DISPUTES AND INDUSTRIAL ACTION

SAA’s cabin crew strike

Industrial action by SA Airways (SAA) cabin crew was ended after the SAA obtained a Labour Court Interdict last Wednesday. The SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) said it may seek to review the ruling and renew its pursuit of an increased international travel allowance.  SAA indicated that about 50 flights were affected on Wednesday and much less on Thursday as strikers return to work. Sacca’s Christopher Shabangu said SAA had not made significant moves in an attempt to address the union’s concerns‚ which also included general concerns over the state of the airline‚ including millions of rand being paid to international consultants on a turnaround strategy for the carrier.  SAA indicated that it was committed to a further facilitated dispute resolution process with the union over the next two months.

Rhodes University wage review

The National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) handed over a memorandum last week to the top management of Rhodes University regarding wage negotiations.  This followed a notice the unions gave to the university to embark on protected industrial action over wages. The university said it expected the negotiations between management and the unions to resume early this coming week.  The academic programme has not been affected.

Prasa wants to meet unions over wage dispute

The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) last week requested to meet with labour unions after they had asked the Prasa board to review its mandate for wage increases.  The United National Transport Union (Untu) reported that Prasa’s management requested the urgent meeting on Wednesday and commented that it hoped Prasa would make an acceptable salary offer to employees. Untu declared a dispute over wages in February and the CCMA issued a certificate of non-resolution after it could not resolve the dispute.  With the certificate in hand, unions can give Prasa 48-hours’ notice of intention to embark on a protected national strike.

WAGE NEGOTIATIONS, REMUNERATION & EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Numsa’s preparation for mid-year wage talks

More than 200 delegates, representing all nine provinces, of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) is busy this weekend with its National Bargaining Conference, in preparation for the wage negotiations in the steel and engineering sectors, due to start soon.  The first day was devoted to reports from major stakeholders in addition to receiving a presentation from department of trade and industry representatives.  The second day of the conference is focusing specifically on strategy and on crafting a list of demands ahead of negotiations.

Eskom to find funds to establish internal salary equity

Eskom seemingly needs to find R634m to bridge the “apartheid wage gap” in which more than 50% of its employees (about 17,000)‚ mostly black‚ are still paid less than their white counterparts.  Internal documents reveal that Eskom is planning to spend R397m in this financial year to establish equity in salaries. The projected cost would almost double to R634m if the fringe benefits of the affected employees are also adjusted to the level enjoyed by their white colleagues.  A gender and equality analysis carried out by a consultancy also showed that “inequalities exist in terms of gender and race” at the parastatal.  Trade unions at Eskom have accused the company’s board and management of failing to prioritise the interests of their ordinary workers, while being quick to line the pockets of ‘fat cat’ executives.

Changes planned for Department of Labour’s Compensation Fund

The Compensation Fund, under the Department of Labour, is being restructured and is attempting to wipe out its backlog of 60,000 cases.  The Labour Minister said during a press briefing that the deputy ministers of labour, health and mineral resources were working on a plan for the integration of the two funds (currently one fund is under the Department of Health whilst the other is with the Department of Labour).  The Compensation Fund has been plagued by problems of poor administration, archaic computer systems and a mountain of unpaid claims that have left workers destitute and hospital bills unpaid. The plan is to restructure the fund’s business into three divisions: compensation benefits and pensions; medical services; and disability and rehabilitation.  No staff lay-offs are foreseen.

UIF changes to paternity and maternity and unemployed contributors

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant also indicated last week that she foresaw further tweaks to legislation in terms of paternity, maternity and unemployment benefits.  In terms of current legislation, fathers were give three days’ leave, while mothers got three months.  Dads may, depending on the parliament’s go-ahead, get 10 days.  Going forward, if enacted, maternity benefits would be at a flat rate of 60% of salary.  Unemployed contributors to the UIF would be able to receive benefits for 365 days instead of 238 days.

Standard Bank’s CEOs salaries

Standard Bank’s group chief executives, Ben Kruger and Sim Tshabalala, received total remuneration of nearly R45 million each in 2016, an increase of 3% on the year prior.  In 2015, combined compensation jumped by 43%, with Kruger’s total increasing by 61% and Tshabalala’s by 28% to (near) parity.  At that time, the bank said remuneration had been “normalised”. However, Liberty’s 61% drop in earnings had a significant impact on the group’s results.  Taking the Liberty effect into account, the Remco agreed on a 4% increase in total short-term incentive, in line with the growth in headline earnings.  Actual cash earned in the year (including benefits and allowances) totalled just over R19 million for each CEO.  In total, remuneration for five executive directors and prescribed officers was R209.3 million in 2016.

Shareholders approve Anglo American’s new remuneration policy

93% of Anglo’s shareholders voted in favour of the group’s amended remuneration policy at last Tuesday’s annual general meeting.  At the AGM in 2016, a record 41% of shareholders voted against the policy. At the time shareholders were particularly unhappy about the effect of the valuable long-term incentive plan.  CEO Mark Cutifani vowed to listen to shareholders’ concerns and the board undertook to overhaul the remuneration policy.  The revised policy now reduces the scope for executives to score huge packages on the back of surging commodity prices or complimentary exchange rate movements.

JOB MARKET, JOB CREATION, RESTRUCTURING & RETRENCHMENTS

AfriForum seeks access to work permits of Cuban engineers

Civil rights organisation AfriForum has brought an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act seeking access to the work permits of 31 Cuban engineers employed by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).  Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has reportedly extended the engineers’ contracts to June 2018, in the face of rumours that the department is bankrupt.  Expenditure in respect of the salaries and travelling of the engineers has apparently also been considerably increased.

Impala Platinum could cut jobs at Marula mine

Protests at Impala Platinum’s Marula mine and low metal prices have led the platinum producer to start a reorganisation process that could lead to more than 1,000 job losses.  The DMR and relevant labour unions have been contacted and all parties will work together to minimise the impact of the plan on employment.  Impala expects the negotiation process to be completed by the end of June 2017.  Marula employs almost 4,400 workers and contractors and the protest action that has led to the reorganisation is related to community dissatisfaction with the way its 50% interest in the Makgomo Chrome project is being managed.  Chrome is a waste product of platinum.  Marula’s production was also affected by the closing of a hybrid mining section at one of the shafts.

UNION ISSUES

New labour federation retains the Saftu name

Last week delegates at the founding congress of the new trade union federation resolved to retain the name South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu).  This follows objections against the name from rival federation the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) who alleged that the name is too close to theirs.  The second day of the congress was set aside for the finalisation of the organisation’s name, logo, colours, and its constitution.  Steering committee chairman Raymond Mnguni led the day’s proceedings and officially adopted the Saftu name as the preferred name by delegates.

EFF dismisses report of frozen bank account

Spokesperson for the EFF, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, has dismissed a report that the party’s bank account had been frozen by the Labour Court after they unfairly dismissed a former researcher in the Limpopo legislature.  Ndlozi said the account is not and has never been frozen.  The order was challenged and never went into any function and that the account is currently in use.  Advocate Fenya Maabane challenged his dismissal by the EFF at the CCMA, which ruled that his removal was unfair “both procedurally and substantively”.  The CCMA ordered that Maabane be paid a salary equivalent to seven months’ pay, amounting to more than R400,000.  It seems that following several legal attempts to effect payment of the money, the EFF’s FNB bank account in Braamfontein was attached on 21 February 2017 but that the issue has now been resolved.

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