INDUSTRIAL ACTION

Saftu’s national day of action

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) – of which NUMSA is a member – is preparing for a national day of action in the form of a general strike on 25 April 2018 in protest against the introduction of the labour law amendments and the national minimum wage. It appears that their notion of a R12,500 minimum wage (similar to that of Amcu) would feature high on the list of demands.

REMUNERATION AND EMPLOYEE BENEFITS (INCL WAGE NEGOTIATIONS)

UNTU and Transnet signs wage agreement

The United National Transport Union (UNTU) has signed a three-year wage agreement with Transnet. The agreement provides for a 7.1% wage increase as well as a similar increase to housing allowances and medical aid subsidies.  The agreement has been backdated to 1 April 2018. The union indicated that Transnet had agreed that there would be no forced retrenchments in the next three years.

Request to delay public service wage negotiations

Government facilitators have requested to push back until 24 April the public servants wage talks in order to consult with their principals, who are the heads of government departments.  Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo’s spokesman, Mava Scott, said the postponement was requested to allow time for talks. The request came amid tension among parties at the Public Sector Co-ordinating Bargaining Council as leaders of labour unions grappled with what they said was the state’s bizarre handling of the talks.  The government has apparently tabled two different offers to employees at the council and changed negotiators when the talks were nearing an end in February.  The changes have placed the talks at the brink of collapse, with the Public Servants Association (PSA) threatening to strike, even if it does not have the support of the rest of the public unions.  On Wednesday, the union leaders held various meetings to discuss strategies on how to get the government to come to the table with a tangible offer.

Possible strike in transport industry

Golden Arrow Bus Services (Gabs) as well as transport unions have warned of a looming national bus strike. The warning follows a deadlock in annual wage negotiations, between the employers association and five transport unions, including the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu), the Transport and Allied Workers Union of SA (Tawusa) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).  The negotiations started at the SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) national bargaining forum in January.  The respective parties were issued with a certificate by the CCMA permitting a protected strike, but were also given a 30-day cooling-off period, which expires on April 16.  Gabs observed that “unless an agreement is concluded by April 16, it is likely that a 48-hour notice of pending strike action will be issued.  This means that a national bus industry strike could commence on April 18.”

EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR ECONOMIC MATTERS

BMW (South Africa) commences production of X3

BMW Group South Africa has started production of the new BMW X3 at its Rosslyn plant. This follows the 2015 announcement of a R6bn investment into South Africa in order to prepare the Rosslyn plant for the BMW X3 production. Rosslyn was the first plant built by the BMW Group outside of Germany. The plant built the BMW 3 Series for 35 years, manufacturing a total of 1,191,604 units during the period, and increasing production with every model. With a planned maximum capacity of 71 000 units of the BMW X3, which was later increased (with an additional R160m investment) to 76 000, BMW Rosslyn has the opportunity to flexibly match volumes to demand, and to build more cars than ever before.

Solidarity’s action against SAA not supported by other unions

Solidarity announced last Thursday that it would apply to the high court for an order to have SA Airways (SAA) placed in business rescue under the Companies Act.  The trade union invited Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene to join its application.  Solidarity has 350 members at SAA, but is not recognised by the airline.  The recognised unions at SAA, namely the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca), the National Transport Movement (NTM) and the Aviation Workers Union of SA, have all rejected Solidarity’s proposed court action.  The five unions said in a joint statement on Thursday that a business rescue process would not be in the best interests of the workers.  Instead, the unions indicated their support for CEO Vuyani Jarana, the board and the turnaround strategy under way at the national carrier.  The five unions said Jarana was engaging with unions.

Saftu and national minimum wage

The SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) says the proposed National Minimum Wage (NMW) of R20 an hour or R3,500 a month will entrench “the apartheid wage structure”, while amendments to the Labour Relations Act will limit the right of workers to strike.  It says a living wage should be about R12,500 a month.  Members of the federation marched to Parliament on Thursday to defend the “workers’ right to strike” and to “fight for a living wage”.  Opposition was expressed to amendments to the Labour Relations Act that would require unions to ballot their members before a strike.  The proposed amendments should be sent back to the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) for review, while Saftu should be given a seat at the council, it said.  Saftu also expressed unhappiness about the value-added tax (VAT) increase and has resolved to embark on rolling mass action to “defend workers and communities from these neoliberal attacks.”  Meantime, rival federation Cosatu also protested outside Parliament on Thursday to register its concern about corruption, the VAT increase, the water crisis in Cape Town, the poor public transport system and the delay in the implementation of the NMW.

MK veterans awarded jobs in eThekwini Municipality

The eThekwini Municipality has bowed to the strong-arm tactics of the uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) and awarded jobs to more than 80 people who claimed to have served the ANC’s armed wing.  More than 100 MKMVA members stormed the Durban City Hall last Tuesday, demanding jobs.  Afterwards, Durban’s mayor, Zandile Gumede, allegedly issued a directive instructing the municipality’s HR department to award jobs to MKMVA members who had previously applied for employment.  City manager Sipho Nzuza confirmed on Friday that 15 MKMVA members would start working on Monday as full-time general assistants in the Department of Water and Sanitation, while another 36 would be allocated jobs from May in Roads and Stormwater Maintenance, and 30 in Parks and Recreation.  The names and credentials of those claiming to be MK veterans, who have now been given jobs in the city, have not been publicly disclosed by either the municipality or the MKMVA.  But, the decision is likely to spark an outcry among people who successfully applied for the same positions that are now being taken by the MKMVA members.  Some applicants were told they had got the jobs and would be starting next month, but the HR department would now have to go back and tell them they will no longer be starting work because their positions have been taken by MK people.

LEGAL, COMPLIANCE ND SAFETY

IDC want’s Gupta business rescue practitioners removed

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) will ask the Pretoria High Court this coming week to remove Louis Klopper and Kurt Knoop as rescue practitioners of Shiva Uranium.  “It is the IDC’s view that the business rescue practitioners are neither objective nor independent.  They have failed to effectively take over the mine so that it can have a fair chance at being rescued” IDC spokesperson Zimbili Mosheshe indicated.  Klopper said the IDC was blocking a deal with local mining company BEK Holdings that would result in it managing Shiva for an interim period until the company could be sold.  BEK is also a bidder to buy the company.

According to Klopper, the IDC’s objections are similar to those raised in a prior, unsuccessful, attempt to remove him and Knoop when it was alleged they were somehow connected to the Gupta family.  Meantime, SA’s commercial banks have still not reopened accounts for the Gupta companies under business rescue.  Optimum and Koornfontein coal mines are now using a third party to operate, the business rescue practitioners told creditors in letters this week.  A “reputable entity in the mining industry” was helping run the mines and providing banking facilities, the letters said.  BEK was meant to do the same for Shiva, but this agreement was being held up by the IDC, said Klopper.

COMMUNITY

Eastern limb of platinum belt suffers under social unrest

The eastern limb of SA’s platinum belt has been hit by over 400 incidents of social unrest impacting mining operations since the start of 2016.  This is according to data compiled by Anglo American Platinum (Amplats).  The restive region in the northeast has been a flashpoint of violence rooted in community grievances over jobs, revenue flows and conflict between rival unions that threaten platinum production.  Most recently six workers were burnt to death in the area when the bus they were on was set alight by a petrol bomb.  It was transporting them to their shifts at the Modikwa platinum mine operated by African Rainbow Minerals and Amplats.  The compiled incidents range from roadblocks to wildcat strikes to physical assaults against miners.  On average over the period, either a roadblock, wildcat strike, march or act of violence took place in the region every second day, which affected a mining operation in some way.  The period also saw 40 wildcat strikes or work stoppages and there were at least 55 recorded acts of violence.  Much of the discontent stems from the stark juxtaposition of joblessness and grinding poverty atop some of the world’s richest platinum reserves.  Amplats said the unemployment in the area was close to 80%.

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