COSATU to make its submissions on the Public Investment Corporation

COSATU will present its submission on the Public Investment Corporation to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance at 2pm today, Tuesday 17 October at Parliament’s Good Hope Chamber. The federation represents the overwhelming majority of public servants and workers. The Government Employees’ Pension Fund and the PIC belong to workers and it is their hard earned pensions, unemployment insurance and compensation fund.  This money is there to provide for them during retirement, unemployment and injury. COSATU will continue to fight to ensure that no looters will be allowed to touch the workers’ PIC.

COSATU  will also continue to ensure that the GEPF remains with the PIC as it has proven its ability to grow workers’ pensions and funds as well ,as to create jobs and grow the economy. COSATU will make proposals to Parliament to further strengthen the PIC’s transparency and accountability to the GEPF and Parliament on behalf of workers.

For further information, please contact: Cde Matthew Parks- COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator
Tel: 021 461 3835 or Cell: 082 785 0687

Miners at Zululand colliery end underground sit-in

Fin24 reports that over 150 members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have resurfaced after staging an underground sit-in at the Zululand Anthracite Colliery (ZAC) that started on 10 October. The NUM said on Sunday in a statement that 153 miners ended their sit-in at 11pm on Saturday night, after spending five days below ground to protest the value of their long service payments.

Msawenkosi Nkabinde, NUM branch secretary at the colliery, said the mine’s management had agreed to increase the value of the long service payments.  After a “robust engagement with the employer” an agreement was apparently reached that the workers would not be fired for embarking on a sit-in.

Durban painted red by Sadtu

SowetanLive reports that on Friday thousands of SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) members flooded the Durban central business district in a flow of red‚ protesting against the state of affairs in education in the province. But the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) department of education questioned the timing of the march just three days before more than 198,000 learners write their matric exams.  The union handed over a memorandum to the department’s head‚ Dr Vusumuzi Nzama.

Concerns were expressed about critical posts remaining vacant; delays in transferring school funds; the non-implementation of the posts provisioning norms; lack of provision of basic infrastructure such as toilets at schools; and the failure to provide support to education workers and teachers.  Sadtu’s Mugwena Maluleke also used the march to say the union would fight any attempts by the Gupta family to capture the Public Investment Corporation (PIC)‚ which manages the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF).  The union warned the department that the protest was the beginning of rolling mass action.  A march will be held in Pretoria on Tuesday this week.

by Bongani Mthethwa

Cosatu asks Gigaba to explain PIC audit order

SABC News reports that trade union federation, Cosatu has called on Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba to be clearer on the motivation behind a planned forensic audit of all the Public Investment Corporation’s investments. Cosatu’s call follows an order from Gigaba for an audit of all Public Investment Corporation (PIC) transactions since 2014.

Since then there have been more eyes on the corporation which manages the Government Employees Pension Fund that are worth more than R1,8 trillion in assets. Cosatu wants answers on the Finance Minister’s order this week for a forensic audit of all PIC investments. Its General-Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali has called on Gigaba to make his intentions clearer. Gigaba requested that the audit be carried out by a reputable independent forensic company.

by Devan Murugan

SACCAWU settles on the Makro Strike

The strike by more than 5 000 SACCAWU members has now been concluded on the basis of a collective agreement on substantive terms and conditions of employment. The agreement covers the following key areas:

Wage Increase:
– An increase of 8.0% or R 600-00 per month, whichever is the greater for  categories 1 and 2 for year 1;
– An increase of 8.5% or R3.08  increase per hour for category 3 for year 1;
– An increase of 8% or R630 per month, whichever is the greater for categories 1 and 2 for year 2;
– An increase of 9% or R3.23 increase per hour whichever is the greater for category 3 for year 2;

Hours of Work for Category 3;
An increase in the guaranteed monthly scheduled working hours to 150 with effect from 1 November 2017.

Category 3 is in the main comprised of workers that through engagement between the Company and the Union; have been converted from Labour Brokers supply and casuals, into permanent status. Backpay for this category of workers also includes payment for the increase in the guaranteed monthly scheduled working hours, from the 1st of April. Engagements for gradual phased integration and parity, are to be undertaken on the secondary issues process currently underway.

NUM declares a wage dispute with Sibanye Stillwater Kroondal Operation

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has declared a wage dispute with Sibanye Stillwater Kroondaal operation after the wage negotiations deadlocked. The NUM is demanding R10 500 for category B and 15% for category A while the company is offering a mere 5,5% for category A and R750 category B. The NUM has already secured a date for the CCMA facilitation on the 2nd of November 2017 in Rustenburg.

The NUM wage demands are as follows:
1. Wage demands – R10 500 for the lowest paid and 15% for the highest paid employees. Housing allowance – a living out allowance of R5000 and housing subsidy Rl0 000. Medical aid – 100% medical aid contribution by the employer. Leave days  – fully paid 35 days annual leave days and 42 days sick leave. Maternity leave –  four months fully paid maternity leave.

The NUM view the wage offer by Sibanye Stillwater as an insult because the lowest paid employees are currently earning R6 400. The NUM deplores dirty tactics and the arrogant attitude displayed by the company during the wage negotiations until we deadlocked. The NUM says it will not accept Sibanye Stillwater insult wage increase of 5,5% and R750. Mineworkers continue to risk their lives deep below the surface of the earth to produce platinum, but they still earn poverty wages.

Seven years’ backpay for 61 reinstated Pick n Pay staff

TimesLive reports that sixty-one Pick n Pay staff have been reinstated by the Labour Appeal Court after being fired for going on strike for an hour in 2010. Acting Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane ordered the retailer to pay the 61 retrospectively to the date of their dismissal.  Costs were awarded in their favour.  However‚ the fight may not be over, as the company is studying the judgment before deciding on its next move.  The 61 members of the SA Commercial‚ Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) downed tools at 3pm‚ an hour before the store closed on Heritage Day in the midst of a wage dispute.

But, they did not know the strike had been delayed by four hours as the shop stewards’ phone at their store was out of order.  The appeal judge criticised Pick n Pay for failing to give the workers a written ultimatum to warn them of the consequences of striking at 3pm‚ failing to allow them to submit representations before firing them‚ inconsistency in the way it treated striking workers and making an “absurd” argument that the trust relationship with the staff had broken down.

by Dave Chambers

NUM signs three-year wage agreement with Petra Diamonds

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has signed a three-year wage agreement with Petra Diamonds Limited at Cullinan Diamond Mine, Finsch Diamond Mine Kimberley Ekapa Mining JV and Kiffiefontein JV operations in South Africa. The wage agreement is effective from the 1 July 2017 and shall remain in force until 30 June 2020. This comes after a week-long strike after the union withdrew the labour of all its members working in Petra Diamonds at the Koffiefontein Mine, in the diamond-rich province of Northern Cape. The NUM was demanding a 10 percent wage increase across the board for three years, a housing subsidy and living out allowance of R1,500 to be paid every month for three years.

The union was also demanding an increase of R1,000  be paid to all employees who are part of the in-house medical aid scheme and 100 percent medical aid subsidy to employees who do not belong to the in-house medical aid scheme. The three-year wage agreement with Petra Diamond provides for annual increases to NUM members in the region of nine percent to 10 percent for year one, and 8.5 percent for years two and three. It is effective from July 1, 2017 and will remain in force until June 30, 2020. The parties agreed to basic salaries with a living out allowance of R1,200 for year one, R1,350 for year two, and R1,500 for year three.

A home ownership scheme subsidy will begin from R1,300 this year and accumulate to R1,500 in year three. The parties agreed to an ex-gratia equal to 50 percent of one month’s individual salary at Koffiefontein Diamond Mine, and 70 percent of one’s individual basic salary at Kimberley Ekapa Mining, Finsch Diamond Mine, and Cullinan Diamond Mine. The parties also agreed that with effect from July 1, 2017, maternity leave will be increased to three months with 100 percent of basic salary and one month unpaid. NUM members will also have their leave days increased to 21 days working days per annum for five days shift employees at both Kimberley Ekapa Mining JV and Koffiefontein JV.

Makro workers picket in Port Elizabeth

GroundUp reports that about 150 workers at the only Makro store in the Eastern Cape are on strike. The strike, by about 150 members of the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU), began in Port Elizabeth on 22 September. On Friday, workers picketed at the entrance to the store at Kabega Park. Simphiwe Valela, SACCAWU Eastern Cape regional educator, said the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) had declared a deadlock and issued a certificate of non-resolution on 13 July.

“We are demanding an increase in our wages based on the rand value, not on a percentage as the company insists. All workers, including those under existing labour brokers and those hired from outside, should be guaranteed the same minimum wage,” said Valela. “Makro is insisting on a 7.5% increase while we need 8.5% or R750 across the board, based on a minimum of R6,000 a month or whichever is the greater.” “At present Makro is paying a minimum of R5,000 a month to permanent employees, which is not enough given the current inflation,” he said.

The strikers also want casual workers be absorbed into the company in order for them to get the same benefits as permanent workers. Valela said, “At present the casual workers are working 130 hours a month earning nearly R25 an hour. We are demanding that they should work for 160 hours a month.” Other demands by the workers include a baby voucher of R1,200 (up from the current R1,000); an annual bonus equivalent to 50% of an employee’s salary; maternity leave of 66% of monthly salary for nine months; a subsidised housing scheme; and a buying card that would enable workers to get discounts at all MassMart companies.

by Joseph Chirume

The union power in state pensions

BusinessLive reports that trade unions and coal companies represented by the Chamber of Mines will meet on Monday for a crucial round of talks on a multiyear wage deal that will either lead to an agreement or launch dispute proceedings.

Coal companies represented by the chamber are Anglo American Coal, Delmas Coal, Exxaro Coal Mpumalanga, Kangra Coal, Koornfontein and Glencore. In February the mines said they wanted talks to be held on a decentralised basis, but the unions rejected this. The parties met in June and concluded a framework agreement.

by Charlotte Matthews