REMUNERATION AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Amcu and Sasol

About 1,500 Sasol workers who had travelled by bus from Sasol’s Secunda operations marched to the company’s head office in Rosebank, Johannesburg, to hand over a memorandum.  Amcu commenced strike action after wage negotiations collapsed.  Having rejected a 7% offer, workers are demanding a R12,500 salary adjustment across the board and a R3,500 adjustment for those who earn more than that, among other things.  Sasol and the union’s regional leaders were set to meet on Friday.

During the march Amcu’s President Joseph Mathunjwa indicated that ex Sasol CEO (David Constable) annual pay of R47m should land him in jail, referring to the wide gap between his salary and those of entry-level workers.

Motor manufacturers

A new three-year agreement for the vehicle-manufacturing industry appears imminent.  Numsa indicated that in their view agreement has been reached in principle on a 10% wage increase in the first year and 8% in each of the following two years.

White River Saw Mill

The White River Saw Mill in Mpumalanga on Wednesday denied claims that it had offered employees a 78c wage increase.  Although the company refused to indicate the percentage increase granted it stated that the increases that were granted and implemented are higher than that guided by the substantive agreement on wages and other conditions of employment for the saw milling chamber of the National Bargaining Council for the Wood and Paper Sector, which was agreed to for the 2016/2017 period and signed by parties on 02 August 2016.  About 500 workers have gone on strike after they were allegedly offered a 78c wage increase.  The workers are seeking a basic salary of R5,000.

Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha

 Fourteen Nehawu-affiliated workers at the museum in the Eastern Cape are on strike demanding a 10% wage increase and a review of the company’s medical aid co-payments.  The staff members claim 11 managers earn a combined R6,6 million a year, while the 14 of them earn R1,9 million a year.

DISPUTES, INDUSTRIAL ACTION AND DEMONSTRATIONS

Amcu and Mpumalanga collieries

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) in Mpumalanga is on strike at five different collieries which includes Wonderfontein and a number of smaller collieries. Although details are inconclusive one of the collieries is the Thusi Coal Mine where more than fifty workers of the mine have been staging an underground sit- in for almost three weeks.  They have accused the mine of failing to pay them their salaries for the past three months.

Parliament and Nehawu

 Members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) who embarked on an unprotected strike at Parliament on Thursday (again) could be dismissed if found guilty of misconduct.  Parliament said it found the reasons for the strike unconvincing and indicated that it had not notified of it.  The institution said in a statement:  “The action is unprotected and staff are cautioned against committing misconduct by participating in such action.  In instances where misconduct is committed, disciplinary action will be taken and this may lead to dismissal.”  Strike action commenced on Thursday, following a week of lunchtime protests.  This was due to salary deductions relating to a previous strike, the suspension of their branch chairperson and another member and disciplinary processes against six employees.

Pikitup MD Amanda Nair

Johannesburg’s new mayor, Herman Mashaba, has terminated Pikitup MD Amanda Nair’s contract.  She had been accused of corruption by the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), and the city’s failure to remove her was one of the reasons the union’s members went out on strike for weeks earlier this year.  Nair was cleared of corruption charges last year after she was arrested for alleged theft of the company’s official cellphones.  In July, an investigation into her conduct found that Nair did not always act with honesty and integrity when dealing with the affairs of the waste-collection entity.

Telkom and CWU

After what seemed to be an inconclusive meeting with Telkom on Wednesday last week during which the CWU again reiterated its 11% wage demand, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has voted to suspend its Telkom strike, while the telecoms company has said it wants to see all employees back at work last Friday.  In a letter to staff, Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko said that they received feedback from the CWU following the company’s full and final offer related to the current strike.  Although detail is still sketchy it appears that the union accepted the 6% offer linked to a performance bonus scheme.

Midvaal and Samwu

The Midvaal municipality has suspended the 30 employees who were involved in an illegal strike before the August local government elections and will take disciplinary action against them.  Of those 30 people‚ eight are shop stewards of Samwu.  Currently Midvaal has no shop steward for staff.

JOB MARKET, JOB CREATION, RESTRUCTURING AND RETRENCHMENTS

BMW SA

Car manufacturer BMW South Africa says it plans to expand its IT workforce by 50% from 400 to 600 jobs by next year.  Tim Abbott, CEO of the vehicle manufacturer’s SA and sub-Saharan operations on Thursday said its services centre has already created over 200 specialist jobs between 2014 and 2016, with targets for further growth to 320 jobs by 2017.

In addition, the IT Operations Centre employs 200 people and will grow to 300 by 2017, supporting a growing number of critical IT Systems for BMW around the world.  Both IT centres provide employees with the opportunity to develop their skills locally and on international assignments.  Abbott noted South Africans were unique in terms of multi-skilling.

COMMUNITY, LEGAL AND GENERAL

Aurora

After six years of legal wrangling, the liquidators of Pamodzi Gold mines and Aurora Empowerment Systems have finally seen cash as Khulubuse Zuma, Jacob Zuma’s nephew, reached a settlement to pay R23 million.  After Aurora took over from the provisional liquidators of Pamodzi Gold in 2009, assets were stripped and the mines closed.  Khulubuse was scheduled to have paid R5.5-million by the end of Wednesday, and will finish paying off the amount in 52 months.  While Zuma reached a settlement, four other Aurora directors – Solly, Fazel and Zubeida Bhana, and Yaseem Theba – were sequestrated on Wednesday, after failing to pay their R5.9-million damages agreement.

Bogus labour inspectors and Free State farmers

The Department of Labour on Thursday alerted employers about an increasing number of bogus labour inspectors tricking unsuspecting employers into paying false fines.  Farmers in the Free State have fallen prey to the unscrupulous inspectors.  The department said in a statement:  “In all cases reported, the targets were farmers.  These bogus inspectors visit workplaces to conduct illegal inspections and thereafter issue employers with illegitimate inspection reports and contravention notices.  Unsuspecting employers are coerced and intimidated by these deceitful individuals into believing that they were to face the music and the full might of the law if they do not accede to their demands.”

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Military veterans

A long-standing R200m tender dispute has left many military veterans without access to healthcare.  According to Tshidi Paka, national secretary of the SA National Military Veterans (SANMVA), his office had been inundated with “agonising calls” from military veterans suffering from chronic diseases.  “More than 100 military veterans were admitted to public hospital and some died from various ailments this financial year.  Every day we receive requests that members need to be admitted to health facilities,” he said.  Last year the Department of Military Veterans appointed Zeal Health Innovations as a service provider for primary healthcare services, dedicated counselling services and medical evaluation of military veterans.  The contract has been halted, with the department claiming irregularities in the awarding of the contract in court.  Paka has accused the department of failing to resolve their healthcare problems speedily.

Miners’ compensation fund

It will take 19 years to clear the claims backlog at the Compensation Commission for Occupational Diseases if it continues working at its current pace, commissioner Barry Kistnasamy told MPs on Wednesday.  His frank admission highlights the mammoth task facing the government as it seeks to improve compensation for mine workers and former miners affected by heart and lung diseases.  The fund has a backlog of 106,000 claims that have been approved by its Medical Bureau for Occupational Disease that have yet to be paid out.  Despite measures being put in place to turn around the ailing institution, it had managed to pay just 1,775 claimants for the year to 31 March.  And an estimated 400,000 former mine workers still needed to be traced and assessed, Kistnasamy said.  The fund, which is overseen by the health department, deals only with mine-related lung and heart conditions, while all other work-related injuries are compensated by a fund overseen by the labour department.

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