REMUNERATION AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Amcu and Sasol

About 1,600 Sasol mining unit employees in Mpumalanga, commenced strike action after the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) could not come to a wage agreement with Sasol.  Jimmy Gama, Amcu’s national treasurer, reiterated the main demand remains a monthly salary of R12,500.

Telkom and CWU

After failure of the CCMA facilitated dispute resolution between Telkom and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) the Company announced implementation of the 50th percentile adjustment which will ensure all employees below the 50th percentile within the bargaining unit are brought up to an equal minimum level.  Telkom also encouraged CWU members who were on strike to come back to work.

 

Robertson Winery

Employees of Robertson Winery went on a protected strike last Wednesday, calling on the winery to pay them R8,500 a month (which amounts to a 57% average increase).  Karel Swartz of the Commercial, Stevedoring and Allied Workers’ Union (CSAAWU) said the workers were currently earning between R2,900 and R3,500 a month before deductions.  The winery is offering an 8% increase.

DISPUTES, INDUSTRIAL ACTION AND DEMONSTRATIONS

OutsourcingMustFall targets Gauteng

Members of the #OutsourcingMustFall movement have accused tertiary institutions, the City of Tshwane and other institutions of reneging on certain agreements regarding outsourced workers.  They have threatened to shut down Gauteng, rendering it ungovernable for a day.  At a briefing on Wednesday, they addressed three memorandums of demand sent to the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), the University of Pretoria (UP) and to the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Therein, they accuse the institutions and the department of failing to allow full participation of workers’ representatives in task teams set up to oversee insourcing; failure to ensure the reinstatement of dismissed workers or insourced jobs for those workers left unemployed through contract changes; and failure to agree with workers about wage increases and the date these increases will be effective from.  The initial date for the Gauteng shutdown was next Monday, but due to SRC elections in tertiary institutions, it was postponed.  A definite date for the shutdown would be known by Tuesday this week.

JOB MARKET, JOB CREATION, RESTRUCTURING AND RETRENCHMENTS

CWU and MTN

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has applied for a court interdict against MTN over the cellular operator’s decision to outsource part of its call centre facility.  The matter is scheduled to be heard on 31 August.  MTN intends to adopt a hybrid outsource model which would result in retaining some of its call centre facilities, while others would be outsourced to a third party vendor.  It is hoping to complete the process of appointing the third party vendor by September this year.

AB InBev job cuts

Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) indicated that it expects to cut about 3% of its enlarged workforce in the three years after its takeover of SABMiller.  The reductions will be implemented gradually and in phases, the companies said in documents published on Friday.  A source says that about 5,500 positions are likely to be eliminated.  The job cuts will form part of the $1.4 billion of annual savings that AB InBev has said it’s seeking from the takeover.  AB InBev said the estimate for job cuts did not include areas such as sales.  SABMiller’s head office is to be integrated into AB InBev’s headquarters in Belgium and management office in New York.

Seta levies and small business

The Davis Tax Committee says SA’s skills development framework needs to be overhauled because it places a financial and administrative burden on the small business sector.  By contrast, large enterprises enjoy an advantage.  In its final report on the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, the committee recommended that the government institute reform so that small enterprises can obtain funding without having to implement costly skills and training plans, and table annual training reports.  Under the current system, small enterprises that have annual employment costs exceeding R500,000 are required to pay a skills development levy of 1% of payroll to the relevant Seta.  They can claim back a portion of these funds based on their proven training spend, but for the average small enterprise the compliance costs of claiming from the Seta would most likely exceed the amount recovered.  Many small businesses paid a levy with little or no prospect of obtaining any direct benefit.
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Section 52 of MPRDA

In a session on retrenchment at the twenty-ninth Labour Law Conference in Johannesburg it was said that Section 52 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) was a ticking time bomb.  The section states that the holder of a mining right must give notice to the Mineral Resources Minister when the downscaling of operations will result in the dismissal, for operational reasons, of more than 10% of the workforce or more than 500 people, whichever is the lesser.  Aadil Patel of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr and Professor Pieter le Roux of ENS Africa agreed that the use of Section 52 was a strategy to protect employment and promote transparency, but said it could be applied in the wrong way.  Le Roux pointed out that the Minister’s directives “could theoretically include how companies should retrench”, while Patel added that unions and employees were becoming more “creative and innovative” in challenging the restructuring of mining operations.

SARB’s view on job creation

The Annual Labour Law Conference also heard that solutions for SA’s abnormally high unemployment rate would not come from rising commodity prices, a rebound in global growth or fiscal policies.  SA Reserve Bank (SARD) governor Lesetja Kganyago said that instead product and labour market reforms were needed.  The economy was characterised by high inflation, low growth and unemployment and SA could expect to lose jobs going forward, he said.  “We need change and constitutional reforms for more space for the monetary policy to work,” he stated.  High inflation rates lead to high interest rates.  Low inflation rates reduce interest rates and enhance competitiveness.  It attracts investments and stimulates job creation, which reduces poverty, explained Kganyago.  “We must reconsider the institutions used to negotiate wage prices,” he opined.  Deals that push up inflation and interest rates, reducing growth and resulting in job losses, must be avoided.

Youth employment tax incentive

The take-up of the employment tax incentive (ETI), which expires at the end of the year, has been far greater than the national Treasury expected.  Nearly R6-billion was claimed over two years against the R2-billion that was estimated.  A report on the achievements of the incentive, which was aimed at drawing young and inexperienced workers into the labour market, was presented by the Treasury on Wednesday to Parliament’s two finance committees.  In 2014-2015, R2.6-billion was claimed for 686,402 jobs supported by the incentive, whereas in 2015-2016, R3.6-billion was claimed.  More manufacturing firms (7,448) made claims than any other grouping.

Dimension Data

IT services company Dimension Data (DD) has confirmed that it had retrenched some of its employees as part of restructuring. DD is one of the biggest IT services providers globally with 58 offices globally and about 31,000 employees.

COMMUNITY AND GENERAL

Fawu and Cosatu

Cosatu plans to recoup over R5m in affiliation fees from its former member, the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu).  Briefing media on Cosatu’s central executive committee meeting held last week, general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said:  “The central executive committee noted that Fawu’s leadership have succeeded to push for the union’s disaffiliation with Cosatu and join a non-existent federation.  We are not surprised by the decision, but we are planning to meet with many Fawu members, including provincial structures, that have made it clear they are not leaving the federation,” he said.  Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola confirmed they owed Cosatu affiliation fees and said they planned to take legal advice.  “If we are advised to pay, we will pay,” Masemola stated.

Lily Mine families

Questions regarding the compensation of victims of the Vantage Goldfields Lily Mine collapse and their families remain unanswered more than six months after the tragedy.  The families of Pretty Nkambule, Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyerende were promised R200,000 each after a section of the mine in Mpumalanga caved in on 5 February, trapping the mineworkers in a container that has still not been recovered.  At the time, Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane told the community and the families of the trio and survivors of the disaster that they would be compensated.  He had indicated:  “We will compensate the surviving miners R50,000, and the families of the three will receive R200,000 each.”  However, families of the trio have now accused Zwane of backtracking on the promise he made and participated in an Amcu march to Zwane’s offices last week.

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Medical aid premiums

Experts have that warned that medical aid premiums are due for double-digit increases and further benefit cuts could be a reality next year.  This follows reports that the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) could be on the brink of insolvency.  Experts say a key factor in the sharp increase of medical aid premiums will be an increase in the number of hospital admissions.  Labour federation Cosatu has also added its voice to the matter, requesting that medical aid schemes be subjected to competition legislation.

Social security plan

The government missed its deadline to release the plan by June and Cosatu claims that this is as a result of a fight between the Treasury and the Social Development Department (SDD). Cosatu is calling on Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to sort out the matter, warning that because of the Treasury’s lack of delivery, it cannot support changes to retirement savings that will stop workers from having full access to their money.   It is supposed to be a joint effort by the Treasury and SDD and has been on the cards for more than a decade.  But, the hardened stance from the Treasury does not come as a surprise as it has said on a number of occasions that the country cannot afford to implement the plan.  Meantime, there is a major push by labour and community groups for a comprehensive social security plan at Nedlac.

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