DISPUTES AND INDUSTRIAL ACTION

Sibanye’s Cooke operations to resume operations

Production at Sibanye’s Cooke operations, near Randfontein, is set to resume on Monday 3 July 2017.  This follows nearly a month-long unprotected strike by workers after they were prohibited from taking food underground to prevent food from being provided to illegal miners by employees, following signs of collusion.  Sibanye said on Friday that 77 employees have been arrested so far this year for assisting illegal miners.  Further, following the food ban, 472 illegal miners have surfaced from underground and have been arrested.  Following the illegal strike, which started on 6 June, 99 employees have been dismissed and 407 placed on final warnings, while 869 have forfeited their annual leave to compensate for nonproductive shifts.  About 300 kg of planned gold production, equivalent to about R160-million in revenue, was lost as a result of the strike.

Cosatu plans national shutdown before end of August

Plans for a national shutdown of the economy over state capture and corruption have been put in place with labour federation Cosatu formally submitting a strike notice to Nedlac.  The organisation’s deputy general secretary Solly Phetoe said the strike was anticipated to take place before the end of August at the latest.  He said the workers would take to streets with a clear message that President Jacob Zuma “must step down” and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa must take over.  However, Sdumo Dlamini, president of Cosatu, has denied reports that the trade union federation’s planned nationwide march would aim to put pressure on President Jacob Zuma to step down.  He said Cosatu would be marching against various socio-economic issues in the country, including state capture and unemployment.  Dlamini, however, added that Cosatu has not altered its stance that President Zuma must step down.  

Denosa members set SA Nursing Council property alight, intimidate staff

The premises of the SA Nursing Council (SANC) were set alight, property was damaged and staff members were intimidated on Friday, the council confirmed last Monday.  SANC’s spokesperson, Adri van Eeden, confirmed that members of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) accessed its premises without authorisation, legal permission or any scheduled meeting to demand that the Council’s acting registrar should address the matter of the cancellation of examinations.  Van Eeden said the situation had had to be diffused by the police who were called to curb the violence and prevent further damage to property.  SANC cancelled the May 2017 examinations following an investigation into allegations, subsequently confirmed, that the four examination question papers for the bridging course had been leaked.  Denosa has reportedly taken legal action against the council for preventing students from writing exams until the investigation into how the papers were leaked was concluded – see report under Legal.

Security guards march to Tshwane House to demand permanent jobs

Hundreds of security guards contracted by the City of Tshwane demanding permanent employment and outstanding wages marched to the newly built Tshwane House last Monday.  They called on the city to create permanent employment for them as the contracts they were currently employed under with several security service providers were nearing an end.  Led by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the workers demanded they be awarded full benefits within the city and a matric certificate be used as a requirement for permanent employment.  At Tshwane House, city manager Moeketsi Mosola received their memorandum of grievances, agreeing to give the disgruntled workers feedback.

Santaco in KZN warns of national taxi strike looming on 12 July

The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has reiterated that members might stage a national taxi strike in July if a meeting with government representatives does not go in their favour.  Santaco KZN spokesperson Mandla Mzelemu said on Tuesday that the strike on 12 July would will go ahead if government failed to meet with them before the proposed strike date.  He indicated that the looming strike would form part of a series of protests they have recently staged in KZN and Gauteng.  Both the KZN and Gauteng marches saw major routes and highways around both of the provinces blocked.  “This time around we will be marching to the legislatures of all the provinces in the country,” Mzelemu warned.  During the July strike, Santaco planned to demand that government should subsidise the taxi industry.

Mortuary strike

The Western Cape Department of Health has advised that 123 bodies at Salt River and Tygerberg await post-mortem examinations after forensic pathologists “downed tools” at the two mortuaries thereby joining their colleagues in KZN and Gauteng. Employees have gone on strike over wages and what they described as unfair working conditions and staff shortages. 

WAGE NEGOTIATIONS, REMUNERATION & EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Parliament, Nehawu agree to 7.5% salary increase

Parliament’s management and the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) have agreed to increase employees’ salaries by 7.5% for the 2017/18 financial year.  In a joint statement, the parties said the increase would take effect retrospectively from 1 April 2017.  It would cover employees falling both inside and outside of the bargaining unit, but excluded executive management, which would not be getting any salary increase for the 2017/18 financial year.  Part of their agreement was also to work together to build “sound labour relations”, as well as to address the underfunding of Parliament.  Both parties also agreed to continue negotiations into “other outstanding matters” through already existing institutionalised platforms, which included monthly management and Nehawu meetings.

National Health Insurance white paper

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has confirmed government’s goal of implementing National Health Insurance (NHI) by 2025, despite the dramatic downturn in the economy since the policy was first proposed six years ago.  The government’s latest white paper on NHI still refers to the cost projections in the 2011 green paper, which said the annual cost of NHI in 2025 would be R256bn in 2010 terms, assuming the economy grew 3.5% a year.  Yet the latest Reserve Bank prediction is for GDP growth of a mere 1% in 2017 and 1.5% for 2018.  “I think it is really worrying that we have an official government document with 2010 figures, when supposedly there has been a lot of work done to develop the policy,” said Econex economist Mariné Erasmus.  Motsoaledi, emphasised the need to reform health financing to end the deep inequities in the system.  Yet, he steered away from discussion about the affordability of NHI.

SANDF members’ salaries to be adjusted

Permanent members of the SA National Defense Force (SANDF) will receive adjustments to their salaries if a recommendation in a notice gazetted by the Department of Defense Force on Friday last week is approved.  The increases will apply to members who are in the employ of the department permanently and who get satisfactory performance scores.  The adjustment to salaries is a recommendation made by the Defense Force Service Commission Pay and Service Benefits Committee following former defense force minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s recommendation on delinking salary from rank.  The adjustments will not constitute a promotion.  Members will still hold their ranks‚ but will receive a salary hike‚ the department said in the notice (this essentially amounts to performance pay).  The total number of members that would be affected by the salary adjustment is 8‚894 and the estimated cost would be R87‚568‚650.

Fawu members at Illovo prepare to strike as sugar wage talks deadlock

The Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) said last Sunday that sugar workers employed by Illovo were preparing to embark on a strike after wage negotiations ended in a deadlock.  About 1,000 workers at eight Illovo farms across KwaZulu-Natal failed to reach a mutual agreement under the auspices of the CCMA and a ‘strike certificate’ had been issued.  The union’s general secretary Katishi Masemola said they would meet with Illovo to discuss picketing rules. “The employer has offered 5% for the wage increase, they have said they want a separate discussion with regards to maternity leave and provident funds, we are not comfortable with that.  We want everything to be agreed to as a package to avert the strike,” he said.   Among other demands‚ Fawu is demanding a 10% wage increase; a provident fund and 50% paid maternity leave for seasonal and full-time workers; and protective clothing for employees while on the job.

MEIBC appoints sub-committee to try to resolve metal, engineering wage talks deadlock

The management committee of the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) has agreed to appoint a sub-committee to try to resolve the disputes declared by trade unions and employers in the metals and engineering sector.  Negotiations to conclude an agreement on wages and conditions of employment deadlocked on 15 June, with trade unions declaring a dispute against the employers and the employers declaring a counter-dispute against the trade unions.  Talks restarted thereafter, but again reached a deadlock on 21 June, when the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) again rejected the proposed 5.3% wage increase.  To resolve the impasse, the sub-committee met under the facilitation of a senior CCMA commissioner on 28 and 29 June and will meet again on 5 and 6 July.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has confirmed its participation in further meetings with employers in the metals and engineering sector to resolve a wage dispute.  Numsa confirmed its demand for a 15% increase in wages across the board, based on actual rates and not minimum rates (the employers offered 5,3% on minimum rates).  It was also seeking a two-year deal and the extension of the agreement to non-parties that fall under the auspices of the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC), such as the National Employers Association of SA (Neasa).

National Bargaining Council for the Chemical Industry wage negotiations

A facilitator has been appointed to assist parties in reaching a settlement. The facilitator made a proposal to the employer and union parties on 28 June 2017 and they are are currently considering the proposal. The proposal includes a provision for a two-year agreement with CPI-linked increases in the second year. The proposal regarding the first year follows the 7,5% trend that is evident in other industries. If parties fail to reach agreement on the proposal by the facilitator a certificate of non-resolution could be issued leading to possible strike action.

JOB MARKET, LABOUR ECONOMICS AND EMPLOYMENT

Employment declined by 48,000 in first quarter of 2017

According to data released by Statistics SA, employment shrank by 48,000 jobs during the first quarter of the year.  The decline was driven by decreases in trade (1.5% or 32,000 jobs), business services (1% or 23,000 jobs), community services (0.3% or 8,000 jobs), manufacturing (0.3% or 4,000 jobs) and transport (0.2% or 1,000 jobs).  Employment in the electricity industry remained unchanged.  Jobs increased in the construction industry (2% or 12,000) and mining (1.8% or 8,000 jobs).  Gross earnings paid to employees decreased from R607.3bn in December 2016 to R587.9bn in March 2017.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) however said that it was unconvinced that data released by Statistics SA reporting mining job increases of 1.8% (or 8,000 jobs) was a true reflection as retrenchments remained a scourge in mining.

Regulation of business rescue practitioners

Changes to the legal framework and regulation of business rescue, particularly the registration of practitioners, will take effect as from 1 October 2017.  Business rescue, which was introduced in SA as an alternative to insolvency, came into effect via the Companies Act in 2011.  But, it has received criticism resulting from apparent flaws in the appointment process and quality of business rescue practitioners.  New legislation will require attorneys, accountants, liquidators and business management professionals, who seek to practise as business rescue professionals to register via their SA Qualifications Authority- (SAQA-) approved governing bodies.  Currently, business rescue practitioners are granted an individual license by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).  A recent notice issued by the CIPC, however, stated that from 1 October 2017 practitioners will be required to register through their various professional bodies.  Business rescue practitioners will henceforth be bound by a professional disciplinary code that will include a sanction to act on unethical conduct or inappropriate behaviour.

SA Cabin Crew Association claims about ‘looting’ at SAA 

The South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca)‚ which represents 1‚300 South African Airways (SAA) cabin crew members‚ has criticized government for failing to act on reports revealing more than R1.8-billion in tender irregularities at SAA.  The union’s treasurer‚ Gift Bilankulu‚ said on Tuesday that this was despite the matter having been brought to the attention of the SAA management‚ the Board, former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and also his successor‚ incumbent Malusi Gigaba.  The union listed at least 34 contracts that it said were red-flagged by several investigation reports.  Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi‚ Sacca president‚ said they intended laying corruption charges with the police against SAA’s top executives‚ including acting boss Musa Zwane and chief financial officer Phumeza Nhantsi‚ in connection with the irregularities.

AngloGold gave notice to retrench 8,500 workers

AngloGold Ashanti gave notice to retrench 8,500 mine workers as part of its restructuring of its South African business “to ensure their viability”.  The company which employs 28,000 people, said the retrenchment was part of restructuring of the company’s production and cost base in its South African business.  In May, AngloGold reported a 16% drop in first-quarter profit following a decline in South African production, and said it was reviewing its South African operations to restore their margin and ensure their recovery. 

Hospersa gets court order postponing rewrites of nursing bridging course exams 

A court order stopping the national rewrites of nursing bridging course exams last week was granted to the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of SA (Hospersa) last Monday.  Two weeks ago the SA Nursing Council (SANC) cancelled first-and second-year exams written in May that would have allowed successful bridging-course students to register as professional general or psychiatric nurses.  This followed allegations that some students had seen leaked question papers ahead of the exams.  The court order instructed the SANC to postpone the bridging course rewrites to 19 & 21 July from 28 & 30 June.  Hospersa general secretary Noel Desfontaines welcomed the court order to postpone the exams, saying students would now have adequate time to prepare.  Earlier, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) vowed to take legal action against the council for the decision to cancel all student exams before investigations into the leaked exam papers had been completed.

Show of unity brings together Cosatu and BLSA to combat state capture

In a rare show of unity, labour federation Cosatu and Business Leadership SA (BLSA) have called for urgent action against state capture and “other elements” threatening economic stability in SA.  The organisations decided at a two-day meeting they would work independently and jointly to combat state capture, promising further talks to spell out a programme of action.  Cosatu said work was already under way to formally apply for a section 77 protest notice at Nedlac so as to get permission to strike against corruption and state capture.  BLSA CEO Bonang Mohale said the steps agreed on required boldness and valiance on the part of those who sought meaningful change to the country’s downward trajectory that held little hope for the 9.3-million unemployed in SA.  Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said some of the issues business raised painted a gloomy picture.

Poultry sector still bleeding jobs

The SA Poultry Association (Sapa) CEO Kevin Lovell said that the poultry sector was still gradually shedding jobs despite the setting up of a task team to try and halt the crisis in the industry.  The chicken sector shed about 4,700 jobs in the last financial year, he added.  The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) indicated in February this year that the poultry industry employed 48,000 and 63,000 people in direct and indirect jobs respectively.  The task team, comprised of representatives of the DTI; the departments of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (DAFF) and economic development; as well as the Industrial Development Corporation, was established by government in January to deal with the crisis in the poultry sector that saw the industry bleeding jobs at an alarming rate.

LEGAL

CCMA to assist, on a means-tested basis, with enforcement of awards

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) indicated that employees who have had awards issued in their favour but cannot afford the costs of enforcing or executing the awards (i.e. the sheriffs’ fees) can now approach the CCMA for assistance.  This service is only intended for those employees who are too indigent to afford the costs of enforcement or execution.  The CCMA has deemed such employees to be those who earn below R205,433-30 per annum (R17,119-44 per month).  The CCMA says it reserves the right, in appropriate circumstances, to recover the sheriffs’ costs from an employee who has successfully enforced or executed his or her award.

Cosatu’s Bongani Masuku must apologise for hate speech directed at SA Jews

The Equality Court found that Bongani Masuku, international relations spokesperson for labour federation Cosatu‚ was guilty of hate speech against the Jewish community.  The case was brought by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) after Masuku refused to comply with its ruling on a complaint lodged by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) in 2009.  Masuku and Cosatu were ordered to tender an unconditional apology to the Jewish community within 30 days of the order.  The case has its origins in a complaint lodged with the SAHRC by the SAJBD in April 2009.  The complaint related to various statements made by Masuku against Jewish South Africans who supported Israel.  In December 2009‚ the SAHRC upheld the complaint‚ concluding that the remarks constituted hate speech.  The remarks by Masuku deemed to be offensive included threats that Cosatu would target and cause harm to South African families who had members serving in the Israeli defense force.

Chamber of Mines asks court to stop Mining Charter for its ‘egregious overreach’

Last Monday, the Chamber of Mines of SA (COM) launched a legal application aimed at Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and his department over the new Mining Charter.  It said he was acting beyond the powers granted to him under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act and the Charter would cause “irreparable harm”.  Laying out its grievances, the COM asked the Pretoria High Court for an urgent interdict to suspend the Charter.  The new Charter was an “extremely intrusive and damaging” document, it argued.  The third iteration of the Charter had been negotiated in “bad faith”, the COM argued, ahead of launching two court challenges.  Ultimately, many of the arguments were grounded on the belief that Zwane had overstepped his powers and had tried to make the Charter — which is a policy document or a set of guidelines — a regulatory document.

However, in reply Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said that those opposed to the 2017 Mining Charter were opposing transformation.

Government plans to cap garnishee orders at 25% of debtor’s salary

Government plans to introduce a cap on the percentage of an employee’s salary that can be “attached” by creditors using emolument attachment orders (EAOs – commonly known as ‘garnishee orders’) to collect debt.  The Courts of Law Amendment Bill proposes that no more than 25% of a debtor’s salary can be attached, no matter how many attachment orders they may have against them.  The bill, which seeks to address abuses in the civil debt recovery system, was introduced in the National Assembly this month and has been referred to the National Council of Provinces.  Thereafter it will be sent to the president for approval.  The bill gives effect to a Constitutional Court judgment stemming from action taken by business woman Wendy Appelbaum after she discovered that up to 80% of her employees’ salaries was being deducted to pay debts to credit providers.

UNION POLITICS

Amcu not supporting new mining charter

Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), has indicated that the union does not support the 2017 Mining Charter on the basis that the department tasked with implementing it was dysfunctional.  Mathunjwa said that, while he agreed with elements of the Charter, the minister did not know what he was doing.  He commented:  “And currently with his changes of this Mining Charter, I have seen somewhere where he (Zwane) was naturalising the citizenship, for what good reason because the MPRDA is clear on who are historically disadvantaged and that’s a concern, he has limited the powers of the board.”  Mathunjwa also pointed out that Zwane claimed he was open to talks with mining producers over the new charter, but he has also rebuked them for planning to take the new rules to court, saying they’re “negotiating in bad faith”.

Amcu hands over house

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa has handed over a house to the family of the late Mgcineni Noki‚ who became the face of the platinum wage strike at Marikana five years ago.  The house for the “Man in the Green Blanket” is at eMqanduli.  Noki‚ 30‚ and his green blanket featured prominently during the protests and police shooting of the Lonmin strikers in 2012.  Altogether‚ the union promised to build 34 homes‚ one for each of the miners who died at Marikana‚ through a trust set up by the union.  Last weekend‚ Mathunjwa delivered the first of the homes.

Cosatu reiterates support of Cyril as next leader, but has a list of demands

S’dumo Dlamini, president of labour federation Cosatu, in effect issued Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa with a lengthy list of demands should he become SA’s next leader.  Speaking at the 11th national conference of the National Health Education and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), Dlamini reiterated the federation’s stance that Ramaphosa should be the next leader of the ANC.  The ruling party holds its elective conference in December and Ramaphosa is seen as one of the main contenders to replace Jacob Zuma.  Dlamini said in his speech:  “Under the leadership of cadre Cyril‚ we expect and demand that the ANC confronts the issue of labour brokers … scraps e-tolls and makes sure that our state-owned entities are not used as milk cows by anyone‚ including the big capital and parasitic bourgeoisie.”  He assured the more than 1‚000 Nehawu delegates that Ramaphosa would be a leader who would listen to their grievances as workers, and also avail himself, where necessary, to find amicable solutions to their problems.

Nehawu president warns that Cosatu faces extinction

Mzwandile Makwayiba, president of the National Health Education and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), says the dysfunctional state of affiliates will sound a death knell for labour federation Cosatu.  Opening the union’s four-day congress in Boksburg last Monday, Makwayiba said that if nothing drastic was done to fix the state of Cosatu affiliates, it would soon diminish.  He argued that the dysfunctional state of unions such as the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) and others would sound a death knell for the federation.  Makwayiba said the Cosatu constitution needed to be changed to accommodate powers that would allow the federation’s national office bearers to intervene in unions that were struggling.  Currently, they can do only so on the invitation of the troubled unions.

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