NEHAWU update DUT strike

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] has been on strike at the Durban University of Technology [DUT] for the past three weeks over the wage dispute and financial mismanagement by the university. The national union is demanding a 10% wage increase across the board, R9000 once off bonus and Housing allowance.

The Deputy Minister of Higher Education visited the institution yesterday to try and resolve the three weeks impasse only to find that Prof Mthembu had locked himself in his office and claimed not to be around leaving the Deputy Minister frustrated. If he can avoid the Deputy Minister he can also equally avoid issues raised by workers and allow them to withdraw their labour for three weeks and destabilize any services and academic calendar of the institution. As NEHAWU, we demand strong leadership at DUT in order to end the current impasse between the national union and university management.

Denel can pay staff until March, but needs a long-term liquidity solution

BusinessLive reports that state-owned arms manufacturer Denel has managed to pay creditors and employees over the past two months, but still needs to find a long-term solution to its liquidity crunch, the company’s executives said on Tuesday. Denel, which faced a cash crisis in December when there were reports it would not be able to pay salaries, is engaging with the Department of Public Enterprises and Treasury to address its liquidity problems and, in the short term, is investigating the possibility of selling assets to generate some cash.

On Tuesday, Denel CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe and chief financial officer Odwa Mhlwana replied to questions by members of Parliament’s public enterprises committee on recent developments in the company.  Ntshepe said Denel did not have a problem paying salaries in January and would not have a problem paying them in February and March, “but the issue of liquidity in Denel is a serious matter which has existed for a long time.  Denel has never really made serious money”.  “We are focusing on creating solutions to the inability

by Linda Ensor

NEHAWU SUSPENDS WITS STRIKE

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] has reached an agreement with the University of Witwatersrand [WITS] after protracted negotiations and a strike characterised by court interdicts and highhandedness by the untransformed university management.

The agreed salary increases [on a sliding scale] are as follows:
– Academics Post Grade 5-9 = 7%
– Professional staff Post Grade 5-8 = 7%
– Post Grade 9-15 = 7,8%
– Post Grade 16-17 = 9,2%
– And 10% increase for dog handlers, drivers, meal allowance per shift, night shift and night work allowances.

Parties also agreed to work on modalities to turn Wits into a high performance institution and motivate workers beyond salary increases. In this regard a committee to deal with this aspect will be established as a matter of priority. Parties further agreed on a committee that will work on addressing the issue of moving staff on Post grade 16-17 to midpoint of salary scales by the end of April 2018 and also advice council on modalities and take the issue of affordability and sustainability into account. Parties also further agreed that the principle of ‘no work no pay’ will be offset by workers filling-in leave for all the days that they have been on industrial action. Our other demands of (1) Night shift allowance (2) Long service awards and (3) Bonuses and (4) Harmonization of conditions of service will be addressed in the bargaining forum as per the signed agreement.

COSATU to make submissions on the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill to Parliament today

COSATU will present its submission on the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill (National Key Points Act) to the Portfolio Committee on Police at 11:45am 31 January, Room V475, Old Assembly, Parliament. The National Key Points Act was adopted at the height of the liberation struggle against the apartheid regime and thus is not in line with our democratic constitutional values.  It has long been abused to prevent workers from unionising and organising, exposing illegal activities and exercising their constitutional rights to protest.  This has affected thousands of COSATU members working at National key points across the country, state and economy.

COSATU engaged extensively on the Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Bill with government at Nedlac and achieved the following critical victories for workers:
– Workers’ hard won constitutional rights to unionise, organise, picket, protest, disclose corruption and illegal activities will be protected;
– The CIP Bill will not interfere with workers’ rights as provided by key progressive laws e.g. the LRA, BCEA, PDA, PAIA, PAJA and the Constitution;
– Critical infrastructure (CI) designations will no longer be the sole and unaccountable prerogative of the Police Minister but include public comments, clear criteria and the recommendations of the CI Panel.
– The CI Panel will be chaired by the civilian Secretary for Police and include non-governmental experts.
– CI designations will focus on terrorist, criminal, natural and hazardous threats.
– Searches of persons entering CI must be done with regards to decency and order and by persons of the same gender.
– Prosecutions must be based upon transgressions with a clearly criminal and unlawful intent.
– The provision for Parliament to play an active oversight role.

Whilst COSATU is pleased that its above demands were met by government, it will make further proposals to ;further strengthen public participation in the designation of critical infrastructure by the CI Panel and Minister by specifically requiring public comments be taken into account when making such designations; and explicitly prohibit the strip searching of workers during searches.

SAMWU Welcomes Bargaining Council Ruling

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) notes and welcomes the ruling by the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC)  Gauteng Region that Mayor Herman Mashaba and his administration have been unfairly treating workers at the City of Johannesburg.  SAMWU is pleased to report that it had taken the matter to the SALGBC on the basis that these workers were unfairly treated by the City. On the 23rd January, the SALGBC ruled that the suspensions of these workers constituted unfair labour practice in terms of the Labour Relations Acts and as such ordered that the uplifting of the suspensions and that  they return to work by the 5th February. 

 In addition to the uplifting of the illegal and unlawful suspension of our members, a criminal ( 999/05/2017) which the City of Johannesburg had opened was withdrawn against the union’s members on the basis that there was nothing linking them to the so called “fraud and corruption”. Workers at the City’s Revenue Department are part of a larger group which have been dealt harshly by this administration. There are currently workers across the City who have been on suspension for almost a year without disciplinary action taken against them. Samwu says it will once again be approaching the SALGBC to have all suspensions to be ruled unlawful so that workers can return to work and service the communities which they were employed to. 

Mixed reaction to proposal of community service by students

The Sunday Independent reports that proposals by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) that students would be required to commit themselves to 80 hours of community service in return for free education has been met with mixed feelings. While the EFF Student Command rejected the proposal outright, the ANC-aligned SA Students’ Congress (Sasco) and the DA Students Organisation (Daso) said they were amenable to the idea.  EFF’s Student Command president Peter Keetse said they were against the proposal as it would “demoralise the spirit of voluntarism” among young people, while it was not necessary for students to do work in return for free education which was rightfully theirs.

Dasco referenced DA’s shadow education MEC in Gauteng, Khume Ramulifho, who said the proposal would give students work experience.  Sasco’s Buthanani Goba agreed, saying, “The issue of community service is not a problem because we believe that students should be integrated into society and we must teach them patriotism.  But it should not just be those who benefit from free education.  All students must be required to give back to the community.”

by Lesego Makgath

SATAWU TO TAKE BUS WAGE OFFER TO MEMBERS

South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) will take employers’ offer to members for approval. There was very little movement registered for most of the week until Satawu and other unions made the following concessions in an attempt to move negotiations forward.
– Reduced the demand for across the board (ATB) increase from 20% to 16%
– Cut the demand for minimum basic wage from R10 000 to R8 000. The minimum basic wage in the sector is currently R6 076.
– Labour undertook to consider payment of annual bonus in employee’s birth month, provided employers agree to pay pro-rata bonus to workers terminating employment contract regardless of whether they were dismissed or not. Annual bonus is currently paid in early December each year.

In response, employers proposed parties sign a three-year wage agreement to be implemented from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2021 with the following ATB increases:
– 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 (4.7%)
– 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 (5.2)
– 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 (5.7%)

Employers also proposed the same ATB increases for minimum basic wage for the three-year agreement. Responding to labour’s demand of six months maternity leave at full pay, employers offered four months maternity at 35% pay for the 2018/2019 year; 37% for the 2019/2020 year and 40% for the 2020/2021 year. Included in COBEO and SABEA’s offer are nominal increases for subsistence and travel allowances, night shift and cross-border allowance. Satawu will seek a mandate from their members on whether to accept the offer and report back to the Bargaining Council for the second phase of negotiations starting 12 February to 16 February.

Drivers claim unjust treatment

SowetanLive reports that petrol tanker drivers contracted to deliver fuel in Limpopo claim they have been subjected to inhumane conditions at an Engen depot. They alleged depot management in Mokopane displayed racism. The truck drivers, employed by various companies to transport petrol and diesel from Watloo in Pretoria on a daily basis, said they were refused the right to use ablution facilities at the depot. They said they spend days awaiting their turn to off-load fuel, sleeping inside their trucks. They also claimed management refused them permission to use the facilities “without providing reasons”.

A female driver, who refused to disclose her name, confirmed she had not bathed for two days since arriving at the depot. “It’s true that we are not allowed to use the sanitation facilities inside the depot, but we have not been given reasons for the decision,” she said. Engen spokesman Gavin Smith said he was not aware of the existence of inhumane treatment of truck drivers . “We will investigate the allegations. As a company we are not practising any racism and will act against any of our employees who may be found to be practising such.”

by Frank Maponya

‘Bungled’ minimum wage bill excludes vulnerable workers

BusinessLive reports that the narrow definition of workers as “employees” used in the National Minimum Wage Bill was not agreed on when the policy was drafted at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac). Labour federations which were part of the negotiations said they were shocked to discover that a broader definition was replaced by a narrower definition of ‘employee’, which would exclude independent contractors among other vulnerable groups of workers.

Cosatu and Fedusa said it appeared the Department of Labour and other government representatives involved in the legislation process had made a blunder by replacing “worker”, which was intended to cover those who may fall through the cracks by broadening the definition’s scope, with the narrower “employee”, as defined in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.  The federations, along with fellow federation Nactu, have made a joint submission to Parliament arguing that what was reflected in the bill was not what had been decided upon by labour, business and the government at Nedlac.  Cosatu parliamentary leader Matthew Parks said it was “mind-boggling” that a bill which had taken two and half years of Nedlac engagements to conclude, could end up being bungled.

by Theto Mahlakoana

North West artisan training to benefit over 40 youth

SABC News reports that over 40 previously disadvantaged students from villages, townships and small towns in the North West are hoping to take to the skies. They have been granted an opportunity to further their technical and aviation skills at a technical college in Gauteng. The youngsters will be sent off to receive training in aviation and technical skills in the big city. They will qualify as artisans in aircraft maintenance, welding, fitting and turning and electrical engineering.

The youth will venture into fields with scarce skills. Most of which are not available in the province. With the Mahikeng Airport now fully operational, the next prospect is for the establishment of a technical academy to boost the aviation sector in the province. Upon finishing their theoretical training, students will complete their practical training at the Mahikeng Airport.