TUESDAY, 11 APRIL 2017 In our Tuesday roundup, below are summaries of our selection of South African labour stories that have been published since mid-morning on Monday, 10 April 2017.
TOP STORY – BUS PASSENGER WAGE STRIKE Bus drivers set to go on wage strike from Wednesday Thousands of bus drivers are set to go on a national strike from Wednesday after they failed to reach a wage agreement with their employers. Trade unions Numsa, Satawu and Towu served employers with a 48-hour strike notice on Monday. Since January they have been negotiating a deal with two associations representing 16 bus companies across the country, but the parties remain deadlocked. The unions are demanding a 12% across-the-board increase as part of a one-year deal, but the bus companies are adamant they can only afford around 7.5% over a three-year period. Golden Arrow confirmed it was served with a strike notice for action that will kick off on Wednesday. The company has therefore decided to institute a lockout and all operations will be suspended until further notice. In addition to Golden Arrow, services for Mayibuye in the Western Cape as well as Autopax, Putco and Rea Vaya, among others, could be brought to a halt. Based on report at EWN and The New Age Passenger bus strike can be averted by employers, says Numsa eNCA reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) says the looming strike in the passenger bus sector could be averted if employers meet workers’ demands by at least Tuesday evening. Numsa spokeswoman Phakamile Hlubi said wage negotiations were under way and the planned national strike would continue if involved parties did not find common ground. Numsa, along with five transport unions such as Satawu and Towu representing members at 16 bus companies, has served employers with a 60-hour notice to strike. Unions are demanding a 12% wage increase over a one-year deal and improved working conditions. Employers are offering 7.5% over a three-year period. Greyhound, Putco, Mega Bus, Rea Vaya and several other operators will be affected if the strike goes ahead. A Putco spokeswoman said 1,300 of its buses will be affected and advised commuters to make alternative arrangements. Putco’s annual Zion Christian Church Moria route will not be affected. Cosatu said it supported the planned strike. Read this report in full at eNCA. Read too, Bus commuters scramble to make transport plans ahead of drivers’ strike, ay TimesLive. And also, Staking ‘kan hele busbedryf ontwrig’, at Netwerk24 (limit on access) Dispute in passenger bus sector not only about wages, says Satawu ANA reports that the SA Transport & Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) says that the looming strike action in the passenger bus sector is not only about wages but better working conditions and transformation. The union indicated that payment of a second driver for long distance travel and what specified a nightshift was also in dispute. “Money is not the only issue at stake. Labour was clear from the beginning that these talks were aimed at transforming the industry for the better. But employers have stubbornly refused to relent on demands that are already stipulated in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), citing the current main collective agreement as justification,” the union said. Talks between unions and bus companies have deadlocked at the CCMA. The national strike action is due to start this week at bus companies such as Putco, Rea Vaya, Great North Transport and Autopax and will see commuters stranded without transport during the Easter holidays. Unions are seeking a 12% wage increase, while employers have offered 7.5%. Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read Satawu’s press statement in this regard at Cosatu Today Golden Arrow, MyCiTi to suspend service due to strike announcement Engineering News reports that the staff of Golden Arrow Bus Services around the country will go on strike later this week after industry wage negotiations deadlocked, as a result of which the company will institute a company-wide lock-out. This will be in order to ensure the safety of passengers and staff for the duration of the strike. The MyCiTi bus service in Cape Town will be suspended for the same reason. Golden Arrow said that its decision was not one which was taken lightly, but that it remained hopeful that all parties would return to the bargaining table at the SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council. In Cape Town, there will be no MyCiTi trunk or feeder services available as from Wednesday morning, for as long as the strike and lock-out continued, transport mayoral committee member Brett Herron indicated. “We regret the inconvenience caused and the additional pressure it places on commuters to make alternative travel arrangements,” he said on Monday. Read this report in full at Engineering News Other internet posting(s) in this news category – Bus passenger sector strike looms, at The Citizen – No buses until strike ends, at Cape Times – Bus strike could affect anti-Zuma march to Union Buildings, at TimesLive MINING LABOUR Pan African’s Evander mine re-opening by 15 April Business Report writes that Pan African Resources (PAR) said on Monday that the R40 million refurbishments of underground shafts at subsidiary Evander Gold Mines in Mpumalanga would be completed this weekend. The company in February announced the suspension of underground operations at Evander to allow for the refurbishment and maintenance of Evander’s 7 and 8 shaft infrastructure. Last month, PAR announced that it had reached an agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to retrench 976 (30%) of Evander’s employees at an estimated cost of R54 million as a result of the refurbishment. The company said the retrenchment of the 976 workers at Evander was progressing and was due to be completed within a month. The NUM and the company signed the retrenchment agreement after facilitation by the CCMA. At the time, the NUM said it had agreed to the agreement as such a move would prevent the closure of the mine, which would have affected more than 2,000 employees. Read this report by Siseko Njobeni in full at Business Report Other general internet posting(s) on mining – Eskom raises question over Anglo coal deal with Seriti Resources, at Miningmx – Tegeta and Eskom reach deal in matter on substandard coal, at BusinessLive – Ogies hof toe om Glencore myn te stuit, at Netwerk24 (limit on access) – Local Northern Cape businesses empowered by Kumba Iron Ore, at HTSyndication – Ransacked gold mine venture in JHB reboots, at Fin24 INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS Nehawu’s social development strike putting NGOs at risk Cape Times reports that hundreds of NGOs that rely on government funding to operate face an uncertain future with reports that grants might be paid late due to the ongoing social workers’ strike. Over the past five weeks, National Health Education and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) staff at the Department of Social Development (DSD) have been on strike demanding better salaries. Service level agreements (SLAs) between NGOs and the government have been delayed due to the striking government workers, meaning that no funds can be delivered. The first financial year payments for many of these NGOs was already due early this month, but now seems unlikely to be delivered. The NGOs provide critical care to the aged, children and people with disabilities, and use government funding for operational costs and staff salaries. The DSD at the weekend said it had been inundated with complaints over such SLAs. DSD spokesperson Mbangwa Xaba said on Sunday that the department was in panic mode, but was hoping the impasse would be resolved soon. Nehawu general secretary Bereng Soke said the union was due to meet the DSD on Monday and was hopeful the matter would be resolved. Read this report by Sihle Manda in full at Cape Times Protest at Kusile power station over working conditions enters sixth day EWN reports that a protest at Eskom’s Kusile power station entered its sixth day on Monday, with employees demanding better working conditions and skills development. About 600 employees have taken to the streets in Emalahleni, barricading roads leading to the site. Police spokesperson Gerald Sedibe said 25 people have been arrested so far and were released on R1,000 bail each. He indicated that protestors have been intimidating other workers. They apparently also blockaded the transport ferrying Kusile employees and forced them out of the vehicles. This short report by Pelane Phakgadi is at EWN Other internet posting(s) in this news category – Social worker assaulted by strikers out of hospital, at The New Age PROTESTS / MARCHES / BOYCOTTS Ongoing anti-Zuma mass action campaign to commence on Wednesday TMG Digital reports that opposition parties have called for a rolling mass action campaign in solidarity with the Zuma Must Fall movement‚ starting with a march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday. A joint media conference was held on Monday in Pretoria by the leadership from the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP)‚ African Independent Congress (AIC)‚ Africa People’s Convention (APC)‚ Congress of the People (COPE)‚ Agang SA‚ the Democratic Alliance (DA), the EFF‚ IFP and the United Democratic Movement (UDM). The National Freedom Party will apparently also be joining Wednesday’s march. “We are going to roll a mass action towards the 2019 elections. It’s not about the EFF‚ it’s because we love SA. If you love SA‚ Zuma must leave now‚” EFF leader Julius Malema said. From Wednesday onwards, the political parties plan to engage on a programme of periodic mass action towards a common cause, namely the removal of Jacob Zuma. Read this report in full at BusinessLive. Read too, Mega protest march planned for Zuma’s birthday on Wednesday, at IOL News LABOUR AND POLITICS SA’s credibility hinges on no-confidence vote in Zuma, Fedusa reckons Fin24 reports that the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) said in a statement on Monday that a successful no confidence-motion in Parliament unseating President Jacob Zuma could restore SA’s ratings credibility. On 18 April at a special sitting of the National Assembly, members of Parliament will debate and vote on the ninth motion of no confidence since Zuma become President in 2009. Opposition parties do not have enough votes to unseat Zuma and will therefore require support from ANC ranks. “Therefore the focus shifts to the ANC parliamentary caucus to see if it will back Zuma and his new cabinet,” Fedusa said in its statement. According to Fedusa, South Africa will need a government of national unity, which is committed, credible, and capable of restoring the confidence of investors and ratings agencies.” Read this report by Liesl Peyper in full at Fin24. Read Fedusa’ press statement in this regard at Polity EXECUTIVE PAY Court rules Letsoalo was entitled to 350% pay hike at Prasa Moneyweb reports that one of the first tasks for the reinstated Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) board will be to pay Collins Letsoalo several million rand in back pay. This follows a ruling by the Pretoria High Court that Letsoalo, who was fired in February by the board from his position as acting group CEO for increasing his salary by 350%, was in fact entitled to the increased amount of R5.9 million. The board’s firing of Letsoalo was seemingly the trigger that led to former transport minister Dipuo Peters’ decision early in March to remove all but one member of the board four months before the end of its term. Judge Peter Mabuse ordered that the board be reinstated and the interim board that Peters had appointed be removed. Regarding Letsoalo’s salary increase, the judge said: “It is not correct, in my view, that the (salary) increase was unlawful or that it had not been agreed by the parties in the appointment document… The truth is that, based on the information before the court, Letsoalo was entitled to the same package that was agreed upon in his appointment package or the same package that was enjoyed by Lucky Montana (the former CEO).” Read this report by Antoinette Slabbert in full at Moneyweb. See too, Axed Prasa boss comes up smelling of roses after ruling, at Business Report. And also, Satawu maintains reinstated Prasa board not fit, at JacarandaFM RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES New energy minister delays signing off of Eskom PPAs amid protest from unions Fin24 reports that new Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi has delayed the signing off of Eskom’s Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with key renewable energy independent power producers (IPPs). The SA Renewable Energy Council (Sarec) said in a statement on Monday that it noted, with concern, that the deadline set by the previous minister of energy for financial closure of outstanding PPAs would not be met. President Jacob Zuma directed Eskom in his 2017 State of the Nation Address to finalise the signing of the PPAs for these IPPs. Following on from that, Eskom blamed its decision to speed up its decommissioning schedule of five coal power stations on the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme, which legally obliges it to buy all the power produced by private wind and solar plants. The National Union of Metalworkers of SA, as well as the National Union of Mineworkers, has directed its anger at the REIPPP programme, saying it should not be allowed to cause the loss of about 20,000 jobs. Whether these concerns could trigger a response from Kubayi is unknown. Read this report by Matthew le Cordeur in full at Fin24. Read too, IPPs to wait a bit longer for Eskom deal, at Business Report. And also, Capitalists’ plan for renewable energy will lead to job losses, says NUM’s Sipunzi, at BusinessLive Other internet posting(s) in this news category – New twist in IPP battle as Eskom may close stations early, at City Press CORRUPTION Fake sick notes costing SA economy R12bn annually The New Age reports that false medical certificates issued by corrupt doctors are costing the economy dearly and have resulted in an investigation by the Health Professions Medical Council of SA (HPCSA). The HPCSA confirmed that it was investigating 50 doctors for issuing fraudulent sick notes. Occupational Care SA (Ocsa) estimates that the issuing of fraudulent medical certificates is costing R12bn annually due to illness-related absenteeism from work. Gauteng leads in sick note fraud with 25 doctors under investigation, while the Western Cape has 19 cases and KwaZulu-Natal has three. Ocsa data also shows that on average between 15% and 30% of staff are absent on any given day. In its estimation two-thirds of employees who fail to show up at work are not physically ill. A first-offender doctor found guilty of issuing false sick notes is liable to pay a R10,000 fine by the HPCSA for each fraudulent note. In addition, they would be criminally charged. Read this report by Mthokozisi Dube in full at The New Age. See too, Madiba Park protester in hot water with employer over absenteeism, at Cape Times Other internet posting(s) in this news category – Lifestyle audits will curb looting of state resources, says Sanco, at The Citizen OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST Attempted murder case opened over lift plunge at PE police station ANA reports that Eastern Cape police are investigating a case of attempted murder after it emerged that a lift at the Mount Road police station in Port Elizabeth was allegedly tampered with. Last month a lift in the main building plunged from the fourth floor and injured seven people, three of whom are still receiving treatment in hospital. Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Marinda Mills confirmed on Monday that a case of attempted murder had been opened by the department of public works following an inspection of the damaged lift by a private company. Mills said it was found that 14 counterweights, each weighing more than 70 kilograms, were missing. Days before the lift at the main building plummeted to the ground, cops could not get into their offices and residents had no access to their living quarters at the Barracks due to another non-functioning lift. The problematic lift at the Barracks, situated across from Mount Road police station’s main building, was subsequently fixed. Read this report in full at The Citizen WEB LINKS TO LABOUR NEWS ARTICLES ON MONDAY, 10 APRIL 2017 See our listing of links to labour articles published on the internet on Monday, 10 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