INDUSTRIAL ACTION

Satawu-affilisted security guards on strike at Chubb

Chubb security guards affiliated to the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) start a strike on Monday. Sticking points unresolved since December last year include contributions from non-members and managers’ (i.e. Agency Shop agreement), standby allowances, promotion policy, weekend standby allowances of R1,000 (Chubb offered R350) and alignment of the date it implements the annual wage increase to the industry norm of September 1‚ instead of January 1.

Private security guards demand to work directly for the state

Police were called to the offices of the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) in the Joburg city centre last Monday‚ after protesting security guards blocked the entrance.  The protestors were members of the African Security Congress (ASC)‚ a political organisation formed by security guards themselves.  Teboho Motloung‚ ASC president, said the march was organised to make the call for security guards to be directly employed by the state‚ instead of the private sector‚ which they alleged exploited them.  “The main objective of this protest is for the security industry to be moved from private sector to public sector and be totally owned by the state.  We get trained by private security companies and get certificates.  After paying for that certificate‚ we still have to pay PSIRA a fee every month‚ and we don’t know what the fee is for,” Motloung said.  Apparently, the fee is about R7 a month, while the certificate from PSIRA expires after 18 months and has to be renewed at a cost of R20.

WAGE AND OTHER LABOUR NEGOTIATIONS

Broadcasting union Bemawu in strike action at SABC

The SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) announced on Wednesday that it was concerned by the looming workers’ strike after the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers’ Union (Bemawu) declined to end the wage impasse.  The SABC met with Bemawu and the Communication Workers Union (CWU), where the board proposed that wage negotiations be reopened and a neutral facilitator be appointed to aid the talks.  Bemawu members thereafter decided to proceed with the strike on Thursday.  CWU was not available to state whether it would be striking or not.  The unions issued the SABC with a 48-hour strike notice on Monday.  Both unions are demanding a 10% increase for workers across the board, backdated to April 2017, but the SABC says it cannot move from its “zero percent offer”.

Samwu critisise increase for EPWP workers

The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) says it is disgusted by the decision to increase the daily rate of Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers from R83.50 to just R88.00.  This translates to a monthly remuneration of R1‚760 assuming that the participant has worked five days a week for a month.  The increase was effective from 1 November 2017.  “The sectoral minimum wage for Local Government is currently R6‚800 and as such it is shameful and disgusting that people who are doing the same job as those employed permanently and directly by municipalities are set to continue receiving slave wages‚” Samwu said in a statement.  Hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries work for the municipalities under the EPWP doing‚ among other tasks‚ cleaning in communities.

SA Airlink strike called-off

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) has called off the planned strike at SA Airlink which would have started last Monday. This follows negotiations with the airline’s management and acceptance of a 10% wage offer. In addition to the 10% the company will add R2,000 per month on salaries of employees. The company has also agreed to increase allowances employees get‚ which include flight pay‚ night allowance‚ airport reserve and the in-charge allowance.

EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR ECONOMICS MATTERS

Nearly 1,000 direct and indirect job losses so far as a result of GMSA’s exit

According to the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), the effect of the pull-out by General Motors SA (GMSA) from South Africa was much more devastating than earlier expected, with close to a thousand workers affected.  Numsa carried out a study in the Eastern Cape, where GMSA has had its biggest operations, to find out how workers would be affected.  Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi advised:  “We can confirm that 550 workers have been retrenched from GM since July.  A few retrenchments will be finalised by December, but the majority of workers have already been removed from the production line and are no longer working.  The actual impact is far higher because there are job losses along the value chain as well, so in fact the impact of GM’s decision to disinvest had a far greater impact than on the 550 workers at the plant who were laid off.”  Of those which directly or indirectly did business with GMSA, about 961 workers have already been retrenched.  This figure is expected to increase as GMSA winds up business at the end of December.

Expansion at Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) is investing R3-billion ($220-million) in expanding Ranger production at its Silverton plant, in Pretoria. The plant builds the Everest sports-utility vehicle and Ranger pickup, with the latter exported to 148 markets. Current capacity at the plant is 100 000 units a year. The R3-billion investment will see capacity increase to 167 000 units a year. The changes to the plant should be in place in January next year, following a four-week shutdown period over December. The Silverton plant operates on a two-shift rotation, with a three-shift operation not currently on the table. Employment was set to increase through the capacity expansion, although Ford could not yet quantify the number of people to be added to the Silverton payroll.

Sibanye-Stillwater confirms 7,000 employees cut at Cooke

Sibanye-Stillwater has completed a restructuring process at its Cooke gold and uranium shafts on the West Rand, cutting a total of 6,976 from its workforce including 1,350 employees who took voluntary separation packages.  However, the group has decided to keep operations at Beatrix West in the Free State open for as long as they remain profitable.  That has given 1,640 employees a temporary stay from retrenchment.

Eastern Cape tea growing industry being revived

Eastern Cape MEC for Eastern Cape Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, is expected to visit the Magwa Tea Estate in Lusikisiki next month for the first harvest following four years of dormancy.  As part of the processes to rescue the province’s two tea estates, the provincial government resolved to issue an expression of interest call aimed at attracting the private sector to invest in the incorporated tea estate.  Majola Tea Estate was incorporated into the Magwa Tea Estate following a court process after workers resolved to join the two estates to form a single incorporated estate.  This year a new shareholding structure was developed to attract private sector investors.  The proposed new shareholding structure of the incorporated tea estate would give the private investor a controlling 51% shareholding, 26% to the community, 13% to the employees of the tea estate and government would hold 10%.  Stakeholders associated with the tea estate operations are being consulted and engaged in the process of the business rescue plan as well as on the long-term financial sustainability of the tea estate.

REMUNERATION AND EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Cabinet approves national minimum wage of R20 an hour from May 2018

The Department of Labour said on Thursday that Cabinet had approved draft legislation to introduce a national minimum wage (NMW) of R20 per hour from May next year.  Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said in February that the new NMW would come into force next year, and Cabinet’s decision brings its introduction one step closer.  The NMW must still be approved by Parliament before it becomes law.  The ministry said the new wage legislation, as well as bills on basic employment conditions and labour relations, would help address labour instability and wage inequality.  Supporters of a NMW have argued that it could reduce inequality and stimulate growth as workers would spend more.  But critics say it could lead to increased unemployment as some employers would be unable to afford higher wage bills.

Shoprite and executive pay

Shoprite Holdings, the continent’s largest retailer, has made a surprising about-turn on executive remuneration.  This follows its 2017 annual general meeting (AGM) where 29.89% voted against a non-binding resolution on its remuneration policy and 28.58% voted against the implementation thereof.  Shoprite has invited shareholders who voted against the remuneration policy and the implementation of it to “engage with the company” in a closed teleconference.  This marks a change in stance for a group that has historically paid its executives very well and almost stubbornly refused to engage on remuneration matters.  It is also the first time that a large JSE-listed company has had a formal, publicised engagement which is openly-accessible to all shareholders to deal with remuneration concerns.  In the 2016 financial year, the group was criticised for paying then-CEO Whitey Basson R100 million, including a R50 million bonus.

Inflation shrinks real disposable net pay

Real disposable take-home pay shrank for the first time in seven months on a year-on-year (y/y) basis due to higher inflation in September 2017.  This was according to the latest BankservAfrica Disposable Index (BDSI) data, which showed disposable salaries declined by 1.3%.  The average real seasonally adjusted banked salary was R13,964 in September 2017.  In nominal terms, the take-home salary averaged at R14,255.  The current difficult economic conditions in SA are impacting firms and their ability to pay higher salaries.  The effective tax rate on gross salaries has also taken a toll.  “Wage earners are under severe pressure and have not had effective salary increases over the last four years,” states the report.  Meantime, real average private pension paid into bank accounts reached R6,701 – the highest level that real average pensions have ever reached.  The average constant private pension grew by 2.2% in September, which is the strongest percentage change in four months.

Uber driver-partners to receive some perks to offset operating costs

Uber driver-partners will start to receive perks in the form of fuel rebates and cellphone deals‚ which will help reduce their operating costs.  Other benefits will include car maintenance support and health insurance.  The ride-hailing app said in a statement that it aimed to provide driver-partners access to a wide variety of partner discounts and deals.  These sweeteners come in the wake of Uber driver-partners becoming increasingly vocal about their need to be protected by labour laws‚ and voicing concerns about their personal security.  In July‚ a group of Uber drivers took the company to the CCMA‚ demanding that they be seen as legal employees.  The CCMA found in their favour.  Attacks by metered taxi drivers and passengers‚ including robberies and hijackings‚ on Uber drivers have prompted the founding of the Uber Drivers Movement‚ with more than 700 members.

Worry that R16bn in public pensions already handed over to politically motivated investments

Terry Bell writes that it has begun to dawn on public sector trade unionists that a very large sum of money from their pension funds may already have been handed over to politically motivated investments under the guise of promoting Black Economic Empowerment (BEE).  The Government Employee Pension Fund (GEPF), that probably accounts for at least R1.6 trn of the funds handled by the government controlled Public Investment Corporation (PIC), allows for 5% of such funds to be placed to the advantage of BEE.  But 5% of GEPF funds is equal to at least R16 bn, which is considerable.  The unions, notably the PSA (formerly Public Servants Association), have realised that they should have greater oversight over how this money is invested.  PSA general manager Ivan Fredericks has already lodged a demand that the labour movement be represented on the board of the PIC.  Fredericks has also requested that, when listing all investments, the PIC must include “a list of politically connected persons” involved in such deals.  The PSA furthermore wants the unions to be represented on the boards of companies where employee pension funds are invested.

LEGAL AND COMPLIANCE

Labour Court backs Sun City’s axing of workers over illegal Gupta-related strike

The dismissal of three shop stewards who participated in an unprotected strike following the notorious Gupta wedding at Sun City in 2013 has been held to be substantively fair by the Labour Court.  The three were among a group of employees from the SA Commercial‚ Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) who embarked on a strike on 11 May 2013‚ despite a Labour Court interdict preventing them from doing so.  The workers went on strike as they believed Sun City had failed to deal with the alleged racist conduct at the Gupta wedding‚ which took place at the resort between 30 April and 3 May.

The union claimed at a meeting with management that the Gupta family only wanted white drivers and waiters‚ and that a female employee of the spa concessionaire had been sexually harassed by a guest.  But, Saccawu did not submit relevant evidence as requested.  Despite a subsequent court order‚ Saccawu members picketed at Sun City on 11 May.  The employees’ subsequent case was that‚ although the strike was unprotected‚ it had been in response to unjustified conduct by Sun City.  The judge ruled that if employees deliberately acted in contempt of a court order‚ they should not expect sympathy or mercy from the court.

COMMUNITY

R100K reward offered for info on Amcu murders

Forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan has offered a R100,000 reward for information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the recent killings of Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) members.  In September, Amcu decided to appoint O’Sullivan to investigate the murders and to make available R100,000 as a reward for information.  O’Sullivan said that Malibongwe Mdazo, who was shot numerous times in July 2017, was lucky to have escaped with a few gunshot wounds.  Mdazo, chairman of Amcu at the Western Platinum mine, was shot on 22 July after he had attended a soccer match.  Nkosinathi Mantashe was recently arrested for the shooting and appeared in the Brits Magistrate’s Court.  Mantashe, who is a member the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), has maintained his innocence and claims he does not own a firearm.  O’Sullivan said they believed there was a hidden hand in the shooting and added that they were determined to get to the bottom of it.

Amcu man in court for unlawful possession of firearm and ammunition

The bail hearing in the Brits Magistrate’s Court of an Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) member accused of possession of unlicensed firearm and ammunition was postponed and took place on 30 October for arguments and judgment.  William Nyenyane, 29, is one of the 14 men accused of hacking a man to death in Marikana.  They include Forum 4 Service Delivery councillor Napoleon Webster.  The state alleges that the 14 men hacked Sabata Petros Chale, 39, to death in Marikana West, on 8 December 2016, allegedly over the allocation of low cost (RDP) houses at Marikana West Extension 2.  They are expected to appear in the North West High Court on 8 December.

Download PDF