COSATU meeting with Eskom Special Cabinet Committee

The Congress of South African Trade Unions met with the Special Cabinet Committee that looks into the affairs of Eskom, Chaired by Deputy President DD Mabuza, yesterday, to discuss the proposed unbundling of Eskom by the government.  The meeting was also attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss this plan and try to break the existing deadlock between the workers and government over this proposed restructuring/unbundling of the power utility.

COSATU remains totally opposed to any restructuring plan that will benefit the capitalist class and increase prices for the working class. The meeting did not succeed in breaking the deadlock between the workers and government but agreed that the process of engagement should continue at both the workplace and political level. Both parties agreed to meet again after the upcoming COSATU Central Executive Committee meeting set for next week.

Three workers die following structural collapse at Durban construction site

The Citizen reports that three construction workers, believed to be in their 30s, died after a wall collapsed at a building site in Isipingo, south of Durban, paramedics said this evening. According to Garrith Jamieson, operations director for Rescue Care, paramedics arrived at the scene at about 5pm, where Durban Fire and Emergency Medical Rescue Services were in attendance.

“Three men, believed to be approximately 30 years old, had sustained major injuries and there was nothing more paramedics could do for them. They were declared deceased on the scene. One man had sustained critical injuries and was stabilised on the scene before being rushed to a nearby hospital for the further care required,” said Jamieson. He said the events leading to the collapse were unknown but police were at the scene investigating.

Ref: ANA

Cosatu takes march over jobs to Parliament

Fin24 reports that union members affiliated to Cosatu are set to march to Parliament on Tuesday, as part of an effort to mobilise for pro-poor policies ahead of the national Budget speech and to protest against job losses. The Cape Town protest comes after the union held marches in big cities across the country last week to highlight the plight of the workers who are facing retrenchments from various sectors, including the prospect of job losses at Eskom, following an announcement  by President Cyril Ramaphosa that the power utility would be split into three business entities.

“We want the national budget to provide more resources for programmes which create more jobs and which promotes South Africa’s industrialisation,” Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) provincial secretary Malvern de Bruyn said. The federation, which is also a critical member of the tripartite alliance, has urged government to halt the introduction of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to the national grid, arguing the process would also impact jobs on coal mines and power stations. The federation sounded a warning to the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, ahead of his Budget speech, to regard the strike “as just a first warning of more mass actions to follow” should their demands fall on deaf ears.

by Sibongile Khumalo

Rustenburg unemployed demand jobs at a mine

Mining Weekly reports that unemployed people at Ikemeleng in Kroondal near Rustenburg marched to the Kroondal Mine on Monday, demanding jobs. “We are here today to let the mine know that we as Ikemeleng community want what is ours and that is jobs and tenders. There is a tender that came out dealing with the dumping area in Ikemeleng. The business owners we know applied for the tender but they did not receive it. And they were not even given a reason why,” said community leader Zukiswa Thantsi.

In the memorandum they appealed for the mine to halt operations at the dump site areas because they suspected the contractor was related to the councillor’s boyfriend. They further called on the mine to no longer consult with the councilor in employment issues instead they wanted the mine to recognise the unemployment forum and engage with the forum on employment issues. They wanted their demands met within seven days or they would stop operations at the mines. Production manager Judah Mashego received the memorandum and promised that it would be attended to.

Ref: ANA

Government to halt incentives for public servants

IOL News reports that South Africa’s 1.3 million public servants will not be receiving performance bonuses from April 2021 and will get reduced incentives for doing their jobs well from this year. The move will be in place pending a review of the state’s incentive policy and due to national and provincial departments’ failing to comply with the Public Service Act. This is a result of the government’s “current financial constraints, post the conclusion of the 2018 wage agreement and residual costs emanating the agreement”, according to the Department of Public Service and Administration.

However, the country’s biggest public sector union and largest Cosatu affiliate, National Health, Education and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), has rejected the move, saying it was not consulted. The directive states that the inconsistent application of the government’s performance management and development system has resulted in payment of bonuses based on localised departmental incentive schemes, irrespective of the department’s actual performances or fairness. This was what necessitated the comprehensive review of what should constitute a defensible incentive scheme.

by Samkelo Mtshali

COSATU salutes and congratulates workers for a successful National Strike

The Congress of South African Trade Unions salutes and applaud the thousands of workers, who withdrew their labour yesterday and participated in the COSATU led National Strike. The strike communicated an unmistakable message to the political and business elite that the workers are ready to fight back. COSATU’s capacity to mobilise remains unmatched and we are grateful to our affiliated unions for mobilising workers and transporting them to the marches.

Typically, the strike was characterised by elevated discipline, unmistakable passion and a positive atmosphere. The federation will continue to remain occupied with the immediate concerns of our members, as well as with the broader social and political issues. While COSATU also remains committed to serving the interests of not just its members but of all the workers. The federation shall continue to work for the unity of the workers and the working class.

Farm workers march to stop evictions

GroundUp reports that dozens of farm workers marched to the Western Cape Department of Rural Development and Land Reform in Long Street, Cape Town, on Friday. Led by Tshintsha Amakhaya, a civil society alliance, workers sang struggle songs, waved placards, and carried banners that read: “Evictions violate human rights” and “No to evictions”. Sobantu Mzwakali, Advocacy and Campaigns Officer for Tshintsha Amakhaya, said he and other protesters had handed a memorandum of demands to Minister [of Rural Development and Land Reform Mcebisi] Skwatsha last year, but they had not received any response. In November 2014, Cyril Ramaphosa, who was Deputy President at the time, was quoted by City Press as promising a moratorium on evictions, after he and a delegation of senior ministers met agricultural and farm labour representatives in Paarl.

“Drakenstein Municipality in Western Cape has a caseload of 1,127 pending farm eviction matters,” said Mzwakali. “At an Indaba on farm evictions hosted by the South African Human Rights Commission in April 2018, Drankenstein municipal manager Lauren Warin acknowledged that the municipality had become a hotspot for evictions with an estimated 20,000 people threatened.” The workers’ memorandum demanded to see all records and documentation relating to the number of notices served on the Western Cape Provincial Department of Rural Development and Land Reform in terms of the Extension of Security Tenure Act from January 2016 and January 2019. They also want all records relating to calls made to the department’s evictions toll-free number. Siphamandla Mbebe, Deputy Director of Tenure Reform Implementation, received the memorandum. He said he would hand it over to Minister Skhwatsha and President Ramaphosa.

by Vincent Lali

Desperate sugar cane farmers send SOS to President Ramaphosa

Business Report writes that the sugar industry growers are calling for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s intervention in an effort to help save the multibillion-rand sector from imminent collapse. The distress signal comes after grain farmers recently embarked on a drive to raise at least R3 billion to assist maize producers affected by drought. SA Cane Growers’ Association chairperson Graeme Stainbank said yesterday that the country’s sugar sector was in an unprecedented state of crisis. He said the R14bn industry was at risk of collapse, along with the 350 000 jobs it provided and the 1 million people it supported.

He said the problems facing the industry were numerous and included unsteady rainfalls and that sugar regions in KwaZulu-Natal were recovering from a three-year drought that resulted in a more than R2bn loss for cane growers. Another challenge pertained to plunging sugar prices, little cushioning against imports, and dropping demand. Stainbank said sugar cane farmers were plunged into another crisis when about 500 000 tons of imported sugar landed in the country last year. “South African sugar, which is some of the highest quality in the world, was summarily dumped on to the world market.” He said as a result cane growers incurred immense losses and many were now on the brink of going out of business. Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana said he was concerned about the issues raised and would follow up on them.

by Luyolo Mketane

Sibanye signals prospect of 5,000 job cuts at Driefontein

Miningmx reports that precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater has signaled to unions that it may cut up to 5,000 jobs at its struggling Driefontein operation in the gold sector, three sources told Miningmx. This prospect has been raised in “Future Forum” discussions with unions, which are a regulatory requirement by the Department of Mineral Resources to address issues in advance including what needs to be done at troubled assets to restore them to profitability.

Sibanye spokesman, James Wellsted, said in response to questions from Miningmx about the 5,000 number at Driefontein that: “There is a possibility that if we don’t find a solution to losses at certain shafts, that there may be restructuring of that nature.” But he stressed that nothing was set in stone at this stage. Driefontein employs almost 11,000 employees, according to the company’s latest annual report.

by Ed Stoddard