WEDNESDAY, 12 APRIL 2017 In our Wednesday roundup, below are summaries of our selection of South African labour stories that have been published since mid-morning on Tuesday, 11 April 2017.
TOP STORY – BUS PASSENGER TRANSPORT STRIKE Commuters stranded‚ late for work on Wednesday as bus strike kicks off TimesLive reports that thousands of commuters were left stranded as bus drivers went on a wage strike nationally on Wednesday. Those striking include long distance bus drivers. Hundreds of commuters queued at the Bara Taxi Rank in Soweto as Putco and Rea Vaya services were affected. The Johannesburg Metrobus service was running as normal‚ however few commuters were seen on some buses early on Wednesday morning. Stranded commuters in and around Pretoria had to flag down anything on wheels and stand in long queues to get to work. In Cape Town‚ many bus commuters had to find alternative ways to get to work as both Golden Arrow and MyCiTi buses were not operating, forcing commuters to opt for taxis or travel by car. Meanwhile‚ unions are refusing to budge‚ putting the blame squarely on employers, who have not come up with a better offer. The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said its 7,500 workers would continue with the strike until the employers returned with a revised offer. Employers are offering an increase of 7.5%, while the SA Transport & Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) and Numsa are demanding 12% and 15%, respectively. The unions have also raised conditions of service issues, such as shifts spread over 16 hours and overtime rates. Read this report by Sipho Mabena And Aphiwe Deklerk in full at TimesLive. See too, Bus strike to cause traffic delays, at Cape Times. And also, Busstaking ‘kom op baie slegte tyd’, at Netwerk24 (limit on access) Trains, taxis go extra mile as bus strike leaves commuters stranded News24 reports that stranded commuters in Cape Town formed queues at minibus taxi ranks and forced their way into already overcrowded trains on day one of a nationwide bus strike on Wednesday. Traffic services warned they would be monitoring minibuses for overloading as desperate bus users had to find alternative transport to get to work. Senior Cape Town traffic officer Richard Coleman said that peak hour on Wednesday morning had not been much different than normal as it appeared most motorists had travelled to work earlier in anticipation of extra traffic. The dedicated bus and taxi lanes, however, showed that more taxis were operating, he indicated. Golden Arrow Bus Services, MyCiTi, Go George and Putco bus operations were among the services suspended as staff joined a national strike after wage negotiations deadlocked. Read this report by Tammy Petersen in full at News24. See too, Metrorail to extend operating hours during planned bus strike, at EWN. And also, ‘Go the remote route’ is Cape Town’s appeal to employers as bus strike looms, at TimesLive Parliament worried about impact of bus strike on Easter travel News24 reports that Parliament’s transport portfolio committee chairperson Dikeledi Magadzi has expressed concern about the countrywide bus strike. Bus drivers stepped on the brakes on Wednesday, leaving thousands of commuters stranded. Services affected included MyCiTi, Golden Arrow, and long-distance services such as Greyhound. Magadzi raised concerns about the timing of the strike, three days ahead the Easter weekend and said: “The national bus strike is set to inconvenience the country in proportions not witnessed before. A lot of people around this time are commuting by road to be with families. The stakes are high and all assistance, particularly from law enforcement agencies, is required so that the safety of road users is not compromised.” She appealed to drivers to exercise caution, not overload their vehicles, and stick to the speed limits. On Tuesday, labour federation Cosatu expressed support for the strike, saying that bus owners needed to think about the workers and their passengers and not just about profits. Read this report by Thulani Gqirana in full at News24. See too, Cosatu supports impending bus strike, at SABC News. Read Cosatu’s press statement in this regard at Cosatu Today Unions and bus operators meet on Wednesday in effort to end drivers’ strike TimesLive reports that unions representing workers who have embarked on a nationwide bus strike will be meeting with employers on Wednesday afternoon to try and reach an agreement that could put an end to the strike. The strike which started on Wednesday affected both local and long distance commuters. The strike was organised by Satawu, Numsa, Taswu and Tawusa and came after wage negotiations between bus companies and these unions reached a deadlock. According to Satawu, there have not been any reported incidents of violence or intimidation in areas where the strike was taking place. Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi said the strike was in “full swing at all depots across the country”. Operators affected by the strike include Putco‚ Mgqibelo‚ Mayibuye‚ Buscor‚ Golden Arrow‚ Megabus‚ Mega Express‚ Bojanala‚ Gauteng Coaches‚ Itereleng‚ Ipelegeng‚ Atamelang‚ Autopax‚ Great North Transport‚ Rea Vaya‚ Phola Coaches‚ PAL Bus and Greyhound. Read this report by Nomahlubi Jordaan in full at TimesLive Other internet posting(s) in this news category – Bus drivers: We’re tired of working like slaves, at EWN – Business bodies & economists say strike could have far reaching consequences, at Business Report – Transport minister Maswanganyi ‘to prioritise’ national bus strike, at EWN – MPs worried bus strike will be exploited by ‘unscrupulous’ taxi operators, at The Citizen – Putco apologises to commuters over bus driver strike, at EWN – Joburg Metrobus drivers not striking, at eNCA MINING LABOUR Solidarity and NUM back Seriti Resources’ purchase of Anglo coal mines Mining Weekly reports that two trade unions on Tuesday publicly backed the sale by Anglo American of coal assets to Seriti Resources, the new black-owned start-up. Both Solidarity and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) put out statements welcoming the R2.3-billion deal, which involves the sale of three Eskom-tied domestic thermal coal operations and four closed collieries that have reopening potential. Anglo has signed a binding sale and purchase agreement with Seriti in a deal that has been two years in the making. The coal operations consist of Anglo’s Eskom-tied New Vaal, New Denmark and Kriel collieries. Solidarity’s Connie Prinsloo was encouraged by Seriti’s vision of long-standing support for the development and sustainability of SA’s mining industry. The NUM’s Joseph Montisetse expressed the union’s happiness with the potential reopening of four closed collieries presenting the possibility of “massive job opportunities in communities around those closed coal operations”. Read this report in full at Mining Weekly. See too, NUM welcomes Seriti’s purchase of Anglo coal mines, at Fin24. Read Solidarity’s press release at Solidarity online. Read the NUM’s press release at Cosatu Today Other general internet posting(s) on mining – Ransacked Blyvooruitzicht gold mine gets a reboot, at BusinessLive – Lonmin, Amplats reap benefits of rand hedge status … for now, at Miningmx – Bid for New Largo would be a different kettle of fish for Seriti, at Miningmx COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS Transport union Untu to seek strike mandate after Prasa sticks on 6% ANA reports that the United National Transport Union (Untu) said on Tuesday that it had no other option but to ask its members to embark on an indefinite strike, after the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) refused to increase its final wage offer of 6%. According to Prasa, it was in dire straits with a 1.8 billion deficit that would be carried over to the next financial year, which could lead to it not being able to pay current salaries. Untu’s general secretary Steve Harris commented: “Prasa’s final offer is an insult to its employees… Prasa is also not prepared to increase any of the allowances Labour demanded. These allowances have not been increased in years.” The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) apparently issued a certificate of non-resolution of a dispute on Tuesday afternoon, after Prasa management came back to the conciliation without a new mandate. Untu said it would now embark on a process of getting a mandate from its members in terms of the union’s constitution. Read this report in full at The Citizen. Read Untu’s press statement at Untu online INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS Refuse piles up in Giyani amid Samwu strike SABC News reports that residents of Giyani in Limpopo say protest action by members of the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) is having a negative impact on them. This comes after nearly 350 Samwu members downed tools in protest against what they say is corruption and maladministration in the municipality. The union has accused the municipal authorities of irregularly awarding tenders and nepotism. Residents say the refuse that is piling up at their yards is a health hazard. “It’s really congesting our place, it’s really dirty, its dirty everywhere we cannot manage to live in a place like this because the air pollution it’s really uncomfortable… It’s affecting us because our CBD it’s very dirty so it better for them to come back to work and leave the strike,” a resident said. A short report by Witness Tiva is at SABC News Other internet posting(s) in this news category – Villagers feel impact of prolonged social development strike, at HTSyndication – Universitas in Bloemfontein bang vir siektes oor baie vullis weens dispute, at Netwerk24 (limit on access) LABOUR AND POLITICS Newly formed Saftu loses bid at Nedlac to join in Wednesday’s protest action Mail & Guardian reports that the newly established South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) lost its first application for protest action, which it sought at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) in terms of section 77 of the Labour Relations Act. Saftu’s stayaway action would have coincided with Wednesday’s national day of action planned by opposition parties. The failure to secure a protest action certificate meant that Saftu’s potential affiliates – speculated to be 21 unions representing 700,000 workers – could not take part in the protest at the Union Buildings on a protected basis. The application to Nedlac was heard by business, government and labour representatives on Friday afternoon. It was dismissed because the newly established federation could not demonstrate that government and business representatives had failed to intervene in the concerned areas. Saftu’s convener Zwelinzima Vavi indicated afterwards: “There was a dispute about whether there is a dispute. They refused to declare it.” The federation is due to hold its founding congress at the end of this month. Read this report by Govan Whittles in full at M&G. See too, Protesters gear up for National Day of Action on Wednesday, at eNCA Cosatu wishes Zuma well on his birthday, but won’t attend his party The Citizen writes that it was reported by EWN on Wednesday that Cosatu said it wished President Jacob Zuma well on his birthday as “as a cadre of our movement”. However the labour federation would not take part in Wednesday afternoon’s festivities when the African National Congress (ANC) would celebrate Zuma’s birthday in Kliptown. This comes after Cosatu called on 4 April for Zuma to step down from office, saying it no longer believed he was the right person to unite and lead the tripartite alliance movement. Last week, the union’s general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said they had not been consulted on the recent Cabinet reshuffle and that the changes to the executive team had been based on political loyalty and not merit. This report is at The Citizen Zuma doesn’t represent radical economic transformation, says Vavi ANA reports that Zwelinzima Vavi, leader of the newly established SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), said on Tuesday that President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle was not aimed at radical economic transformation. It was a means instead for Zuma to steal from the public purse for himself and his friends. Vavi was a panellist at a seminar to discuss whether the post-apartheid government was unravelling. He said the current government was failing the masses and that newly appointed Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba did not represent any meaningful transformation. According to Vavi‚ Pravin Gordhan‚ the former finance minister, was removed “so we could have nuclear” and to “waste the money of taxpayers” to save the SABC and capture South African Airways‚ Petro SA and Eskom “to benefit the Guptas (an influential business family with personal links to Zuma)”. He also likened the Guptas to a “typical hyena family”. Read this report in full at eNCA. See too, Zuma’s radical economic transformation rhetoric is a lie, Vavi says, at BusinessLive. And also, Zuma reshuffled his cabinet to steal from public, claims Vavi, at IOL News. As well as, SA’s political crisis is playing out in economy, says Vavi, at SABC News LABOUR MARKET / JOBS R4.5bn plant investment in Richards Bay will bring jobs Fin24 reports that KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Sihle Zikalala on Tuesday presided over the signing ceremony relating to a R4.5bn investment into a titanium dioxide pigment production plant in Richards Bay. The plant’s strategic partners comprise the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone and Nyanza Light Metals and Avertana, a New Zealand-based company. It will produce titanium dioxide pigment, a product used in paint, toothpaste and colourants for food products. Construction will commence next year, while production is expected to begin in late 2019. About 550 permanent jobs will be created when the plant is operational and 1,200 indirect and 800 direct jobs will be created during construction. Zikalala also indicated: “Over the next few months we will be working towards finalising investments of more than R4.1bn emanating from different sectors of our key focus. From these we expect 868 permanent jobs and 1,260 jobs during the construction.” Read this report by Mxolisi Mngadi in full at Fin24. Read too, Richards Bay plant to make pearly whites from industrial slag, at Engineering News Zuma promises agricultural jobs for Westonaria residents EWN reports that President Jacob Zuma told residents in Westonaria on Tuesday that he was proud of them for taking agriculture seriously and promised them that government would work hard to ensure that they have jobs. The president was delivering the keynote address at the Westonaria Agri-Park on Tuesday where dozens of people gathered to listen to him speak. Zuma said government wanted to bring 300,000 new small holder farmers into the agricultural sector and to create 145,000 new agro-processing jobs. He said the government’s Agri-Park Programme, which aimed to create over 89,000 jobs by 2019 in identified rural regions in the country, was very important. “It brings millions of African people, including women, youth and people with disabilities into productive activities and ownership within the mainstream economy,” Zuma stated. Read this report by Masego Rahlaga in full at EWN Fedusa, Nedlac to continue working together to improve SA’s investment prospects EWN reports that the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) says social partners represented at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) have vowed to continue working on improving the country’s investment levels and holding discussions with rating agencies despite some political uncertainties. A meeting held on Tuesday between leaders of labour, business and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa resulted in a decision to establish a task team aimed at working towards improving the country’s economy. This followed the recent decisions by rating agencies to downgrade the country to junk status after President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle. A short report by Gia Nicolaides is at EWN. Read too, Fedusa will work with new finance minister, at Fin24 WEB LINKS TO LABOUR NEWS ARTICLES ON TUESDAY, 11 APRIL 2017 See our listing of links to labour articles published on the internet on Tuesday, 11 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