Why you need to take annual leave

Business Report indicates that a study by Ipsos Global and Reuters shows that up to 53 percent of South Africa’s working population don’t take their annual leave. Statistics show that employee absenteeism, mainly attributed to workplace stress, burnout and ill-health, costs the South African economy between R12 billion and R16bn annually. Fatigue is generally defined as a feeling of lack of energy and motivation that can be physical, mental or both.

CULT Raw Energy presents three steps to combat fatigue and boost energy levels.

1. Take care of yourself – get regular exercise, keep a tight sleep schedule, aim to get eight hours every night and make sure to have regular small snacks throughout the day to keep your energy levels up. Keep in touch with your friends and family (even it’s just to vent the daily work frustrations).

2. Prioritise and organise – planning is key here. Get to work 15 minutes earlier to allow yourself that little bit of breathing space and time to visualise the coming day.Prioritise tasks in order of importance as this will improve the quality of the rest of your work day. Also take small regular breaks.

3. Improve your emotional intelligence – recognising and using emotions in positive and productive ways is about effective communication with others, easing the way for day-to-day interactions and lessening the frustrations that contribute to your fatigue.

Ref: IOL News

Greytown farm workers get share in farm business

Ground Up reports that twenty-four farm workers are now beneficiaries of a farming  scheme supported by farm owner Andrew Braithwaite and a state programme known as the 50/50 Policy Framework. The programme was introduced with the aim of workers and owners becoming co-owners of farms and was launched last month.

Under the scheme the Westcliffe employees now have a 45% share in the farm operating company through a trust. The land belongs to the state, which bought it from Braithwaite. A 5% share in the company and in the profits will go to the National Empowerment Fund, an institute set up to support Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment. The new owners will receive training so that they learn what’s involved in running the business side of the farm. The new operation, which produces sugarcane, timber and cabbage, is called Ekhamanzi.

In his budget speech in 2015, Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti said 50 farms would be piloted under the 50/50 Policy Framework by 2019. The first was Khalamanzi in 2014. Nkwinti  sees this policy as a way to reduce farm evictions.

By Ntombi Mbomvu

Unisa teaching qualifications flunk in Qatar

Times Live reported that South African teachers with qualifications from distance-learning institutions such as Unisa and web universities are no longer allowed to work in Qatar. The Qatar Department of Education changed the rules in June. It did not provide reasons for the decision. About 500 South African teachers work in the Middle East, but it is not known how many of them work in Qatar. Candice Dutton, a South African who taught at al-Khor International School in Doha from 2008 until her return to Durban last year, was denied a family visa as a result of her Unisa qualification.

The understanding from the embassy at this point is that the Qatar Department of Education is in consultation with Unisa to see if they will once again accept the qualifications. Unisa spokesman Martin Ramotshela confirmed that the university had been recently made aware of the matter. “We are currently working on establishing the facts around this matter and we will be able to provide a comprehensive response once we have completed our investigation, including what interventions we will make, if necessary,” he said.

by Nivashni Nair

Eastern Cape schools burn as students protest against teacher shortage

GroundUp reported that three schools were burnt in Ngqeleni and Libode this week during protests against a shortage of teachers, bringing the number of schools burnt in the Eastern Cape to four in just in one month. Students were protesting against corporal punishment, and against demands for R250 from parents to pay teachers employed by the School Governing Body (SGB) to solve a teacher shortage. They also want the school to participate in more sports events in the district.

Five teachers, including the deputy principal, were fired in February by the SGB which held them responsible for the drop in the matric pass rate from 100% to 35%  in the past few years. SGB chairperson Mandla Jali said a meeting had been held at the school between parents, teachers and students in an attempt to find solutions. Sadtu EC spokesperson Sindisile Zamisa said the union had raised the issue with the department many times without success. After a meeting last week with the Department of Education, parents and teachers, the grade 12 students were able to start their prelims but students from other grades said they did not know when they would return to school.

By Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

Limpopo teacher ‘fired for asking for her unpaid salary’

SowetanLive reports that a Limpopo school teacher has lost her job apparently after raising concerns about not being paid for six months. Anna Sebopela was appointed on a permanent basis in September last year at Refilwe Primary School in Namakgale outside Phalaborwa and earned a salary until December.  However, the position for which Sebopela had been appointed was inexplicably turned into a temporary post and her salary payments stopped.

Sebopela said she was sent from pillar to post when she enquired about the non-payments and clarity over the position.  She was surprised to be given a letter of termination of her employment on Tuesday, informing her that her employment was coming to an end the following day.  A provincial department of education spokesman advised Sebopela to write a formal complaint so that they could assist her.

by Frank Maponya

Deaf community calls on government to make sign language official

SABC News reports that members of the country’s deaf community have called on government to take the needs of the hearing impaired to heart and make sign language the 12th official language in the country. The hearing impaired have held marches countrywide to highlight their cause to have their communication recognised as an official language.

Marching to parliament, they called on government to take note of their needs. Deaf SA’s Bruno Druchen says: “So many times we came to parliament and made our submissions, we started our lobby from the third parliament and that is now the fifth parliament and they are still deaf.” Meanwhile in Kimberley, the Northern Cape premier has undertaken to accommodate the deaf community by including sign language in provincial communication. The premier also committed to lobby at national level to have sign language recognised official. Demonstrators say they will not stop until their form of communication is taken seriously by government and listed as an official language.

by Carmel Loggenberg-Roberts

Gauteng health sector short-staffed

The Citizen reports that Gauteng state hospitals are short of 574 doctors and 1,209 nurses, a written reply by Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has revealed. Responding to a query from Gauteng shadow health MEC Jack Bloom, Mahlangu noted, however, that “there was no effect on patient care, as the vacant posts are replaced immediately through walk-in applications and the annual block advertisement”.

She added that the majority of posts were vacant due to a process of natural attrition.  Bloom indicated that there are at present 5,125 doctors and 27,873 nurses in Gauteng state hospitals, but many in the highly skilled categories were close to retirement.  He commented that “MEC Mahlangu should not be complacent as the shortages do affect the quality of patient care and training needs to be stepped up.”

Minimum wages in private security sector to increase from 1 September

The minimum wage in the private security sector will increase from 1 September 2016 by an average of 7.1%. This new sectoral determination (SD) will expire on 31 August 2017. The Department of Labour on Tuesday said the increase is in line with an agreement reached in 2015 in accordance with the stipulations of the Negotiated Framework Agreement for the National Bargaining Forum for the Private Security Sector.

Part of the agreement includes addressing the wage gap between the higher grade security officers and those in the lower wage band. As part of the new sectoral determination, various allowances relating to night shift, cleaning, special allowances and others are also expected to be increased. The sectoral determination prescribes minimum wages, number of leave days, working hours and termination rules.

Ref: SAnews.gov.za

Education dept to hold public hearings on school codes amid outcry over hair

News24 reported that the Department of Basic Education was to hold public hearings to come up with codes of conduct that do not infringe on the rights of pupils. Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the department has been reviewing the codes of conduct but following the recent protests, they would be opening the process to the public so that parents can also provide input.

“This one (hair policy) will have to be attended to as well because it’s an issue and something we need to attend to as a department.” The scrutiny of the clause relating to hair and how it should be worn at school follows a protest by learners from Pretoria High School for Girls where pupils accused the school of being racist for not allowing them to wear certain hairstyles for natural hair. The protest saw Gauteng MEC for education Panyaza Lesufi visiting the school and suspending the clause. He also instituted an investigation with a time frame of 21 days.

by Karabo Ngoepe

Relief as all HIV patients qualify for treatment

SABC News writes that all people with HIV will from Friday (September 1) begin treatment upon diagnosis irrespective of their CD-4 count. This in line with the World Health Organisation’s new HIV guidelines which says every HIV positive person should be initiated on treatment immediately after diagnosis. Deputy Director for HIV/Aids in the National Health Department, Doctor Yogan Pillay says the country can’t afford not to treat patients.

South Africa has the world’s largest HIV treatment programme with over 3 million people on antiretroviral medication. And previously treatment was started after a person’s CD-four count dropped below 500. We will move patients into the drug courier system, where we courier drugs to them at a place that’s convenient to them but outside of our facilities, so they get a three months’ supply as a way of reducing the burden on our facilities and patients who come to our facilities,” concludes Pillay.

by Thabile Mbhele