Coleus links production schedules to sales volumes

Coleus, part of AB InBev, successfully obtained union support for changes in labour utilisation to link production schedules to sales volumes. This would create a flexible production footprint in which shift arrangements can be flexed between continuous operations and 3 x 8 five day a week operations as well as the flexing of production lines. The arrangement would prevent retrenchments, lay-offs or working of short-time. The negotiations were concluded with two unions being Numsa (National Union of Metalworkers of SA) and Mewusa (Metal and Electrical Workers Union of SA) who are representative of the employees at the Coleus plant in Alrode.

Sardine imports from Morocco save jobs

With the sardine catch quota drastically reduced, a southern Cape fishing company has turned to Africa to stay afloat at its canning factory and so keep its 400 factory employees.  Afro Fishing has imported thousands of tons of Moroccan sardines through the Port of Ngqura since it signed a R90-million deal involving Moroccan fishing companies in November. The deal was precipitated by the drastic reduction in the annual national total allowable catch (TAC) for sardines issued by SA’s Department of Forestry and Fisheries from 90,000 tons in 2014 to 23,964 tons this year.


Country-wide action on Friday 7 April 2017

There are several social media messages doing the rounds calling for mass-action in the form of stay-aways and marches on Friday 7 April 2017. Although no confirmation could be obtained it appears that this date is being targeted to mobilise support in opposition to the cabinet re-shuffling by President Zuma last week.

What could be confirmed is that Save SA said it intended to launch a march in Pretoria next Friday.  Zwelinzima Vavi, under his new labour federation, as well as the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), will also be marching to Treasury.

Harmony’s Kusasalethu mine strike

The unprotected strike at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu mine near Carletonville ended on Friday, following discussions between senior management and the senior leadership of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).  The strike was caused by the suspension of the Amcu branch leaders, who had encouraged an illegal go-slow at the mine in which only 25% of the workforce reported for work.  The go-slow was in reaction to disciplinary procedures taken by the company against 40 employees following an illegal sit-in at Kusasalethu in January this year.

Labour issues at Nelson Mandela Museum

In the Arts and Culture Portfolio Report in Parliament it was revealed that the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha is being crippled by the continued appointment of acting CEOs and apparent failure to adhere to labour laws.  Employees allege that they have no job descriptions and are randomly placed and not properly remunerated.  An unprotected strike over salary negotiations went on for three weeks, resulting in the management awarding a 7% salary increase to all employees, including managers.

Numsa strikes against RAF

Last Wednesday the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) indicated that further wage negotiations with the Road Accident Fund (RAF) under the sponsorships of the CCMA had collapsed and that it plans to intensify its strike. The strike relates to a pay dispute as well as the RAF’s alleged inability to compensate accident victims.  Earlier this month, RAF’s CEO Eugene Watson labelled Numsa’s wage demands as unsubstantiated‚ unaffordable and unreasonable.

NUM and closure of Eskom power stations

Last Wednesday The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it was planning mass protest action over Eskom’s decision to close five power stations in the next five years to make room for independent power producers (IPPs).  The union said it would mobilise all its members across the mining, energy and construction sectors and society at large to protest against the signing of the inclusion of more IPPs into the national grid. The power stations to be shut down are Hendrina, Kriel, Komati, Grootvlei and Camden.  On Monday Numsa said it had informed the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) as Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act requires trade unions to inform Nedlac of their intention to embark on protest action to promote or defend workers’ socio-economic interests at least 14 days prior to the commencement of such action. See the snippet below for Eskom’s response that IPP’s are not the only reason for the closures.

Social workers’ strike unlikely to end soon

There appears to be no foreseeable end to the strike by members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) in the social development sector. Workers are demanding, amongst others, the introduction of a rural allowance, the absorption of unemployed social workers on a permanent basis and improved conditions of service for employees in the department.  The challenge being the rural allowance.

Nehawu: Possible mortuary strike in KZN

The National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has threatened strike action which could delay the release of bodies to bereaved families, if its demands for mortuary workers are not addressed by the Department of Health.  Phakamani Ndunakazi, KZN provincial secretary, on Sunday said workers would embark on lunchtime pickets while the union met the department. Workers’ complaints include allegedly broken air conditioning and equipment, and irregularities related to rosters, overtime pay and lack of danger pay.  Post-mortems are meant to be conducted by doctors with the workers assisting. Head of the health department, Dr. Sifiso Mtshali said that they were underway with improvements to working conditions at the 39 mortuaries in the province.


MTN Executive Chair

MTN has released its integrated report for the year ended 31 December 2016, which shows that MTN Group’s executive chairman Phuthuma Nhleko was paid a R72.17 million salary for the 2016 financial year, despite having posted its first-ever annual loss in its 22-year history.  His non-executive director salary came to R3.98 million in addition to R30 million for his role as executive director. According to MTN, Nhleko was key to stabilizing the company in the wake of the group’s Nigeria fine crisis, and his guidance led to the fine being reduced by R34 billion.

Reduction in net income

The take-home pay of South Africans for last month declined with 0.8%, due to salary growth in nominal terms for the period being lower than the month’s inflation rate of 6.3%.  This is according to BankservAfrica’s Disposable Salaries Index (BDSI) and Private Pensions Index (BPPI).  The month was the ninth consecutive month of declines of salaries in real-terms.  The company indicated that average real disposable salaries reached R13,980 in February, which was the highest since September last year when real seasonally adjusted salaries reached R14,102.  The constant decline in disposable salaries has taken a toll on retail sales, mainly car and home sales.


AB InBev recruitment

Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), is recruiting again after a higher than expected number of former SABMiller managers took voluntary separation packages and left in January. Of the 1,000 managers that SABMiller employed when AB InBev completed the takeover in October 2016, 378 departed with severance packages as part following reports of the company’s global cost cutting plans.  The process only affected managers at the head office, not operations. The advertised jobs are required in the legal, corporate affairs and finance departments and include administration roles such as analysts.

Voluntary severance packages at TransNet

Transnet confirmed that it was offering voluntary severance packages (VSPs) to its management and bargaining unit employees.  The parastatal blamed passive global economic growth, including a weak economic outlook for the local economy, as the reasons for initiating the VSP program. The VSP process will be considered in line with business and operational requirements, including the retention of skills that Transnet might require in line with its future plans.  The group expects to conclude the process at the end of April and UNTU urged its members to remain in employment for as long as possible, despite the grim outlook. No confirmation could be obtained regarding numbers of people affected.

De-commissioning of Eskom plants

Eskom indicated last week that independent power producers (IPPs) were not the only factor that led to its decision not to extend the life of a number of its power stations. The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), as well as coal truckers, have directed their anger at the IPPs after Eskom said it would shut down five old coal-fired power stations in order to create space for electricity from the IPPs.  The Integrated Resource Plan 2010-2030 and Eskom’s Transmission Development Plan 2016-2025 are among documents that show that the decommissioning of the power stations have been part of Eskom’s plans for a while.

Low growth rate

Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, said that unemployment rates were likely to remain high with lower local and global growth.  He indicated in parliament that the global and domestic economies remained weak, and that growth had essentially stagnated in 2016, however there might be a modest recovery towards 2% by 2020.  SA grew about 0.5% in 2016 and the Treasury expects the economy to expand 1.3% in 2017.  The unemployment rate, at about 27%, has been relentlessly increasing in recent years and the trend shows no sign of lessening.  According to Radebe, despite the weak economic environment, the commitments made by government under Outcome Four: Decent Employment through Inclusive Growth are being implemented and progress was being recorded in key sectors of the economy.

‘Save our Steel’ campaign

Trade union Solidarity has set the launch date for a job-saving campaign to conceive and implement purposeful plans to help “save” certain industries that are struggling to remain viable as 30 March 2017. The steel industry in SA was experiencing economic hardship owing to a drastic slowdown in the growth of the local economy, cost pressure in the manufacturing sector and excessively high steel imports.  Solidarity aims to create public awareness of the challenges facing the local industry, lobby public support and foster alignment between the primary and downstream industry.

Senior resignations at Group Five

Group Five executive committee member and head of HR, Jesse Doorasamy, has resigned, increasing the number of executives who will be leaving the listed construction and engineering group.  Doorasamy will be leaving the group at the end of June, following the resignation of chief executive Eric Vemer, who will be leaving within the next few weeks, as well as engineering and construction executive director and member of the executive Willie Zeelie, who will be leaving at the end of this month.

Liquidation of Kishugu Clothing

The liquidation of Kishugu Clothing has meant that some 190 workers will be unemployed when the clothing factory closes down.  Workers gathered outside the premises last Monday, hoping they would get answers about outstanding payments and provident fund monies.  Rob Winter, interim representative of the Kishugu managing director, said the business rescue practitioner, Jurgens Steenkamp, made the call to liquidate the business.

Mining job losses

Statistics SA indicated in its Mining Industry 2015 reported that the mining industry shed almost 50,000 jobs from 2012 to 2015, most of which were in the gold and platinum sectors.  Since 2015 job losses have continued in the sector, with preliminary figures from the Chamber of Mines showing that 457,698 people were employed in mining in 2016.  In the four years 2012 to 2015, average salaries and wages rose by 7.5% a year or 24%.  According to Stats SA, out of 490,146 people employed in mining in 2015, 198,951 were in the platinum group metals (PGM) sector.  Gold mining was the second-biggest employer, at 104,369, followed by coal mining at 97,952 employees.  In 2015, the average salary for workers in the iron-ore sector, which was the best-paid outside the mining services sector, was R38,490 a month.  The average salary paid in the PGM sector was R17,649 a month in 2015.

DTI sets aside R15bn for sustainable growth and job creation

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has put aside R15 billion for sustainable growth and job creation.  The Director-General Lionel October said the department’s target, as well as the entire budget for the new financial year, would be spent trying to industrialise the country and broaden the manufacturing sector, as well as support businesses that have a globally competitive niche in the continent.  The number of jobs might increase due to the upstream and downstream effect because for every one job created in the manufacturing sector, four other jobs were created indirectly.  The new job figure might go up to 24,000, in addition to the 6,000 jobs initially targeted.

High unemployment and the elderly

SA’s elderly are suffering under the country’s unemployment problem‚ with more than half of all old people living in households where everyone is unemployed.  According to the report on “Social Profile of Older Persons 2011- 2015” released by Statistics SA, elderly people are living in conditions that are slightly better than in 2011 due to the widespread roll out of grants‚ with more having access to formal housing and water; about 3.1 million people (70%) out of the 4.5 million people over age 60 receive pension grants of R1,500; the elderly are doing better economically due to the wide roll out of grants; but the grants get absorbed by the able-bodied as more than half of all old people are living in households where everyone is unemployed.

Nelson Mandela increases number of municipal police

1In Port Elizabeth 111 law enforcement officers were commissioned to attend to traffic and bylaw enforcement.  Visible policing and crime prevention will be done in conjunction with SAPS, as agreed to by Provincial Police Commissioner.

Gugulethu residents in protest over employment policies

The Barcelona informal settlement in Gugulethu stopped cleaners from working, in protest against recruitment policies of the City of Cape Town.  The toilets are supplied by the City of Cape Town to homes in the area and janitors are employed to clean them.  Last week, residents in one section of the settlement forced janitors to stop working just after the janitors had removed the portable toilets, which were full. Residents have vowed to prevent toilet cleaning services in the area until the municipality have complied with their demands.


Study shows that mining communities are ignored in social plans

In five case studies of mines (the names of which were not identified, therefore placing the results of the study in disrepute), the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) found that most communities were unaware of the commitments companies made in their social plans and in almost all cases those promises were not fulfilled.  The cases ranged from platinum and coal extraction to clay.  Legislation introduced in 2004 requires mines to establish and implement social and labour plans in order to be granted a license.  The plans, along with legislation demanding greater black ownership of assets, are supposed to be part of the post-apartheid government’s plans to reduce inequality. The case studies, in which the mines were not identified, said that the companies had failed to meet commitments ranging from building houses and childcare centers to funding bursaries.

Norwegian state liquor agency inspecting conditions on South African wine farms

Until 7 April, the Norwegian state-owned enterprise Vinmonopolet will be holding special inspections at wine farms to make sure that international standards and legislation are being adhered to.  Vinmonopolet is the only company in Norway that is permitted to sell liquor with an alcohol content bigger than 4.75. The focus of the inspections in Stellenbosch, Paarl and Robertson is to ensure that all products that Vinmonopolet sells comply with the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI).  Issues to be looked into relate to whether workers are aware of rights and responsibilities in terms of the BSCI code, freedom of association and worker rights, access to safe drinking water, training about occupational safety (particularly in respect of poisonous substances), procedures for the handling of grievances, minimum wages and deductions from workers’ wages.  All producers sign the BSCI code when they deliver their products to Vinmonopolet, which consults with Norwegian importers and trade union as well South African exporters and unions.


New trade union federation officially registered

On Friday the Department of Labour officially registered the new “Vavi” trade union federation under the name South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu).  This is subject to ratification by the launching congress on 21 to 23 April 23 or a change of name.  The new organisation claims that more than 40 unions have expressed interest in signing up. Its registration will allow the federation to start operating and recruiting membership.

Former general secretary of the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), Zwelinzima Vavi, on Thursday took Saftu on a roadshow to Mpumalanga.  He addressed hundreds of people during Saftu’s shop agent council held at the Civic Centre in Witbank.  The occasion was also the launch of Saftu in the province.  The federation was first launched nationally in Gauteng two weeks ago.

Satawu sued by ex-members

On Tuesday eight former members of the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) were in the High Court in Pretoria to get payment from a settlement relating to an unfair retrenchment case which began in 2010 and ended in 2016.  In terms of the settlement, the employer paid approximately R6.7m into the union’s account, which was supposed to be paid to the unfairly retrenchment employees.  In November 2016, the workers each received R390,000, however this was less than what they were meant to receive as per the settlement agreement.  Satawu promised to pay the balance on 25 and 26 February, but allegedly failed to do so.  The union has apparently never denied that it owes the shortfall to the workers.  The case resumed on 30 March 2017.


Illegal mining could have caused massive sinkhole at Lily Mine

According to the Lily Mine Commission of Inquiry, illegal mining could have caused a massive sinkhole which trapped three workers underground in 2016.  Health and Safety Manager at the mine, Eben Swanepoel, said illegal miners had been mining gold from rip-pillars and crown pillars, weakening the structure. However, Richard Spoor, legal representative for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), said the statement by Swanepoel was misleading, considering that security was always patrolling the premises.  He added that it was impossible that illegal mining had had a major role in the collapse.  The inquiry continues.

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