Staff at student accommodation in Braamfontein on strike

GroundUp writes that employees at South Point student accommodation in Braamfontein have been on a protected strike since Monday last week after wage negotiations deadlocked. South Point provides student accommodation and offices in five provinces across the country. The employees, who work mostly in security and maintenance are demanding an R8,500 minimum wage, R1,500 housing allowance, a provident fund, industrial medical aid, one day paid leave for medical checkups, and a long term demand to end outsourcing at South Point.

But South Point says it cannot meet the union’s demands as this will “undermine the company’s long term sustainability”.  According to South Point, the lowest earning employees would earn about R16,000 per month if all the union’s demands were met, which it said was “clearly unviable and not sustainable”.  Chief Executive Officer of South Point Ndumiso Davidson told GroundUp the company had agreed to implement a provident fund. It will start in June 2019. The company has also agreed to one day paid leave for medical checkups, and to long service financial awards, although the awards will not be retrospective. Davidson said all employees are earning market-related salaries based on their job specifications, qualifications, experience and individual performance.

by Zoe Postman

Organisation calls for investigation into teacher murder in E Cape

SABC News reports that the Peddie-based children’s right organisation, Khula Development Community Project has threatened to take legal action against the Eastern Cape Education Department if it drags its feet in investigating  the latest murder incident at a public school. This follows the fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Anathi Mbotyana allegedly by a 16-year-old classmate at Nathaniel Pamla School in Peddie in the Eastern Cape last week. Director of the organisation, Petros Majola, has sent a letter to the department requesting an investigation as soon as possible. Majola says the department must install a device that detects dangerous weapons in school premises. Earlier, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said her department had noted with concern the scourge of violence that has gripped schools in South Africa. In light of the social ills that have plagued the school community in recent weeks, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has called for an inter-departmental symposium to address school violence. Recently in Gauteng, a learner pointed a gun at a teacher.

Popcru members in Pretoria refuse to return to work

SABC News writes that members of police union Popcru at the Correctional Services Department are refusing to return to work at the Poynton Building in the Pretoria CBD. Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga shut down the building last week.

Msimanga alleged that after touring the building which houses both Correctional Services and members of the SANDF he found that the building was not compliant with health and safety measures. Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo says the Correctional Services management is forcing workers to return to an unsafe building.

by Neo Makwitting

Lesufi dismisses FF+ breach of Constitution claims

SABC News reports that the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) in Gauteng has laid complaints with the Gauteng Legislature’s Integrity Commissioner against Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi for alleged breach of the Constitution. The party accused Lesufi and his department of refusing Afrikaaner learners to be taught in Afrikaans and also denying Afrikaaner schools to be strictly white. This comes in light of the MEC pushing for learners from other races to be included in Afrikaans-only medium schools.

However Lesufi has dismissed the complaints as frivolous and a wasting of time. He said, “They can’t postpone non-racialism. Non-racialism is going to happen and it is going to happen now. Our children deserve to study together, play together and share the opportunities of this country together. There’s no way that our tax money can be used to subsidise privileges of the few. All schools belong to South Africans and all South African children deserve to use those schools.”

by Tshepo Phagane

SA not planning mass layoffs in public sector, Ramaphosa tells Cosatu congress

Reuters reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday there would be no mass layoffs of public sector workers as his government considers various ways to pull the economy out of a recession.  In June, the National Treasury said it was considering layoffs and early retirement packages for staff in the public sector to avoid breaking its pledge to cut spending after unions clinched above-inflation wage increases.  But, Ramaphosa said at trade union federation Cosatu’s congress on Monday:  “The mass retrenchment of public sector workers is not under consideration.

The context of slow economic growth and weak revenue collection means that expenditure on other critical things will suffer … but we need to address this in a way that does not put the livelihoods of public sector workers at risk.”  SA needs faster economic growth to reduce its 27% unemployment rate and alleviate poverty and inequality and the ruling African National Congress has made repeated pledges to improve the economy.  Unemployment will no doubt be a key concern for voters ahead of elections next year.

by Mfuneko Toyan

Unions in KZN call for security at schools after fatal stabbing of teacher

The Star reports that the fatal stabbing of a teacher by a pupil in North West has sparked all-too-familiar fears for KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) teachers. The provincial National Teachers’ Union (Natu) and the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) said on Monday that their members should not be working in fear, wondering if they were going to be the next victim.  Gadimang Mokolobate, 24, died after being stabbed in the chest on Thursday at a secondary school near Zeerust.  His alleged murderer – a Grade 10 learner – had apparently been reprimanded by Mokolobate for jumping the queue for food the day before.

Natu’s Allen Thompson said schools were the last place teachers should be in danger and that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) was failing teachers and learners by not providing sufficient, properly trained security guards.  Natu was proposing one security guard for every 300 pupils, as “anything less would be the department continuing to gamble with teachers’ and learners’ lives.”  But, a DBE spokesperson said their budget was already stretched to make provisions for teaching and learning.  Sadtu’s Bheki Shandu said while teachers were taught how to deal with ill-discipline, they were not equipped to deal with violence and that the “drugs, struggles, fights and grudges happening in society are spilling into schools, as we have seen with the killing of the two learners in KwaMakhutha, which was found to be linked to gangsterism.

by Nosipho Mngoma

Ekurhuleni suspends 48 female firefighters

Sowetan reports that Ekurhuleni has put 48 female firefighters on suspension after they protested about their working conditions and the payment of shift allowances.  The firefighters demonstrated in Pretoria two weeks ago about conditions of service in the city, including having to work more than eight hours a day.  Ekurhuleni has accused them of bringing the metro into disrepute.  “They participated in an illegal march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in full City of Ekurhuleni Emergency Services uniform, thus putting the name of the employer into disrepute,” said the city’s spokesperson Themba Gadebe on Monday.  Arthur Mbonani, a SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) shop steward in Ekurhuleni, said the workers attended an event organised by the metro during Women’s Month.

It was there that they spoke among themselves about their work conditions and “decided on their own to go to the Union Buildings in order to raise their issues due to frustrations they have had about nonpayment of extra shifts and allowances.”  He added:  “Their complaints were that they need to be paid certain allowances which they believe in terms of the conditions of service, they are entitled to – night shift and danger allowances and for extra hours that they work daily.”  Samwu’s regional secretary Thokozani Nkosi said the union would be challenging the employer.  Despite having 48 female firefighters off duty, Gadebe said that the disaster and emergency services in the city would not be affected as the suspended group represented only a mere 0.05% of the total workforce.

by Penwell Dlamini

Inquiry into sale of fake goods begins on Wednesday

SABC News reports that a two-day inquiry into allegations of the sale of fake and expired goods at shops operated by foreign nationals kicksoff on Wednesday in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

The allegations led to incidents of looting and unrest in Soweto and surrounding townships. The Human Rights Commission says after assessing reports and conducting site visits to the affected areas it has decided to hold the inquiry. The commission says it has invited all stakeholders. These include municipalities who provide inspectors and corporates such as Tiger Brands and Pioneer Foods, local shop owners, foreign shop owners and the public.

Unions to seek legal recourse on Joburg fire

SABC News writes that trade unions in the health sector will seek legal recourse following the fire that has left the Bank of Lisbon building in downtown Johannesburg gutted. The fire broke out on the 23rd floor on Wednesday, and left three firefighters dead. The building, which housed three Gauteng departments, is one of seven government buildings in the city centre that don’t comply with health and safety standards. Unions say they’ve been raising their concerns for years about the unsafe condition of the building.

“The death of the three comrades and workers cannot actually just be regarded as an accident. And we have decided to seek legal recourse in terms of ensuring that those that are responsible must be held accountable. Heads must roll – so this matter around the death of the three workers should be investigated to the letter,” said Nehawu’s provincial Deputy Secretary, Gracia Rikhotso. Following a meeting with unions on Friday, workers have been granted compassionate leave and offered trauma counselling. On Wednesday, Johannesburg Emergency Services will host a memorial service for the three firefighters. Mduduzi Ndlovu, Simphiwe Moropane and Meshack Muedi will be laid to rest between Friday and Sunday next weekend – in three different provinces.

Protect our teachers‚ says Sadtu

Timeslive reports that a principal at a secondary school in the Eastern Cape suffered a large gash on the forehead‚ above his left eye‚ after being attacked by a pupil. This was the latest in a string of attacks on teachers in the Eastern Cape and action must be taken‚ the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) in the Eastern Cape said in a statement last week.

“Our member continued to display commitment by remaining at the school despite this vicious attack by his learners‚ as he insisted that they continue with their studies on that fateful Friday night last week.  Parents of the learners who are refusing to cooperate with the teachers at the school must assist (to alleviate) the situation,” the union indicated.  Sadtu complained about a lack of discipline in classrooms and an apparent lack of disciplinary action being taken against pupils “who continue to assault and violate the rights of teachers in schools”.  It called upon the employer (government) “to exercise enough vigilance in dealing with this matter so as to ensure that the situation at the school is monitored in pursuit of quality public education.”