Seven years’ backpay for 61 reinstated Pick n Pay staff

TimesLive reports that sixty-one Pick n Pay staff have been reinstated by the Labour Appeal Court after being fired for going on strike for an hour in 2010. Acting Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane ordered the retailer to pay the 61 retrospectively to the date of their dismissal.  Costs were awarded in their favour.  However‚ the fight may not be over, as the company is studying the judgment before deciding on its next move.  The 61 members of the SA Commercial‚ Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) downed tools at 3pm‚ an hour before the store closed on Heritage Day in the midst of a wage dispute.

But, they did not know the strike had been delayed by four hours as the shop stewards’ phone at their store was out of order.  The appeal judge criticised Pick n Pay for failing to give the workers a written ultimatum to warn them of the consequences of striking at 3pm‚ failing to allow them to submit representations before firing them‚ inconsistency in the way it treated striking workers and making an “absurd” argument that the trust relationship with the staff had broken down.

by Dave Chambers

Thousands of jobs on the line

The Citizen reports that with thousands of jobs on the line, the SA Poultry Association (Sapa) is anxious that the industry “may never recover” from the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of bird flu currently gripping the country. The devastating outbreak has already resulted in losses of R800 million for affected farms, which have been forced to cull a countless number of egg producing chickens.  Sapa’s Dr Charlotte Nkuna said:  “In 2016, the total number of people employed by the industry and associated industries was about 132,000.

Over 1,000 jobs have been affected directly by the outbreak.  We expect the numbers to grow once the impact cascades to secondary industries.”  Bird flu is currently spread along Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and the Free State provinces.  “Our estimate is that over 4 million birds have been or are in the process of being culled,” Nkuna indicated.  Speaking about affected producers, Nkuna pointed to financial assistance being necessary for recovery of farms.

by Yadhana Jadoo

Harmony’s Kusasalethu mine back in full production

ANA reports that Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu mine near Carletonville in Gauteng is back to full production following temporary closure in August as government investigated the cause of a seismic event that killed five workers. Operations at the mine were halted following a seismic event that resulted in a fall of ground on 25 August.  Five employees were trapped as a result and their bodies were only recovered at least a week later.

A memorial service was held for them on 4 September and they were laid to rest that weekend.  Harmony’s Lauren Fourie said on Tuesday that the mine was now back to full production, although the loss on production would only be calculated later in the year.  Fourie referred further questions about the investigation of the accident to the Department of Mineral Resources, but it was not available for comment on whether it had completed its investigation or what it had found.

Ref: Mining Weekly

Explosion rocks East London Industrial Development Zone

News24 reports that eleven factory workers were injured in an explosion at one of the factories at the East London Industrial Development Zone on Tuesday evening.  People across East London reportedly heard the loud explosion.

The eleven injured people – eight males and three females – were taken to hospital for medical attention.  No major injuries were seemingly reported.  Police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Hazel Mqala said:  “At this stage, it is suspected that the cause of the explosion is the chemicals that they are working with at the factory.  Fire fighters were also summoned to extinguish the fire and the factory is currently closed.”  Mqala said an inquiry would be opened.

by Derrick Spies

SAA receives notice of possible strike action

Fin24 reports that the South African Airways (SAA) said late on Tuesday afternoon that it has been served with a notice of intention to start industrial action by a labour union. The industrial action is a consequence of a wage increase disagreement. SAA’s maintenance subsidiary, SAA Technical (SAAT), received a notice of the intention to embark on industrial action at the weekend from one labour union following the tabling of a wage increase proposal by SAAT.

Parties have held several other meetings since the notice was served and are expected to meet again on Wednesday morning, according to SAA. SAA said that once it received the notification, it began to review and update its contingency measures to ensure business continuity and to minimise the impact of strike action on its operations. The airline will issue a follow-up communication on Wednesday morning after the meeting with the unions advising whether the strike is in fact taking place or the extent to which the strike has affected its operations if at all.

Jobless demand recognition from traditional council

The Citizen reports that hundreds of unemployed people near Brits in North West Province gathered at the entrance of Bapo Ba Mogale Palace on Tuesday demanding the traditional council recognise their forum as representing the unemployed when it came to relationships with mining companies in the area. “We want a letter from the traditional council that confirms that Tshepo “Stepestepe” Molaole is recognised as the chairperson of the Bapo Ba Mogale Unemployed Forum,” said Reuben Kaise, one of the group’s leaders.

He said Molaole needed letter as a prove to mining companies that he was credible to represent unemployed people and negotiate on their behalf because there was another parallel structure of unemployed people in Bapong. Kaise said the traditional council had requested that their meeting last week, to be postponed to October 3. The meeting was to discuss unemployment and poverty alleviation projects in Bapong. The traditional council said it was aware of the parallel unemployed representation structures and was mediating with the view of finding a lasting solution. “In our area the unemployment structure relies on the tribal leadership to assist them in creating employment and sourcing jobs from the mines they believe are on their land,” said council spokesperson Vladimir Mogale.

Ref: ANA 

Workers at Shiva Uranium Mine strike

SABC News reports that workers at the Gupta-owned Shiva Uranium Mine at Hartebeestfontein in North West have downed tools over alleged unfair labour practices and racism. This comes after management informed employees that the mine was being closed down.  Last week Thursday, workers torched an Oakbay bus after employees were suspended for refusing to work overtime.  Security has since been beefed up at the mine entrance.

Among other things, the workers allege that they perform multiple tasks, but are only being paid for one.  Also on their list of grievances are disparities between the salaries reflected on their employment contracts and the salaries that appear on their pay slips at the end of the month, some with differences of more than R15,000.  The workers have vowed to protest until their grievances are heard and the mine’s promises to them have been met.

by Olebogeng Kgosilentswe

Why Productivity SA wants changes in the labour law

BusinessLive reports that Productivity SA wants the Labour Relations Act’s section 189 amended to compel companies in distress to report retrenchment plans to the Department of Labour. The entity, which is responsible for promoting employment growth and productivity, says it has been unable to save jobs as it is not always consulted by businesses. The Labour Relations Act requires businesses to consult employees, workplace forums and trade unions about its intention to retrench. However, in most cases, even if companies had reached out to Productivity SA, the likelihood of intervention was low as the organisation was facing financial difficulties that prevented it from fully delivering on its mandate.

Its largest funder, the Unemployment Insurance Fund, has consistently failed to meet its obligations on time because of past transgressions by the entity. Productivity SA has adopted a turnaround solutions programme championed by board chairman Mthunzi Mdwaba, who disclosed the problems the entity had to overcome and painted a picture of an underperforming organisation with backlogs of interventions which if realised could save thousands of jobs and stimulate job creation. Heading the entity’s list of priorities was improving the economy’s performance by undertaking enterprise support programmes to enhance productive capacity and the operational efficiency of businesses.

Theto Mahlakoana

Farmworker wins right to be buried on Limpopo Farm

EWN reports that centenarian John Chisale has been buried on the farm he had been fighting to live on after a High Court ruling in Limpopo on Friday. The current owner had been threatening to evict him and his family, and after Chisale died his body lay in a mortuary for weeks before the ruling made it possible for him to be buried on the farm on Sunday. The 116-year-old Malawian national began working on the Lephalale farm when he arrived in South Africa in 1947. Represented by the Nkuzi Development Association, Chisale first approached the courts in 2006 to challenge what he described as unfair treatment by Isabella Pistorius, the daughter of original farm owner Piet Pistorius.

The group’s Vasco Mabunda says Chisale’s case has been made prominent by media coverage, but for many farm dwellers, it is nothing new. He says they have made numerous attempts to engage government on the rights of farm dwellers. Chisale is survived by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren who fear they may still be kicked off the land they call home. Mabunda says this is likely going to be the case if nothing is done to protect the rights of farm dwellers and their descendants. He further warns that if not addressed, the mistreatment of farm workers will result in instability on farms across the country and may threaten food security.

by Masechaba Sefularo

Conference to tackle maritime training challenges

Engineering News reports that challenges and solutions facing the maritime training sector will be discussed at the first Maritime Education & Training(MET) conference, which will be hosted by the South African International Maritime Institute(Saimi) from November 14 to 17, in Cape Town.

The aim of the conference is to find maritime education and training solutions for South Africa that are relevant to local conditions and based on international best practice in a global industry. The next generation of mariners must be as fluent in using technology as they are at reading the wind, weather and waves, says Saimi CEO Professor Malek Pourzanjani. He adds that training for seafarers and other sectors of the maritime economy must meet and go beyond current standards so that qualified South Africans can compete on the international maritime job market.

by Anine Kilian