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

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

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