DISPUTES & INDUSTRIAL ACTION

Human Rights Commission

Barely two months in office, the newly appointed human rights commissioners are at odds with Parliament over a proposal that full-time commissioners be based in their provinces, as opposed to the headquarters in Johannesburg.

The commission argues that this is to “increase efficiency and visibility”. However, Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice and constitutional development holds a different view.

Committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga warned: “We have said we don’t want commissioners who act in silos. We have seen the problem of acting in silos. It has created the [Life Esidimeni] disaster the nation is mourning.”

Motshekga said the law states that the seat of the commission is in Johannesburg and commissioners should be based in Johannesburg.

WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI)

The BCCEI has argued during the past three years that certain mining contractors (particularly those that do mining contracting in open-pit operations) must be members of this bargaining council. The alternative for these contractors is plant or company-level bargaining due to there being no bargaining council for the mining industry.

This confusion is being brought to a conclusion with Andru Mining taking the BCCEI to court arguing that their scope does not include mining contractors whilst mining contractor Liviero is meeting during the next week with representatives from the Amcu to discuss their strategy in terms of transitioning collective bargaining on wages and other conditions of employment to the BCCEI. The latter could result in the Amcu being granted recognition at the BCCEI, something that some other employer members have been resisting.

JOB MARKET, JOB CREATION & RETRENCHMENTS

Mopani Copper Mines – Zambia

The Zambian government has appealed to management at Mopani Copper Mine (MCM) to rescind its demand for Grade 12 certificates as one of the conditions for re-engaging some of its former employees. With the increase in copper prices, the mine is seeking to re-employ some of the 300 employees retrenched at the end of 2015.

Mrs Nonde-Simukoko, Minister of Labour and Social Security said: “Government has (however) no problem with the mining firm asking for the Grade 12 certificates from former employees who were earlier engaged using that qualification, and if that is the requirement in their job descriptions.”

UNION POLITICS

Numsa’s Irvin Jim and Zambian politics

The Zambian Government is taking great exception to an alleged threat by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) to launch a campaign to boycott Zambian goods and end South Africa’s trade with Zambia if the perceived harassment of Mutinta M’membe (editor of the Zambian Post newspaper) continues. Mrs Nonde-Simukoko, Minister of Labour and Social Security, said she finds the position taken by NUMSA through its general secretary Irvin Jim not only strange but also malicious. “We are convinced that the misinformed and ill-conceived position by NUMSA is a failed attempt which was calculated to strain the cordial and warm relations that exist between the sister republics of Zambia and South Africa,” Mrs Nonde-Simukoko said.

She added that Mr Jim and NUMSA, must be advised to learn to consult local institutions before making statements that did not only bring into disrepute but also interfered with the sovereignty of Zambia as a nation. Mrs Nonde-Simukoko said that the Ministry of Labour and Social Security would soon write to the South African government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to officially complain against NUMSA and Mr Jim in his official and individual capacity.

COMMENT

The past week has been the quietest week on the labour front in the four year existence of the IR Weekly. It therefore also represents the shortest ever IR Weekly! Almost no news was received regarding industrial relations developments. This was probably due to three developments:

  • The national budget speech.
  • The community action in Rosettenville and Atteridgeville.
  • A number of companies commencing with in-house and plant level wage negotiations.

The community action in particular highlights the importance of community views and in many cases desperation due to political non-delivery and poverty and unemployment levels that are deteriorating. Increasingly the community action is directed against companies (e.g. developments in Mpumalanga, the Northwest and the Northern Cape) in an attempt to get business to deliver where government delivery is lacking.

The affairs and the politics of communities are therefore increasingly becoming of great importance as part of people management.

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