THURSDAY, 6 APRIL 2017 In our Thursday roundup, below are summaries of our selection of South African labour stories that have been published since mid-morning on Wednesday, 5 April 2017.
TOP STORY – ANTI-ZUMA PROTESTS ON FRIDAY Details of marches, pickets, human chains to be held on Thursday and Friday News24 reports that several marches and events, mainly in reaction to President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle, are expected to take place nationwide on Thursday and Friday. This report lists the major events in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban. Read this report by Iavan Pijoos in full at News24. See too, List of protests against President Zuma, at GroundUp. And also, Confusion over venue for Port Elizabeth mass rally on Friday, at RNews If you’re planning to skip work to protest on Friday, clear it with your boss first TMG Digital/The Times writes that if you’re planning to march in a planned national shutdown on Friday‚ get it cleared with your boss. That’s the directive from some companies and organisations who have warned employees who plan to protest against the cabinet reshuffle that Friday is a normal working day. Michael Maeso of Shepstone & Wylie said employees should not automatically assume that they have the right to leave work to participate in the proposed action on Friday. “Any absence from work that is not authorized by the employer constitutes misconduct and entitles the employer to take disciplinary action against the employee. The type of sanction that can result varies but can include dismissal if the employer is able to show significant inconvenience caused as a result of the employee’s absence and/or if the absence was in defiance of an express instruction to attend work.” The Labour Relations Act‚ he said‚ gave every employee who is not engaged in an essential service‚ the right to take part in protest action for the purpose of promoting or defending the socio economic interests of workers. But such action must first have been considered by Nedlac and 14 days’ notice given. Read this report by Wendy Knowler and Yasantha Naidoo in full at TimesLive Companies encouraged to let employees attend Friday’s march ANA reports that civil society organisations on Wednesday said they have pleaded with companies not to penalise employees who decided to join one of the marches on Friday calling for the removal of President Jacob Zuma. Mark Heywood, director of Section27, said: “We were in discussion with business organisations and we humbly asked them not to penalise anyone to join the march. If people wish to knock off early, they should be allowed. And if your employers don’t give you time off, take leave – do whatever it takes to get to Church Square for this historic protest. Join us in saying, Zuma must go.” Heywood emphasised that it would not be a political march, but was to encourage all concerned South African citizens to stand up and defend the democracy. Meanwhile, the government has announced that Friday would be a normal working day. Read this report in full at The Citizen Cape businesses show backing for anti-Zuma march on Friday Cape Times reports that a survey conducted by the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) has found that more than 60% of Cape Town’s businesses are in favour of shutting so their workers can attend Friday’s march to Parliament. The march has been organised by civil society groupings and NGOs to call for President Jacob Zuma to step down following his latest cabinet reshuffle, which prompted Standard & Poor’s to downgrade SA’s investment risk profile to junk status. CCCI president Janine Myburgh said the majority of businesses surveyed stated they would close for the day. “Nearly 62% of Cape businesses are in favour of closing down on Friday in protest against the sacking of the former finance minister. The comments of our members make it clear that the number would have been even higher but for the many public holidays in April,” said Myburgh. Read this report by Dominic Adriaanse in full at Cape Times. See too, Western Cape Cosatu and business leaders back the call for Zuma to go, at BusinessLive. Read the CCCI’s press statement in this regard at Politicsweb Double standards over anti-Zuma pickets, says Cosatu Western Cape News24 reports that trade union federation Cosatu in the Western Cape has accused companies of double standards for giving their employees time off to protest against President Jacob Zuma. “When workers went on strike against apartheid, or on strike for other social just causes, then they would either be dismissed or have their wages deducted,” provincial leader Tony Ehrenreich said on Wednesday. Repeating Cosatu’s call for Zuma to stand down, Ehrenreich said the federation believed all CEOs involved in collusion, price fixing, or stealing workers’ pension funds, should also be removed in one clean sweep. “Zuma must go, but let’s use this opportunity to get rid of all the thieves and dishonest leaders in business and government who undermine our people’s interest and futures,” he stated. Read this report by Jenni Evans in full at News24. Read Cosatu’s press statement in this regard at Cosatu Today Cosatu warns members not to join Save SA anti-Zuma march ANA reports that trade union federation Cosatu, which has called on President Jacob Zuma to quit, warned its members on Thursday not to join the anti-Zuma march to the Union Buildings organised by Save SA This will be one of many planned against Zuma across the country. “We issue a clear and unambiguous message to our members to not join this march and not participate in any activities organised by Save SA. We are not confused about who our enemies are and in everything we do, we will be guided by our class interests, we will never march with the agents on monopoly capital to remove a democratically elected government,” Cosatu said on Thursday ahead of the march planned for Friday. It went on to state: “The fact that some people agree with us on the President stepping down, does not mean that they are our friends. They are saying this to drive their narrow regime change agenda and we reject it.” Read this report in full at IOL News. Read Cosatu’s press statement at Cosatu Today Durban to be on ‘high alert’ on Friday as DA and ANCYL march through the city TimesLive reports that, in an apparent backtrack‚ Durban mayor Zandile Gumede has said that “no one will be arrested or intimidated” for taking part in planned marches in the city on Friday – provided that protesters have permission. Gumede was quoted earlier on Thursday by the SABC as saying that marches against President Jacob Zuma‚ including one to be led by the DA‚ were tantamount to treason and that anyone who took part would be arrested. However‚ in a statement issued via the official eThekwini Twitter account‚ this threat has seemingly been withdrawn. The Twitter account said that two marches had been planned‚ one by the DA and the other by the ANC Youth League. It could not immediately be established if the two groups – with wildly differing views on whether or not Zuma should be removed from office – would cross paths. The municipality has meantime warned that action would be taken if anyone oversteps the mark. Read this report by Matthew Savides in full at TimesLive Sandu mulls charging deputy defence minister over defence of Luthuli House TMG Digital/The Times reports that the SA National Defence Union (Sandu) is contemplating criminally charging Deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe. The union‚ which will announce its decision on Friday after a meeting of its national executive committee (NEC)‚ is concerned about Maphatsoe and his involvement in the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association’s intention to defend the ANC’s Luthuli House in Johannesburg. Hundreds of MK Vets are set to descend on Johannesburg on Friday in response to thousands of protesters who will gather in the city to call for the ousting of President Jacob Zuma. Anti-Zuma protesters originally planned to march on Luthuli House, but for reasons of safety the march is now scheduled to end in Mary Fitzgerald Square. Sandu general secretary‚ Pikkie Greeff‚ confirmed that a debate on whether to criminal charge Maphatsoe or not would be held when the union’s NEC meets. Read this report by Graeme Hosken in full at TimesLive Other internet posting(s) in this news category – Anti-Zuma protests do not have permission to march, at BusinessLive – Anti-Zuma protests face permit hurdle, at TimesLive – March to Union Buildings against Zuma is lawful, say organisers, at EWN – Don’t fall for government’s “illegal” protest nonsense, at GroundUp – Cosatu wil sy eie optog teen Zuma hou, at Netwerk24 (limit on access) OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY SANParks employee killed by elephant was harvesting mopane worms Caxton News Service reports that SANParks is investigating the elephant attack last week in which an employee was killed and another injured, while an inquest into the incident has been opened. A female employee of SANParks, based in the Kruger National Park (KNP), was trampled to death by an elephant, and another sustained serious injuries when they were attacked by a herd of elephants late on Thursday afternoon in the Mooiplaas section of the park, near Mopani Camp. Apparently three elephants chased two women and a man, during which one woman in her forties was killed. The other woman was injured and was subsequently taken to hospital, while the man escaped unharmed. Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe, from Phalaborwa police, said it appeared the group of three had wandered off without authorisation and were on their own to harvest mopane worms. William Mabasa, acting head of communications of SANParks, said that at this point it was unclear what the group was working on in the veld. Read this report by Elize Parker in full at The Citizen Other internet posting(s) in this news category – Werker sterf toe trekker omslaan, at Maroela Media MINING LABOUR Amcu strike at Harmony’s Kusasalethu mine comes to an end Mining Weekly reports that after six days of industrial action at the Kusasalethu gold mine, near Carletonville, striking workers have returned to work, Harmony Gold said on Thursday. Despite a court interdict on Friday and the subsequent ultimatum from Harmony for workers to return to work by Tuesday night or face disciplinary action, no employees had reported for work over the weekend or Monday and very few had returned on Tuesday. However, management and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) subsequently reached an agreement, and all employees reported to work on Thursday morning. “We are relieved that Kusasalethu is back to normal. Unprotected industrial action affects the mine’s viability, its employees and their families,” said CEO Peter Steenkamp. The current situation followed a spat of unprotected strikes at the operation in recent months. Read this report in full at Mining Weekly. See too, Strike ends at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu mine, at Business Report. Read Harmony’s regulatory statement at Sharenet Other labour posting(s) in this news category – Lonmin CEO Ben Magara says business creates jobs, not labour’, at Moneyweb – Mining employment by the numbers, at BusinessLive – Chamber of Mines in the dark over delay in Mining Charter, at Fin24 Other general internet posting(s) on mining – A ‘trilogy of corruption’ is tearing Bapo Ba Mogale community apart, at The Star PROFESSIONAL BODIES / STANDARDS Bogus doctor arrested in Brits for dispensing medication TimesLive reports that a bogus doctor operating in a shack in Brits in the North West Province has been arrested for illegally treating patients and dispensing medication and medical certificates. The Congolese national in his mid-40s is alleged to have been operating since 2015. The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA)‚ the Medicines Control Council of SA (MCCSA) and Medscheme collaborated to bust the suspect after receiving an anonymous tip off. The MCCSA apparently seized the medication and is investigating where it came from as there were no invoices found during the inspection. The suspect was charged with contravening the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act. Other charges include contravention of the Health Professions Act for practising as a health professional without being registered. A short report by Shenaaz Jamal is at TimesLive REMUNERATION / FRINGE BENEFITS / PERKS Clarity about income tax as it applies to employee transport services Moneyweb writes that the lack of adequate public transport has forced many companies to provide transport services to their employees – either free or for less than the actual cost of getting them to and back from work. In terms of the Income Tax Act, this service is considered a taxable (fringe) benefit in the hands of the employee, but no value may be placed on the benefit if certain requirements are met. However, there has been uncertainty as to how the South African Revenue Service (Sars) applies the no-value provision in the Act. Sars has now published two binding rulings to set out how it intends on dealing with the issue. The first was a private ruling published in January. In the second general ruling, published in March, Sars has given clarity on the meaning of transporting employees from their ‘homes’ to their workplace. Jaco la Grange of Deloitte comments that employers can now offer the benefit tax free to their employees, without having to transport them to and from work. The transport can now be to any transport node en route to their home or workplace such as the Gautrain station, bus stops or taxi ranks. Read this report by Amanda Visser in full at Moneyweb WEB LINKS TO LABOUR NEWS ARTICLES ON WEDNESDAY, 5 APRIL 2017 See our listing of links to labour articles published on the internet on Wednesday, 5 April 2017 at SA Labour News For daily reports, the following are among the sites routinely scanned: Business Day, The Times, The Star, IOL News, The New Age, Sowetan, News24, The Citizen, Fin24, Business Report, Moneyweb, Mail & Guardian, SANews.gov.za, Politicsweb, BizNews Daily Maverick, Eyewitness News, Cosatu Today, Mining Weekly, Miningmx, Engineering News