Workers at Denel protest over late payment of bonuses

defenceWeb reports that numerous workers at Denel on the East Rand and in Pretoria have been participating in sporadic protest action since last week over the late payment of performance bonuses.

According to Solidarity’s Willie Venter, bonuses are usually paid around June or July each year to eligible employees, but Denel management has advised that payments would only be made by the end of October this year due to a cash flow problem.  However, the company had already budgeted for bonuses in the previous financial year, Venter pointed out.  He added that since the disclosure of the Denel Asia debacle, Denel employees have been plunged into uncertainty about the company’s future.

SAPS graduates warned to watch their waistlines

IOL News reports that Acting National Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane, urged newly graduated South African Police Officers not to “balloon” in size, on Wednesday. “You are not going to make it, if you are unfit. You are not going to make it, if you opt to balloon out, hoping that you are going to get a bigger size uniform,” he said. Phahlane was speaking at the Passing Out Parade at the Vygieskraal Stadium in Athlone. The parade marked the completion of the Basic Police Development Learning Programme. Of 1 926 graduates, 1 324 will be deployed in the Western Cape, due to an influx of crime and a rise in the number of complaints relating to shortages of personnel.

Addressing the crowd, the acting police commissioner gave a stern warning that corruption in the institution will not be tolerated. “I hope that you have come to the South African Police Service as one those who have answered the call. You did not come to SAPS with an agenda, a ticket of pursuing your corrupt and or criminal activities .That would be unfortunate but, if that is to be the case, we will soon find out and we will soon let you go! “

SABC reinstates 7 dismissed employees, abandoning further legal action

News24 reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) announced on Wednesday that it has reinstated seven dismissed journalists.  “The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) management has instructed its legal team not to proceed with further legal action and the SABC will reinstate the seven dismissed news employees,” the public broadcaster said in a brief statement.  The decision comes despite the broadcaster locking Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp out of its Johannesburg offices earlier on Wednesday.

Business IMF boss backs less protection, more jobs in SA

City Press reports that the second-in-command at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has given a ringing endorsement to several long-standing proposals to reduce worker protections in South Africa. The fund’s deputy managing director, David Lipton, gave a lecture at Wits Business School last week, where he slated the collective bargaining system and the new rights accorded last year to labour broker employees. He advocated for the planned national minimum wage to be staggered with a “subminimum for youth and small enterprises”, and suggested that South Africa create a “single employment contract” that would eliminate the distinction between fixed-term and open-ended jobs.

In his speech, he also criticised the anticompetitive grip that small groups of large companies have over the economy. “The private sector has been supported in a way that creates privileged markets, working against the interests of consumers. They also damage competitiveness by keeping business costs high,” he said. Policies which meet the IMF’s approval include the controversial Employment Tax Incentive Act – which has cost several billion rands since its implementation in January 2014, and for which Treasury is due to release an evaluation this year– as well as the Competition Commission’s series of proactive market inquiries into the private healthcare, banking, liquid petroleum gas and retail sectors.

Lipton dismissed criticism from the audience that everything he was saying simply repeats what the IMF has said for the past 20 years. He called his proposals an “inclusion agenda” which contrasts policies preoccupied with aggregate demand through redistribution and higher earnings for workers. “Keynesian policies do not hold solutions to South Africa’s problems,” said Lipton. “I do not believe that redistribution of wealth alone will solve your problems … We are talking about a third of your population [that is unemployed].”

by Dewald Van Rensburg

New tax bill may kill employee share schemes

Moneyweb reports that the future of employee share schemes seems to be in the balance if proposals in the latest draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill go through. Tax experts have warned that the proposed changes, where almost any amount received by a taxpayer in respect of these schemes will be taxed as ordinary income, will tear up existing financial models and sink many schemes. From 1 March next year all distributions (all dividends and all returns of capital) on restricted equity instruments will be taxed at revenue rates. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) believe that share schemes are, in many instances, used to convert salary into dividends and capital gains which are taxed at lower rates than income.

Ordinary income tax rates range between 18% and 41%, but dividends are taxed at 15% and capital gains at 16.4%. “Companies who have created existing restricted equity schemes in good faith and in perfect compliance with existing laws will now face the prospect of having to tell staff, not to mention the unions and empowerment trustees, that their dividends will be taxed at marginal rates up to 41%, and not at 15% as expected.” Engel says while government’s concerns are legitimate, the current measures are unfair to existing BEE schemes and rank and file employees, who are locked into the schemes for a period of at least five and even 10 years. “The change undermines their legitimate expectations even where no disguised schemes exist,” he says.

by Amanda Visser

City of Joburg, Microsoft to train 1 million people in computer skills

SABC News indicates that in yet another project to address unemployment in Gauteng’s Johannesburg Metro, the city has entered into a partnership with Microsoft. This partnership will see one million youth from the disadvantaged backgrounds trained on digital literacy skills, to prepare them for job market. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa hopes the project can also assist those who aspire to venture into business.

The city of Johannesburg’s economic innovative hubs received a boost with Microsoft, injecting R200 million. More than 50% of the entry-level jobs require basic digital literacy skill. Johannesburg City hopes to assist the youth to access the job market. “The idea is that we should train over the next 5 years a million people in Johannesburg in Microsoft skill. 800 000 of those would be trained in the category of youth as service through the Vulindlela Jozi programme,” says Executive Mayor Parks Tau. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa also urged the private sector to collaborate more in addressing challenges facing the country.

by Montlenyane Diphoko

The flaw in the minimum wage debate

Fin24 reports that the minimum wage debate has again erupted with the release this week of a University of Witwatersrand (Wits) report that suggests a minimum wage for the country of between  R4 500 and R5 000.  Unions, civil society organisations, business and government at the National Development Economic and Labour Council (Nedlac) in June seemed to be moving toward an agreed minimum of between R3 000 and R3 700, although Cosatu was holding out for R4 500. The latest suggestion from the Wits report maintains that the higher basic wage would provide an impetus to the local economy and boost South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) by more than 2%.

But the major flaw in the argument made in the Wits report and backed by academics from the United States, is that a substantial minimum wage would be to the benefit of the national economy. It would be, but only if most of the consumer spend was on locally produced products. It is not and, in the current conditions, cannot be. The country’s GDP, along with the bottom lines of importers, wholesalers and retailers would certainly benefit by increased consumer spending, and this would boost the GDP. But, at the same time, in the present conditions, it would add to South Africa’s debt and foreign exchange woes.

by Terry Bell

CEPPWAWU EXPECTED TO GO ON STRIKE

EWN reports that more than 15,000 employees are expected to go on strike in the petroleum sector this week. The Chemical, Energy, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu) says the strike will start early on Thursday morning. The union has been at loggerheads with the National Petroleum Employers’ Association over salary increases, collective bargaining and job security.

While Ceppwawu wants a nine percent wage hike over one year, employers are only willing to offer a multi-year agreement. Union spokesperson Clement Chitja says, “At such a stage when we believe progress has been done, even if it may not mean meeting all the demands and in the manner that we raised them a settlement may be reached.”

Edited by Zamangwane Shange

Nurse seeks HIV compensation after needle jab

The Mercury reports that a Durban nurse says she is still battling to be properly compensated after she contracted HIV 13 years ago from a needle stick injury to her left thumb while attending to a patient at the private hospital where she worked. the hospital’s insurer, the Compensation Fund, deemed that she was only 15% disabled, and paid her accordingly, and is now rejecting her appeals to reconsider because of her declining health and inability to work. The fund has launched an application in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, seeking an order declaring that it has fulfilled all its obligations to her. But the nurse, with the assistance of Durban’s Legal Resources Centre, is fighting back.

She says she had worked at the hospital for 10 years when, in September 2003, while on night duty, she sustained the injury while administering insulin to the patient.She should have been given prophylaxis treatment within two hours, but none was available. She fell ill that December and when she was tested the following January, it came back positive. In letters to the fund recommending that she be declared 100% disabled, they said she was now “severely functionally disabled” and was also suffering from peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) and could barely stand. But the fund would not budge, saying the neuropathy was not a side effect of HIV and her CD 4 counts were acceptable. The matter is pending before the court.

Ref: IOL News

Kusile residents march for Eskom power plant jobs

The Star reports that about 100 people from the Kusile area protested on Monday morning, demanding jobs at the Kusile Power Station in Mpumalanga.  The N4 and parts of the N12 were blocked as marchers called for employment. Protestors allegedly threw rocks at passing vehicles.  Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said:  “They want to be hired, but we can’t hire everyone.

The power station is still being built and the contractors building it have already got the numbers they need.”  He went on to indicate that, once Kusile was up and running, they would hire general workers to deal with things like cleaning, but “what we really need is people with engineering degrees or technical skills.  At the end of the day, Eskom is an engineering company and we can’t just hire hundreds and hundreds of people.”

by Ilanit Chernick