INDUSTRIAL ACTION

COSATU protest action scheduled for 27 September 2017

NEDLAC considered the Cosatu notice for protest action against state capture and issued a certificate in this regard. The protest action will therefore continue on Wednesday 27 September 2017.

Various employer organisations have confirmed that the rule of “no work – no pay” will be applied.

EFF members march to uranium mine

Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Thursday arrived at Moscow in Tigane, near Klerksdorp, ahead of a march to the Gupta-owned Shiva Uranium Mine.  They were supporting members of the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), who wanted to hand over a memorandum of grievances at the Shiva Uranium Mine in Hartbeestfontein.

Nehawu strike at Gauteng legislature

The National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) strike action at the Gauteng provincial legislature (GPL), which has entered its third week, is continuing.  Nehawu’s dispute with the GPL is mainly about wage and salary increases.  About 150 workers are participating demanding a 9.5% salary increase and 1% increase to cushion the increase effected by medical costs.

WAGE AND OTHER LABOUR NEGOTIATIONS

Exxaro and NUM resumed wage negotiations

Exxaro has received a revised set of demands from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the parties resumed wage negotiations on Friday. This follows the issuing of a strike notice by the Num which could have resulted in strike action at Grootegeluk coal mine, in Lephalale, as well as Leeuwpan coal mine, in Delmas.  Meanwhile, Exxaro said negotiations with Solidarity, the other trade union recognised for collective bargaining, were also continuing.

UCT and five unions reach agreement

More than 150 workers at the University of Cape Town (UCT) met last Thursday to discuss an agreement reached between UCT management and five trade unions.  The agreement ended a notification of strike action by Salipswu, which was submitted to UCT last weekend.  It was Salipswu’s second notification of strike to UCT.  Five trade unions were part of the negotiations, namely, Salipswu, Nehawu, Detawu, University and Allied Workers Union (UAWU), and the UCT Employees Union (UCTEU).  The agreement established a “joint forum” and a task team with representatives from trade unions to continue discussions about issues related to workers brought onto the UCT payroll in 2016.  It also created a work study to “assess reasonable staffing levels across operations.  UCT agreed to give shift allowances for staff working night shifts, more pay for working Sundays and holidays, and a new shift pattern for residence catering.  It committed to offering four-hour casual workers full-time positions starting 1 November 2017.  It also agreed that pregnant women would no longer work night shifts.

EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR ECONOMIC MATTERS

Sassa short on funds to fill 10,000 vacant posts

MPs heard on Wednesday that the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) currently has more than 19,000 jobs  available at the entity, but only has funding for half of them.  As of August 2017, Sassa had 19,162 approved permanent and contract posts, but only 9,091 of them were filled, which equated to a 52.6% vacancy rate.  Sassa executive manager Raphaahle Ramokgopa explained to the portfolio committee on social development that when Sassa was formed, job descriptions were defined at the time to represent a complete Sassa organogram that handled all administrative work.  However, many of the functions have been outsourced to external partners for the last decade, including to outgoing unlawful grants distributor Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).  The agency thus now needs people to come in to improve expertise in many of these areas as they move away from CPS, including finance and banking.  Sassa currently only has funding for 220 more posts, all of which have been advertised and approximately 80% of which were still at shortlisting phase.  It has advertised 10 executive posts currently occupied by acting personnel, including the chief operations officer, executive manager: corporate affairs, and four regional executive manager posts.

Paint industry jobs at risk

According to a report in Business Report, thousands of jobs and the future existence of South African based paint manufacturers are at risk because of a government decision to negotiate the abolition of Chapter 39 import duties.  This relates specifically to resins from the East African Community (EAC) and Egypt.  The abolition of the duties is linked to the establishment of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), which represents an integrated market of 26 countries.  SA signed the agreement in July this year.  Deryck Spence of the SA Paint Manufacturing Association (Sapma), which represents nine manufacturers who account for 90% of the paint products produced locally, said the abolition of the duties was a threat to the survival of the domestic paint manufacturing industry and the jobs it provided.  He says the decision by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to negotiate the import duties was made on the recommendation and endorsement of Nedlac without any consultation with the coatings industry or Sapma.  Nedlac failed to respond to questions other than to state that the matter had been referred to Business Unity SA (Busa).  Busa confirmed the matter had been referred to them about six weeks ago by Nedlac.

Joburg to reinstate 280 workers fired by Midrand council 23 years ago

The City of Johannesburg has reached an agreement with 280 workers who were dismissed 23 years ago by the then Midrand Council, which was since incorporated into Joburg.  Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba concluded the agreement with the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) led by its secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi.  More than 500 municipal workers went on strike in 1994 in protest against corruption and nepotism within the Midrand Council and they were subsequently dismissed and denied their pension entitlements.  “The City will ensure that these workers are considered for existing and new vacancies and will be appointed where possible into permanent positions over the next six months … The Johannesburg Metropolitan Council and the Saftu further agreed that the City will work tirelessly to investigate what became of these workers’ pension funds‚” Mashaba’s office said on Thursday.

Engen in talks with staff over voluntary retrenchments

Job losses are possible at Engen Petroleum as the oil and gas company undertakes a restructuring.  Engen said it was in talks with employees to streamline the business in a bid to remain competitive.  Spokesman Gavin Smith said Engen, which employed 3,000 people, had examined its operational structure with employees.  The review had led to certain positions being affected.  He indicated:  “Engen is currently engaging affected employees that are mainly based in its corporate offices to explore a variety of alternatives that include applying for a different role within Engen or applying for a Voluntary Severance Package (VSP) in order to avoid retrenchments.  This process is ongoing.”  He declined to divulge how many employees would be affected, but said it would not include petrol attendants.

Provinces and metros with the highest rates of employment in South Africa

With South Africa’s unemployment rate at 14-year highs, Statistics SA data show which provinces and metros are weathering the storm.  In August, Stats SA released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey results for the second quarter of 2017 (April – June), detailing numbers around the state of employment in SA.  The data also shows where workers are most likely to be employed (absorbed) in the country, and which regions are successfully in creating job opportunities.  A table in this report outlines the provinces with the highest absorption rates, as well as the number of net gains/loss in jobs.  Contrary to popular belief, it is the Western Cape that appears to offer the best bet on jobs, with 53.9% of the working age population formally employed.  City of Cape Town takes the top position as regard absorption rate by metros, but it is second to Ekurhuleni in Gauteng for the net gain in jobs.  The second quarter of 2017 saw 53,000 jobs being added in Cape Town year-on-year, compared to the 143,000 additions in Ekurhuleni.  There was a net loss of 83,000 jobs in the City of Johannesburg over the period, but the city still has the second-highest absorption rate at 52.6%

200,000 Zimbabweans get four more years in SA with Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP)

Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize on Friday announced terms and conditions of the new four-year non-renewable permit regime for close to 200,000 Zimbabweans based in SA.  Mkhize indicated:  “Conditions of the new Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) dispensation entitles the holder to work, study and, or, to conduct business, if that person is an entrepreneur.  It’s important to emphasise that it [the ZEP] does not entitle the holder the right to apply for permanent residence, irrespective of the period of stay in the Republic of South Africa.  It will neither be renewable or extendable.”  The permits of the 197,941 holders of the current Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP) expire in December.  Meantime, the Zimbabwean community in SA has called for the inclusion of undocumented Zimbabweans in the new permit criteria.  According to Ngqabutho Mabhena of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa:  “Our wish certainly is that we should have these other Zimbabweans that are not on special permits and documented.”

Impala Platinum warns of job cuts as it tackles unprofitable shafts

Impala Platinum (Implats) is heading for job cuts as it contemplates restructuring at its loss-making Rustenburg mines.  Implats is the latest mining company to tackle its unprofitable, old shafts.  It follows AngloGold Ashanti and Sibanye Stillwater, which are preparing to close decades-old shafts, and the closure of Bokoni platinum mine (jointly owned by Atlatsa Resources and Anglo American Platinum), together cutting a total of 20,000 jobs.  The scale of job cuts at Implats is not yet known, but with a loss of R2.7bn loss incurred at its Rustenburg mines, the board regards the continued low platinum price as the new normal.  The formal job cuts process is expected to start in the next few weeks.

REMUNERATION AND EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Salary gaps between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban are shrinking

It is well-established that people working in the economic hub of Johannesburg get better salaries than their counterparts in other big metros in SA, but the gap between the average salaries in the three major metros is shrinking.  The 2017 CareerJunction Salary Survey shows that, of all sectors covered by the report, Joburg employees consistently earned higher than the national average in all job sectors, while Cape Town and Durban earned well below this average in most industries.

However, looking at salary trends, it is also clear that the dynamics in the job market are changing, and the salary differences between Joburg and Cape Town averaged across all sectors has narrowed by over nine percentage points since 2014.  A similar trend is seen between Joburg and Durban, where the gap between average salaries narrowed by over six percentage points.  These margins have narrowed or widened across various sectors to track the growing or shrinking demand for jobs in different industries.

LEGAL AND COMPLIANCE

Lonmin given deadline to fix non-compliant parts of its social and labour plan

Platinum producer Lonmin has been given a deadline by the Department of mineral resources (DMR) to fix non-compliant parts of its social and labour plan (SLP) or risk having its mining right suspended.  The DMR issued a so-called Section 93 notice to the miner relating to shortcomings in its commitment to local development programmes, community education and procurement. The company would provide evidence of compliance in some areas and is requesting time extensions in other areas, it was announced by Lonmin.

AgriSA dismisses findings that WC women farm workers’ rights routinely violated

AgriSA has dismissed the findings of a survey by the Women on Farms Project (WFP) released last month.  The report highlighted labour violations and the poor working conditions of women farm workers in the Northern and Western Cape, many of them seasonal workers.  This week, AgriSA Western Cape spokesperson Jeanne Boshoff said they could not comment on the allegations in the report without exact details on where the alleged incidents occurred.  “The report is inconsistent with reports by among others the International Labour Organisation.  There is also no confirmation that the sample group are indeed farm workers,” she said.  Spokesperson for the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, Petro van Rhyn, said the minister’s office has approached the Women on Farms Project to discuss the findings and to give them a list of the complaints.

360 businesses fined for employment equity non-compliance

The Department of Labour has claimed more than R23m from 360 employers prosecuted for not complying with the Employment Equity Act (EEA).  However, only R1.3m has been paid so far, says the department’s director-general, Thobile Lamati, who briefed the parliamentary portfolio committee on labour about the rate of transformation, among other issues.  The Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) has warned that it will go after unyielding employers who failed to transform their businesses or to submit the required data on progress.  Lamati told the parliamentary committee that section 53 of the EEA would be used as an additional measure to force employers to comply until the government’s transformation targets were reached.  If the section was invoked, businesses would first have to prove to the labour minister that they were compliant by applying for a certificate if seeking to do business with any organ of the state.  Legislative provisions were also being revised.

UNION AFFAIRS

NUM to be ‘friend of court’ in Chamber’s interdict against Mining Charter’s implementation

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Wednesday that it would be approaching the North Gauteng High Court as an intervening party, or ‘friend of the court’, in the matter of the interdict application by the Chamber of Mines against the implementation of the 2017 Reviewed Mining Charter.  The NUM said it had decided to approach the court after studying the founding and responding affidavits of both the Chamber and the Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane.  The NUM’s head of transformation Luthando Brukwe said in a statement that the union’s legal team would on Thursday be presenting to the court reasons why it should be admitted and would also assure the court that its participation would not delay or postpone the scheduled dates.  Brukwe added that, although the NUM was not going to oppose the Chamber’s application, the union would be making critical submissions which it hoped would assist the court in adjudicating the matter.

Rules set by Nedlac’s three union federations are allegedly blocking Saftu membership

The SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) is gearing up for a battle to get into the National Economic, Development and Labour Council (Nelac), the statutory body set up to facilitate negotiations on economic and labour policy between business, government, labour and communities.  Current Nedlac rules exclude the recently established Saftu because it is less than two years old.  This leaves the new federation at the mercy of the three other federations if it wants to be admitted before the two-year waiting period is completed, despite Saftu being the second-largest union federation in SA.  With roughly 680,000 members, Saftu is larger than Fedusa (327,236 members) and Nactu (263,694 members), combined.

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