Summit puts spotlight on transformation in aviation sector

SABC News reports that the first ever Global Aviation Gender Summit is to begin in Cape Town on Wednesday. Around 500 top aviation representatives will be discussing equality and gender transformation in the aviation industry for the next three days. South African Airways Pilot, Fatima Jakoet who will be attending the summit says access and exposure to the aviation industry for young South African women remains a challenge.

Jakoet started the Sakhikamva Foundation to improve the situation but she believes more can be done. The Harvard Graduate believes more learners need to be exposed to the possibilities within the aviation field. She says: ‘There’s also a challenge in the school curriculum. There is not enough exposure for our youth and our learners in order to pursue a career. It’s seen as a strange untouchable career but we need to change that mindset.” The summit is aimed at unlocking finances and education for women wishing to enter the aviation industry. It ends on Friday.

by Carmel Loggenberg-Roberts

Mondi to reduce Merebank operations

BusinessLive reports that packaging and paper group Mondi said on Friday it would be ceasing production from one of its uncoated fine paper machines at Merebank, Durban. This would take place in the second half of its financial year.  The decision could lead to job losses, but Mondi CEO Peter Oswald said on Friday the consequences for the workforce were still under discussion.  In addition to possible retrenchments, the company was considering absorbing affected employees into other areas within the business.  The matter has yet to be finalised.

Oswald attributed the decision to declining margins on unintegrated paper production following the rapid rise in hardwood pulp input costs.  Commenting generally on results, Oswald said:  “We benefited from good demand across our packaging businesses as well as higher average selling prices, while remaining focused on initiatives to drive performance and mitigate inflationary pressures on our cost base.  We saw a strong operational performance across the pulp and paper businesses, with the exception of the extended shut at our Richards Bay mill [in SA]”.

by Siseko Njobeni

Number of female mineworkers gradually increasing

Mining Weekly writes that the mining industry remains male-dominated and much can still be done to address issues that specifically affect women. However, policies aimed at attracting, supporting and retaining women have led to a gradual, but steady, increase in the number of women in core roles, as well as in the industry in general, notes Kumba Iron Ore Kolomela plant manager Mandlakazi Semane.  Previously, South African women were prevented from being employed in underground mining activities and were underrepresented in engineering and technical disciplines, subsequently facing several obstacles when pursuing a career in mining.

This is said to be no longer the case. Semane points to her sixteen-year journey at Kumba as an example, stressing that “where we are today is not where we were”.  Much has been done in terms of getting women accepted in a technical environment and, although there will always be challenges, there is also significant support, she adds.  Commentators suggest that the challenges facing women entering the industry today, generally, do not pertain to men perceiving women as incompetent.  Rather, the issues pertain to changing societal expectations, particularly with regard to motherhood and human dignity.

by Nadine James

Victory for 300 ex Aurora employees

BusinessLive reports that former Aurora employees are at last getting their payday from Khulubuse Zuma‚ Nelson Mandela’s grandson‚ Zondwa Mandela‚ and others. This comes after an eight-year battle against the mine’s former directors, who were found guilty of stripping mine’s assets. Trade union Solidarity said on Monday that 300 of the 5‚300 ex-employees will start getting their overdue salaries this week.

Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis indicated:  “Aurora was finally liquidated in October 2010 and since then‚ Solidarity‚ together with the liquidators‚ has been trying to recover the workers’ overdue salaries and to hold the former Aurora directors responsible for the total destruction of the mine assets.”  The Pretoria High Court found the Aurora directors guilty in their personal capacity in June 2015.  Du Plessis said enough money was eventually collected to pay a portion of the employees’ outstanding salary claims.

by Nico Gous

Engineers dispatched to municipalities to plug skills gap

BusinessLive reports that according to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize, a shortage of skills in critical sectors such as water engineering continued to hamper the functioning of municipalities. He indicated that only 55 municipalities out of 257 had engineers leading their technical divisions, while, based on an assessment by his department, just 7% of municipalities were classified as functioning well.  Speaking at a ceremony on Monday to send off newly appointed engineers and town planners to distressed municipalities, Mkhize said his department and the Treasury had identified 87 distressed and dysfunctional municipalities for intervention.

The department had so far appointed 81 new engineers and town planners, with intervention programmes clustered into three main areas — governance and administration, financial management and service delivery.  Mkhize said he had made a commitment that his department would, through its implementing agent the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent, urgently support 55 struggling municipalities to spend their infrastructure allocations.  District technical support teams have been established.  In a bid to improve monitoring, the department was exploring the acquisition of an early-warning system dashboard.

by Bekezela Phakathi

UCT launches probe into top cardiologist’s suicide

The Star reports that the University of Cape Town (UCT) has instituted an inquiry into the death of renowned cardiologist Professor Bongani Mayosi, whose funeral was held at the weekend. The Black Academic Caucus (BAC) at UCT had called for an investigation at the weekend, but the institution said on Sunday that it had already initiated an inquiry shortly after Mayosi’s death.  The family of the late UCT health sciences dean said Mayosi had for the past two years been battling depression and ended his life on 27 July.

The BAC said the inquiry must be set up in consultation with especially black staff and students who had on occasions expressed their experiences of being marginalised at UCT.  Calling for the process to be transparent, the BAC said an understanding of the working conditions in institutions such as UCT was key.  In 2017, Mayosi went on leave for three months, and after returning, collapsed in his office.  He then wrote to former vice-chancellor Max Price asking to resign from his position.  UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said that shortly after hearing of the death of Mayosi, vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng had initiated an inquiry into his death.  Moholola did not provide further information about the scope of the investigation.

by Lisa Isaacs

Civil engineering body SAICE calls emergency meeting

Fin24 reports that the SA Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) is to hold an emergency board meeting on Wednesday to discuss CEO Manglin Pillay’s widely criticised comments about women. The organisation said in a statement that it was aware of the current controversy caused after Pillay penned a column in the July Civil Engineering magazine questioning whether the country should be investing so heavily into attracting females into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects as evidence showed women were “predisposed” to caring and people-orientated careers.

SAICE came under pressure to act after lobby group advocating for women in engineering, WomEng, called on the organisation to “rethink their choice of CEO” and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) said it would be requesting a meeting with SAICE to discuss transformation in the civil engineering sector.  SAICE’s executive board issued a statement last week distancing itself from Pillay’s comments.  “In this unfortunate article, Pillay’s views in no way reflect the views of SAICE’s membership of 12,000,” the board stated.  According to figures Pillay quoted in his column, out of SAICE’s almost 16,000 strong database, 17% were women and out of the 6% professionally registered members, just 5% were female.

by Tehillah Niselow

Way open for plans to revive Lily Mine

Mail & Guardian reports that plans to revive Lily Mine have finally been cleared after a liquidation application brought against its sister mine, Barbrook, was withdrawn on Thursday. This has cleared the way for a takeover of the parent company, Vantage Goldfields, by the Siyakhula Sonke Corporation (SSC).  The Barbrook creditors rendered services to maintain the mine for the past two years but have not yet been paid.

Operations at Lily Mine, near Barberton in Mpumalanga, came to a halt after a crown pillar collapsed underground three years ago, trapping and killing three workers: Pretty Mabuza, Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyarenda.  Vantage Goldfields SA was later placed under business rescue.  A R320-million joint investment by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and SSC, supported by Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, is meant to restart mining operations.  A consultation meeting with Lomshiyo residents is now expected to go ahead on Monday, when the deal will be finalised.

Ref: SA Labour News

Taxi strike in Western Cape expected on Monday

News24 reports that Western Cape taxi drivers are expected to go on strike on Monday in a dispute over a conference that was supposed to have been held to resolve a leadership dispute in respect of the provincial arm of the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco). In June the Western Cape High Court ordered Santaco to convene a conference to resolve the Western Cape taxi industry’s issues over leadership and differences over clauses in the Santaco constitution.  Santaco is an umbrella body for taxi associations that liaises between the government and taxi associations regarding operational issues, funding and programmes relevant to the taxi industry.

Cape Organisation of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) chairperson Besethu Ndungane claimed that Santaco had refused to honour the holding of the conference and stated  “This has now left the mini-bus taxi industry with no alternative but to withdraw its services throughout the Western Cape, effective from Monday 6 August 2018 until such time the pre-elective conference is held …”  Provincial transport MEC Donald Grant issued a strongly worded statement on Friday, saying that there had been a walk-out by certain taxi representatives at the end of July when a Santaco official had been trying to set the terms of the pre-elective conference.  The Provincial Taxi Registrar has asked all taxi associations to refrain from withdrawing their services, intimidating other operators or damaging vehicles and property.

by Jenni Evans

Labour registers ex-miners for unclaimed benefits

The Department of Labour and its entity, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), held a successful stakeholder briefing session with stakeholders in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District on 24 July 2018. This fruitful engagement is a final preparation for the start of the campaign from 13 – 16 August and 3 – 6 September 2018. This campaign is aimed at ex-mineworkers who left employment in the mines prior to 01 April 2002. This category of workers is urged to come and make applications for unclaimed benefits from the UIF. All ex-mineworkers who left their employment after that date will be assessed in line with the Unemployment Insurance Act of 2001 (as Amended).

The Department of Labour as the agent charged with responsibility of tracing and paying these ex-mineworkers urges all potential applicants to bring along the following documents for verification:
– Identity document
– Access card (from previous mine employer)
– IRP 5 (from the previous mine employer)
– Old Blue card
– Previous salary advice
– Or any proof of mine employment (including “Makhulu’s kop” card, Dompas or TEBA records)

The registration will be held as follows:
Date: 13 – 14 August 2018
Venue:  Ga – Segonyana Town Hall (Kuruman)
Time: 08:30

This registration is done in line with the Peoples’ Assembly which was held in Mbhizana, Eastern Cape. A motion was tabled in the National Assembly on 19 September 2007 for Parliament to establish a committee that will look at issues of ex-mineworkers. The campaign will continue on 15 – 16 August 2018 servicing areas of Bothitong and Dithakong at Dithakong Tribal Office.