Public Service Commission probes Gauteng departments

The Citizen reports that the state of Gauteng’s public service is to come under the spotlight in a report to be published by the Public Service Commission (PSC). According to PSC provincial commissioner Michael Seloane, the PSC has already circulated a questionnaire to all government departments. “We have given provincial government departments until Friday to respond and make submissions to the PSC,” said Seloane. “The report will cover ethics, integrity, human resource management, labour relations and access to information, among others.”

Established in terms of Chapter 10 of the constitution, the institution has a mandate to promote good values, principles and adherence to governance. Seloane said the PSC encouraged efficiency in the use of resources. “Overspending and underspending are bad because such practices lead to lack of service delivery. We make recommendations to MECs and if no action is taken, the PSC should be told why.” He said the PSC was concerned about nonperformance in some departments of the provincial government. Health, which was this week exposed for a failure to spend a massive R559 million on capital assets in the past financial year, is among the Gauteng departments to be probed.

by Brian Sokutu

Eersterust Police Station attacked, 16 suspects arrested

eNCA reports that a total of 16 people have been arrested after an attack on the Eersterust Police Station, east of Pretoria on Thursday evening. The incident comes after violent service delivery protests in the area this week. A police firearm is among items taken during the attack. The South African Police Service (SAPS) said 12 suspects were arrested and successfully linked to the crime scene.

A 13th suspect was arrested for possession of dagga and an additional three suspects were arrested for possession of stolen property relating to items possibly stolen when criminals looted shops during the service delivery protest on Wednesday. The police said the operation, which would continue pending the recovery of the rest of the property stolen from the Eersterust Client Service Centre, could result in more arrests.

Eskom starts load shedding as protests over 0% wage increase hit home

The Citizen reports that load shedding was officially confirmed shortly before 6pm yesterday, as striking workers pulled the plug on national electricity utility Eskom. The confirmation came in the form of a tweet from Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe, who said there would be stage one load shedding last night. In a statement shortly thereafter, he said load shedding would take place between 5.45pm and 8pm. This came just hours after Eskom admitted South Africa faced a real risk of load shedding, and asked South Africans to reduce their electricity consumption by switching off geysers, pool pumps, heaters and non-essential appliances within the peak hours of 5pm and 8pm.

The power utility confirmed earlier yesterday that at least four power stations were severely “constrained”.  According to Eskom, the power stations which were most at risk were Hendrina, Camden, Kendal, and Arnot. Deputy Eskom spokesperson Dikatso Mothae also confirmed they had filed court papers for an urgent application to force workers to return to work today. Electricity at the power utility’s Megawatt Park head office was also temporarily cut yesterday, supposedly by striking workers as the strike intensified. Pickets were staged across the country against the 0% salary increase the cash-strapped state-owned entity had decided on. Workers have given Eskom seven days to respond to their demands. Failure to do so will result in a national shutdown.

by Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

New PIC board to include unions

Business Report writes that the government is set to make drastic changes to the running of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) with an amendment that guarantees unions at least two places on the fund manager’s board. A draft bill on the board was passed by the legislators last month and is now waiting for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s signature before it comes into effect.

The draft bill makes sweeping changes to ensure transparency and greater worker participation. It says the finance minister must, in consultation with the cabinet, determine and appoint the 10 non-executive members and the PIC chief executive and chief financial officer as executive members. The bill says the 10 non-executive members must include a representative of the National Treasury, a representative of each major depositor and two or more, but not more than three representatives of a registered trade union, whose members are the majority of the members of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF).  It says union representatives will be selected at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council based upon their proportional composition.

by Kabelo Khumalo

Violence in SA schools — by pupils against teachers

BusinessLive reports that as teachers battle with assaults by pupils at schools‚ the Department of Basic Education says it has measures in place to ensure pupils are held accountable for their actions. The step-by-step process to be followed by the department in disciplining pupils who attack teachers at schools is:
– The pupil is suspended from school for five days.
– After five days of suspension‚ a disciplinary hearing is held.
– When the hearing is concluded‚ the pupil is sanctioned.

Sanctions‚ according to Limpopo education spokesperson Sam Makondo‚ vary depending on the type of offence the pupil has committed. “The sanction can be anything between expulsion of the learner or relocating them to another school.” According to the South African Schools Act‚ assault is one of the offences that can lead to expulsion as it is viewed as serious misconduct. In April‚ the Sunday Times reported that hundreds of pupils have faced disciplinary action in the past year for offences ranging from assault‚ intimidation‚ drug dealing and sexual violence. According to the report‚ Limpopo education officials alone have handled 942 cases of serious pupil misconduct in the past 12 months.

by Nomahlubi Jordaan

Government to offer civil servants voluntary retrenchment packages

BL Premium reports that thousands of public sector workers over the age of 60 are to be offered voluntary retrenchment as part of an effort by the government to cut its salary bill.  The decision to offer voluntary severance packages — the first such offer in 20 years — follows the conclusion of a new three-year wage agreement last week that bust the state budget by about R30bn.  The consequence of this, said the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) in a statement, was that measures to contain costs had to be taken.  These would include: encouraging early retirement by topping up pension funds for those who took the package; reviewing the government’s performance management and incentive systems; and more effective management of allowances.

The DPSA said on Wednesday it was too early to say how many jobs would be affected.  Assuming a savings target of R30bn over the next three years, the government would need to cut salaries by R10bn a year, which would imply scaling down thousands of jobs.  The cost-containment plan would, however, come at a cost as the government would need to pay upfront to top up pensions to the level retrenchees would have reached at retirement age.  A proposal for voluntary retrenchment was tabled by the government in earlier rounds of the public sector wage talks, but removed after objections by trade unions.

by Carol Paton
Ref: SALabournews

Govt commits to saving jobs in steel industry

Engineering News writes that the South African government said on Tuesday that it will continue to work with the steel industry towards averting job losses in the sector, adding that it has put in place measures to save the steel industry from collapsing. This emerged when officials from the Department of Trade and Industry (the DTI) briefed their relevant portfolio committee on the status of the steel industry and interventions that government was deploying to assist the industry stay afloat.

Acting chief director of primary minerals processing at the DTI, Dr Umeesha Naidoo said that since the onset of the crisis in 2015, government has established a task team which intervened to save the steel industry from threat of closure and loss of capacity. Naidoo also said that there was an agreement on a set of principles for flat steel pricing in SA that is priced appropriately to ensure that steel-dependent industries are competitive. This is also aimed at ensuring that the upstream steel mills remain sustainable. The department also reflected on the US’s Section 232 duties against steel imports, saying that it will continue advocacy efforts with the US counterparts focussing on trade and investment relations.

Ref: ANA

Body of missing Sibanye-Stillwater employee recovered at Kloof mine

Mining Weekly reports that mine rescue teams have located and retrieved the body of the fifth employee who went missing at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Kloof Ikamva mine.  “The bodies of all five employees who entered an abandoned area on Monday have now been recovered and sadly five colleagues lost their lives in this tragic accident,” Sibanye said in a statement on Thursday morning.

The precious metals producer added that a thorough investigation by management and the Department of Mineral Resources and other stakeholders would be performed to understand the events and actions leading to the incident.

We haven’t decided on number of Air Chefs layoffs yet – SAA

Fin24 reports that Air Chefs, the catering arm of South African Airways, has launched a consultation process with unions that may lead to job losses. SAA spokesperson Tlali Tali, in a written response to Fin24 on Monday, said Air Chefs has initiated a consultation process with unions in terms of section 189 of the Labour Relations Act. Section 189 is initiated if an employer is considering dismissing employees based on operational requirements. The employer then consults with workplace forums or trade unions in an effort to to lessen the severity of job losses.

Tlali said Air Chefs has not yet made a decision on how many workers would be laid off. The consultation would allow the stakeholders to “explore avenues” to “avert laying off staff”.
“Retrenchment is an option of last resort when all other avenues have been fully explored,” he said. The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration is set to facilitate a consultation between Air Chefs and unions on June 19.

by Lameez Omarjee