INDUSTRIAL ACTION

Shiva Uranium Mine on strike

Employees at the Gupta-owned Shiva Uranium Mine at Hartebeestfontein in North West are on strike over alleged unfair labour practices and racism.  This comes after management informed employees that the mine was being closed down.  Employees torched an Oakbay bus after employees were suspended for refusing to work overtime.  On the list of grievances are allegations that employees perform multiple tasks, but are only being paid for one and disparities between the salaries reflected on employment contracts and the salaries that appear on pay slips at the end, some with differences of more than R15,000.

SAPS lays disciplinary charges against striking 10111 workers

SAPS had begun laying disciplinary charges against striking 10111 crime call centre employees who had failed to return to work as instructed.  Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said the SA Policing Union (Sapu) was aware of a signed and binding agreement and that it could no longer claim that the strike was protected. Members of Sapu stood their ground last week when police management instructed them to return to work by Friday a week ago or face disciplinary charges because the strike was unprotected.  This followed an agreement that SAPS signed with majority union Popcru (Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union) at the industry’s Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council (SSSBC) in August.  Sapu responded this week it would intensify its strike and march to the Union Buildings on 16 October.

WAGE AND OTHER LABOUR NEGOTIATIONS

SAA tables revised wage offer

South African Airways (SAA) has tabled a revised wage offer following a negotiation deadlock between its maintenance arm SAA Technical (SAAT) and three trade unions.  This came after a notice of pending strike action served by the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) on 29 September.  “Since the notice was served, management obtained a revised mandate from the board of directors and met with the three labour unions to present a revised offer to the unions on October 4,” SAA indicated in a statement.  Satawu, Uasa and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) indicated in principle support for the offer.

Chamber of Mines’ wage offer for coal mines

Trade union Solidarity indicated that it had received a favourable wage offer from the Chamber of Mines, following a series of meetings in this year’s wage review.  The wage offer, which is part of a three-year agreement,  ranges from 5.5% to 7.5% and involves a 7.5% wage increase at the Anglo Coal, Exxaro and Glencore mining houses, a 7% increase for Kangra and a 5% increase at Delmas and Msobo.  Provision had also been made for an increase in housing and travelling allowances and that unions had been successful in negotiating four months of maternity leave for female employees.

EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR ECONOMICS MATTERS

Eastern Cape to appoint 3,000 teachers

The education department in the Eastern Cape has issued a staff bulletin to employ more than 3,000 teachers and over a 1,000 principals and deputies at schools to end a critical shortage in teaching staff in the province.

Thousands of jobs at risk due to bird flu

With thousands of jobs on the line, the SA Poultry Association (Sapa) is anxious that the industry “may never recover” from the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of bird flu currently gripping the country.  The devastating outbreak has already resulted in losses of R800 million for affected farms, which have been forced to cull a countless number of egg producing chickens.  Sapa’s Dr Charlotte Nkuna said:  “In 2016, the total number of people employed by the industry and associated industries was about 132,000.  Over 1,000 jobs have been affected directly by the outbreak.  We expect the numbers to grow once the impact cascades to secondary industries.”  Bird flu is currently spread along Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and the Free State provinces.  “Our estimate is that over 4 million birds have been or are in the process of being culled,” Nkuna indicated.  Speaking about affected producers, Nkuna pointed to financial assistance being necessary for recovery of farms.

REMUNERATION AND EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Unions still concerned about use of PIC funds for SAA

As government embarks on a search to raise funds to bail out SAA, the trade union movement is still uneasy about the use of workers’ pension funds at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to further shore up the airline.  The latest to enter the fray is the Information Communication and Technology Union (ICTU), which on Wednesday opposed the PIC’s possible buyout of government’s stake in Telkom.  The union feared it could result in more job losses at the already bleeding partly state-owned telecommunication enterprise.  ICTU, an affiliate of the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), has joined other unions from both Saftu and rival federation Cosatu that have expressed opposition to the use of workers’ pension funds to prop up SAA with bailouts.

FirstRand executives R127.7m in incentives

FirstRand executives and former executives of the group earned R127.7m as options, shares and bonuses awarded two and three years ago vested during its 2017 financial year.  Former CEO Sizwe Nxasana was the most handsomely paid, taking home R32.1m after his long-term incentive shares and performance shares awarded in 2014 and 2015 matured in September 2016, according to the banking group’s annual report released on Tuesday.  Nxasana retired in 2015.  Incumbent Johan Burger was not too far off, with R29.1m in vested incentives, followed by deputy CEO Alan Pullinger at R20.9m.  FNB CEO Jacques Celliers raked in R13.4m, Wesbank boss Chris de Kock R11.4m, RMB’s James Formby R11m, and group chief financial officer Harry Kellan R9.7m.  FirstRand chairman Laurie Dippenaar said he was comfortable with the banking group’s remuneration policy, as it had three “health checks” to keep pay in line.

LEGAL AND COMPLIANCE

Seven years’ backpay for 61 reinstated Pick n Pay staff

Sixty-one Pick n Pay staff have been reinstated by the Labour Appeal Court after being fired for going on strike for an hour in 2010.  Acting Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane ordered the retailer to pay the 61 retrospectively to the date of their dismissal.  Costs were awarded in their favour.  However‚ the fight may not be over, as the company is studying the judgment before deciding on its next move.  The 61 members of the SA Commercial‚ Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) downed tools at 3pm‚ an hour before the store closed on Heritage Day in the midst of a wage dispute.  But, they did not know the strike had been delayed by four hours as the shop stewards’ phone at their store was out of order.  The appeal judge criticised Pick n Pay for failing to give the workers a written ultimatum to warn them of the consequences of striking at 3pm‚ failing to allow them to submit representations before firing them‚ inconsistency in the way it treated striking workers and making an “absurd” argument that the trust relationship with the staff had broken down.

MTN radio mast engineers win back right to keep company cars and petrol cards

Twenty radio mast engineers employed by cellphone operator MTN in Durban have won an arbitration that allows them to keep their personal company cars and petrol cards.  MTN had argued that the company would save money by ditching personal cars and petrol cards and pooling cars for the employees instead.  Nationally, about 520 employees were affected by the decision.  The employees, as part of their employment contracts, were all given cars and were entitled to take them home at night and over weekends.  In December 2014 the company gave notice that, from April 2015, this would change.  The cars would be “pooled” and could only be used for work.  The employees’ attorney Dean Caro indicated that countrywide four arbitrations by employees against MTN were instituted.  “MTN have lost three and settled one”.

Solidarity to pursue Zuma’s nephew to UAE

Trade union Solidarity has committed to follow former Aurora director Khulubuse Zuma to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to ensure justice for the thousands of miners who lost their jobs because of reckless management.  Reacting to reports that Zuma, who is a nephew of President Jacob Zuma, was allegedly granted residency in the UAE and was already living there, Solidarity said it would do everything possible to ensure his assets were seized.  The Pretoria High Court in 2015 ruled that Khulubuse Zuma, his fellow Aurora directors and others had to pay about R1.7 billion in damages for the destruction of Pamodzi’s Grootvlei and Orkney mines that Aurora managed.  Some 5,300 workers lost their jobs.  Zuma has failed to comply with a settlement agreement entered into with the Pamodzi liquidators which provided for monthly repayments.  Solidarity’s Gideon du Plessis said an application by the liquidators to sequestrate Zuma would be heard on 8 December, but Solidarity wanted to ensure that the sequestration order was also ratified in the UAE so that his assets there could be seized.

COMMUNITY

Forum for unemployed demands recognition from traditional council in North West

Hundreds of unemployed people near Brits in North West Province gathered at the entrance of Bapo Ba Mogale Palace on Tuesday demanding that the traditional council recognise their forum as representing the unemployed when it came to relationships with mining companies in the area.  “We want a letter from the traditional council that confirms that Tshepo “Stepestepe” Molaole is recognised as the chairperson of the Bapo Ba Mogale Unemployed Forum,” said Reuben Kaise, one of the group’s leaders.

He claimed Molaole needed a letter as proof to mining companies that he was credible to represent unemployed people and negotiate on their behalf because there was another parallel structure of unemployed people in Bapong.  Four vehicles and a bus were burnt on 27 September when the two rival bodies representing the unemployed clashed.  The traditional council said it was aware of the parallel unemployed representation structures and was mediating with the view of finding a lasting solution.

GENERAL

KPMG admits it paid severance packages to “dismissed” senior executives

KPMG SA director Gary Pickering acknowledged before MPs that the KPMG executives who left the firm due to the scandal over work done for the Guptas and SARS, were paid severance packages.  In September Trevor Hoole resigned as CEO, and eight other senior executives quit with him, following revelations about the firm’s conduct in its report on the SA Revenue Service (SAPS) “Rogue Unit” — parts of which it withdrew — and its work on Gupta companies including Oakbay.

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