COSATU Post CEC media briefing

The Congress of South African Trade Union’s ordinary three-day Central Executive Committee [CEC] meeting was concluded today, 28th of February 2018. The meeting is discussing Organisational, Political and Socio-economic issues affecting the workers and the working class in general.

The will be a media briefing to communicate the meeting outcomes:
Date: 1 March 2018
Time : 11h00
Venue: COSATU House, 110 Jorissen Street, Braamfontein

Farm workers picket wine festival

GroundUp reports that a group of farm workers, mostly women, demonstrated at the gates to the Stellenbosch Wine Festival on Saturday. They tried to enter the Coetzenburg Sports Grounds where the annual event was held. The women, who work in the Cape winelands, marched under the banner of the Women on Farms Project. Carmen Louw, programme coordinator, said the main reason was to make wine drinkers “aware of the appalling conditions women workers face”.

Louw said that surveys on farms in the winelands found that female farm workers did not have access to clean drinking water or a toilet while toiling in the vineyards all day. “This is a major human rights violation. We want people to at least think before they drink the wine. We told people that the cheapest ticket for the festival was R150 per person, that’s not even what most workers get for a whole day. Elmarie Rabe, manager of Stellenbosch Wine Routes, said that the organisation was aware of the workers’ picket and that it took “the issues raised very seriously”. Rabe said the wine farms in Stellenbosch, particularly the ones which export, did undergo rigorous auditing.

by Barbara Maregele

DUT and unions agree to go back to negotiating table

TimesLive reports that the intervention of deputy minister of higher education and training Buti Manamela on Tuesday has resulted in management and labour unions agreeing to head back to the negotiating table following a seven-week deadlock over salary increments. The deputy minister was hopeful that negotiations would be wrapped up and lectures would resume within this week.

He said negotiations were expected to resume as soon as Wednesday‚ after the unions reported back to their members. Manamela added that as soon as striking staff accepted the framework of the agreement between the parties‚ including management and the unions‚ “all other things will fall away”. “This means that the strike is going to be suspended and academic work will resume while negotiations also resume‚” said Manamela.

by Suthentira Govender

SATAWU Declare Dispute in Bus Wage Talks

The South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) along with four other unions in the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) have declared a dispute in the ongoing wage negotiations. The unions were disappointed with the revised offer that employers put on the table. Employers offered a multi-year agreement starting 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2021 with the following across the board (ATB) increases – 6% for the first year; 6.25% for the second year and 6.5% for the third. In a show of good faith, unions slashed their ATB increase demand from 16% to 13%. They questioned why employers insisted on signing a three-year agreement.  The unions also questioned the notion of linking the annual wage increase to CPI when workers’ pay in this industry is so low. The industry minimum basic wage is currently R6 076. Labour wants it to be upped to R8 000 but employers are proposing it be increased by the yet to be agreed ATB percentage. 

Labour is very unhappy that employers are trying to claw back already hard-won benefits for workers. For instance, they are proposing that any worker entering the industry for the first time after 1 April 2018 be paid the minimum wage stipulated by the bargaining council regardless of whether the company hiring them has a higher minimum wage. Despite agreeing on a few issues, including among others, the revised proposal such as the introduction of maternity leave payments of 35% for the first year to 40% by the third year, unions are on the whole not happy with the offer on table. It is for this reason that Satawu and other unions have declared a collective dispute and will enlist the expertise of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to help break the deadlock. The week of 12 March to 16 March has been set aside for conciliation.

 

COSATU 2018/9 Budget Submission to Parliament

COSATU will present its submission to Parliament’s Finance Committees at 12pm Wednesday 28 February, E249, Parliament. COSATU will state very clearly its vehement rejection of government’s anti-working class VAT and fuel levy hikes and income tax bracket adjustment proposals.  These will take money from workers’ pockets and make food, transport, clothing, electricity etc. more expensive.  This whilst one out of three workers is unemployed. COSATU wants Parliament to reject these anti-worker taxes and to instead increase company, luxury goods, estate duty and taxes upon the rich.

COSATU was deeply disappointed with the budget which does not come close to meeting the progressive job creation and corruption defeating goals of the President’s State of the Nation Address.  The budget is largely silent on how we will create jobs and fight corruption.  It is silent on how it will reduce wasteful expenditure and recover the state’s stolen assets. It is equally thin on how government will place our state owned enterprises on a sustainable footing. COSATU welcomes the funding provided for tertiary education and the planned National Health Insurance. Whilst COSATU is willing to engage with government on ways to reduce wasteful expenditure, we expect government to come to the party and cut the bloated size of cabinet and the bling culture that our politicians are highly addicted to.

Shiva Uranium, fails to pay its workers on time

BusinessLive reports that according to a worker at Shiva Uranium mine in Klerksdorp‚ North West‚ employees have been left in the lurch after the company failed to pay them their salaries last week.  “We have not been paid February salaries.  We were told that we would be paid on the 28th,” said the unnamed employee.  She also indicated that the company told them on Friday that the payments were delayed because it did not have a bank.  “They also told us that they have an international bank and the funds have to be converted from dollars into rands and that the process takes long.”

She added that most workers had taken leave since Friday because they did not have the money to take public transport or to put fuel in their cars.  The company has apparently denied media reports that it was under business rescue.  Shiva Uranium is the third Gupta-owned company to not pay its employees.  Optimum and Koornfontein coal mines have also failed to pay workers their salaries this month.  Workers at Optimum downed tools last Wednesday.

by Nomahlubi Jordaan

NUM MEMBERS STRIKE AT KOORNFONTEIN MINE

EWN reports that members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) at the Gupta-owned Koornfontein mine embarked on a strike yesterday morning. They are concerned about the future of the mine and the non-payment of salaries. The controversial family’s other operation Optimum coal mine in Mpumalanga failed to pay its workers this month, leading to a strike.

The union says mine management at Koornfontein promised to pay them on Sunday, but that has not happened. Branch secretary Sibusiso Mahlangu says, “In actual fact, they said we must expect to get paid from Friday. But we haven’t been paid as of Sunday, so they listed the 28th as well as a possible date.”

by Koketšo Motau

How we’re fighting antimicrobial resistance in South Africa

GroundUp reports that HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have claimed too many South African lives. Today, defeating these diseases is a national priority, with the mission of the latest National Strategic Plan to get our country on track to eliminate them as public health threats by the year 2030. But what happens when the treatments we use to fight them no longer work? This is a reality for many people who are already living with drug-resistant strains of many common infections. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi evolve and become able to survive in the face of drugs designed to cure or prevent the infections they cause.

But it’s not only TB. Treatments for HIV and STIs, malaria, and gastro-intestinal, urinary tract, and respiratory tract infections are all under threat. Bacterial infections that are resistant to multiple drugs are commonplace in South African hospitals. With our vast experience in HIV and TB, can South Africa lead the way out of this scenario? The government has taken steps in the right direction. In 2015, the Department of Health published the Antimicrobial Resistance National Strategy Framework for South Africa, and our healthcare leaders are continuing to engage local and international organisations on this crucial topic. South Africa continues to lead research that will counter AMR, including the identification and implementation of new diagnostics.

By Heidi Albert

Cape Town launches programme to train and connect job seekers

TimesLive reports that the City of Cape Town has launched an outcomes-based workforce development programme to improve residents’ access to employment opportunities, the city said on Sunday. The three-year programme held in collaboration with Lulaway Holdings aimed to reduce the number of discouraged work seekers by identifying, preparing, and placing them in education, training, and ultimately securing permanent work opportunities for them.

With a focus on youth and those living in high-density and traditionally marginalised areas, the programme aimed to help 30,000 unemployed residents, provide work-readiness skills training to 6000 programme participants, and subsequently to place 4050 candidates in various employment opportunities. The first component of the programme entails job seekers going to the job centres and registering their profiles on the City of Cape Town job seeker database hosted on the Lulaway portal. Job seeker profiles would be instantly accessible to both corporates and SMMEs looking for staff. The second component is work readiness training. Suitable applicants would be shortlisted for job openings and offered work readiness skills training to increase their chances of retaining their jobs.

Ref: ANA

Effects of duties on wine and brandy will be felt by workers

BusinessLive reports that wine producers say the hike in excise duties on wine and brandy is a major blow for the sector as it continues to struggle to make significant profits. In his budget speech last week, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba announced an excise tax increase of 8.5% for wine (including sparkling wine) and brandy, and 6% on fortified wine.  “The above-inflation excise tax is extremely disappointing, especially given the fact that the industry reached, and even exceeded, the tax incidence targets agreed upon in 2014,” said Rico Basson, MD of wine producers body Vinpro.

He said SA grape producers had been under financial pressure for some time due to the prevailing drought and other economic challenges.  Production costs have doubled in the past decade and costs were expected to rise 9% in 2018, along with a 17% increase in the minimum wage, which takes effect on 1 May.  “With the wine industry supporting approximately 290,000 jobs, the fact that the average wine grape producer does not function at sustainable profit margins and more than a third operate at a loss, is great cause for concern.  The considerably lower 2018 wine harvest projection as a result of the drought not only has significant economic impact, but also leads to social welfare challenges due to job losses,” Basson said.

by Bekezela Phakathi