DISPUTES AND INDUSTRIAL ACTION

Central Rand Gold

The strike regarding wages and other conditions of employment at Central Rand Gold (CRG) is continuing into its second week at its operation on the West Rand. CRG and BAMCWU will meet at the CCMA on Monday to try and resolve the strike. The strike has been marred by BAMCWU members preventing non-striking employees and contractors from entering the mine premises.

In the meantime CRG requested a suspension in trading of its shares on the JSE and LSE, owing to ongoing production losses associated with the strike at its operations.

Zama Zamas protest against illegal mining in Kimberley

Informal miners in Kimberley have protested against Kimberley-based mining company Ekapa‚ which the miners claim has been operating without a permit. The miners marched to the local office of the Hawks to lodge a complaint around a case that had allegedly not been investigated by law enforcement agencies.  The Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) and informal miners were planning to meet with the provincial government last week.  MACUA had recently acquired an eviction order against the illegal miners‚ which is being contested in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Lonmin loses R40m in revenue after Bapo protest

Lonmin has lost about R40m in revenue following seven day community disruptions at its Marikana operation in which damage to property and intimidation of employees were reported.  Unrest at the village of Bapong, which is near the East 2 and East 3 shafts owned by the platinum producer, has culminated in intimidation of Lonmin employees, the burning of buses and a spate of demands from a group claiming to represent the community and unemployed youth. The latest protest, which started on 2 May, prompted management to meet a delegation to receive a memorandum of demands, which included that Lonmin should provide 1,000 jobs at its mines as well as 500 “cadet placements” for community members.  Lonmin, which has just cut 6,000 positions, said the demands were not realistic and could not be acceded to without threatening the sustainability of the business.

The company was granted a court interdict on 5 May which it said was followed by successful discussions during which community representatives had agreed to desist from protests such as barricading roads.  The parties had also agreed to set down terms of engagement for the future.

In a report by Business Day, it appears that murky dealings around millions of Rands that have gone missing from accounts held for royalty payments to the Bapo Ba Mogale community near Rustenburg could be an underlying cause for protests.

Protests over jobs and lack of housing spread in Gauteng

On Wednesday protesters seeking jobs and better housing clashed with police for the third consecutive day in parts of Southern Johannesburg and also in Pretoria. Residents of an informal settlement in Laudium blocked roads with rocks and burning tires, demanding that electricity be installed in their homes.  In Finetown, demonstrators threw rocks and stones as police used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowds. The protests kicked off in Eldorado Park and Ennerdale townships on Monday and Tuesday, triggering disturbances between police and residents.

Strike at Ladysmith cheese factory over clock-in system

About 80% of the workforce at the Ladismith cheese factory commenced a strike on Wednesday in protest over a clock-in system that was introduced on the factory floor five months ago.  Commercial Stevedoring Agricultural and Allied Workers’ Union (Csaawu) representative Trevor Christiaans said the company has been docking the pay of more than 200 workers and they have been losing between R500 and R800 a month from their salaries as a result of the tighter controls of the new system.  

Solidarity submits ‘selective racism’ probe request

Solidarity wants the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to investigate ”selective racism” in SA on the grounds that there are double standards when it comes to dealing with racism. The union also filed a complaint at the SAHRC against North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, claiming he incited race-based violence in the town of Coligny.  Solidarity also want to submit an early warning complaint to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva.  This could lead to a formal inquiry and a visiting delegation which would assess Solidarity’s complaints.  The union also plans to petition Parliament, the International Human Rights Commission, and the International Labour Organisation.

Municipal union Samwu threatens industrial action in Johannesburg

SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) has warned of possible industrial action in Johannesburg‚ caused by city officials who are failing to address their grievances.  The union held a mass regional meeting on Thursday afternoon during which it was planning on delivering a memorandum of demands, but no one from the mayoral office attended.  Workers want better working conditions before the reintegration of municipal-owned entities‚ the adherence to labour laws and the absorption of all municipality contract workers. The workers at the meeting were from Jo’burg Water‚ City Power‚ the Johannesburg Road Agency‚ City Parks‚ Pikitup‚ Rea Vaya‚ Metrobus‚ plus other members.

REMUNERATION AND EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Nehawu considers university’s revised wage offer

National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) members participated in talks on a revised wage offer from Rhodes University.   Nehawu rejected the offer of a 6.5% across-the-board increase which a fellow union at the university‚ the National Tertiary Education Union (Nteu)‚ had accepted.  Protesting Nehawu members were warned by the university that it would consider disciplinary action if they did not immediately return to work.  Nehawu members overturned bins and strew rubbish across the university administration building steps in a vocal protest against the university’s revised 6.5% salary increase offer. Nehawu is demanding a 7.5% increase‚ an increase of the housing allowance from R1‚000 to R1‚500 per month‚ an increase in danger allowances‚ the abolishment of the lower salary grades‚ and a merit increment to be shared equally by all employees.

Kumba to review executive pay policy

Kumba Iron Ore plans to review its executive remuneration policy in a bid to reach a zero fatality rate, following the death of two employees in separate accidents last year.  Kumba’s remuneration committee chairperson Allen Morgan told the company’s general meeting on Thursday the company was committed to revise the policy with shareholders and experts.

JOB MARKET, JOB CREATION, RESTRUCTURING AND RETRENCHMENTS

Government to assist struggling chicken producers

The government is in the process of finding the funding for chicken producers who are facing closure or who have closed due to the poultry crisis in South Africa. The Department of Trade and Industry was leading an inter-ministerial task team to consider the competitiveness of the poultry industry and what could be done to save jobs.  SA’s poultry sector was not as competitive as it could be due to the fact that producers used a lot of brining (salt water) in the chicken they produced.

65,000 people applying for 1,500 JMPD jobs

The unemployment issue in South Africa was again highlighted when 65,000 applications were received for 1,500 vacancies at the Johannesburg Municipal Police Department (JMPD).

Employment equity statistics and penalisation of companies

Whites, who comprise about 8% of the population, hold more than 68% of top management positions, while blacks, who make up more than four-fifths of citizens, hold only 14%.  This was revealed in the Department of Labour’s Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) 2017 annual report.  Men hold 78% of top positions. Of significance is the revelation by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant that government had fined 21 companies and planned to penalise more for failing to comply with laws that compelled them to employ more black citizens to help reduce inequality.  Half the companies that were penalised are listed on Johannesburg’s stock exchange.

NUM reiterates its position on Eskom power station closures

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has noted a statement by Eskom saying that plans to decommission five power stations were not ‘set in stone’. Despite this claim, the NUM has reiterated its position that the Eskom board must reverse the decision to close down the five coal-fired power stations.  The union said it was going to defend jobs for its members and would declare a national strike if Eskom decided to decommission the stations.

Survey reveals that government jobs not as appealing

According to Universum Global’s survey, employment at government departments and parastatals have declined in attractiveness from the previous year.  The survey collected responses from 46,981 students and 22,321 professionals across different areas of work such as engineering, science, humanities, law and business.  Respondents voted from a list of companies on whom they viewed to be the most attractive employers.  The results showed that, even though government employers were still among the most attractive, this was starting to slowly decline. Among students, in the category of business and commerce, the SA Revenue Service moved down three places from sixth to ninth place.  Similarly, Transnet, which ranked third in 2016, dropped eight places to 11.  Eskom dropped from 11 to 20. Among private firms, the survey revealed that Google was dominant across most fields.

Employees at Labour’s Compensation Fund suspended

About 35 employees at the Department of Labour’s Compensation Fund have been suspended for widespread fraud allegedly worth millions of Rands discovered at the end of last month.  The fund has launched an investigation into the fraud, which related to payment of medical accounts.  Some 11 service providers have had payments to them suspended.  The affected employees allegedly submitted claims using fictitious hospitals and even claimed for electric wheelchairs that were never delivered.  The fund provides social security to injured, ill and deceased employees.

 No exemptions for whole sectors from national minimum wage

 In Parliament, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant clarified that there will be no blanket exemptions for economic sectors from the national minimum wage (NMW).  Oliphant said the NMW was intended to ensure that the benefits of growth were more equitably shared and to address poverty and inequality.  Thus, it targeted as a wide a range of sectors as possible, although there would be exemption provisions for individual employers.

LEGAL, LEGISLATION AND COMPLIANCE

Corruption linked to Nkandla scandal

Six of the 10 Department of Public Works employees who are facing disciplinary action for their involvement in the Nkandla scandal have received performance bonuses in the past five years.  The employees face disciplinary charges for their involvement in the overspending on the R246-million upgrading of President Jacob Zuma’s private home.

The six employees received bonuses ranging between R11,206 and R60,767 each, which was paid out between April 2012 and March this year.  According to the Public Servants Association (PSA) since none of the officials had been suspended for their role in the Nkandla scandal, they qualified for bonuses.

UNION ISSUES

SAHRC investigating Sadtu for denying children right to basic education

The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) is being investigated by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for the union’s role in allegedly denying children the right to a basic education.

In 2015‚ the Democratic Alliance (DA) asked the commission to investigate the union in respect of the following: Blocking of measures to hold educators accountable for poor performance; neglect of teaching and learning while engaged in various unlawful protests and strikes; and unlawful interference and corruption in the appointment of teachers and principals.  The commission has confirmed it will do so.

COMMUNITY ISSUES

Mine hands over electricity distribution to local municipality

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) has approved a licence for Joe Morolong local municipality to distribute electricity to Hotazel, a mine town near Kuruman, where Samancor mines manganese. Samancor Manganese – a 60:40 joint venture between miners South32 and Anglo American – currently supplies the town. Samancor Manganese, which does not have an electricity distribution licence, has decided to yield electricity supply to the municipality as it was considered a noncore business. Samancor Manganese built the town for its employees when the mining operations in the area started. Eskom supports the application by Joe Morolong local municipality to supply the electricity in Hotazel.

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