Medical scheme members likely to lose their tax credits under NHI

BusinessLive reports that medical scheme members are likely to lose their tax credits to help pay for the first set of benefits to be rolled out under National Health Insurance (NHI), Health Minister Aaron Motsolaedi said on Thursday. At a briefing on the latest policy position on NHI, due to be published as a revised White Paper on Friday, Motsolaedi said the first package of benefits would target women, children and the elderly, with funds helping people who were not on medical aid.

The government provided R20bn in tax credits to members of medical schemes in 2015, many of who were among the nation’s most wealthy citizens and least in need of government support, he said.  Only 8.8-million people currently belong to medical schemes, out of a population of about 55.5-million.  The total cost of implementing NHI priority programmes will come to R69bn over four years, less than the total cost of the tax credits provided to medical scheme members over the same period.

by Tamar Kahn

Tougher stance towards regulation of business rescue practitioners to take effect

Fin24 reports that changes to the legal framework and regulation of business rescue, particularly the registration of practitioners, will take effect as from 1 October 2017. Business rescue, which was introduced in SA as an alternative to insolvency, came into effect via the Companies Act in 2011.  However, it has received criticism resulting from apparent flaws in the appointment process and quality of business rescue practitioners.  New legislation will require attorneys, accountants, liquidators and business management professionals, who seek to practise as business rescue professionals to register via their SA Qualifications Authority- (SAQA-) approved governing bodies.

Currently, business rescue practitioners are granted an individual licence by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).  A recent notice issued by the CIPC, however, stated that from 1 October 2017 practitioners will be required to register through their various professional bodies.  Business rescue practitioners will henceforth be bound by a professional disciplinary code that will include a sanction to act on unethical conduct or inappropriate behaviour.

Health minister Motsoaledi challenges jobless doctors to come forward

The New Age reports that Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has challenged any doctor who claims to be unemployed to come forward, in which case such a medic would immediately be placed. He was responding to media reports which referred to various lists circulating with names of doctors and interns who were unemployed.  Motsoaledi lambasted the claims and said they were intended to put his department under pressure.  Motsoaledi said he had been supplied with many lists of unemployed doctors and that most of the people named on the lists had declined placements, while others had not yet qualified and others again had already been placed.

This is after a group of interns, who claimed to have not been placed, wrote a letter to the World Health Organisation and the UN about their plight.  Motsoaledi dared any doctor who claimed to be unemployed to come forward as there were 141 posts in Limpopo and 67 in the Free State.  He also indicated that the priority was to place South African interns first as the country did not have capacity to offer jobs to every international student.

CCMA to assist, on a means-tested basis, with enforcement of its awards

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) issued a statement on Thursday to indicate that employees who have had awards issued in their favour but cannot afford the costs of enforcing or executing the awards (i.e. the sheriffs’ fees) can now approach the CCMA for assistance.

This service is only intended for those employees who are too indigent to afford the costs of enforcement or execution.  The CCMA has deemed such employees to be those who earn below R205,433-30 per annum (R17,119-44 per month).  The CCMA says it reserves the right, in appropriate circumstances, to recover the sheriffs’ costs from an employee who has successfully enforced or executed his or her award.

Ref: SA Labour News

Community members from platinum belt march to JSE to demand job opportunities

SowetanLive reports that on Wednesday hundreds of people took part in a march to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) organised by the Greater Local Mining Communities Business Forum. The Forum represents more than 60 villages and townships and 3‚000 small businesses in the platinum belt in North West and Limpopo.

In a memorandum addressed to the JSE and 16 companies operating in the platinum belt‚ the Forum demanded that 80% of tenders be given to local communities; a list be provided of all companies that have benefited from mining tenders; all shafts that have been closed down be reopened; and that black suppliers operating without contracts be given contracts of at least five years. Chairman of the Forum, Jeffrey Putu, said they had marched to the JSE because that was an institution where organisations and people went if they wanted to invest in platinum producers.  He indicated that the JSE should respond to the demands within 24 hours.

by Mpho Sibanyoni

Illovo sugar workers’ strike suspended pending talks

City Press reports that the union has decided to suspend strike action involving about 1,000 workers at eight of Illovo’s KwaZulu-Natal farms after the company agreed to have negotiations over a disputed list of demands. The union said although it had issued a 48-hour strike notice on Tuesday morning it would not be activating it, pending talks with the company on Friday.

Among the demands the union is making is a 10% wage hike.  The company has so far offered a 5% increase, provident fund coverage for seasonal and full-time workers, union group scheme contribution of R20 by the employers, 50% paid maternity leave for all workers, a bonus payment scheme as well as regular free protective clothing.

by Lesetja Malope

AngloGold to retrench 8,500 workers at struggling mines

MiningWeekly reports that AngloGold Ashanti is retrenching 8,500 mine workers as part of its restructuring of its South African business “to ensure their viability”, sending its shares lower. The company which employs 28,000 people, said the retrenchment was part of restructuring of the company’s production and cost base in its South African business.

In May, AngloGold reported a 16% drop in first-quarter profit following a decline in South African production, and said it was reviewing its South African operations to restore their margin and ensure their recovery.

Ref: Reuters

Santaco in KZN warns of national taxi strike looming on 12 July

News24 reports that the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has reiterated that members might stage a national taxi strike in July if a meeting with government representatives does not go in their favour. Santaco KZN spokesperson Mandla Mzelemu said on Tuesday that the strike on 12 July would will go ahead if government failed to meet with them before the proposed strike date.

He indicated that the looming strike would form part of a series of protests they have recently staged in KZN and Gauteng.  Both the KZN and Gauteng marches saw major routes and highways around both of the provinces blocked.  “This time around we will be marching to the legislatures of all the provinces in the country,” Mzelemu warned.  During the July strike, Santaco planned to demand that government should subsidise the taxi industry.

by Mxolisi Mngadi

Chamber of Mines asks court to stop Mining Charter

BusinessLive reports that on Monday, the Chamber of Mines of SA (COM) launched a legal broadside at Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and his department over the new Mining Charter. It said he was acting beyond the powers granted to him under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act and the Charter would cause “irreparable harm”.  Laying out its grievances, the COM asked the Pretoria High Court for an urgent interdict to suspend the Charter.

The new Charter was an “extremely intrusive and damaging” document, it argued.  The third iteration of the Charter had been negotiated in “bad faith”, the COM argued, ahead of launching two court challenges.  Ultimately, many of the arguments were grounded on the belief that Zwane had overstepped his powers and had tried to make the Charter — which is a policy document or a set of guidelines — a regulatory document.

by Allan Seccombe

Prasa still using manual authorisation of trains despite being ordered not to

The Citizen reports that the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) is operating on manual authorisation at various signals in Gauteng, in effect breaching the prohibition directive issued against it by the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) on 2 June.  The RSR issued the directive against Prasa after an investigation into the crash between two Metrorail trains at the Elandsfontein Station on 1 June revealed that the two trains were manually authorised into a section at the same time.

Manual authorisation had been necessary because the signals were not working due to cable theft.  A commuter was killed and more than 50 others injured in the crash. Prasa is apparently of the view that the directive is not enforceable while it is engaging with the RSR to find alternative solutions to the regulator’s concerns.

Ref: Caxton News Service