REMUNERATION AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Auto manufacturers

Mike Whitfield, president of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa), said that automakers are confident they are close to closing a wage deal with trade with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the Automobile Manufacturers Employers Organisation. The automakers are seeking a three-year deal.  Formal bargaining began in June.

Minimum wages in private security sector

The minimum wage in the private security sector will increase from 1 September 2016 by an average of 7.1% in terms of a sectoral determination (SD) that will expire on 31 August 2017.  The Department of Labour on Tuesday said the increase was in line with an agreement reached in 2015 in accordance with the stipulations of the Negotiated Framework Agreement for the National Bargaining Forum for the Private Security Sector.  As part of the new sectoral determination, various allowances relating to night shift, cleaning, special allowances and others are also expected to be increased.

DISPUTES, INDUSTRIAL ACTION AND DEMONSTRATIONS

Amcu and Sasol

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have been on strike since last Thursday at the Sasol mining operation in Secunda. They are demanding a minimum wage of R12,500 a month.  Four other unions have accepted a 7% increase.  A total of eight shafts have been affected by the strike.

Robertson Winery

Based on an announcement by Robertson Winery the wage strike by the Commercial, Stevedoring and Allied Workers’ Union (Csaawu) at Robertson Winery will continue until next Wednesday.  Meantime, more activists are calling for a boycott of the company’s products.  On Twitter, the Swedish group Afrikagrupperna on Wednesday canvassed support for the union and the workers with #BoycottRobertsonWinery.  Amandla.mobi, which organises human rights campaigns via cell phones, on Tuesday gave its support through a petition and support for a boycott.

JOB MARKET, JOB CREATION, RESTRUCTURING AND RETRENCHMENTS

Port Elizabeth Chinese car plant

A multibillion-rand joint venture between Chinese carmaker Beijing Automobile Industrial Corporation (BAIC) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) will see the construction of the largest automobile plant built in SA in 40 years.  Launched on Tuesday, the R11 billion plant in Nelson Mandela Bay is set to create 2,500 direct jobs during its construction phase, and aims to produce 50,000 units in its first year of production.  Construction of the plant is set to begin before the end of the year or early next year.  The plant’s exact location in the city has not yet been finalised.  BAIC’s group CEO, Xu Heyi, said the joint venture would have created 10,000 jobs during the first production phase of 50,000 units, which will end in 2022.

CWU and MTN

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) have withdrawn an interdict application aimed at preventing MTN from outsourcing its call centre facilities. Both parties have agreed to “engage” on the matter and will only revert back to legal action if the engagement process fails.

Johannesburg’s Pikitup

New City of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has had to put out fires after only a week in the job following a stern warning from the EFF and Cosatu and its affiliate, the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Sadtu), against the privatisation of waste removal entity Pikitup.  Mashaba said it would be “premature” for him to announce plans to sort out Pikitup, as careful planning and consultation was needed to ensure no jobs were lost in the process.

COMMUNITY, LEGAL AND GENERAL

CWU and Telkom

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has criticised a labour court ruling which struck down the CWU’s bid to interdict Telkom from completing a restructuring process.  The court criticised the CWU for its failure to consult in good faith, noting that the union had refused to consult with Telkom on 15 different occasions.  The court further ruled that the CWU’s “attitude was confrontational and its approach obstructive” and that it resorted to “point taking and placing obstacles” in the way of the process.

ConCourt reinstates Unitrans truck drivers

The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) has ruled that employees on strike for backpay are entitled to stay on strike until the money has been paid, even where the employer has promised to pay it.  The judgment on Thursday was a vindication for the Transport and Allied Workers’ Union of SA (Tawusa) and 94 truck drivers who had been fighting their unfair dismissal by petroleum and gas transporters Unitrans Fuel and Chemical since 2010 and had been to court six times over the dispute.  The workers were dismissed in 2010.  The court ordered that all the drivers be reinstated — on terms “no less favourable” then when they were fired — and that they receive backpay from that date.  The company argued that the workers’ demands were over issues that were reserved for the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight Industry.  However, the ConCourt upheld the principle that a strike would be protected if even one of the demands made was a strikeable one.

Cape Town firefighters

The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) indicated in the CCMA on Thursday that new firefighters earned intern rates when they started, and this stayed the same even after they received their certificates of qualification and their badges with salary differences of up to R5,000 between new recruits and permanent firefighters.  Further written argument has been requested by the CCMA commissioner.

Richards Bay Minerals HR manager killed

Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) human resources manager Ronny Nzimande was shot and killed while sitting in his car outside his house on Tuesday night. The motive is still unknown and no arrests have been made.  Nzimande joined the management team on 1 January 2015.

UNION POLITICS

New union federation

Former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Thursday that plans to establish a new trade union federation were well under way and unions would be meeting within three weeks to choose a launch date.  A draft constitution has been written, while the name and logo will come soon.  The body’s first campaigns will focus on organising workers in the formal and informal sectors and fighting job losses.  Vavi was speaking at a briefing as the convenor of the steering committee to form the new federation.  What will makes it distinctive, he said, will be that its only political alignment will be to the working class.  While 57 unions have expressed interest in joining the new federation, 31 unions were represented in a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the way forward.  The new federation remains open to other unions and members who want to join.  Thursday’s press conference followed a decision by the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) last week to leave Cosatu.

Cosatu calls for restraint from CWU and SACP

Labour federation Cosatu on Wednesday called for restraint between its affiliate, the Communication Workers Union (CWU), and the SA Communist Party (SACP).  This followed an exchange of “verbal hand grenades” this week.  On Monday, the CWU inter alia alleged that the SACP had joined with “neo-liberal forces” to undermine the union’s presence in companies in which it organises, including the SABC and ANN7.  The CWU further criticised ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe as the “main embodiment of the extreme form of arrogance that is being associated with the ANC lately”.

The SACP responded in a statement that “this venomous and slanderous attack seems to bear great resemblance and to fit neatly into the current and existing scheme of factional gangs and networks in our movement.”  On Wednesday, Cosatu called for an end to attacks and the public trading of insults, expressing confidence in both the tripartite alliance and the CWU leadership.

Former Numsa spokesman still waiting for settlement

The former spokesman of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) claims the union is refusing to pay him out after a settlement was reached at the CCMA.  Castro Ngobese says that he now has no option but to return to the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) to enforce the settlement.  Ngobese commented:  “Regrettably, the union has failed to honour the agreement.  I consider this action as not just a breach of the agreement but in contempt of the CCMA…  This could result in the embarrassing spectacle of the Sheriff attaching the removable assets of a workers’ organisation for failing to honour its obligations of an employee.”

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