a month after several years’ service‚ less than new interns.

Strike by Post Office union IICUOSA

  • The Influential Information and Communication Union of SA (IICUOSA) said on Thursday that it will strike from Monday at the SA Post Office (Sapo).
  • IICUOSA represents about 2,000 of Sapo’s 22,000 employees, but is not a recognised union.
  • The Communication Workers Union (CWU) indicated that they will not strike and that IICUOSA members are misinformed.
  • Sapo CEO Mark Barnes on Thursday downplayed the mass action, saying he did not expect a negative impact on operations

Parliament and Nehawu

  • The standoff between the secretary to Parliament and staff aligned to the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) degenerated further during last week.
  • Personnel refused to sign performance contracts and walked out of a meeting.
  • Nehawu members also resisted taking part in performance assessments unless their outstanding grievances were tackled.
  • Earlier this week, Nehawu members disrupted Parliament’s Administrative Manager Mgidlana’s attempts to hold a staff meeting, after which Mgidlana brought charges against four Nehawu members.
  • The dispute centres on deductions from staff salaries, following an unprotected strike in late 2015.
  • Nehawu also claims Mgidlana’s office reduced staff performance bonus scores.

Insourcing at UCT workers

  • On 1 July 2016, close to 1,000 workers will become full-time employees of the University of Cape Town (UCT).
  • Last year, Nehawu forged an alliance between workers and students that eventually forced the university’s hand into changing its outsourcing policy.
  • Workers like cleaners and gardeners who had previously been earning just over R3,000 a month will now be taking home more than R7,500 a month, plus benefits.
  • Price said though that the insourcing project had added to the university’s challenge of financial sustainability and indicated:  “We have budgeted for a once-off capital expenditure of R40 million from our reserves and an annual recurrent operational cost of approximately R68m. We are now approximately R250m short annually.”

SABC staffers suspended

  • The SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has suspended three staff members in its news room with immediate effect for allegedly broadcasting audio and video material of violent protests.
  • The order relates to chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s announcement earlier this month that the SABC would no longer broadcast images or audio of protestors damaging or setting alight to public property.

JOB MARKET: JOB CREATION & RETRENCHMENTS

AB InBev takeover deal: Fawu

  • The Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) on Thursday withdrew from the Competition Tribunal hearings on the Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (AB InBev) takeover of SABMiller, taking away another hurdle in the approval of the merger.
  • Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola said the union took the decision in order to keep its options open as it seeks to force AB InBev’s hand regarding the fate of SAB Zenzele, the black economic empowerment scheme of SAB, the South African subsidiary of SABMiller.
  • Fawu wants the Zenzele scheme to come to an end so that employees who are part of the scheme can benefit from the merger like other SABMiller shareholders.
  • The options included a strike, Masemola said.
  • The union, which represents 4,200 employees at SABMiller, agreed with the merging companies that most conditions relating to the Zenzele scheme would be removed from the Competition Commission’s recommendation of the deal.
  • Masemola described the move as a “tactical” retreat as the union did not want to be handcuffed by a tribunal ruling.”
  • Masemola said the union would continue to negotiate with the merged entity and discussions were expected to start within two weeks.

AB InBev’s pledge not to retrench

  • The Competition Tribunal indicated that SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) needed to state exactly how long their commitment not to retrench staff would stand.
  • The tribunal is holding hearings to decide whether or not to accept the Competition Commission’s approval of AB InBev’s acquisition of SABMiller.
  • In a joint press release in April, the brewers said:  “In a groundbreaking commitment, AB InBev has undertaken to ensure that at no point in the future will there be involuntary job losses in SA as a result of the transaction.”
  • When the Competition Commission gave its approval of the deal earlier in June, it attached the condition that the merged entity not be allowed to retrench SABMiller employees and that the condition remain in perpetuity.
  • Tribunal chairman Norman Manoim said:  “I understand the principle but I think a time period is necessary.”

Oakbay and Ubank

  • Oakbay Investments slammed media reports about an approach to buy Ubank as “speculation”, with “several significant untruths and misunderstandings”.
  • CEO Nazeem Howa said the company did express an early interest in Ubank a couple of years ago, but voluntarily walked away at an early stage.
  • He was responding to an article carried by Independent Media (IOL) that suggested the Guptas’ need for a bank gained momentum after SA’s four biggest banks closed their accounts.
  • However, Howa confirmed that he made an informal phone call to NUM general secretary David Sipunzi recently.  Sipunzi told IOL that “we have been approached unofficially about selling Ubank to Oakbay.”
  • The Chamber of Mines, which is another trustee of Teba Trust which owns Ubank, said Oakbay had not approached it about Ubank.
  • On the issue of Oakbay donating R1m to the NUM to cover costs of its June central committee meeting, NUM said there was no controversy in Oakbay having done that.

LEGAL

Silicosis test cases better than class action

  • Anglo American SA argued in the Johannesburg High Court that single test cases, rather than a class action, would be a better way for mineworkers suffering from silicosis to establish whether gold mining companies were liable to pay them compensation.
  • In six separate applications, gold mining companies were applying for leave to appeal against the landmark silicosis class action certification judgment, which paves the way for billions of rand in claims by former gold mine workers suffering from silicosis and tuberculosis.
  • Legal teams representing the mineworkers said the certification judgment was not appealable because it only dealt with the procedure that should be followed in the case, rather than deciding on the merits whether the companies were liable.
  • But AASA’s counsel said an appeal court would consider that everyone had acknowledged the “gigantic scope” of the class action, the novelty and the complexity of the issues involved and that this class action was “unprecedented in our law”.

REMUNERATION AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

General overview of wage negotiations

  • Notwithstanding consumer inflation having unexpectedly slowed to 6.1% last month, inflation expectations by business and trade unions, in particular, remain stubbornly high.
  • Growth is sluggish and the central bank expects it to be just 0.6% this year.
  • According to the latest Salary Trends survey by ECA International, companies in SA are forecasting pay increases of 6.9% this year, based on inflation forecasts of 5.9%.
  • Wage negotiations at Eskom, and in the automotive, tyre and motor sectors are already in progress.
  • At the beginning of the month, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said in the first round of negotiations, employers in these sector were taking a tough line.  Numsa spokesman Patrick Craven indicated:  “The auto employers say that Numsa’s demands are too high for one year and they would prefer a three-year agreement.
  • In the tyre sector, negotiations have collapsed because employers are refusing to negotiate directly as they have appointed a consultant, Johnny Goldberg, to negotiate on their behalf, which Numsa rejects.”
  • On Wednesday, Eskom upped its wage offer to 7%, which the NUM is considering.
  • The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) still has to make known its wage demands for platinum producers.

Average disposable salaries

  • According to the BankservAfrica Disposable Salary (BDSI) data, the average South African salary in May grew 6.7% year-on-year, compared with the 7.3% y/y growth recorded for April 2016.
  • The average take-home salary in May was R13,142, which is slightly above April’s average of R12,877.
  • As regards median salaries, 50% of individuals with monthly take-home salaries paid into their bank accounts received at least R9,679 in May.
  • Banked pensions grew by 7.2%, the slowest year-on-year increase since January 2016.

NUM and Eskom

  • The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Thursday said it would consult its members on an improved wage increase offer of 7% tabled by Eskom. The previous offer was at 5,75%.
  • The union wants a 15% wage increase for its lowest paid members and a 13% raise for the highest paid.
  • Its demands also include six months of paid maternity leave, a housing allowance of R5,500 and that wage agreements be maintained at one year instead of three.
  • Stakeholders have agreed to meet for the fourth round of wage negotiations on the 13th, 14th and 15th of July in Johannesburg.

MEIBC money woes

  • The current MEIBC administration and dispute levy agreement will expire on the 30 June 2016, insofar as its applicability to non-parties is concerned.
  • The current Administration and Dispute Levy Agreement, paid by party employers and employees (approximately 14% of employers and 42% of employees) will continue to apply until March 2020.
  • The two levies account for approximately 90% of the Council’s revenue stream and the Council indicated to members last week that it will not be in a position to continue to function with funds only received from party employers and employees.
  • Therefore in an attempt to prevent the collapse of the Bargaining Council and the very real possibility of industrial action post 30 June 2016, the SEIFSA Council has mandated a view that seeks to support the extension of the current administration and dispute levy agreement to non-parties for a period of not less than twelve (12) months, in return for the establishment of an Oversight Committee comprising of experienced, skilled and key individuals from both organised labour and the employer associations who collectively have extensive, proven experience in determining which functions of the Council are critical and can focus on implementing controls and drive performance urgently in such areas.
  • It is envisaged that the establishment of an MEIBC Oversight Committee will be in a position to effectively audit critical performance areas, provide the necessary skills and support to ensure excellent performance in every function, will providing an appropriate mechanism to ensure that the Council is capable of fulfilling its primary role, function and duties in line with its financial obligations to the performance level required by all stakeholders.
  • The Bargaining Council has scheduled a Special Management Committee Meeting on 29 June 2016 to deal with amongst the business of the meeting the disputes declared by NUMSA, UASA, MEWUSA and SAEWA against, amongst other, the refusal on the part of employers to support the continuation of the administration and dispute levy agreement to non-parties post the 30 June 2016.
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