DISPUTES AND INDUSTRIAL ACTION

Central Rand Gold

Central Rand Gold (CRG) is facing strike action by members of the Building, Allied, Mining and Construction Workers Union (BAMCWU), after the union obtained a strike certificate and issued CRG with a notice to commence strike action. The strike is about non-resolution of a dispute relating to wage increases for 2017 in which the Company offered (and unilaterally implemented) a 7% increase in addition to other improvements in conditions of employment. The union is demanding in addition to the salary increase the immediate implementation of a medical aid scheme with a 50/50 contribution rate as well as profit share.

DiamondCorp facing administration

DiamondCorp, will be putting its listed holding company into administration in the face of being months away from steady state production.  The company ran into technical, operational and financial problems intensified by what it considers to be stubborn labour at its Lace diamond mine in the Free State. On Friday blamed was placed on the bondholders for the company’s inability to refinance the business, and also allocated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), the dominant union at the mine.  DiamondCorp said the protracted discussion with Amcu, which was terminated in early April 2017 without agreement, congested the vital care and maintenance and remediation program of the mine, caused all employees to be retrenched and was the primary cause for the £1m equity fundraiser as first announced in January 2017 to not be successfully settled.

Sacca and SAA

The SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) indicated that it was hoping to meet with SA Airways (SAA) to resolve their labour dispute prior to heading to the Labour Court in an attempt to overturn SAA’s interdict barring members from continuing with their strike.   Workers were demanding better working conditions and an increase in their international meal allowance from $131 per day to $170.

Private security industry applies for its own bargaining council


The private security industry has asked for its own bargaining council, which would possibly bring one of SA’s largest sources of employment into the statutory central bargaining system.  While such a new council might help root out the security industry’s infamous “compliance problems” around wages and benefits, the primary motive was to maintain the extraordinary “normal” hours of work in the sector, according to Tony Botes of the Security Association of SA (Sasa).  Sasa is an employer grouping representing 75 companies with 140,000 guards.  Its application for a bargaining council was published and is supported by another employer group, the SA National Security Employers’ Association, as well as 18 unions.

 

Amcu blockade at Phalaborwa mines

About 400 people at the Foskor Mine and at the Phalaborwa Mining Company (PMC) at Phalaborwa were trapped for hours on Thursday when striking members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) blockaded the roads.  Amcu was demanding a wage increase of 12%, while the mines were only offering 8%.

Waste management workers on a rampage

Hundreds of furious waste management workers drove through the streets of Pretoria on Thursday spreading litter and blocking roads with tree branches, following the Moipone Group of Companies terminating their contracts from 3 May without any reason or warning. The workers handed over a memorandum of demands, which was accepted by a representative of Moipone.

Nehawu members interrupt robing of new University of Fort Hare leaders

The National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) members disrupted the robing of the University of Fort Hare’s new chancellor, Adv. Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, and vice-chancellor, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu last Wednesday.  The inaugurations at the Alice campus went ahead amid the chanting and protesting of employees.  Nehawu deputy secretary Mzi Lingela said:  “We are here for attention.  We’ve been waiting for five months for a response.  The programme stops until this matter is resolved.  We want 10% and nothing else.”  The chairman of Nehawu at the university, Vuyani Booi, said there was a lack of seriousness and engagement from the university’s side, which had led to the “unfortunate turn of events”.  He also claimed that workers at the institution were the least-paid university employees across the country.

JOB MARKET, JOB CREATION, RESTRUCTURING & RETRENCHMENTS

Johannesburg recruiting 1‚500 new officers

The Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) is recruiting 1‚500 new officers to strengthen visible policing and fight crime in the city.  Mayoral committee member for safety Michael Sun said that his recruitment is the Department of Public Safety’s first step under the new administration to not only enhance visible policing‚ but to also create jobs for men and women who might either be without employment‚ or who are searching for a meaningful way to contribute to society.

Home Affairs crackdown on companies employing more than 40% foreigners

A crackdown on companies employing more than 40% foreign labour is being pursued by the new minister of home affairs. The department’s inspectorate unit was continuing with inspections at various places of employment to ensure compliance to this requirement, in terms of the Immigration Act.  The minister indicated that in the past two months a total of 85 places of employment had been visited, which included chain stores, farms, hotels and other businesses.

Eskom mothballing of power plants

Eskom Chair Ben Ngubane said on Thursday that plans unveiled in March to decommission five coal-fired power station were not set in stone and could be shelved depending on economic growth and other factors.  The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and other unions have threatened strike action over the proposals, which would threaten thousands of jobs in Mpumalanga.  Ngubane said:  “It is a scenario.  If we put in a certain amount of independent power producers (IPPs) then we reduce the capacity space for these power stations.  That would result in mothballing.”  But he added that if the pace of adding IPP projects to the grid did not take place as quickly as anticipated, or if economic growth, which has been flat lining, picked up, then the plants would not be shut down.  

LEGAL, LEGISLATION AND COMPLIANCE

Tzaneen labour inspector arrested for demanding bribe

An official at the Department of Labour in Tzaneen has been arrested for apparently demanding a bribe from a construction company owner.  The Hawks provincial spokesperson, Capt. Matimba Maluleke, said the 34-year-old was caught in a trap after the owner involved blew the whistle on him last week.  The suspect apparently requested to meet the company owner at a school in Xihoko village outside Tzaneen and then demanded R19,000 from the company owner, but later reduced the amount to R4,000 in order to issue a compliance certificate. The suspect was arrested immediately after receiving the money he had demanded from the complainant.  He will appear in the Tzaneen Magistrate’s Court to face corruption charges.

Court cancels proviso on HPCSA certification of psychological tests for jobs

The High Court in Pretoria has set aside a proclamation in terms of the Employment Equity Amendment Act that sought to make it compulsory for the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) to certify all psychological testing and similar assessments used by employers.  This week’s order followed a long legal battle between the Association of Test Publishers of SA (ATP), the labour minister and the HPCSA.  In terms of the Employment Equity Act, psychological tests are prohibited unless they have been scientifically shown to be valid and reliable, can be applied fairly to all employees and were not biased against any group.  But the subsequent proclamation stated that, in addition to these requirements, the tests and assessments also had to be certified by the HPCSA.  The ATP successfully contended that the introduction of the new requirement was premature as there was no framework in place regulating the certification of the tests by the HPCSA.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Settlement possible by year-end in silicosis case

Mining companies, facing a class action suit from mineworkers who developed silicosis on SA’s gold mines, are expected to reach an out-of-court settlement before the end of the year.

The class action, lodged in May 2016, comprises an estimated 100,000 former and current mineworkers who developed the disease while working in any one of the gold mines belonging to the respondent mining companies after 1965.

COMMUNITY ISSUES

Lonmin’s labour plan pledges

Lonmin is being accused that it was yet to comply with its social and labour plan (SLP), following heads of states and business leaders meeting for the World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban.  Mining Forum of SA, a non-profit organisation, advocating for the rights of mining communities, said that the protests were related to the poverty that surrounded Lonmin’s Marikana mines.  The forum’s founder, Blessings Ramoba, said Lonmin continued to disregard the implementation of the SLP, for both housing programmes and local economic development programmes. While the company had met most of its SLP targets in a difficult environment, the fragility of commodity prices hindered the progression of its SLP implementation.

Metrorail suspends JHB-Vereeniging train service

Metrorail suspended morning peak train services last Tuesday between Johannesburg and Vereeniging, after service delivery protesters placed objects on the tracks and set them alight.  The service delivery protest, which started at 02:00 in Kliptown, affected the safe movement of trains to and from Vereeniging.  Businesses were closed as protesters clash with police.  Rubber bullets and teargas were fired to disperse the crowd and several cars, including a police vehicle, were damaged.

Sit-in by nurses averted as Bhisho commits to jobs

An “indefinite sit-in” at the Eastern Cape provincial health department headquarters by a group of unemployed nurses was averted on Wednesday after the Bhisho government’s eleventh-hour commitment to create 52 nursing posts for them.  Leaders of the protesting group, representing about 200 graduates from the government-funded Lilitha Nursing College, were locked in meetings for hours with senior departmental officials, including the department’s superintendent-general Dr Thobile Mbengashe. 

UNION ISSUES

Workers shunned President Zuma at Workers’ Day rally

Workers prevented President Jacob Zuma from addressing a Cosatu Workers Day rally in Bloemfontein on Workers’ Day.  In April, the union federation called for Zuma to step down, since it no longer believed he was the best person to lead the ANC and the country.  Then Cosatu affiliates Nehawu and the CWU said they did not want Zuma addressing the rally.  At the event,

members of Nehawu, Sadtu and the NUM chanted “Zuma must go” as officials tried to get the programme under way.  They also booed Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini, which led to all speeches being cancelled.  Cosatu held several rallies around the country, addressed by ANC leaders and their reception illustrated the faultlines in the governing party.

Numsa, Saftu join forces in Durban on Workers Day

Numsa joined forces with the newly formed SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) to mark this year’s Workers’ Day in Durban.  Following Numsa General-Secretary Irvin Jim’s address, Saftu’s general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, addressed the crowd and did not waste any time talking about the events in Bloemfontein where rival federation Cosatu had to call off its May Day rally after President Jacob Zuma was incessantly heckled and booed by some members.

Amcu celebrates Workers Day in Welkom

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) celebrated Workers’ Day with a rally at the Griffons Rugby Stadium in the Free State.  National treasurer Jimmy Gama, outlining the union’s plan of action for the year, said they would be intensifying their fight to improve the working conditions of mineworkers by seeking to ensure that mines paid their workers a living wage.

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