WEDNESDAY, 5 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, 4 April 2017.
TOP STORY – CABINET RESHUFFLE / DOWNGRADE TO JUNK Zuma asks Cosatu to reconsider decision to ask him to step down TimesLive reports that President Jacob Zuma called S’dumo Dlamini, president of Cosatu, on Tuesday morning to discuss the trade union federation’s call for him to step down. “I wish this call could have come on Thursday last week because it would have saved the federation from this situation we are now in. But we have to note the call is important and [we] have to listen to what the president will say,” Dlamini commented. Asked whether or not the federation would retract its decision after the phone call from the president, Dlamini said it would “consider” that option. He was briefing the media after the party’s special central executive committee meeting on Monday and indicated that Cosatu’s message to the president was loud and clear, namely that he must resign. Cosatu had previously endorsed deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to take over as ANC president when Zuma’s term comes to an end in December. Read this report by Neo Goba in full at TimesLive. See too, Cosatu agrees to meet with Zuma after request for discussions, at EWN Zuma can be replaced easily, says Cosatu News24 reports that Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said on Tuesday that President Jacob Zuma was not indispensable. Speaking at a briefing on the trade union federation’s central executive committee (CEC) meeting held on Monday, he stated: “The ANC is capable to fill that position. There are a number of ANC comrades within the ANC.” The CEC resolved that Zuma should step down. Cosatu was reacting to Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle, which he announced on Thursday night. Ntshalintshali claimed that Zuma did not have the leadership ability to unite the ANC, as evidenced by the Gupta family’s influence over him and the Constitutional Court ruling on his Nkandla homestead. “We don’t take kindly to not being consulted on this matter,” said Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini, who added that the federation needed “serious responses.” Read this report by Lizeka Tandwa in full at News24 Saftu adopts four-part strategy to get Zuma out of office ANA reports that the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) on Tuesday said it would step up its campaign to get President Jacob Zuma out of high office through legal action, a mass mobilisation campaign, formation of a national crisis committee and strike action. Saftu said SA’s sovereign credit rating being downgraded to junk status by S&P Global “turned what was already a major national crisis into a potential catastrophe”. While the federation condemned ratings agencies acting as “policemen for international monopoly capitalism”, it said the S&P decision was facilitated by Zuma’s reckless axing of ministers, giving S&P “a perfect excuse to act”. “We are another big step nearer to a descent into a failed kleptocratic state. It is now more vital than ever to mobilise the biggest ever protest movement to rescue millions of South Africans from the increased unemployment and poverty, which will inevitably follow this downgrade,” Saftu said in a statement. Read this report in full at The Citizen Fedusa calls for Zuma to step down after SA’s downgrade to junk status City Press reports that the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) has joined the growing number of individuals, organisations and unions calling for the resignation of President Jacob Zuma following his controversial Cabinet reshuffle. In a statement released on Tuesday, the union federation announced its official support of, and participation in, Friday’s nationwide mass protests. “Enough is enough. We have had enough of this government and this president specifically,” said Fedusa general secretary Dennis George. According to George, Zuma’s decision to fire former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas directly affected Tuesday’s downgrade of SA’s investment rating by Standard and Poor’s. George claimed that if President Zuma were removed from office, “there could be a big boost in a couple of weeks”. Read this report by Michelle Bao in full at City Press. Read Fedusa’s press statement in this regard at Polity Numsa says crisis in SA will worsen as black and white capitalists do battle eNCA reports that the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has weighed in on last week’s Cabinet reshuffle, which it believes is the result of a clash between white and black capitalist classes. The union said greedy capitalists were battling each other for control over the government and its budget and it expected the crisis to worsen in coming months. The union also denounced the country’s recent credit downgrade, saying ratings agencies should not be taken seriously. Numsa has listed a national living wage among a host of demands and has warned of potential mass action in the near future. This short report is at eNCA Various groupings urge South Africans to join protests against Zuma on Friday EWN reports that civil society groups, opposition parties, unions and religious leaders have intensified their call for South Africans to join various independent demonstrations planned around the country for Friday. This is in sharp contrast to government’s appeal for citizens not to heed the calls for a “national shutdown”, calling it civil disobedience and saying that the economy was already too fragile. But, the different organisations said they were going ahead with mobilising citizens to take part in the demonstrations in protest against President Jacob Zuma. The Federation of Unions of SA’s (Fedusa’s) Dennis George indicated that they were also going to join the mass action. “We, as Fedusa, are going to participate with civil society, churches, religious organisation,” George advised. Read this report by Thando Kubheka & Ilze-Marie Le Roux at EWN. See too, Friday is a normal working day, says government, at SA Govt News Agency. And also, Labour says no to national shutdown on Friday, at The Star Other internet posting(s) in this news category – Zuma’s phone call to Cosatu leader asking for a meeting, at TimesLive – Too little too late, says Cosatu about Zuma’s meeting request, at EWN – Cosatu, ANC stalwarts call for Zuma exit, at EWN – S&P is interfering in our democratic political affairs, says Cosatu, at The New Age – SA must work harder to grow economy after downgrade, says Gigaba, at Moneyweb OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY Sanef warns against threats to ANN7 journalists ANA reports that the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Tuesday urged ANN7 journalists who were threatened while doing their jobs to report such incidents to the police. Sanef indicated that it had it received a report of verbal attacks and threats of physical harm to journalists from the television station, which is owned by the controversial Gupta family, when they were covering a protest in Cape Town last week. The perpetrators were apparently members of the public. Sanef said: “Journalists should be allowed to conduct their work without fear or favour. We also wish to point out that in April 2016, we protested and met with the leaders of the Economic Freedom Fighters when they made threats to bar ANN7 journalists from their events, as we believe that journalists are workers and should enjoy freedom of association.” Read this report in full at The Citizen Other internet posting(s) in this news category – Memorial service for shot Tshwane cop, at Pretoria News – New police minister declares war on police killings, at SABC News – Sanparke kyk hoekom olifant werker doodtrap, at Netwerk24 (limit on access) MINING LABOUR Zama zama ‘caterers’ appear in Welkom Magistrate’s Court The New Age reports that five men who were arrested for running a catering business for illegal miners, underground, have been remanded in custody. They appeared in the Welkom Magistrate’s Court on Monday for the alleged financial benefit from and aiding of criminal activities. Their case was postponed to next week Wednesday for a formal bail application. Hawks spokesperson Capt Philani Nkwalase said they made the arrests on Friday after an investigation to disrupt and neutralise the organised food supplies for illegal miners working underground in the Welkom area. He indicated that the accused were arrested during the three-day take-down operation which started in Ficksburg before proceeding to Welkom. Among the suspects a mine security guard was also arrested for his involvement in these criminal activities. Last month, the Free State High Court sentenced 22 zama zamas (illegal miners) to various sentences ranging from 20 to 25 years imprisonment. Read this report by Becker Semela in full at HT Syndication. See too, Five arrested in Welkom for selling food to illegal miners, at The Citizen Other general internet posting(s) on mining – Tharisa switching to in-house mining, at Mining Weekly – CoAL buys Uitkomst Colliery from Pan African for R275m, at Miningmx – CoM calls for ANC, citizens to bring Zuma to account, at Mining Weekly INDUSTRIAL ACTION / STRIKES / LOCK-OUTS Five-week Pick n Pay bakers’ strike ends GroundUp reports that a five-week strike by workers who produce baked goods for Pick n Pay appeared to have come to an end on Monday. The workers concluded reconciliation talks with management, thereby resolving a strike that had been ongoing since 28 February. The strike, which became protected on 2 March, began in protest at unfair working conditions, including long working hours, salary disputes, and unpaid overtime. The outcome of the talks resulted in Assist Bakeries committing to pay all employees at least R3,500 a month and ensuring that the weekly work roster did not include any shifts that exceeded eight hours. The company will also begin contributing to employees’ provident funds. The 58 workers involved in the strike are all employed at a facility housing independent bakery operations located in Isando on the East Rand. David North, Group Executive of Strategy and Corporate Affairs at Pick n Pay, said that the issue had been a wage dispute between independent bakeries and their employees. Read this report by Trevor Bohatch and Natalie Pertsovsky in full at GroundUp INSOURCING We’ll shut campuses over insourcing, vow workers at TUT and Unisa Pretoria News reports that some of the universities in Tshwane are facing uncertain times yet again, with outsourced workers reigniting a struggle over insourcing that started back in 2015. The workers have vowed to shut down the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and the University of SA (Unisa) if outsourced workers are not insourced. On Monday, Unisa managed to obtain an interdict against security guards who had embarked on strike action. At TUT, security workers embarked on a peaceful protest on Friday at the main campus in Pretoria West. Japhta Mokoena of the General Industries Workers Union of SA claimed that agreements made following the #OutsourcingMustFall protests in February last year had not been fulfilled by the university. The union has given the university until 30 April to revert with a response. But Mokoena warned: “Should the university opt not to insource the 800 security workers, then our members will shut down campuses.” No incidents have been reported at the University of Pretoria, which was hit by outsourcing protests in the past, and the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University. Read this report by Goitsemang Tlhabye and Zelda Venter in full at Pretoria News RESTRUCTURING / RETRENCHMENTS / COMPANY JOB LOSSES Girlock Brakes forced to retrench staff due to reduction in VW contract Business Report writes that Isando-based Girlock Brakes SA has launched a retrenchment programme based on its operational requirements. This comes after the reduction by 95% of a Volkswagen (VW) SA contract for the production of rear brakes. The company’s Dean Fragale said the planned retrenchments would affect an estimated 37 employees at the company, which were likely to take effect on 15 June when the VW contract “runs to a close”. Girlock currently employs 136 people. He indicated that the new brakes were now to be fully imported. Fragale criticised the trade and industry department (DTI) for not promoting local manufacturing and said two of Girlock’s sub-suppliers had closed down since the start of this year because of cheap imports. “The reason for importing is the agreement with the DTI with the motor industry, which does not enforce any local content. This will result in unemployment throughout the industry,” he claimed. However, Matt Gennrich of VW SA said the reason for the reduction in the contract was that Girlock was unable to meet the technical specifications for the brakes for the new Polo. Read an extended summary of this report by Roy Cokayne at SA Labour News QUALIFICATIONS / SKILLS / TRAINING African women significantly under-represented among science graduates BusinessLive writes that the largest demographic in the country, namely African women, is significantly under-represented among science graduates at some of SA’s top higher education institutions. At the University of Stellenbosch (US) and the University of Cape Town, African women — including those from the rest of the continent — account for 3% and 16% of science graduates, respectively, the worst output of this demographic in the country. Women do represent more than half of science graduates at some historically black universities. There is also a lack of diversity in science academia, which is often blamed on a “leaky” pipeline in that African women leave the sciences before they are qualified enough to be hired as academics. According to the Department of Higher Education and Training’s 2014 data, African women comprise 32% of all science graduates. In 2014, about 26,000 people graduated with either a three-or four-year science degree. About 8,300 of those were African women. Eugene Cloete, vice-rector for research at US, says he can’t think of a university that is pushing back against transformation. He acknowledges the diversity of the university’s science graduates is a problem and says US has instituted policies to attract and support African students. Read this article by Sarah Wild in full at BusinessLive Other internet posting(s) in this news category – Porsche launches training programme in South Africa, at BizNews – Barloworld Transport addressing shortage of truck drivers, at Moneyweb OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST Deputy military ombud appointed from 1 April News24 reports that the Military Ombud, Lieutenant General Themba Matanzima, on Tuesday announced the appointment from 1 April 2017 of the Deputy Military Ombud, Rendani Masutha. Masutha is a naval officer who had served as Director Military Defence Counsel from 2011 to 2017. She graduated from Naval College in 1995 – becoming the first black female officer in the navy -and joined the legal office in Simon’s Town. She completed her law degree at the University of Venda in 1990, and her LLB in 1993 at the University of the North, where she also lectured for six months. Masutha obtained a LLM from Unisa in 2003. In 1995, she was appointed as a Military Law Officer till 1999, after which she was transferred to the Military Prosecution Counsel. She was also a military judge in 2004 and a senior military judge from 2005 to 2011. A short report by Iavan Pijoos is at News24 WEB LINKS TO LABOUR NEWS ARTICLES ON TUESDAY, 4 APRIL 2017 See our listing of links to labour articles published on the internet on Tuesday, 4 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