Platinum producers (Amplats, Implats, Lonmin)

 The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union indicated to Reuters that it has reached tentative wage deals with Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum, and Lonmin, following almost two months of negotiations.

Amcu indicated that the agreements reached in principle will be discussed with all of AMCU’s members on an October 30th meeting which will decide whether to give the deals a final approval or not.

Although the details of the agreements are not available indications are that it is similar in structure and quantum than that reached by Amcu in the gold industry in 2015.

Amcu’s original demand was for pay hikes of more than 50% for entry-level occupations, who earn just short of R8,000 per month, and 15% for higher positions.

This is a very different scenario compared to 2014 when agreement was only reached after a 20 week strike.

Sasol Mining

Speaking to members outside the Sasol offices in Rosebank‚ Johannesburg‚ on Thursday, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa praised them for continuing with the strike without any incidents of violence.  He told management representatives who came to receive the workers’ memorandum that he was willing to immediately talk to which they agreed.

More than 2‚000 Amcu members who work at Sasol coal mines in Secunda‚ Mpumalanga have been on strike for the past two months.  They are demanding a minimum wage of R12‚500 a month.

 Numsa and retail motor industry

Irvin Jim, general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), confirmed that the union was consulting members about a possible wage strike in the retail motor industry.  A certificate of non-resolution of a dispute (i.e. a so-called ‘strike certificate’) was issued to Numsa last week during a negotiation session with the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).

Numsa’s final demand is a wage increase of 9% in the first year of a three-year agreement, with 8% in each of the following years.  The RMI has offered 7% in each year of the agreement.

Robertson Winery

Unions belonging to SA’s soon-to-be launched new labour federation are warning of a secondary strike at Robertson Winery in the Western Cape.  They indicated that they were confident that workers in 30 companies that supply the winery with grapes would participate in the mass action in the event that the winery “does not cooperate in these negotiations.

Workers have been on strike for more than two months demanding a living wage.  They also say that salary distribution is based on colour, with white skilled workers earning three times more than black employees.  The unions have accused the winery of bringing in temporary labour instead of trying to find a solution to the current impasse.

Philip Morris tobacco

Tobacco group Philip Morris International has suspended production at its strike-hit Boksburg factory on Gauteng’s East Rand as a precautionary measure after incidences of intimidation and violence were reported.

Workers have been on strike for more than a month demanding a 10% pay rise.  The company says its 8.5% pay offer is substantial, given challenging economic conditions.


Durban mortuary strike

The 2-day strike at the Gale Street Medico-Legal Mortuary in Durban have ended after a meeting with Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo. The strike related to a manager who had been suspended and then resumed her duties on 17 October.

The staff members took the opportunity to also advise Dhlomo about other grievances, including issues of overtime and complaints about inadequate supply of protective clothing.  Dhlomo committed to resolving the matter urgently, as it affected the staff morale at the mortuary.  The manager in question has been instructed to return to work after receiving an indication to do so.


Sibanye’s acquisition of Amplats’ Rustenburg mines

Sibanye Gold has cleared the final regulatory hurdle for its $330 million (R4.5-billion) acquisition of Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats’) Rustenburg mines.  The company indicated on Wednesday that the deal, first announced over a year ago, was on track for completion at end of the month after approval from the Mineral Resources Department was secured.

The deal, along with the takeover of Aquarius Platinum last year, will put Sibanye, which is SA’s second-largest gold producer, into the global top five producers of platinum group metals.  For Amplats, the transaction allows it to focus its strategy on newer, mechanised and less labour intensive mines.

Although the acquisition was positively received by stakeholders, the Num has rejected Sibanye Gold’s takeover of Anglo American Platinum’s Rustenburg operations, saying it would open the floodgates for job cuts.

In the meantime Amcu has announced that it has reached agreement in principle regarding the 2016 wage review with Amplats, preventing strike action from occurring as the Sibanye takes ownership.

 Pick n Pay job creation

Pick n Pay Stores created more than 2,000 new jobs in the first half of its financial year and opened 74 new stores as part of plans to grow its market share.  “The group is on track with its 2015 plan to create 5,000 new jobs per year by 2020.  A further 2,100 new jobs were created in the first half of this year, bringing the benefits of work to more employees and their families,” Richard Brasher, the retailer’s CE, announced.

Pick n Pay has a three-year wage agreement with the SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu), thereby securing certainty.

BHP Billiton and female employment

In a statement this week by CEO Andrew Mackenzie, BHP Billiton indicated that it wants women to account for half of its workforce by 2025 as the world’s top miner seeks to change the gender balance in an industry dominated by men.

BHP has a workforce of about 65,000, including contractors, of which 18% are female.  Based on these numbers, its target would mean an additional 21,000 women employed by the middle of the next decade including both its own staff and contractors.

 CPI at 6,1%

 The consumer price index (CPI) rose 6.1% in September compared with a year earlier, Statistics SA said on Wednesday, after a 5.9% increase in August and a 6% rise in July.  Although inflation has breached the 3%-6% target range for much of this year, the Reserve Bank considers it to be stable and expects it to fall back within the target next year.


Izinduna salaries

The KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) government is seeking about R1.1 billion from Treasury to pay the salaries of thousands of izinduna (headmen).  The province has 2‚039 headmen and late last year they marched into the KZN legislature in Pietermaritzburg‚ threatening to go on strike and disrupt preparations for the local government elections unless their salaries were increased to about R8‚000 a month and they received back pay dated from 2006.

Earlier this year President Jacob Zuma met with KZN izinduna to discuss remuneration and recognition for the work they do.  He urged the izinduna not to disrupt the elections, indicating that he had already standardised the salaries of the country’s more than 5‚000 headmen to pay each a flat annual salary of R84‚125.

Cosatu and Ramaphosa

The decision by Cosatu not to officially endorse Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa for the top ANC job is threatening to tear the trade union federation further apart.  Cosatu has taken a cautious approach on the ANC’s succession debate and has asked its affiliates to engage further on the issue.  But it has now emerged that affiliates such the NUM, Popcru, Sadtu and Nehawu, which are backing Ramaphosa to succeed President Jacob Zuma as ANC leader next year and eventually as head of state in 2019, are not happy with the posture taken by Cosatu.


Transnet pension trustees

The Transnet Pensioners Action Group (TPAG) will be nominating three of its members for the upcoming election of new trustees for three of Transnet’s pension funds.  The TPAG is part of the class action against Transnet and its pension funds in terms of which more than R80 billion is being claimed by pensioners for loss of income and damages since the early 2000’s when Transnet decided to award pension increases of just 2% irrespective of the inflation rate.

The TPAG has proposed Robin Rowe and Laurence Liebbrandt as new trustees of the Transnet Pension Fund sub-fund and Naas Rossouw as trustee of the Prasa sub-fund.

The TPAG alleges that the current trustees, with the exception of Rowe who has served as an alternate trustee since 2013, have not carried out their fiduciary responsibilities of ensuring the financial wellbeing of pensioners.  The pensioners’ class action has been hampered of late by a court ruling over technical objections, against which leave to appeal has been denied.

Numsa to create umbrella retirement fund

The Numsa Investment Company has applied for a section 13B license to set up an umbrella fund such that employees at small factories will be able to invest in its retirement fund.  Khandani Msibi, CEO and executive chairman of the investment arm of SA’s largest trade union, said factories with ten to 150 employees will be able to invest in the new fund, which is to be based on a similar model to its joint venture with financial services firm 10X Investments.  Numsa expects the Financial Services Board to formally grant the section 13B license in coming weeks and is aiming to launch the umbrella fund at the Numsa Special National Congress in mid-December.

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