Eskom drops jobs bombshell

BusinessLive reports that Eskom expects to have 7,000 fewer staff in five years’ time, a senior manager at the utility said on Thursday. Unions representing employees at the utility have said they will resist attempts to cut the workforce and fight moves to privatise the company.

“Eskom intends to reduce headcount from 48,678 to 41,613 by 2023 across all levels through normal attrition,” Marion Hughes, a senior manager at the utility said in a strategy presentation. In July, Eskom said it was considering selling noncore assets and job cuts after swinging to a full-year loss.

by Ed Stoddard

To start fixing gender pay gap, don’t ask female job applicants what they currently earn

The Thomson Reuters Foundation writes that asking job applicants what they earned served to entrench the gender pay gap because women often started work on lower salaries. A survey by the Young Women’s Trust, a British charity, found that almost half that country’s employers asked the question during interviews. “Women often start work on a lower salary than men, move to a new job and are paid based on their previous wage, as opposed to what they or the role are worth.

We have to break the cycle that traps women in low pay,” said the charity’s head, Carole Easton.  The practice is already banned in California and the city of New York.  Including wage details in job adverts — which 42% of UK employers surveyed said they did not do — would also help, Easton said.  However, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), an employers’ group, said banning conversations about pay could have unintended consequences.

by Umberto Bacchi
Ref: SAlabournews

DoL welcomes high turnout by former mineworkers

Mining Weekly writes that the Department of Labour (DoL) on Wednesday expressed its appreciation for the overwhelming turnout of former mineworkers in the John Taolo Gaetswewe (JTG) district, in the Northern Cape, who heeded the call to make applications for unclaimed benefits. The campaign has witnessed a turnout of 3 279 potential applications since its launch on May 30. The campaign, which is aimed at former mineworkers who left employment in the mines prior to April 2002.

The campaign will continue in Cassel on September 3, Loopeng on September 4, Kathu on September 5 and Heuningsvlei on September 6, including mop-up work in Kuruman from August 22 to 23 to assist potential applicants who were turned away owing to high influx during this week’s proceedings. The campaign will soon shift focus to the ZF Mgcawu district, in the Northern Cape.

by Marleny Arnoldi

Deregulating fuel price would lead to massive job losses, says energy official

Timeslive reports that Department of Energy deputy director-general Tseliso Maqubela told MPs on Tuesday that deregulation of the fuel price would lead to 50‚000 job losses and would not necessarily result in lower prices.  MPs were being briefed on how the fuel price was set and what could be done to lower it.  The fuel price is regulated by the Department of Energy and adjusted monthly according to market conditions‚ including the price of crude oil and the rand-dollar exchange rate.

Apart from the price of crude oil‚ the determination also includes margins for wholesalers‚ retailers and for storage and distribution; the fuel levy; and various other levies and duties.  The retail margin‚ which is mostly used to pay wages of petrol pump assistants‚ is at present 187 cents of the total R16 a litre price.  “If you deregulate‚ owners could opt for self-service and we would lose those 50‚000 jobs overnight.  From where we stand‚ we don’t think that is a sustainable position.  There is also no guarantee that the price would come down‚” Maqubela said.

by Carol Paton

Protest brings Matatiele to a standstill

Roads and Transport MEC Weziwe Tikana is expected to address the protesters on Tuesday. All businesses are closed and there are no taxis or buses transporting commuters in and out of town. Just a few kilometres from Matatiele to Cedarville, a group of taxi operators are standing in the middle of the road stopping vehicles carrying passengers towards Kokstad. Police came in numbers to monitor the situation.

by Fundiswa Mhlekude

Treasury proposes a five-year extension of youth employment tax incentive

BusinessLive reports that the government has proposed a five-year extension of the employment tax incentive to promote employment, particularly of young workers. The proposal is contained in the draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill, as released by Treasury for public comment.

The incentive, which was introduced in January 2014 and was extended for a further two years until February 2019, works as a deduction from PAYE of part of the salary of a worker aged below 30 and earning less than R6,000.  Treasury acting chief director of economic tax analysis Chris Axelson said the proposed extension was based on a review that indicated the tax had “modest” positive effects on growth rates of youth employment in claiming firms.

by Linda Ensor

Labour broker workers in jobs bloodbath following ConCourt decision

City Press reports that workers placed by labour broker Adcorp at a factory in Springs first saw their pay double and benefits such as medical aid and a provident fund being provided for the first time, only days later to receive retrenchment letters. This was the experience of workers at Kellogg’s Ekurhuleni plant following the watershed Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruling two weeks ago on the contentious “deeming” provision in the Labour Relations Act (LRA).  At crisp maker Simba’s Isando facility, 142 out of 328 packers and boxmakers, who were also placed by Adcorp, face retrenchment after becoming permanent workers.  The precedent at these two household name brands could be repeated at several workplaces where labour broker workers have been fighting to be “deemed” employees in terms of the LRA and so receive pay equal to that of their directly employed colleagues.

Companies where cases like these are pending include Heineken, DHL, Bakers Biscuits, Clicks, Midas and online retailer Takealot.  Kellogg’s Emmanuel Hinson said it was just an unfortunate coincidence that the retrenchments came just days after the workers succeeded in getting Kellogg’s to accept them as employees and raise their wages.  The retrenchments were apparently due to a restructuring of the factory’s shift system that was in the works before the workers got ‘deemed’.  Following the ConCourt ruling, thousands of workers could see their wages improve, but they also face severe employer reactions.  One big deeming case that could be swayed by the ruling involves more than 500 labour broker workers at Clicks.

by Dewald Van Rensburg

We have made significant progress in Marikana, says Lonmin

Mining Weekly reports that platinum producer Lonmin said on Wednesday that it had made significant progress in delivering on its commitment to the Marikana community. “Housing has been a key focus of the company’s social and labour plans, with modern housing developments being built for many of its employees,” said Khaya Ngcwembe, Lonmin human resources executive. He delivered a speech at a Marikana memorial event on behalf of Lonmin CEO Ben Magara, who could not attend due to family commitments.

“Lonmin’s financial investment in housing since 2013 will have reached R500-million by the end of this year, funds that have made it possible to convert all the single-sex legacy hostels into 2,162 single units and 759 family units.  One thousand, two hundred and forty apartments have also been built by Lonmin and will all be fully occupied by the end of 2018,” said Ngcwembe.  He furthermore indicated that families were at the centre of the 1608 Memorial Education Trust, a vehicle which had been established to ensure that the children and families of the employees who died in the massacre in 2012 received an education up to and including university level.

Ref: ANA

Three years after tragedy at Lily mine

BusinessLive reports that the new owners of the distressed Vantage Goldfields and its shuttered Lily and Barbrook mines are hoping to put tragedy behind them as they prepare to revive operations. Fred Arendse, CEO of the Siyakhula Sonke Empowerment Corporation (the SSC Group), said although the task ahead would be challenging, he believed Vantage Goldfields offered a unique investment opportunity and was “on the brink” of unlocking value.  The mines in question are low-grade, but shallow, and produce gold at the lowest dollar cost per ounce in Africa.

Vantage Goldfields was pushed into voluntary business rescue after an accident at Lily mine in 2016 that claimed three lives.  The SSC Group, with the assistance of a R190m loan from the Industrial Development Corporation, signed a closing agreement in May for its subsidiary, Flaming Silver, to purchase a 74% stake in Vantage Goldfields.  The only thing outstanding is the approval of the Department of Mineral Resources to transfer mining rights.  Gold production at Lily is only anticipated to start in 2020.  Production at Barbrook will start before the end of 2018.  Arendse did not promise that the reopening of the mine would lead to the recovery of the bodies of the three workers.

by Lisa Steyn

Mama Sobukwe passes away at 91

SABC News reports that the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) is mourning the loss of Mama Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe, who was the wife of its founder, Robert Sobukwe. She passed away early on Wednesday morning at the age of 91. Mama Sobukwe, also known as “The Mother of Azania,” was a health practitioner and an activist in her own right. She repeatedly wrote to the apartheid government during the nine years her husband was imprisoned on Robben Island from 1960, requesting his release or to be allowed a meeting with him.

PAC President Narius Moloto described Mama Sobukwe as a woman who firmly supported her husband. “We can confirm that Mama Sobukwe passed on at 2 o’clock. She was ill, recently she was in hospital. We are saddened by her passing but we celebrate her life and call her ‘the mother of Azania’. She was a woman of skill. She supported her husband while he went through tribulations. She remained firm behind him.”