REMUNERATION

Spier Estate’s “green” payment to employees

Employees at the Spier estate in Stellenbosch will receive a portion of cash earned by the estate via carbon credits.  27 employees will be paid a share of half of the R204,000 earned for practising regenerative farming on part of the organically certified wine farm through a climate change mitigation initiative.

The farm has acquired the credits for sequestering 6,493 tons of carbon dioxide in its soil, which is cultivated in as natural way as possible by using regenerative farming practices like high density grazing.  Spier sustainability director Heidi Newton-King said this initiative added to the farm’s sustainability and underlined the fact that regenerative farming was not only good for the environment but made good business sense.

JOB MARKET, JOB CREATION, RESTRUCTURING & RETRENCHMENTS

Numsa’s Secretariat Report

In the secretariat report to its 10th national congress, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) notes that SA’s manufacturing sector has bled 400,000 jobs since March 2008.  The report observes that the industry has never really recovered from the global financial crisis.  It notes that manufacturing grew very slowly from the first quarter in 2010 to the fourth quarter in 2012 – by an average of only 0.07% – and that from the first quarter of 2013 ‘growth’ slowed even more to an average of 0.03% per quarter.  Numsa says the composition of the manufacturing sector has also changed over time with the metals sector’s contribution declining over the past 10 years relative to other sectors.  As regard job losses, most have occurred in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Western Cape.

MEIBC financial situation

Trade union Solidarity has applied to the Labour Court to place the Bargaining Council for the Metal and Engineering Industries (MEIBC) under curatorship.  Its aim is to rehabilitate the council to solvency and functionality through the appointment of a business rescue practitioner.  The MEIBC represents about 10,624 employers and 306,747 employees in the industry.  Solidarity said that the prolonged mismanagement of the MEIBC had been characterised by major financial irregularities, pillaging and internal politicking which have brought the bargaining council to its knees and a point has been reached where the council cannot meet its basic responsibilities anymore.

LEGAL, LEGISLATION AND COMPLIANCE

Amcu calls for a new Marikana inquiry

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has called for a new commission of inquiry to be set up to find the “real perpetrators” of the Marikana massacre.  Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa told journalists that the new commission would help get answers which the Farlam Commission into the deaths failed to do find.  Forty-four people lost their lives in Marikana in August 2012.  Mathunjwa said:  “The Farlam Commission failed to find the real perpetrators of the massacre – those who gave the orders to the ones who pulled the triggers.  We demand a commission, facilitated by a credible independent body, to get to the truth of who at the highest levels were responsible for the Marikana Massacre.”  He also wants the new commission to set out the processes and forms of compensation that could bring about a real and deep process of healing to Lonmin employees and their families.

Optimum in non-payment case

Re-Action Consulting, a social enterprise company focused on providing health solutions including HIV/Aids testing, has approached the high court for an application to liquidate Optimum Coal.  This comes after the mine’s failure to settle a R4 million debt for the construction of a public health clinic in Hendrina, Mpumalanga.  In the founding affidavit, it was indicated that by Sunday last week the Gupta family-owned Optimum Coal had not handed over the 24-hour primary health clinic, the facilities at which include a maternity wing and emergency medical service, to the Mpumalanga health department due to the lack of payment.  Optimum’s mining rights are dependent on fulfilling its social and labour commitments in terms of the Mining Charter, part of which are completion of the clinic project.  By failing to pay for the new clinic, Optimum could be at risk of losing its mining rights (although unlikely).  The application will apparently be heard on 17 January.

UNION POLITICS

Numsa re-elected Irvin Jim

Irvin Jim was re-elected as Numsa’s General Secretary at its congress which ended last week. He also said in his secretariat report to the union’s 10th national congress that the real reason that the union was expelled from Cosatu was because of the federation’s constant political posturing, including its call for the implementation of the Freedom Charter that promised that there shall be a national minimum wage and the abolition of the contract labour system.

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Rosemary Hunter and the FSB

The application to the Pretoria High Court by the former deputy registrar of pension funds at the Financial Services Board (FSB), Rosemary Hunter, that the court should supervise an investigation into the cancellation of thousands of dormant pension funds by the FSB has been dismissed.  Hunter has for years been fighting to have the cancellations project more thoroughly scrutinised, as she believes that the process was flawed.

She did not convince the court that it had the jurisdiction to “order the FSB and the Minister to perform a certain act in a certain manner and then to supervise compliance with the order”.  The court however made no finding on whether or not Hunter was correct in her assessment that the cancellations project was either unlawful or mismanaged.  Hunter said she was “deeply disappointed” by the judgment and would be considering applying for leave to appeal.

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