Police to get lifestyle audits

BusinessLive reports that the police are to introduce lifestyle audits on members as part of sweeping reforms that newly appointed national commissioner Khehla Sitole has promised to introduce. Lt-Gen Khehla Sitole’s announcement of lifestyle audits came with his concession that the SAPS had failed to suspend or dismiss Brig Leonora Phetle after it had emerged she had authorised unwarranted vetting for officers and received a suspicious payment of R50,000.

Police committee chairman Francois Beukman urged Sitole to ensure that all SAPS officers went through clearance and high-ranking officers underwent lifestyle audits.

by Khulekani Magubane

Final year medical students can appeal intern placements

EWN reports that according to the Department of Health (DOH), final year medical and health students will be allowed to appeal their intern placement allocations. Dozens of intern doctors and final year students are said to be concerned as they have not yet been allocated a placement for either internship or community service positions in 2018.  On Friday, when the DOH’s website showing placements went live, dozens of students were expecting to finally find out where they would be working next year.

However, a number of them were not allocated positions, while others were placed in areas they had not specified as an option.  Gail Andrews of the DOH indicated that officials were willing to accommodate students who had justifiable reasons.  Accordingly, the website would have a notice posted on Monday to explain the appeal procedure.  Appeals will be given urgent attention.  But, the DOH’s call centre has been instructed not to receive calls, until the situation has been “managed”.  Andrews also said those students who had not received placements could be among those who were not eligible.

by Monique Mortlock

Union turns up heat on Malusi Gigaba over PIC

BusinessLive reports that the Public Service Association (PSA) says it is pushing ahead with its planned court action against Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba over requested disclosures on the board appointment processes at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). This is despite Gigaba having replied to the trade union’s request for explanations on the application of the Public Investment Corporation Act when appointing board members.

In a letter, Gigaba wrote of his plans to meet public sector trade unions in January to discuss the governance issues at the PIC. He explained that the decision emanated from briefings by all involved parties to the standing committee on finance. However, the response by Gigaba did not tackle the specific issues raised in the letter of demand sent to him last week, the PSA’s deputy general manager, Tahir Maepa, said. Public sector unions are currently seeking ways to protect workers’ pension funds in light of fears the Treasury could use them for other purposes, including the bail-out of struggling state-owned companies. Meanwhile, the public sector unions interested in joining the court action will be meeting on Wednesday.

by Theto Mahlakoana

Cosatu KZN challenges private sector employers

Daily News reports that the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has challenged employers in the private sector not to use the economic downturn as an excuse not to pay their employees year-end bonuses. Provincial secretary Edwin Mkhize said:  “For many companies the first target when the economy is not doing well becomes the workers.  The point we wanted to emphasise to the Department of Labour is that employers must not be allowed to dodge paying bonuses to workers.

When the economy is hard hit, it’s the workers who end up suffering, particularly now that the festive season is upon us.  We are warning employers not to use the economy as an excuse not to pay workers their bonuses.”  He added that the festive season was often the only period when workers could spend quality time with their families.  Bonuses would help workers to budget for their children for the new year.  The federation also called for an amendment to the Labour Relations Act to penalise employers in the private sector who retrenched employees as an urgent measure to curb growing levels of job losses.

by Samkelo Mtshali

The strike has come to an end at Kangra Coal Mine

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is pleased to announce it has signed a 3-year wage agreement with Kangra Coal Mine last week Thursday after the NUM members embarked on a strike.

The parties agreed to the following wage increases:
2017: R600 ; 2018: 7%  ; 2019: 7%
Housing allowance – 2017: R1000, 2018: 12%, 2019: 14%

“The employer said the harmonisation of the housing allowance will be achieved in the next round of wage negotiations. The strike has come to end. The NUM members are back to work starting with the morning shift,” said Peter Bailey, NUM Chief Negotiator in the Coal Sector.

SATAWU TO TAKE TRANSNET WAGE OFFER TO MEMBERS

The South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) is set to take Transnet’s final wage offer to members after the negotiation team flatly rejected the company’s initial offer at the Bargaining Council on Friday morning. On 6 November wage negotiations at the Transnet Bargaining Council started in earnest when labour tabled its position demanding a multi-year wage agreement starting 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2021 with a 12% across the board (ATB) wage increase for each of the three years. Labour also wanted an assurance that there would be no forced retrenchments for the duration of the agreement. The union also demanded medical and housing allowance increases of R1 790 for the first year through to R3 500 in the third year. All other allowances including nightshift and standby were to escalate by the agreed across the board percentage.

Labour also wanted the overtime threshold to be increased to R300 000 per annum for the 2018/2019 year and by the agreed ATB thereafter. Funeral cover was to extend beyond retirement, plus labour wanted the post-retirement medical contribution to increase to R500. Employees earning less than R100 000 basic per annum were to receive an extra 2% on top of the agreed ATB for the first year of the agreement. However, SATAWU was very disappointed when on Friday morning management reverted with an offer of 5% ATB for year one, 5.5% for year two and 6% for year 3. In an attempt to justify the lacklustre offer, management pointed to the recent downgrade to junk status by rating agency S&P Global. But labour was not convinced and made it clear that management had to revise its offer to one worthy of consideration. Noting labour’s concerns, management retreated to a caucus and emerged later with an improved final offer that SATAWU’s negotiation team will be taking to members to seek a mandate.

The final offer is as follows:
ATB of 6.5% for the first year, 7.25% the second year and 8% for the final year. Zero increase on all allowances. No forced retrenchments for the duration of the agreement. Wage agreement to be implemented on 1 April, 2018. SATAWU will take this latest and final offer to members for approval and will report back to the Bargaining Council with a mandate on 15 January, 2018.

SABC board members share R3.2 million payout

BusinessTech reports that the SABC has paid R3.2 million to its 5-member interim board during their six-month tenure, according to the Sunday Times. It then informed its staff that there would be no salary increases in the new year. The directors earned “almost double that of the previous board”, with the SABC stating the new directors attended more meetings. The payment means each member earned R640,000 for six months of work. “SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said the board had deferred payment until staff salaries had been paid,” stated the report.

Kganyago said the board “had been at Auckland Park almost daily and had held 99 meetings”. The board payments come at a time when the SABC has been declared virtually bankrupt, and requires a multi-billion-rand government bailout. The news also follows a call by Minister of Communications Mmamoloko Kubayi to reduce the number of SABC board members from 12 to nine, and the number needed for a quorum to seven. Acting chief executive officer of the SABC, Nomsa Philiso, scored a R877,000 bonus for the year ended March 2016 as part of a total package of R3.4 million, the City Press reported recently. The paper said that the public broadcaster justified the payment by saying that she earned it through “sheer hard work” despite the company posting a R977 million loss after tax for the 2016/17 financial year.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Mining Qualification Authority (MQA) signed a 3-year bursary agreement with the JB Marks Education Trust Fund to fund 80 engineering students to study at tertiary institutions across South Africa. The agreement was signed on Tuesday at MQA head office in Parktown. This agreement is pivotal in that it increases the JB Marks annual intake from 200 to 280 beneficiaries for the next three years.

The JB Marks Education Trust Fund was founded in 1997 by the NUM and named after the first president of the African Miners Union and this year, the Trust celebrates its 20th-anniversary milestone. Over the past two decades, JB Marks has provided bursaries for members of the NUM and their families; ultimately enabling 1121 bursars to graduate with mainstream qualifications (including 18 medical doctors). What makes the JB Marks Education Trust Fund particularly important to the general upliftment of the community is its interest in the dependents of the NUM members, of whom many have received educational bursaries.

Paternity leave bill passed in Parliament

BusinessLive reports that the Labour Laws Amendment Bill‚ which was passed by the National Assembly on Tuesday‚ has been hailed as an achievement for parental rights as it allows for all parents to access leave‚ regardless of gender. In terms of the bill‚ an employee who is a parent and is not entitled to maternity leave‚ is entitled to 10 consecutive days’ parental leave when their child is born or when an adoption order is granted.

It also enables an adoptive parent of a child less than two years old to take adoption leave of two months and two weeks consecutively. If there are two adoptive parents‚ one of them is entitled to adoption leave and the other employee is entitled to parental leave of 10 days. The same provision is made for commissioning parents in a surrogate motherhood agreement.

by Ernest Mabuza

PSA threatens court action against Gigaba

Fin24 reports that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba might face court action from the Public Servants Association (PSA) if he does not agree to the union’s demands to have better representation on the board of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). PSA’s spokesperson Tahir Maepa indicated that three letters of demand have been written to the minister in this regard without response.  In those letters, the PSA raised concerns over the composition of the PIC board, which it said contravened the PIC Act of 2004.  The PIC acts as the primary investment agent for the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) and other state funds.

The majority (207,000) of the PSA’s members are GEPF members.  The PIC board is appointed by the finance minister, but in terms of the Act he should have due regard for nominations submitted by depositors.  “All we are saying is from where we are sitting, the board is wrongfully constituted.  It does not comply with the Act,” said Maepa.  Currently there are three vacancies on the board.  The PSA wants the minister to amend the memorandum of incorporation to include GEPF representation on the board and for the vacancies to be filled by labour representatives.

by Lameez Omarjee