INDUSTRIAL ACTIONS AND DEMONSTRATIONS

Johannesburg Metrobus

Johannesburg bus service Metrobus announced that all its operations were back to normal on Thursday, following an illegal strike seemingly about the suspension of some bus drivers and the demand for the removal of monitoring systems from buses.  The strike was ended after the City of Johannesburg obtained an interim court interdict.

Msukaligwa municipality (Ermelo) dismissal of striking workers

The 200 members of the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) who had been staging sporadic strikes every pay day over the past five months, were dismissed last week. They were complaining about non-payment of overtime and other allowances.  On 21 October they allegedly sabotaged the water and electricity supply to residents and businesses.

Fawu wants to protest for summit on sugar, fat and health

Atwell Nazo, president of the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu), has called for a summit on sugar, fat, health and jobs in order to deal with causes of obesity.  Addressing Fawu members in Durban during a march against the impending introduction of a ‘sugar tax’ by government, he indicated that the summit would also discuss the needed health policy measures and the future of jobs before the implementation of the sugar tax. He indicated that the tax could affect about 50,000 workers.

JOB MARKET, JOB CREATION, RESTRUCTURING & RETRENCHMENTS

RCL Foods and cheap poultry imports

RCL Foods announced that it will lay off more than half of its workforce after cheaper poultry imports reduced its sales.  The poultry industry in SA has been battling for survival amid stiff competition from producers in Brazil, the European Union and the United States with industry experts predicting up to 4,000 job losses this year.  RCL Foods, which employs around 2,500 workers at its Hammersdale factory in Kwazulu-Natal, said it will reduce its production by 50% and slash 1,350 jobs.

Porsche to open technician training centre

Very similar to local developments by Ford, Mercedes and BMW, German sports car manufacturer Porsche will, from the middle of next year, train 75 young South Africans from disadvantaged backgrounds as service technicians at its new Porsche Training and Recruitment Centre, in Cape Town.  The course will have a duration of three years.  Those who complete the course may have the opportunity to work at Porsche SA, or at one of its sister brands within the Volkswagen group.

Porsche executive board chair Oliver Blume believes the training centre will provide Porsche SA with the skills it needs to deal with an ever-evolving product portfolio, which now incorporates electric drive and growing digitisation.  SA will be only the second country in the world to open a Porsche Training and Recruitment Centre, with the first located in Manila in the Philippines.

Central Rand Gold restructuring

Central Rand Gold (CRG) completed its Section 189 consultation process and were able to offer all employees that were on the retrenchment list alternative positions. However, about three of the affected employees declined the alternative offers and will be retrenched.

LEGISLATION AND COMPLIANCE

Zama-Zamas sentenced for illegal mining

The Hawks in the Northern Cape reported that four men convicted of illegal mining were sentenced in the Port Nolloth Magistrate’s Court to 12 months imprisonment or a R6,000 fine.  The four were arrested for trespassing and illegal mining on 24 April in the De Beers mining area in Kleinzee.  Upon the arrest, their mining implements were seized.

Additionally, they were sentenced to 6 months imprisonment or a R2,000 fine suspended for five years on condition that they do not commit similar offences during such period.

UNION POLITICS

Teaching jobs-for-cash

Teachers’ unions appeared before a parliamentary committee last week and critisized the ‘jobs-for-cash’ report, particularly the speed at which it was compiled, the generalisations it contained and some of its recommendations.  They also called for those implicated to be handed over to the police, instead of entire unions being painted with the same brush.  The unions, including Sadtu, Naptosa, Natu, SA Onderwysersunie and the Professional Educations Union, appeared before Parliament’s basic education committee on Wednesday.

This was in relation to the ministerial task team’s report on the scandal, which stemmed from an investigation into allegations of teacher posts being “sold”.

EMPLOYEE BENFITS

Proposed public pension fund

Patrick Cairns writes about the new discussion document on social security reform tabled by government at Nedlac last Friday.  The discussion document on social security reform tabled at Nedlac outlines how the government wants to achieve universal pension fund coverage by implementing compulsory contributions to a “centrally managed public fund” – the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).  If it is implemented, there could be major implications for the local financial services industry.

The document makes it clear that private vehicles such as pension and provident funds or retirement annuities (RAs) will remain important, but that some things will have to change.  Major consolidation of pension funds is expected and it is thought that only around 300 of SA’s 3,000-odd funds will survive the introduction of the NSSF which is not necessarily bad.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Marikana widows

The Marikana massacre widows and family members have been asked to provide proof that they suffered emotional shock, trauma and grief before they can be compensated.  It has been almost a year since the government agreed on an out-of-court settlement to avoid a lengthy court process, but so far no payments have been made.  Socio-Economic Rights Institute’s (Seri’s) Nomzamo Zondo, representing the families, said they had laid various claims for compensation including that of emotional shock, trauma, loss of support, an apology from the government and more.  She said there had been progress in the negotiations for claims relating to loss of support.  “We’ve been asked to provide proof of emotional shock and trauma.  The process of our clients seeing specialists has started.  Thereafter, we have to produce reports from the specialists detailing the levels of trauma and suffering by our clients,” Zondo said.

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