INDUSTRIAL ACTION

Amcu’s marches

The march by the Association for Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Tuesday to the Union Buildings was marred by Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe’s decision to leave the venue without receiving the union’s memorandum of demands.  Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa took a swipe at Mantashe for leaving, suggesting he could not bear to witness how Amcu had grown into a giant union at the expense of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).  Yet, Mantashe was peeved by Mathunjwa‘s late arrival to hand over the memorandum.  Mathunjwa eventually showed up, receiving a hero’s welcome from his followers.  He went on to call Mantashe a horrible minister and also took a swipe at President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying he was no different from former President Jacob Zuma.  There were also Amcu marches in the Free State, Limpopo and in Durban.

Numsa marches against national minimum wage

Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) marched on Wednesday to the Gauteng Legislature in Johannesburg to hand over a memorandum demanding that government should end “slavery” labour laws.  President Cyril Ramaphosa last year signed an agreement to change labour law for the introduction of a national minimum wage for workers – excluding farm workers and domestic workers – of R20 per hour, effective from 1 May 2018.  Numsa compared this wage with those of the President and Ministers as well as CEO’s indicating that it represents slavery wages. Additionally, Numsa was protesting against proposed amendments to the Labour Relations Act and Basic Conditions of Employment Act that it believes would make it impossible for workers to go on strike.

Santaco threatens to launch violent Ekurhuleni strike

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) has given the Ekurhuleni Municipality 30 days to meet its demands, failing which it will launch a violent strike.  Santaco stopped taxi operations in Ekurhuleni, including some parts of Germiston, on Tuesday calling for the resignation of Mayor Mzwandile Masina and his city manager.  Santaco claimed the mayor was the reason the municipality has delayed implementing the Bus Rapid Transit system, which was expected to incorporate taxi drivers.   The municipality’s MMC for Transport Petrus Mabunda promised a speedy resolution.

Nehawu marches in Mahikeng

On Tuesday the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) in the North West marched in Mahikeng against corruption and to call on Premier Supra Mahumapelo to take their demands seriously.  Union members have been staging a go-slow, resulting in little to no work being done in the social development and health departments for several weeks.  The North West government has been plagued by growing complaints of corruption and its head, Mahumapelo, is seemingly at the centre of these allegations.  Nehawu said workers marched in the provincial capital to demand the end of corruption, better pay, performance management payments and improved working conditions.  Other organisations participating in Tuesday’s march included the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) and the

REMUNERATION AND EMPLOYEE BENEFITS (INCL WAGE NEGOTIATIONS)

Implementation of minimum wage on 1 May possibly in jeopardy

The implementation of the national minimum wage on 1 May is possibly in jeopardy, as MPs raise concerns over the process to introduce the necessary legislation being rushed.  Public hearings began at Parliament on Thursday, with an indication that the public input period might be extended, further jeopardising the deadline.  President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during his State of the Nation Address last month that the minimum hourly wage of R20 would come into effect in May, but the Democratic Alliance (DA) said this was undermining of a comprehensive and necessary parliamentary process.  Chairperson of Parliament’s Labour Committee, Sharome van Schalkwyk, said the final bill would not be ready to be introduced to the National Assembly before it goes on recess next week.  MPs will only return from their break in mid-April and the bill has to also be considered by the National Council of Provinces before it can become law.

Minimum living wage should be R6,000, says Magda Wierzycka

The CEO of asset management company Sygnia, Magda Wierzycka, said on Thursday that the minimum living wage for South Africans should be R6,000 per month.  This came after Wierzycka said earlier on Twitter that R3,500 did not constitute a living wage.  Wierzycka has recently been vocal about SA’s current unemployment levels which sits at 26.7%, one of the highest in the world.  Following Wierzycka’s comment on the minimum living wage, she said that she would relook at the wage structure of every supplier to her company.  When asked whether she had contacted her suppliers, Wierzycka said that they were starting with that project now and had already initiated it with respect to one of their service providers.  In the event that the suppliers did not comply with the R6,000 minimum living wage, Wierzycka said that she would put pressure on them to do so and might even help supplement the wage.

Giving or receiving of gifts to retirement fund trustees and employees prohibited

In a bid to curb corruption in the pension fund industry, Dube Tshidi, the registrar of pension funds at the Financial Services Board (FSB), has issued a directive forbidding the giving or receiving of gifts.  Specifically this will prevent asset managers from using gifts as a means of soliciting business, and pension fund principal officers, board members or trustees from receiving any material gift.  The directive (No. 8: Prohibition on the Acceptance of Gratification, March 08, 2018) appears to limit any gift or gratuity to no more than a token amount of R500 per year from any one party.  This directive brings legislation governing the pension funds industry more in line with that governing financial services providers, which falls under the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services (Fais) Act.  The new directive makes it clear that all fiduciaries in the service of retirement funds – from the principal officer to employees of administrators to future service providers – are now subject to a gratuity limit.  Further the registrar has made the definition of “gratification” sufficiently wide and inclusive so as to prohibit the giving of any material gift.

Gender pay gap means women in SA unable to retire comfortably

A report by investment firm 10X Investment shows that enduring pay disparities between males and females mean that many women in South Africa were not able to retire comfortably.  In a report released last week, 10X Investments said 32% of female South Africans were uncertain about their retirement plan, while men were almost 10% more clear on their long-term investment and savings plan.  “The wage gap may go some way to explaining why so many South African women are not prepared for retirement when the time comes around,” Emma Heap of 10X Investments said.  Gender pay gaps between men and women have been commonplace for decades in most countries around the world including SA, for various socio-economic reasons including the fact that women traditionally take time off from their jobs to take care of families.  The 2017 Pulse of the People report run by market research firm Ipsos found that, on average, women in SA earned 27% less than their male counterparts.  The report, which surveyed more than 3,500 employed South Africans across various occupations and regions, found that this gap was even wider among top earners.

EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR ECONOMICS MATTERS

Consumer inflation eases to 4% in February

Statistics SA reported on Tuesday that consumer inflation slowed to 4% in February — from 4.4% in January — beating economists’ consensus of 4.2%.  At 4%, inflation is well contained within the SA Reserve Bank’s target range of keeping inflation above 3% but below 6%.  Fuel price pressures subsided in February, with petrol and diesel prices dipping by 30c and 17c a litre respectively.  The better than expected inflation figure raises hope that the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee will cut interest rates on 28 March.

Rand Merchant Bank focuses on robotics as a way to improve performance

Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) writes in a sponsored article that, as part of its strategy to stay at the leading edge of innovation, it is focusing on robotics as one of the ways in which to improve the bank’s overall performance and help digitise operations.  Because robots can master repetitive tasks currently performed manually, they are suitable for many of the processes conducted by employees, particularly in back offices.  Robotic process automation (RPA) is the software technology that automates manual, repetitive and mature processes, making them faster, more cost effective, and often with a return on investment on the software and systems within about a year.  Robotics is also easily adopted to automate high-risk and compliance-focused processes.  Being a non-integrated software system, robots are also easy to introduce to the bank’s existing IT systems.  Introduced a year ago, the RMB Robotics Centre of Excellence manages RMB’s capability to introduce robotics into its various business units.  It has 20 employees who ensure that the correct processes for automation are selected and implemented.  So far 10 bots have been introduced to 14 projects that include four processes capturing new client information and performing maintenance of that information.  “We believe that one robot can effectively augment between three and four people, allowing staff to focus on the more complicated, analytical, client-facing and value-adding aspects of their functions,” said Reshnie Naidoo of the Excellence Centre.

Productivity SA may be forced to retrench staff

Productivity SA, the Department of Labour entity responsible for helping struggling companies reverse their fortunes, has found itself in a financial crisis that could force it to retrench staff.  The agency, whose mandate is to promote employment growth and productivity, says its turnaround solutions programme initiative for job retention faces collapse should its cash crunch persist.  Staff have already approached the SA Parastatal and Tertiary Institutions Union (Saptu) amid indications that the entity will not be able to pay March salaries.  The financial crisis stems from the failure by the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), which is a major financial contributor, to transfer R59m it had committed to Productivity SA.  The reason the UIF decided to withhold funds is apparently that the agency had misspent money allocated to it in the past.  This week the Department of Labour transferred R9.7m to help Productivity SA cover its operational costs.  The labour minister’s spokesman, Sthembele Tshwete, said the department would ensure no retrenchments took place at the agency.

LEGAL, COMPLIANCE AND SAFETY

Survey shows plight of sex workers

As SA marked Human Rights Day on Wednesday, the plight of sex workers was put under the spotlight by a survey entitled: ‘The Policing of Sex Work in South Africa’.  Compiled by NGOs Sonke Gender Justice and the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat), the survey found that sex workers in SA would be arrested at least four times and would spend an average of 40 hours in custody if they were charged.  Nosipho Vidima‚ a lobbying officer at Sweat, said while all who were involved in sex work were having it bad, transgender people were worst off.  The report recorded the experiences of 117 sex workers from Gauteng and Mpumalanga and was undertaken in response to the large number of human rights violations involving sex workers and police reported to civil society organisations.  The report showed how sex workers’ vulnerability to STIs and HIV was also increased when police confiscated condoms and used them as “evidence” to arrest sex workers.  “To ensure the safety and protection of sex workers in line with respecting their human rights, this report recommends that SA should decriminalise sex work,” the report indicates.

Acsa staff in push to have CEO removed

Employees of the Airports Company of SA (Acsa) are campaigning to remove Bongani Maseko, CEO of the state-owned company, based on forensic reports that recommended disciplinary action against him and three senior managers.  The managers — Percy Sithole (procurement), Jabulani Khambule (regional airports) and legal counsel Bongani Machobane — were found guilty at an internal disciplinary hearing on corruption charges and of wasteful and fruitless expenditure.  They were suspended on full pay.  Acsa’s board also resolved to act against Maseko, but it has not done so.  The group of “concerned employees” has demanded in e-mailed letters (dated January 2018) to the Presidency, the transport and finance departments and the Public Protector that Maseko be disciplined before his term as CEO finishes at the end of March 2018. “[The] government cannot extend the Acsa CEO’s term beyond March 2018 as he has corruption charges and has a criminal case reported by the Acsa board that he has to answer to,” the group noted.  An Acsa spokesman confirmed that Transport Minister Blade Nzimande had communicated with the board on the matter.

Download PDF