REMUNERATION AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Amcu and Amplats signed agreement 

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) signed a three-year wage agreement with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).  The agreement, retrospectively effective from 1 July 2016 makes provision for an annual increase of R1,000 or 7% (whichever is greater) per month in basic pay for bargaining unit employees for the three-year period.  The increases range from 12.5% for the lowest paid employees to 7% for other bargaining unit employees in higher level bands.  Other improvements relate to housing allowances, medical aid contributions and holiday leave allowances.  The agreement has been extended to members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the United Association of SA (Uasa), as well as to non-union affiliated employees.

Sasol Mining

The Sasol Mining strike by Amcu is still continuing with actions and reactions almost an exact replica of the 2014 Platinum industry strikes. Amcu indicated that it would consider any offer from Sasol to end the strike.

Numsa and retail motor industry

The retail motor industry has accused the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) of undermining the centralised bargaining process for a new three-year agreement by engaging in “back door” negotiations with individual employers.  Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim countered by stressing the RMI did not represent Numsa members and could not tell the union whom it could speak to.  A certificate of non-resolution of a dispute was issued to Numsa earlier this month allowing the union to give the industry 48 hours’ notice of a strike.  Jim confirmed Numsa had not given the RMI any notice of strike action and was still consulting its members and meeting employers.

Disposable salaries below inflation in 2016

 For the first time since the start of the monthly Bankserv Africa Disposable Salary Index (BDSI), salaries in SA have declined over a sustained period of time (four months in a row). The average disposable salary declined in real terms on a year-on-year basis by 0.3% in the first nine months of 2016.  But, private banked pensions are increasing at a very fast rate and, in the nine months to September, the average pension increased by 1.8% year-on-year. This supports the growing sentiment that salaries are unlikely to beat inflation in 2016.

Shrinking wage bill and tax

Revenue collections have fallen R23bn short of what was projected in the February budget, with R12.5bn of this shortfall coming from personal income tax and R8bn from VAT.  The latest tax revenue forecast of R1.3-trillion for 2016-17 compared with the budget’s forecast of R1.32-trillion was due to “significant reductions in major tax bases including wages, household consumption and imports”, the medium-term budget policy statement said.  The economic contraction in the first quarter of 2016 had led to lower personal income tax receipts.  “Growth in the wage bill, the tax base for personal income tax, has been revised down by more than one percentage point on average over the medium term,” the statement added.  Treasury expects some recovery in the second half of the year.

DISPUTES, INDUSTRIAL ACTION AND DEMONSTRATIONS

Samwu protesters in Tshwane

 Hundreds of Tshwane municipal workers tried to invade the Sammy Marks Chamber last Thursday where a special council sitting was taking place.  Led by the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), workers in the city’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), known as Vat Alles, had obtained permission to march and hand over a memorandum at the Old Raadsaal.  Demanding permanent positions, their grievances included allegations of racism and exploitation.

De Beers Venetia mine in Musina

Limpopo police are investigating malicious damage to property after a bus owned by a company contracted to De Beers Venetia Mine in Musina was set ablaze.  The company’s buses are used to transport mine workers living in the Musina and Blouberg areas.  This follows an illegal strike at the mine with protesters stopping buses entering the mine and intimidating workers reporting for duty.  The unlawful action relates to pay out of funds from the Equal Allocation Trust (EAT), an independent employee share scheme.

JOB MARKET, JOB CREATION, RESTRUCTURING AND RETRENCHMENTS

Bemawu fears ‘purge’ at SABC

 Two key finance officials at the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) were offered golden handshakes this week in what has been described as a purge of anyone questioning top management.  Chief financial controller Petra Campher and financial manager Tian Olivier were handed separation notices on Tuesday.  Campher’s offer apparently came days after she refused to authorise payments without proper paperwork.  She was offered R2.7-million for the 18 months’ salary remaining of her contract.  Olivier, who was previously suspended for five months for allegedly leaking information, was apparently offered R8-million.  Hannes du Buisson of the Broadcasting, Electronic Media & Allied Workers’ Union (Bemawu) said the union was “concerned that people who act as gatekeepers in ensuring proper governance are being purged from the system”.

 Public service jobs

The Treasury has tempered public sector employment by cutting the operational budgets of departments in the hope that 25,000 jobs will be lost through attrition over the next three years.  This follows a reduction by the provinces of 20,000 posts over the past three years.  While the Treasury has fastidiously avoided retrenchments, the adjustments to the budget over the next three years will compel departments to reduce their headcounts.  Operational budgets have been cut 1.2% across the board.  While the health and education budgets will grow in real terms, defense, public order and the safety cluster’s budgets will grow only at a rate of 5.8%, which implies personnel reductions.

APLA vets

Disgruntled former military combatants of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA – aligned to the PAC) stormed an executive committee meeting at the Durban City Hall on Tuesday demanding employment from the city.  Apla eThekwini secretary Bongani Nxumalo said the group had resorted to the drastic measure after their calls for employment, “through proper channels”, had fallen on deaf ears.  He said their members were being ignored in the employment of military veterans.  Instead, members of the ANC-aligned Umkhonto we Sizwe were getting “preferential treatment”.

Outsourcing at Unisa

Outsourcing has been reversed at the University of South Africa (Unisa) after 10 months of deliberations.  A Multi-stakeholder Task Team (MSTT) has announced that the university would appoint 910 new members of staff in previously outsourced areas, including cleaning, security, gardening and waste-removal.

 1,800 transport bursaries for unemployed youth

 In a boost for unemployed youth, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro announced on Monday that 1,800 bursaries are available for those interested in pursuing a career in the transport industry.  In partnership with the Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA), about R34-million has been set aside for the next two years as the city places transport at the centre of its economic growth strategies.  The beneficiaries of the bursaries would be qualifying and deserving youth from disadvantaged areas of the metro.

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