DISPUTES AND INDUSTRIAL ACTION

Numsa wage dispute in bus passenger sector

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) began the mediation process between the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the Bus Passenger Council.  Numsa is demanding a wage increase of 30% across the board, as well as a living wage of R15,000 per month for all workers.  It has also demanded a R1,500 housing allowance, a R1,200 sleeping out allowance, and for overtime to be paid at 1.5 times normal rate and double time if employees are obliged to to work on their day off.  Employers in the sector have apparently offered a 4.5% wage increase across the board.  

Nehawu to strike in public social development sector

The National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) announced its intention to convene a national meeting of the Public Social Development sector as part of its final preparations for a nationwide strike this coming week.  The strike comes as a result of the failure by the Department of Social Development since August 2015 to table “meaningful” responses to the union’s demands.  Last month, Nehawu mounted a nation-wide protest action where it delivered a memorandum of demands, but a solution to the dispute has not yet been reached.  The union is demanding, among other things, the occupation specific dispensation for Social Service Professionals and Occupations, the introduction of a rural allowance, the absorption of unemployed social workers on a permanent basis and a number of other issues.  Nehawu also said it would be exploring the possibility of a secondary strike in the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa)

Samwu strike in Kouga

A strike by Kouga Local Municipality staff affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) started on Monday last week with more reported damage to municipal offices.  Last Monday, the municipality had to close its Jeffrey’s Bay offices after the strike turned violent.  There has apparently been further damage to Council property, including the entrance gate to the Municipal building in Jeffreys Bay being broken open and human faeces being thrown onto a building in Humansdorp.  The streets in Hankey have reportedly also seen trashed.  The municipality said that the workers’ grievance revolved around a number of Expanded Public Work Program (EPWP) workers, whose temporary contracts ended on 28 February and were not renewed.

Strike at KZN’s Park Rynie State Mortuary

The KwaZulu-Natal Funeral Directors’ Association has urged the Health Department to take drastic action against staff at the Park Rynie State Mortuary, who commenced strike action leaving 17 bodies unattended.  They are following a modes operandi of calling-in sick and thereby not reporting for work. The staff grievances apparently include disputes over roster times, days off and leave.  Nehawu said there was no strike at the Park Rynie facility, but staff members were on a go-slow.

Metered taxi drivers and Uber

Metered taxi operators were blocking parts of the R24 highway in both directions on Friday in protest about the Uber service. They want the Uber service banned from South Africa. On the same day Uber drivers gathered in Parktown North‚ Johannesburg‚ to protest what they called unsafe working conditions.

REMUNERATION

Judges sacrificing 2016/17 salary increases

Judges will be sacrificing their salary increases for the 2016-17 financial year‚ a move that was “welcomed and commended” by MPs in the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services.  Depending on their seniority‚ judges’ salaries range from R1.7m a year up to R2.7m for the chief justice‚ according to pay scales published in March 2016. Constitutional Court judges earn R2.1m.

Nehawu and University of Pretoria

Barbed wire fencing was installed at Pretoria University as a precaution after threats of wildcat action was received by the university on the same day that the university and Nehawu (National Health Education & Allied Workers’ Union) commenced wage negotiations. This is seen as a threat by the union. The union’s demands includes a 10% increase across the board, a 13th cheque and a 20% medical aid contribution increase from the university.

Ekurhuleni metro cops’ overtime

Manpower shortages, flash floods and protests led to the Ekurhuleni metro police’s overtime payments exceeding the budget by 75%.  The department reported to the metro’s finance committee that in 2015-16 R81m had been budgeted for overtime, but R148m was spent.  Metro police’s deputy chief Jabulani Mapiyeye said xenophobic attacks, flash floods and service protests meant more police were needed to control situations.  Ekurhuleni had 1,790 metro police officers and they may work up to 40 hours overtime a month.

JOB MARKET, JOB CREATION, RESTRUCTURING AND RETRENCHMENTS

Eskom’s potential job losses

Briefing Parliament, Minister Lynne Brown indicated that the power utility had posted a R4.6-billion profit, but faced some challenges‚ particularly as SA continued to generate excess electricity capacity and moved towards greener energy.  Brown said policy decisions such as the Independent Power Producers programme – in which Eskom would be obliged to buy power from small producers at a much higher cost than coal generation – had the ability to crash its balance sheet within the next 20 years.  She added that the process needed to be properly managed to ensure workers were reskilled.  There could be a potential loss of 6,000 jobs over time.

Lily and Barbrook mines

The Mpumalanga provincial government is seemingly ready to throw a lifeline to cash-strapped Australian company Vantage Goldfields to save jobs at its two mothballed mines.  During his state of the province address Premier David Mabuza said that the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (Mega) had been instructed to explore the viability of creating a diversified, state-owned mine to rescue jobs – particularly at Lily and Barbrook mines.  The business rescue practitioner at the mines, Rob Devereux, said he would begin negotiations with Mega.  He advised that he had managed to acquire more than half of the R300 million required to reopen the two mines from various investors, but nothing could happen until the full amount was procured.  Mega CEO Xola Sithole said the parastatal was open to acquiring a stake in the mines and raising capital to reopen them.  Before the mines were placed under business rescue, they employed more than 1,000 workers, 900 of whom were attached to Lily mine.

The Premier has also committed to the building of 1,000 RDP houses for the Louisville mining community living near the Barberton Lily Mine in an effort to create opportunities for employment.  The houses would be built by the local people in the period up until 2019 and would serve as a start-up for the community estimated to be around 6,000 families, who had previously relied mainly on working at the local mines.

LEGAL, LEGISLATION AND COMPLIANCE

Clamp down on hiring of undocumented migrants

Seven employers were recently arrested and charged for employing undocumented migrants when 567 business premises were inspected by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) in Tshwane and Johannesburg.  147 undocumented migrants had been arrested.  Most of the foreign-owned shops inspected did not comply with the 60%/40% ratio as they employed only foreign nationals in possession of asylum-seeker permits,.

Oxfam SA calls for decriminalising informal mining

Oxfam SA has called on the government to decriminalise informal mining‚ which it says is largely misunderstood.  The charitable organisation made the statement after 14 illegal miners were found dead this week in derelict mines in Benoni on Gauteng’s East Rand.  The organisation wants the government to acknowledge the role of artisanal mining in macro-economic development‚ in household income‚ job creation and securing livelihoods for the majority of the poor and unemployed.  It said it was a myth that “all informal miners are non-nationals‚ illegal migrants‚ part of syndicates, or [mine] with the intention to become part of the wider syndicates and underground gangs.  Naturally, when under threat these unregulated miners respond by defending and arming themselves.  Lawlessness will mount if this issue and related issues are not addressed properly”.

Three job recruitment specialists charged for price fixing

The Competition Commission has referred three recruitment specialists to the Competition Tribunal on charges of price fixing.  The action follows an investigation by the commission, which found that Human Communications, Kone Staffing and Jobvest discussed and agreed on prices at which to quote their customers.  Their services include linking job seekers to potential employers and assisting their clients to place advertisements in newspapers, the commission said.  The respondents were engaged in horizontal restrictive practices (a relationship between competitors at the same level), according to the commission.

UNION ISSUES

New labour federation to launch

A new trade union federation will host its inaugural congress in April, its steering committee convenor, Zwelinzima Vavi, said on Wednesday.  He indicated that 21 unions would be represented by 1,800 delegates for the gathering set for April 21 – 23.  He added that 17 other unions had not yet received a mandate to become part of the new federation.  Vavi, who was expelled from labour federation Cosatu in 2016, said workers needed unions that were independent of their bosses and political parties.  According to Vavi, 76% of the workers in the country were not union members and this was a sign that they had given up on the organisations meant to represent their rights.

SAA Pilots Association and Outa

The SAA Pilots Association (Saapa) and the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) applied for a court order to have SAA Chairperson Myeni declared a delinquent director, who has grossly abused her position.  If successful, Myeni would be disqualified from her directorship, or holding a senior or executive position within any SA company for a minimum of seven years.

NUM’s Women’s Structure saddened by ANCWL attack on Cosatu

The National Union of Mineworkers’ Women’s Structure (NUM-WS) expressed unhappiness with the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) for attacking labour federation Cosatu over the social grants fiasco.  The NUM-WL said it was “deeply saddened by the outrageous and unfounded attack by the [ANCWL] on [the] Cosatu CEC [central executive committee] and the leadership collective of all the federation’s affiliates.”  It went on to state:  “This all happens when 17 million South Africans social grant beneficiaries (majority which are women and children) are facing a hopeless and bleak upcoming reality of not being able to revise their only source of income next month.  This is due to ‘someone’ sleeping on the job, as the Constitutional Court gave Sassa [SA Social Security Agency] and the Department of Social Development ample time to look for an appropriate service provider.”  Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is also ANCWL president.

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