Wits University workers threaten to strike

TimesLive reports that labour unions at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) have started mobilising for the institution’s total shutdown over a wage dispute.  Workers affiliated to National Health Education and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu)  and other unions have rejected a proposed 6.8% salary increase.  They are demanding 8% and are planning to close the institution, possibly next week, if Wits management does not meet their demand.

Nehawu Wits acting secretary, Tumisho Madihlaba, said the CCMA had granted Nehawu a strike certificate and their members would be conducting lunch-time pickets throughout this week in preparation for the strike.  He added:  “We are waiting for other unions to get their strike certificates but the big day is coming.”  Wits spokesperson Refilwe Mabula indicated that the university was offering a 6.8% increase for 2018 (and a 7% increase for staff on the lower grades), which was “the best offer that the university can make in the current financial environment.”

by Bafana Nzimande

Prasa ordered to pay Joburg man who lost a leg on train

The Citizen reports that the Passenger Rail Agency (Prasa) has been ordered to fully compensate a train passenger who lost his leg when he was pushed through the open door of an over-crowded train two years ago. Nare Morena of Tembisa instituted a damages claim of over R3.3 million against Prasa after the incident late one afternoon at the Kempton Park station in October 2015. The amount he must receive will be determined later. Morena was on his way home, but could not sit because the train was full and he had to hang onto a railing.

The train driver testified that the train was delayed by an hour because of a signalling problem at the Jeppe station platform. The delay created a backlog on the scheduled trains as a result and there were many people who wanted to board the train, causing further overloading. Prasa had failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that commuters were safe and was liable for Morena’s damages.

by Ilsa de Lange

NEHAWU TO GO ON STRIKE AT UNISA TOMORROW

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] is going on strike tomorrow [Wednesday January 17, 2018] at the University of South Africa [Unisa] after deadlocked wage negotiations between the national union and university management. Nehawu says that workers will not return to work until the university management sorts out the salary dispute and the absorption on a full time basis of all workers on contract since 2014 in the ICT department.

Nehawu’s demands are as follows:
– Across the board salary increase of 12%, while management is offering 6.5%.
– All council members stop doing business with the university with immediate effect. The union further demands that all council members cited and implicated in the state of capture report resign from council with immediate effect.
– The university to absorb all contract workers with immediate effect and stop exploiting our members in the ICT department as per the amendments of the LRA.

The union believes that Unisa can afford the 12% salary increase that workers are demanding and is being disingenuous when they plead poverty. In this regard, the national union has taken a decision to go on a full blown strike in all campuses across the country until its demands are met.

NHI payment issues resolved, dept says

The Department of Health says the late payment of staff at NHI pilot sites has been resolved and that this does not set the tone for the roll out of the programme. South Africa is piloting the National Health Insurance (NHI), which will see citizens accessing health care based on their health needs, irrespective of their socio-economic status. The NHI — a health financing system that is designed to pool funds to provide access to quality, affordable health care — is part of government’s major health sector reforms and is being rolled out over a 14-year period. Popo Maja on Monday confirmed that the issue of late payment had been resolved.

Maja said those affected by the late payments were not employees but service providers. The pilot, Maja said, is being conducted to get a sense of interest from private sector health practitioners, and to see how health practitioners and clinic staff would work together. The pilot is also an opportunity to test payment and administrative mechanisms, as the NHI fund would be a separate entity with its own administrative processes, Maja said.

Ref: sanews.gov.za

Poet Laureate ‘Bra Willie’ to be laid to rest

eNCA reports that National Poet Laureate, Professor Keorapetse “Bra Willie” Kgositsile, will be buried on Tuesday. The service will be held at the Marks Park Sports Club in Emmerentia, Johannesburg.  Kgositsile died nearly two weeks ago at the age of 79.

He was a recipient of the National Order of Ikamanga and was installed as the country’s second National Poet Laureate in 2006. Several memorial services have been held in his honour since his death.

Murder of farm worker criminal act, not racism: Magistrate

eNCA reports that the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court believes the murder of a farmworker in Tarlton two weeks ago was not an act of racism, but a criminal act. Security company owner Petrus Durant, a former police officer, was granted R10 000 bail, which angered the community. In his affidavit, Durant admits to shooting eight rounds, six of the shots aimed at the tractor which the deceased was allegedly trying to steal.

The case has been postponed to April for further investigations. The National Prosecuting Authority said the decision to grant bail was not an indication of the strength of the state’s case. “As a state, we were opposing bail, citing that the accused life may be in danger and that his not a fit candidate. They have granted bail in this matter and we accept the court’s decision. It would be irresponsible of us to fuel the racial tensions by making improper statements”, said National Prosecuting Authority Spokesperson, Phindi Njonondwane.

 

DUT employees strike

Groundup reports that employees at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) who went on strike on Monday morning have vowed to continue with it until their demand is met. They found the office of the institution’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Thandwa Mthembu closed when they went to hand him a memorandum. They are striking for an annual salary increase. The workers are asking for 10%, but the university is offering 4%.

The chairperson of Nehawu, Mike Mbatha said they won’t go back to work until Mthembu told them when they would get their increase. Communications Manager at DUT Noxolo Memela said the institution had not concluded its 2018 salary negotiations in time for implementation on 1 January 2018.

by Zimbili Vilakazi

NWU ‘ready’ to implement free education

SABC News reports that North West University (NWU) says it is ready to implement free tertiary education.  Those who will be eligible for it would have applied through National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and have qualified for it.

The university has provisionally admitted 13,000 students for the 2018 academic year and registration process will begin on January 22. While a topical issue has been how free education is going to be implemented in higher tertiary institutions, the university has announced it is ready to implement it. However, it is not all prospective students who understand that to qualify for free quality education they need to apply through NSFAS. The North West University has also clarified that free education will not cover the existing outstanding balances.

by Sisi Segalo

workers to strike at Dis-Chem Pharmacies nationwide

The Citizen reports that workers were preparing for a strike at Dis-Chem Pharmacies across the country over the recognition of its organisational rights. Part of the action would take place at the Dis-Chem warehouse in Midrand, Johannesburg.  The strike is expected to begin at 5am on Wednesday.  According to the union, Dis-Chem has refused to grant it organisational rights in terms of section 21 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA).

The dispute was referred for conciliation to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in December 2017, but the matter remained unresolved. A certificate of non-resolution concerning organisational rights was then issued by the CCMA commissioner.  “This gives our members the right to strike after giving seven days’ notice in terms of section 21 of the Labour Relations Act,” Nupsaw indicated in a statement.

Ref: ANA

Domestic workers take home more pay from January

Moneyweb reports that the Department of Labour has increased the minimum wage for domestic workers. Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant said the increase is a step towards reducing wage differentials across the bigger and smaller metropolitan areas into the same minimum. The national minimum wage (NMW) figures will be announced and come into effect on May 1. Spokesperson for the labour department, Thembinkosi Mkalili said the minimum wage for domestic workers is 75% of R20.

He said once the NMW kicks in, the minimum wage for domestic workers will set to R15/hour for both bigger (area A) and local (area B) metropolitan areas. Meaning an additional increase. However, domestic workers working 27 ordinary hours a week in both areas A and B, will be receive a minimum wage slightly above R15/hour. Oliphant said the implementation of the increased minimum wage is also meant to offset the rising costs of living especially for domestic workers, and maintain the current standards of living.

by Aarti Bhana