REMUNERATION AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Eskom agreement

  • Agreement on wage increases of between 8,5% and 10% as well as improvements to other conditions of employment was reached in the Eskom wage negotiations.
  • The two-year agreement provides for increases of 8% in the second year.
  • Both the Num (whose Paris Mashego was instrumental in achieving the higher than average increases as well as eventual agreement) and Solidarity signed the agreement. Numsa must still sign, expressing concerns about conditions relating to contract workers.

DISPUTES, INDUSTRIAL ACTIONS AND DEMONSTRATIONS

Strike season is biting

  • Strike season is biting with strikes in energy, telecommunications and petrochemicals.
  • The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is on strike at Telkom since Thursday (700 out of 12,400 unionised employees).
  • The Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu) strike in the petrochemical sector is now in its second week.
  • Members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) continued with a work stoppage at power utility Eskom on Thursday, but reached agreement on Friday.

Petrol sector wage strike

  • After a strike of two weeks in the petrochemical sector, employers and union members met at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on Friday.
  • About 15,000 members of the Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu) are on strike at refineries and depots, demanding a 9% salary increase, with employers offering 7%.
  • The union is also demanding a one-year agreement, while employers want two years.

Numsa could join petrol sector strike

  • Petrol pump attendants who are members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) could soon also be going on strike.
  • This follows Numsa claims that a number of its members who work at filling stations have been sent home without payment because of a shortage of fuel due to the Ceppwawu strike in the petroleum sector.

JOB MARKET, JOB CREATION, RESTRUCTURING AND RETRENCHMENTS

National minimum wage

  • Following deadlocked discussions in the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), Government is to create a panel of seven academic experts to try and resolve, by October, the impasse over the introduction of a national minimum wage (NMW).
  • Labour is favouring a NMW of around R3,500/month, business R1,800/month and government somewhere between the two.
  • Their task hasn’t been made easier by two of SA’s top universities producing large bodies of diametrically opposed research.  Wits researchers maintain a NMW set at a meaningful level between R3,500 and R4,600 a month could spur growth.  UCT research finds that a NMW of R3,400 could cause more than 500,000 job losses, even under moderate assumptions.
  • The panel’s job will be to make sense of the conflicting research to enable government to choose that benign level for an NMW, where the protection of workers’ wages is balanced against the need to prevent job losses.

MTN outsourcing

  • MTN’s plans to outsource a portion of its call centre facilities have been met with outrage by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which called the decision a “jobs bloodbath”.
  • On Wednesday, MTN announced that a hybrid outsource model would result in the service provider retaining some call centre facilities while others would be outsourced.
  • The company indicated it had commenced the process of engaging with the employees and the unions regarding its plans.
  • However, the CWU’s general secretary, Aubrey Tshabalala, said that the matter was raised by MTN in a meeting but never approved by the union.  “What they are doing is replacing highly skilled and well-trained workers, and replacing them with unskilled workers – replacing quality with cheap labour,” said Tshabalala.
  • MTN expects the process of appointing a third-party vendor to be completed by September this year.

Unemployed Councillors

  • Councillors who lost their jobs in the municipal elections and those retiring will leave their jobs with payouts worth a total of R309m, far higher than previous estimates of R100m.
  • Outgoing councillors with five or more years’ service would receive three months’ salary.  Pro-rata payments would be made to those who served shorter stints in their positions.
  • The SA Local Government Association (Salga) said the payments would be made to ensure that the councillors who found themselves out of a job had a safety net to tide them over until their pensions were paid out.  Similar payments were available to councillors after the elections in 2011.

Free higher education

  • The South African Union of Students (SAUS) has warned that more campus protests are on the cards as it called for salaries of senior public servants to be decreased to pay for free higher education.
  • The union made this call during a presentation to the commission of inquiry into higher education fees, which sat for its first hearings on Wednesday.
  • The union’s president Avela Mjajubana said the state should rethink tender procurement processes and reduce salaries for senior state employees, including the President.
  • Wits University vice-chancellor Adam Habib said the state should look into redirecting black economic empowerment (BEE) funds to higher education.
  • Speaking on the sidelines of the inquiry, SAUS deputy secretary-general Fasiha Hassan commented:  “The need for free and quality education is an urgent one.  We cannot go back to our students with nothing.  And if that means that we do need to shut down, that we do need to again prove the power of students, we will do so.”

COMMUNITY AND GENERAL

Kuruman/Black Rock Mine protests

  • On Thursday members of a community forum in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district blockaded the Kathu and Deben T-junction that leads to the Black Rock mine with rocks and tree stumps.
  • They wanted to prevent workers from the mine from passing through and motorists had to stop and indicate where they were travelling to.
  • According to Olebogeng Leseiwane, leader of the Concerned Community Group (CCG), which is a forum for the unemployed community, the disruption was because the mines around Kuruman have not carried out their social and labour plans and charter obligations.
  • The mines deny this.
  • Leseiwane claims that according to the plan and charter, 70% of the people taken into employment must be locals and local businesses must be supported.
  • He alleges it is the Black Rock mine that causes most of the problems.
  • The mine’s Pierre Becker said they meet requirements and have provided data to the CCG in writing.  A further meeting is due to be held with the CCG on Monday.
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