Absa employee guilty on 359 fraud counts

TimesLive reports that an Absa employee was found guilty on 359 charges of fraud after a Hawks investigation found that he transferred money from a client’s account to his brother’s account without the knowledge of the client. Moses Moroe was a sales consultant for the bank at its Loch Logan branch in the Free State.

He was sentenced in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday to eight years imprisonment‚ suspended for five years‚ provided that he pays back the money before July 2018. Hawks spokesperson S’fiso Nyakane said the 34-year-old had defrauded the bank of R366‚000 over two years. Moroe was dismissed from his job last October after the bank initiated a departmental trial.

by Petru Saal

SACCAWU settles on the Makro Strike

The strike by more than 5 000 SACCAWU members has now been concluded on the basis of a collective agreement on substantive terms and conditions of employment. The agreement covers the following key areas:

Wage Increase:
– An increase of 8.0% or R 600-00 per month, whichever is the greater for  categories 1 and 2 for year 1;
– An increase of 8.5% or R3.08  increase per hour for category 3 for year 1;
– An increase of 8% or R630 per month, whichever is the greater for categories 1 and 2 for year 2;
– An increase of 9% or R3.23 increase per hour whichever is the greater for category 3 for year 2;

Hours of Work for Category 3;
An increase in the guaranteed monthly scheduled working hours to 150 with effect from 1 November 2017.

Category 3 is in the main comprised of workers that through engagement between the Company and the Union; have been converted from Labour Brokers supply and casuals, into permanent status. Backpay for this category of workers also includes payment for the increase in the guaranteed monthly scheduled working hours, from the 1st of April. Engagements for gradual phased integration and parity, are to be undertaken on the secondary issues process currently underway.

Durban mops up after devastating storm

eNCA reports that at least six people died and many properties were affected, including a number of hospitals and schools. The death toll is expected to rise as many people are still missing. Motorists in the province have been warned to drive cautiously as some roads are still flooded while others are filled with debris.

All roads in the southern parts of Durban have been closed. The disaster management call centre is continuing to deal with high call volumes and urges residents to use the number only in emergencies.

Employees with mental illness still battle stigma in the workplace

BusinessLive reports that only one in six employees with mental illness say they feel comfortable disclosing their condition to their manager, according to an online survey conducted by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag). The results highlighted the extent of workplace stigma about mental illness, said the advocacy group, which released the results of its survey to mark world mental health day tomorrow (October 10).

The survey included 499 participants, of whom four fifths (79%) were women. Just under a third of the respondents (29%) said they had not told anyone about their mental health issue. A little over half (56%) of the respondents said they had taken time off work during the previous year due to their mental illness. “Depression affects cognitive functioning such as decision making, concentration, memory and problem-solving abilities. Depression negatively impacts productivity. If an employee has depression but is at work, they are five times less productive than an employee who was absent due to depression,” said psychiatrist and clinical psychologist, Frans Korb.

by Tamar Kahn

Free bus rides for job seekers

Pretoria News reports that the City of Tshwane will be providing three busses to ferry job seekers from townships to town and dropping them off in the afternoon. This milestone project coincides with the planned opening of the Black Royal Mine in Bronkhorstspruit which is expected to create about 100 job opportunities during its first phase.

The mining company will be conducting its staff recruitment drive in one of the city’s regional offices in Bronkhorstspruit as part of the partnership between the mine and the City of Tshwane. MMC forRoads and Transport Sheila Lynn Senkubuge said this was part of the city’s contribution to creating and enabling an environment for economic growth.

by Sakhile Ndlazi

Eskom’s delay in signing power purchase agreements killing green jobs

City Press reports that hundreds of jobs in the renewable energy sector are set to be axed following delays by power utility Eskom in signing power purchase agreements (PPAs). Wind towers producer GRI Wind Steel SA, located in the Western Cape, has started the process of retrenching more than 200 staff members.  This comes after it was embroiled in an indefinite strike, following protests by its employees over an alleged unilateral switch of work shifts and no payment for overtime work.  GRI plant manager Daniel Mora said the retrenchments were as a result of Eskom’s perceived delay in signing PPAs.

The staff facing retrenchments are represented by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).  Sidwell Medupe of the Department of Trade and Industry said that the Eskom delay in signing the PPAs would hit renewable energy production investments, component manufacturing and services to the sector as well as jobs.  Brenda Martin, CEO of the SA Wind Energy Association, commented that the effects of not signing the PPAs were far-ranging in terms of job losses across the value chain.

by Peter Luhanga

NUM declares a wage dispute with Sibanye Stillwater Kroondal Operation

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has declared a wage dispute with Sibanye Stillwater Kroondaal operation after the wage negotiations deadlocked. The NUM is demanding R10 500 for category B and 15% for category A while the company is offering a mere 5,5% for category A and R750 category B. The NUM has already secured a date for the CCMA facilitation on the 2nd of November 2017 in Rustenburg.

The NUM wage demands are as follows:
1. Wage demands – R10 500 for the lowest paid and 15% for the highest paid employees. Housing allowance – a living out allowance of R5000 and housing subsidy Rl0 000. Medical aid – 100% medical aid contribution by the employer. Leave days  – fully paid 35 days annual leave days and 42 days sick leave. Maternity leave –  four months fully paid maternity leave.

The NUM view the wage offer by Sibanye Stillwater as an insult because the lowest paid employees are currently earning R6 400. The NUM deplores dirty tactics and the arrogant attitude displayed by the company during the wage negotiations until we deadlocked. The NUM says it will not accept Sibanye Stillwater insult wage increase of 5,5% and R750. Mineworkers continue to risk their lives deep below the surface of the earth to produce platinum, but they still earn poverty wages.

Business to step up to help cash-strapped colleges

BusinessLive reports that the government has conceded that the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges and sector education and training authorities (Setas) face dire financial difficulties, saying it will soon approach business for help. The auditor-general’s 2016-17 report on the Department of Higher Education and Training has raised concern about the sustainability of tertiary education after it incurred nearly R1bn in irregular expenditure. According to the report, nearly half of all 50 TVET colleges received a qualified, adverse or disclaimed audit opinion.

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said on Wednesday that his department had been perversely underfunded for a long time and that this had affected the ability of the department to carry out some of its mandated responsibilities. On Thursday, a declaration was signed by the department, labour unions and the business community, committing stakeholders to resuscitating TVET colleges and ensuring students were employable by the time they left school.  Business Unity SA’s (Busa’s) Sino Moabalobelo said that once the final version of the declaration was available, Busa had to circulate it to members “to enable us to obtain a mandate”. Through the declaration, the department has called for a co-ordinated funding mechanism across higher education institutions and greater participation by business.

by Michelle Gumede

CPUT protesters dispersed following attempted disruptions

GroundUp reports that Cape Peninsula University of Technology students protested against financial exclusions on Thursday. About 200 people participated in the protests at the Cape Town campus. Some of the protesting students told GroundUp that they received a notice ordering them to pay their debt, failing which they would not be able to register next year.

Protests have been ongoing on CPUT for months over fees, accommodation, workers’ issues, and the suspension of four students. Protests are expected to continue on Friday and some protesters said that they won’t stop until CPUT management meets them and acknowledges their demands on financial exclusion.

by Yann Macherez

MTN employees win court battle

Fin24 reports that twenty radio mast engineers employed by MTN in Durban have won an arbitration court battle that allows them to keep their personal company cars and petrol cards, after the cellphone giant argued these should be taken away. MTN had argued that the company would save money by ditching personal cars and petrol cards and pooling cars for the employees instead. The resulting savings would be a boost for the company’s shareholders, it argued.  Nationally, about 520 employees were affected by the decision. The employees’ attorney Dean Caro told News24 on Wednesday that, countrywide, four arbitrations by employees against MTN were instituted.

The Durban arbitration took more than two years. Commissioner Lester Sullivan had strong words for the MTN, saying that it “chose to drag out this matter”. He ordered that it pay the employees’ legal costs. In his ruling, Sullivan said that in general, the employees all said they had not been consulted. The personal use of the vehicles was a “benefit” which had persuaded them to work for the company. He said the argument that the employees tax saving would equal the loss of the use of the vehicles was “so ridiculous that if it were made honestly, one must question the intelligence of those who made this claim”.

by  Tania Broughton