Sick notes may not be enough to convince your employer

eNCA reports that a medical certificate may not be enough to convince your employer of illness. Companies can request further information from your doctor if the sick note is for a Monday, Friday or a day after a public holiday. “Employees get an entitlement of 30 days sick leave in every three-year cycle and sometimes employees abuse that. If you abuse it more than a couple of days in an 8-week cycle, then the company is entitled to say that you need to explain this sick leave”, said Natasha Moni, an attorney.

Moni said that if a company suspects abuse they can summon a medical practitioner who will then be required to write an affidavit or even be called in for questioning. “Do not abuse sick leave. A company can place you under disciplinary inquiry for submitting fraudulent medical certificates and they won’t pay you”, she added.

MultiChoice apologises for retrenchment letters to staff

Business Report writes that the retrenchment of more than 2000 workers at digital satellite and pay-television company MultiChoice has been put on hold to allow for mediation by the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration, beginning with a session on Friday. The Information Communications and Technology Union (Ictu), which represents some of the affected workers, said MultiChoice yesterday had issued an unconditional apology for unduly initiating the retrenchment process.

Thabang Mothelo, the Ictu media officer, said MultiChoice had conceded to the suspension of the process and that there be communication to employees confirming suspension of retrenchments pending proper discussions. Newly listed MultiChoice on Friday said about 2194 workers in the call and service centre would be affected by the downsizing, which chief executive Calvo Mawela said had been structured to create new roles for multi-skilled employees.

by Banele Ginindza

MultiChoice retrenchments add to private sector jobs bloodbath

Business Report writes that the jobs bloodbath gathered steam on Friday, with newly listed MultiChoice saying nearly 2 000 jobs were on the line at its call centre as consumers switch to digital platforms. The move by the group provoked a strong reaction from the Information Communication and Technology Union (ICTU). Thabang Mothelo, a spokesperson for the ICTU, said Multichoice told 1 790 employees on Friday afternoon that they would be retrenched. 

“The union has not been officially informed, which makes the process unlawful. The union will seek urgent engagement with the employer to bring them up to speed,” Mothelo said. “The employer has timed Friday to make the announcement, which shows some cowardice of not dealing with the consequences of their actions.” The listed digital satellite and pay-television company said most of the 2 194 affected employees were in the call and service centre. Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice’s group chief executive, said the company had created new roles for multi-skilled employees. “This has not been an easy decision to make, but in a business driven by advancing technologies, we must continue to drive efficiencies, yet be agile enough to adapt to evolving customer needs to ensure that we remain relevant, competitive and sustainable,” said Mawela.

by Kabelo Khumalo

Amplats faces pay hike battle

Business Report writes that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) yesterday tabled a 15percent monthly pay increase at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) as wage negotiation season kicked off this month. NUM chief negotiator in the platinum belt William Mabapa said the union had demanded Amplats hike monthly wages by R1500, or 15percent, whichever was greater. “We think our demands are reasonable. Through the demands we are not giving our members false hope,” he said.

Mabapa added that the union was calling for platinum mines to change their approach towards accommodation benefits through combining the living-out allowance and housing allowance. “We must have a single housing allowance across the board. Every mineworker should own a house. Currently, low-paid employees do not qualify for bank loans for their homes,” added Mabapa. At Amplats, the union had asked that the combined living-out allowance and housing allowance be capped at R7000 a month. It also wants a 100percent medical aid allowance for main members and 50percent for dependants. Mabapa said that NUM had this week tabled a 30percent hike for wages at the Modikwa mine in Burgersfort, Limpopo, a joint venture between Amplats and African Rainbow Minerals.

by Dineo Faku

Comment period extended for controversial ‘Airbnb’ bill

Business Live reports that tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has extended the comment period for the contentious “Airbnb” bill. The controversial Tourism Amendment Bill is seen as Kubayi-Ngubane’s first real test since taking charge of the tourism portfolio earlier in June when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his cabinet. In a notice published in the Government Gazette on Tuesday, Kubayi-Ngubane said interested parties would be allowed to table submissions until July 15. The initial deadline was June 15. The government is under intense pressure to abandon proposed new regulations for short-term home rentals, including those on popular online platforms such as Airbnb.

Opponents of the Tourism Amendment Bill argue that it will hurt the tourism industry, one of the few sectors identified as having the potential to pull SA out of its economic malaise.SA has the largest travel and tourism sector in Africa, contributing about R426bn to the local economy in 2018, according to research by the World Travel and Tourism Council. The sector is responsible for 1.5-million jobs, or 9.2% of total employment in SA. Its opponents say the bill represents a legally and economically unjustifiable intervention in the private and commercial affairs of ordinary South Africans. The government published the “Airbnb” bill for public comment in April.  Should it be signed into law, short-term home rentals will be regulated under the Tourism Act. The minister of tourism could then specify various “thresholds” in terms of Airbnb rentals in SA. This could include limiting the number of nights that guests can stay or how much money an Airbnb host can earn. According to the department of tourism, this would level the playing field by ensuring that “everyone gets their fair share”.

by Bekezela Phakathi

Petrol price expected to drop

Business Live reports that retreating oil prices have painted a rosier picture for South African fuel users than has been the case for much of 2019. This is according to the Automobile Association (AA) which was commenting on unaudited mid-month fuel price data released by the Central Energy Fund. At this stage of the month, the AA is predicting a decrease of 91c/litre in the petrol price, 70c in the diesel price, and 62c for illuminating paraffin in July. “The story of the month is definitely oil,” says the AA. “Crude laboured above $70 a barrel for large portions of April and May, as the tug-of-war continued between the OPEC countries, which favour ongoing output restrictions, and the US, where production is steaming ahead.”

The association says that there had been a remarkable drop in the price of oil since the end of May, with the commodity currently trading about $61 a barrel. “South Africans are not getting full value though, thanks to rand jitters in the wake of the ANC top leadership trading jibes over the future of the Reserve Bank,” the AA comments. The AA says the expected price drops are nonetheless substantial, with petrol showing a 91c-a-litre drop at month end, with reductions of 70c and 62c respectively for diesel and illuminating paraffin.

Ref: Motor News Reporter

Daring mission being planned to recover trio at Lily Mine

City Press reports that fed up and disillusioned, former workers of a closed Mpumalanga gold mine are prepared to risk their own lives by launching a daring attempt to recover the bodies of their three former colleagues who have been buried 60m below the surface since 2016. The entrance to the Lily Mine in Louisville near Barberton caved in on 5 February 2016.  Professional mine rescue teams abandoned the site three years ago after realising that it was going to be a mission impossible because of the unstable ground to reach the container office that had plunged down with the three workers inside without risking their own lives.  The trio’s bodies were left buried underground.  

In the meantime, the families’ grief has been prolonged with corporate wrangling over the sale of the mine.  Emboldened by the zama-zamas who have been mining illegally at Lily Mine, nine former workers went underground last week to assess the situation for themselves – an action which the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) is unhappy about.  They came out knowing exactly what they needed to do next.  But, their mission will not come cheap.  Firstly they need equipment such as a water pump, a Tractor Loader Backhoe, chain blocks, timber, protective clothes and lights.  Secondly, the team will also need the expertise of a safety officer, a geologist and a surveyor. As a result, they have started negotiations with various retired experts to help.  DMR spokesperson Ayanda Shezi said the department was totally opposed to the workers’ initiative to go underground.

by Sizwe Sama Yende
Ref: SA Labour News

COSATU argues for worker representation on PIC board

Engineering News reports that South Africa’s largest trade union federation the congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has argued for worker representation on the board of State-run asset manager the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) saying this would help keep looting in check and increase workers’ trust. Matthew Parks, the federation’s Parliamentary coordinator, was on the witness stand at the judicial commission of inquiry into the PIC on Tuesday. The commission is investigating allegations of wrongdoing at the corporation, which manages about R2.2-trillion in investments on behalf of public servants. Hearings resumed in Pretoria on Tuesday after a three week break.

Parks told the commission that the trust of workers had been abused for far too long. “[Workers] really want to have representation on the PIC board,” he said. The asset manager had failed to keep workers updated on the scope and reasoning behind its investments, he said. Parks on Tuesday said all PIC investments should be made public and no senior PIC executive should be allowed to conclude investments without oversight. Board representation for workers would provide oversight and boost trust, he said. In the past there were fears that PIC money would be raided to bail out SOEs. “We had a Cosatu central executive meeting meeting in September 2017 where the then finance minister, Malusi Gigaba came to us and said he cannot guarantee he will not use PIC money to bail out SOEs [State-owned enterprises]. That was at the height of State capture.” In Cosatu’s 18-page affidavit, which accompanied the union’s submission, it described the desire to fund SOEs via the asset manager as “provocation and lunacy”.

Ref: News24wire

South African youth take to the streets over climate change

GroundUp reports that hundreds of youth in Cape Town and Pretoria marched on Friday to demand that the government urgently act on climate change. About 300 people marched from Parliament to the City Hall in Cape Town to hand over a memorandum demanding government take “immediate action on the climate crises”. The march was organised by the African Climate Youth Alliance and was part of the global Fridays for Future youth climate protest. In Pretoria, about 150 people, mostly youth, from various environmental organisations picketed at the Union Buildings in an attempt to put pressure on government to act on climate change. Some of the organisations included 350, Extinction Rebellion, Walter Sisulu Environmental Centre and Co-operative and Alternative Policy Centre (COPAC). The Well Worn Theatre Company, an organisation that uses theatre to bring awareness to climate change, also performed at the march.

But high school learners, some still dressed in their uniforms, and young children were at the forefront of the picket.One of the organisers from 350, Alex Lenferna, said the upcoming Youth Day on Sunday was an important day to reflect on issues that affected young people in South Africa and one of those issues was climate change. Cherry said COPAC was currently drafting a People’s Climate Justice Charter that it hoped would eventually be adopted in Parliament. The memorandum was accepted and signed by Calvin Humbles from the office of the President. He said it would be acknowledged within seven days.

by Zoe Postman and Ashraf Hendricks

Domestic workers want to be covered for occupational injuries

GroundUp reports that about 50 domestic workers and members of the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU) protested outside Parliament on Monday to demand that the government include them in the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act. On 23 May, a judge ruled in the Pretoria High Court that the exclusion of domestic workers in the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act of 1993 is unconstitutional. But the law has yet to be changed. SADSAWU president Hester Stephens told GroundUp: “We have been fighting for years, till now, to get social security for domestic workers. We want to be included in the Act. Right now for example, some of the workers are exposed to dangerous chemicals at work that they use to clean, without the employer providing protective gear.

“Domestic workers sometimes fall ill from something at work, but they are not helped in any way. As domestic workers, we contribute to the economy but we are so unappreciated. We do not have support from government,” said Stephens.Stephens said some domestic workers were underpaid: “Getting as little as R1,200 a month. How can you survive with that money? What about the children? The school fees, school transport, school uniform? It’s too little.” In a memorandum addressed to Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi, SADSAWU demanded the approval of protection of domestic workers; a wage of no less that R3,500 per month; registration of all domestic workers for the Unemployment Insurance Fund; and contributions to a pension or provident fund. The memorandum was accepted and signed by the chief inspector at the provincial labour department David Esau on behalf of Nxesi.

by Mary-Anne Gontsana