INDUSTRIAL ACTION

Johannesburg illegal work stoppage after RSSC arrests

City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba warned that discipline action would be taken against employees who have embarked on an illegal work stoppage within the City’s Revenue Shared Services Centre (RSSC).

Last week, 13 officials were arrested by the Hawks, working together with the City’s Group Forensic Department, on charges of fraud, theft and corruption totaling about R2.5m.  The mayor also reported that 40 other employees have been implicated in wrongdoing within the RSSC.

WAGE AND OTHER LABOUR NEGOTIATIONS 

NBCCI: Unexpected signing of Agreements

As was reported last week the National Bargaining Council for the Chemical Industry was due to sign all the agreements for sub-sectors on 31 August 2017. However, not all employer and union representatives attended and the ceremony was initially postponed to 7 September 2017. Before the postponement was however made officials the parties signed the agreements and the wage negotiations for the sector has thus been concluded. The settlement levels are as were reported last week.

Demands to Magalies Water

The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) has submitted its wage and other demands for the 2017/18 financial year to Magalies Water, which supplies water to the Rustenburg, Madibeng and Moretele Local Municipalities in the North West.  Among the union’s demands are: a single year agreement backdated from 1 July 2017; 20% salary increase for all workers; an additional 10% salary hike for workers on P7 – P18 on a total cost to company basis; 12.5% standby allowance; 15% shift allowance; 12% retirement contribution by the employer; and increases to various categories of leave.  Negotiations on Samwu’s demands commenced on 30 August 2017.

EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR ECONOMICS MATTERS

Jobs stable in vehicle manufacturing

Employment in SA’s vehicle manufacturing industry remained stable in the second quarter of the year, despite the depressed economy.  The total industry head count ticked up marginally by 0.5%, or 159 jobs, to 30,356 in the last week of June, from 30,251 in the last week of April.  This is according to the latest quarterly review of business conditions in the new vehicle manufacturing industry for the second quarter released this week by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa).  The quarterly review indicated that, with the exception of the fourth quarter of last year, industry employment had remained stable over the past four years.  Average industry employment last year was 30,953, compared to 31,260 in 2015.

Treasury urged to review double tax on expat workers

Tax experts urged National Treasury to give careful consideration to the economic implications of repealing a provision that exempts certain South Africans who work overseas from paying tax in SA.  They were addressing Parliament’s standing committee on finance on new tax proposals, one of the most controversial of which is to repeal the exemption that allows locals who work abroad for a period of longer than 183 days a year to pay tax in the country where they are working, and not in SA.  Treasury claims the exemption, which was introduced in 2001, has been abused and created the opportunity for some South Africans to not pay any tax at all – especially those living in low or no tax jurisdictions.  Among the points made were that the higher cost of living associated with living overseas should be taken into account; that South Africans working abroad would not receive a tax credit for making contributions to social security in the countries where they worked; and that a number of expats were maintaining two households.  In response, Treasury stated it would take the submissions and public comments into account before a decision was reached.  The new regulation is expected to be implemented in 2019.

REMUNERATION AND EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Cosatu angered by PIC funds that could be used to bail SOEs

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has told Cosatu’s central executive committee (CEC) meeting that he cannot guarantee that the government will not attempt to make use of the Public Investment Corporation’s (PIC’s) funds to capitalise state-owned entities (SOEs).  This comes as the government is trying to raise money for struggling SOEs, notably airline SAA.  The labour federation’s leaders apparently took the minister to task after his presentation on Monday, demanding the assurance that the crisis of the country’s burdened fiscus would not affect workers’ “hard-earned” pensions and savings.  Cosatu’s biggest affiliate, Nehawu, has already stated its opposition to a potential bail-out of SAA by the PIC.  The union said such a move would be an abuse of employees’ retirement funds, to rescue SAA, which was a “mismanaged and corrupt” entity.  Delegates to the CEC meeting were due to debate the minister’s presentation on Tuesday night.  The PIC manages assets worth more than R1.8-trillion and invests funds on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) and other social funds.  The Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) said that it would never agree that PIC funds could be used to bail out “mismanaged” government entities.

GEPF assures that pension money will not be used to fund SOE’s

The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) has assured its members, pensioners and beneficiaries that it has not received any proposal to help fund South African Airways (SAA).  The GEPF is Africa’s largest pension fund, with the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) as its fund manager.  “No discussions have been held with GEPF on this matter.  Therefore, we urge all our members and pensioners not to panic or read too much into this speculation,” the fund said in a statement.  It assured its beneficiaries that their pension savings were safe and emphasised that its primary role was to protect the wealth of its members and pensioners by safeguarding their retirement benefits through proper administration and prudent investment.  

Venda Pension Fund victims will get pensions by end of November

The National Treasury indicated that Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba intended to resolve the payment of pensions to beneficiaries of the former Venda Pension Fund by the end of November 2017.  According to a statement, Gigaba said the matter had long been outstanding and needed to be resolved as urgently as possible.  Those affected lost all their retirement money during the amalgamation of the Venda Pension Fund and the First Privatisation Scheme pre-1994 and before the Government Employees Pension Fund came into effect.  The new scheme came into effect in 1993, while payouts by the former Venda government were made in 1992.  Some of the pensioners could not be paid and claimed the payouts had been made “selectively”.

LEGAL AND COMPLIANCE

Wesselsbron farm allegations

A Free State farmer is under investigation for allegedly flouting labour laws and for treating workers as slaves.  Authorities rescued at least 21 under age children and adults at a farm in Wesselsbron.  They had all been recruited from the North West to work as seasonal farm workers.  But many claim they have not been paid and were made to live under appalling circumstances and given rotten food to eat.  The discovery was made after the municipality received a tip-off about the farm.

Manyi promises to tackle labour issues, transformation at ANN7 & The New Age

Mzwanyele ‘Jimmy’ Manyi, owner of Infinity Media Networks, undertook to tackle the hostile labour relations between staff and management at the ANN7 TV network and The New Age newspaper.   In a media briefing, he promised growth and transformation at his newly acquired media company, which was acquired for R450m through vendor financing.  Manyi stated:”There will be no victimisation of staff, we plan to keep everyone who is already here and even grow the company further.  Everything will be done according to the laws of the country here.  I heard about staff being badly treated, I have met with them and will still do so again.  The unions have allowed me to settle in, we are set to meet in September and resolve all issues.”  Black staff members at the two news outlets have complained about racism, unfair labour practices, unfair dismissals and being underpaid compared to their Indian and white colleagues.  Over the years, most of the complainants approached trade unions and the CCMA for help.

City of Johannesburg job applicants have to declare any political party positions

The Democratic Alliance (DA) administration in the City of Johannesburg wants to know if its prospective employees hold any political office.  This is stated in a new job application form for the city, which compels applicants to disclose political positions – permanent or temporary.  The DA said the intention was to ensure that there was a clear divide between party and state, and that those who hold senior positions in the city’s administration are appointed due to their professional qualifications rather than loyalty or seniority in any political party.  The move has been met with outrage by the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), whose regional secretary Bafana Zungu said the question was abnormal and that such a requirement was unheard of.  However, Mayor Herman Mashaba’s spokesman defended the move, saying the question was about preventing cadre deployment and was in line with the Municipal Systems Act.  “It asks you whether you hold political office, not what party do you support,” he pointed out.

Ex-municipal CFO ordered to pay R100k for fraud

The former chief financial officer of Karoo Hoogland Municipality, Marius Botha, and bogus company owner, Ockert Cloete, were on Monday ordered to pay the Asset Forfeiture Unit for unduly benefiting from the proceeds of crime.  In May they were found guilty in the Williston Regional Court on nine charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering and for contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).  The Asset Forfeiture Unit ordered Botha to repay R100,000, while Cloete was ordered to repay R50,000 to recover the proceeds of crime.  The former municipal manager at the municipality, Louis Nothnagel, was found guilty of contravening the MFMA, for failing to prevent corruption.  The charges related to undue payments that were made to a bogus company that was appointed by the municipality to install 600 solar geysers for the community in Williston.  Sentencing procedures are in progress.

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