Sadtu teachers strike in Eldorado Park
Some parents in Eldorado Park stepped-in last Wednesday after the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) withdrew its members from 29 schools in the area. In some areas learning was totally disrupted as Sadtu boycotted classes, citing safety issues.
Sadtu branch member Desmond Luvhengo said they withdrew their members because of safety issues relating to abuse as well as unresolved issues of schools selling reports to pupils who have failed, and a teacher who has been rehired after he was dismissed for sexual offences.
REMUNERATION AND EMPLOYEE BENEFITS (INCL WAGE NEGOTIATIONS)
Nehawu, Sol Plaatje University reach wage agreement
Members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) at Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley have reached a settlement with the University after a three week strike. The union had been demanding a 10% salary hike, an annual 100% bonus and a 13th salary cheque. The agreement is for a 7% increase and a staggered bonus implementation.
Coronation payment of R604.5m in bonuses questioned
Shareholder activist Theo Botha is insisting on Coronation Fund Managers disclosing details ahead of its annual general meeting of the awarding of R604.5m in bonuses to its employees. While the bonus — equivalent to 30% of taxed profit — is distributed among all the employees, Botha maintains that a handful of executives get the lion’s share. In his view, it is unacceptable that the identity of these key individuals is not disclosed. Executive directors Anton Pillay and John Snalam are the only two executives whose remuneration is disclosed. The lack of transparency was particularly inappropriate, given Coronation’s role in monitoring corporate governance adherence at companies in its portfolio, Botha said. He has again called on shareholders to vote against the remuneration policy. In 2017, the policy was put to a shareholder vote for the first time, but in terms of the King code it was nonbinding. A little more than 15% of shareholders voted against the policy, with the Public Investment Corporation’s 9.53% accounting for more than half of that vote.
EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR ECONOMICS MATTERS
Fourth quarter 2017 unemployment drops to 26.7% from 27.7% in third quarter
SA’s unemployment rate disclosed by Statistics SA, improved in the 2017 fourth quarter from the third, as might be expected for a quarter that usually brings a temporary hiring boost thanks to the holiday season. Unemployment from September to December was estimated at 26.7%. That is a whole percentage point better than the 27.7% seen in the July-September quarter. Unemployment in the fourth quarter of 2016 was 26.5%. The number of unemployed people fell to 5.88-million, from 6.21-million in the third quarter, and compared with 5.78-million in the final quarter of 2016. Looking at various economic sectors’ performance during the quarter, jobs were lost in the following sectors: Finance and other business services (92,000); Mining (39,000); Trade (25,000); Transport (5,000); and Utilities (4,000). Manufacturing added 13,000 jobs, the highest number added. Construction, and community and social services, added 7,000 jobs each.
Job growth booms in Western Cape despite drought
According to Western Cape economic opportunities MEC Alan Winde, the province is top of the employment charts. He has pointed out that the province created the most jobs (92‚000) in the last quarter; recorded the highest year-on-year increase (106‚000) in jobs; and has the country’s lowest unemployment rate‚ at 19.5% (2.4 percentage points lower than the previous quarter). Winde also noted that the finance sector delivered quarterly job growth of 8.3%‚ representing 35,000 jobs‚ and community and social services recorded double-digit growth of 10.2%. Agriculture delivered quarter-on-quarter growth due to the start of harvesting season‚ but the drought had caused an annual decline of 23%‚ or 57‚000 jobs. “We expect that this impact will worsen in the first half of this year‚ as a number of agricultural communities have now depleted their water allocations in entirety‚” Winde stated. He added: “We are likely to see the full impact in the months to follow. The Western Cape government‚ working with other government spheres‚ is doing its utmost to mitigate job losses in this sector.”
Pan African Resources considering more layoffs and closures
Pan African Resources (PAR) may have to contemplate further retrenchments and possible shaft or mine closures should the dollar price of gold stay at current levels and the rand strengthens further against the US dollar. That message became obvious from the presentation of the PAR interim results by CEO, Cobus Loots, who made a clear distinction between PAR’s lower cost and higher cost operations. If the rand should go to R10 to the US dollar, then PAR will have to rely overwhelmingly on its low cost dump retreatment operations to survive, but its Evander underground operations and the Consort mine near Barberton, in particular, look seriously at risk. The Company is engaging in Section 189 proceedings at the latter operations to arrive at solutions with retrenchments being a last resort.
Eastern Cape gives cash injection to 26 hospitals to fill over 1,800 critical positions
The Eastern Cape provincial health department has set aside R300m to fill more than 1‚800 critical posts. The positions include doctors and nurses‚ as well as specialists for maternity sections, in 26 identified hospitals‚ including the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha‚ Frere Hospital and Cecilia Makiwane in East London‚ and Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth. The recruitment process for the hundreds of health workers has already begun.
Joburg security firms up in arms over City’s decision to insource guards
Security companies who are set to lose millions of rand in business from the City of Johannesburg have vowed to challenge the metro’s decision to insource the service. The legal threat comes after the metro last week announced plans to hire 4,000 privately employed security guards stationed at its various properties. Currently, the City said, it outsourced security services through over 150 contracts. On average Joburg paid R14,000 per guard and claimed that, nonetheless, the firms paid the guards salaries of about R4,500 per month. Security companies bemoaned that there had been no consultation with the stakeholders prior to Joburg announcing its decision.
Parliament’s women’s caucus to host sex work summit on 5 March
Parliament’s Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC) said last week that it planned to host a summit on sex work in light of the ANC’s resolution to have the practice decriminalised. The summit will be hosted on 5 March in Parliament and it will hear views from stakeholders on the South African Law Reform Commission’s (SALRC) report on adult prostitution, which was released in May 2017. Sex work is currently a criminal offence in SA and the country has some of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world – particularly in the sex work industry. Following the release of the SALRC report, which indicated a preferred option of retaining a totally criminalised legal framework, the MPWC said the full decriminalisation of sex work was the only way to protect the rights of sex workers and address the country’s HIV/Aids crisis. At the time, caucus chairperson Masefele Morutoa said the authors of the SALRC report were oblivious to the fact that legalising sex work would allow sex workers to access the criminal justice system.
LEGAL, SAFETY AND COMPLIANCE
Exclusive Books CEO ‘to defend his name’ amid disciplinary inquiry
Exclusive Books CEO Benjamin Trisk says he plans to defend his “name and reputation”, following his suspension by the board pending the outcome of a disciplinary inquiry. Exclusive Books said chief financial officer Frank Boner would be acting CEO until the disciplinary process was concluded. “Due to the confidential nature of the disciplinary proceedings, Exclusive Books Group is not able to share more information,” the business indicated. Exclusive Books is majority owned by Global Capital, an investment banking and private-equity firm operating in SA and Australia. Mark Barnes, CEO of the Post Office, chairs the retailer’s three-member board. Last Monday, Business Day reported that legal counsel for Airports Company SA, Bongani Machobane, was found guilty in a disciplinary hearing of unnecessarily involving it in litigation with Exclusive Books, and withholding pertinent information on this from the board. Trisk said that this issue was completely unrelated to his suspension.
Gold mines report progress in preventing deadly silicosis
Data presented at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town suggest that gold mines might be making progress with the prevention of silicosis among miners. Silicosis is a progressive, deadly lung disease caused by silica dust, while affected workers are much more likely to contract TB. Graham Briggs, retired CEO of Harmony Gold and convenor of the Occupational Lung Diseases Working Group (a collaboration between the six largest mining groups in the industry), said silicosis diagnoses had dropped 24% from 853 cases in 2015 to 635 cases in 2016 on the four gold mines in the group. These are Anglo American SA, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Harmony Gold. Over the same period, cases of pulmonary TB had dropped almost 14% (from 1,666 to 1,436 cases). Briggs also reported significant progress with the “Ku-Riha” project, which is aimed at dealing with the enormous backlog of unclaimed compensation and unprocessed claims. From 2015 to 2016, settled claims leaped from 1,628 to 7,756, and total payouts to sick workers climbed from R79m to R226m. But Briggs was much less forthcoming on progress with dust monitoring. He said sampling frequencies and dust analysis methods had improved in recent years, but he did not give any detail.
COMMUNITIES AND UNION POLITICS
Arrests in platinum belt killings due to Amcu investigators, claims Mathunjwa
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) said on Tuesday that the arrests of six men linked to the killing of mineworkers in Marikana last year was made through the help of the union. “These arrests were made at the behest of Amcu private investigators who traced these ‘trigger man’ and ‘collaborators’. The impetus by Amcu was an act of good citizenry, in pursuance of law and order, without seeking personal glory,” said Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa. He also pointed out that the union had offered a reward of up to R200,000 for credible information that assisted investigators with leads. Eleven cases of murder and attempted murder were reported in the North West platinum belt between May and October last year.