Teaching is not an essential service so teachers may strike

BusinessLive reports that the Essential Services Committee has determined that school managers and support staff are not essential services, effectively upholding their right to strike. However, it has declared a small group of services provided at boarding schools to be so, in order to protect pupils in the event of industrial action. Only boarding house parents, sanatorium services and security at boarding schools have been designated essential services.

The committee said there was no basis in law to designate basic education as an essential service or to limit or prohibit the right of principals and deputy principals to strike.  The committee said catering and cleaning services in schools were not to be designated essential services because in the event of a protected strike, there was time to make alternative plans. This decision was welcomed by the South African Democratic Teachers. Union.

by Tamar Khan

COSATU welcomes the Supreme Court of Appeals ruling clearing COSATU

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeals that upheld our appeal against the Equality court’s ruling that found COSATU not guilty of anti-Semitism and hate speech.

The Israeli lobby (SA Jewish Board of Deputies) took both COSATU and its International Secretary to the Equality Court falsely accusing the federation and its official of anti-Semitism and hate speech. COSATU will study the ruling with its lawyers and issue a comprehensive statement later on this matter.

Bread delivery to continue amid strike

Cape Times writes that Premier, the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturer and owners of Blue Ribbon bread in Salt River, has assured customers that an ongoing strike will not affect operations and the distribution of its products. Disgruntled employees affiliated to the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) downed tools on Wednesday to demand a 10% wage increment and R48 Fawu funeral cover. The peaceful picket turned violent the following day, with police firing rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the crowd.

FAWU’s legal officer, Mhleli Mbana, said four people, including a union official, were injured and two were arrested. He said the initial demand of 10% and funeral cover was changed when the company rejected their offer and counter offered 8% up until 2021. Premier FMCG group strategy and marketing executive Siobhan O’Sullivan confirmed that employees at its Salt River operations had embarked on a protected strike due to a wage dispute, but said workers at the adjacent wheat mill had embarked on an unprotected strike. “Premier has offered a fair, sustainable and above-inflation wage increase to employees, but this has been rejected by the union,” she said.

by Okuhle Hlati

COSATU Free State to host a roundtable discussion on gender based violence

COSATU Free State will be hosting a roundtable discussion on gender based violence in Welkom on 04 December 2018 as part of the program on 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence (GBV).

The discussions will explore the effects of GBV on the mental health of children growing up in households where there is a prevalence of various forms of abuse and how those vulnerable young ones could be helped. The objective is to empower the participants with knowledge, moving from the premise that knowledge is power whilst mobilizing the participants to be frontline gender activists as we continue the battle against GBV in all its forms.

COSATU Modimole and Mookgophong to march for service delivery

COSATU in the Waterberg district, specifically Modimolle and Mookgophong is demanding the government to deliver deserved services to workers and the community at large. The federation has opted to take to the streets as the responses from the responsible parties in this regard have been inconclusive and at times non-existent. The institutions in question are the Department of Health, the Department of Education and the Modimolle/Mookgophong Municipality.

For an unacceptably long time the local healthcare facilities’ conditions have been frustrating for both patients and health care workers. The Department of Health has been neglecting the issues that have been raised by workers and seems to show no interest in resolving matters. With regards to the Department of Education, the federation’s demands amongst others are to ensure the safety of learners and teachers and as such we will be demanding that security in schools be prioritised. To achieve this, the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) in the Modimolle Local is embarking on a public protest that will take place as follows:

Date: 06 December 2018
Assembly Point: Phagameng Taxi Rank
Time: 08h00
Destination: Department of Education, Health and the Municipality

For further clarity kindly contact Letlhogonolo Mohwasa, COSATU Modimole Local Secretary at 0795885906

Gold Fields’ South Deep heads for prolonged strike after NUM rejects olive branch

Miningmx reports that the South Deep regional branch of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) declined to accept an improved retrenchment package offered by Gold Fields, raising the prospect of prolonged strike action at South Deep mine. “I can confirm the offer was not accepted so it’s the status quo; it’s where we were,” said Sven Lunsche, spokesman for Gold Fields. An official announcement from Gold Fields was due in the next one to two hours, he added.

“However long the strike continues, it cannot and will not lead to changes in the restructuring plans, including the 1,082 retrenchments, that are necessary for South Deep’s long-term sustainability and saving the remaining 3,500 jobs,” said Nick Holland, Gold Fields CEO, in a later statement.

by David McKay

HPCSA assures striking workers that restructuring won’t affect jobs

The Citizen writes that the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) today said employees and unions had been consulted about the restructuring and they were assured the changes would not result in job losses. The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has been on strike since November 16, in a bid to oppose the implementation of the new data capturing system which they said may lead to job losses.

HPCSA president, Dr Kgosietsile Latlape said when the Business Process Engineering (BPR) was implemented, the consultant engaged with management and staff and assured employees that no jobs would be lost. Letlape said even unions were consulted at every step of the way concerning the process, adding that he had the meeting minutes to prove it.  Last week, branch secretary Nkululeko Ntloko said: “There are processes that were supposed to have been undertaken under a signed accord between management of HPCSA and Nehawu. “There are processes that are being done secretly. Management of the organisation has been involved in some processes that were not inclusive to us but the accord is very clear in terms of the process that needs to be done in as far as including all parties so that there is labour peace and there is no issues of unfair labour practices,” he said at the time.

Ref: ANA

Workers shut down Pietermaritzburg mortuary, down tools

The Citizen reports that workers shut down the Fort Napier Medico Legal Mortuary in Pietermaritzburg on Monday and Tuesday, turning away families who had come to fetch the bodies of loved ones. Workers have been on a go slow for two weeks, demanding a wage increase and better working conditions. On Monday workers barricaded the road, blocking the mortuary gates with mortuary vans. Families who had come to collect the bodies of their loved ones were turned away. Workers’ demands include the repair of air conditioners, better equipment, and back pay. Department spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda said the department was engaging with organised labour.

“A commitment was made to speedily resolve certain operational challenges such as supply of equipment and repair of air conditioners. Both parties will be meeting again in due course. The department wishes to appeal to staff to be patient and respect this process,” said Mafunda. Provincial secretary for the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union Phakama Ndunakazi said the union fully supported the workers. “Workers are working under appalling conditions. The fridges and air conditioners are not working. There’s an unbearable smell in the mortuary. Fort Napier Medico Legal Mortuary has only one doctor. These workers end up doing all the work and yet they are not paid enough,” he said. “The union is sympathising with the families who have been affected but we cannot compromise the rights of the workers,” said Ndunakazi.

by Nompendulo Ngubane
Republished from GroundUp

COSATU POST-CEC media briefing tomorrow

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is currently having a three day Central Executive Committee [CEC] meeting finishing to finalise the programme for the year 2018 and also plan for the upcoming year 2019.

The meeting will reflect on the political, socio-economic and organisational matters facing the workers and the working class in South Africa and around the world. The outcomes of the meeting will be communicated  in a media briefing to be convened as  follows:

Date: 29 November 2018 –Thursday- tomorrow
Time:  11: 00PM
Venue:  COSATU House, 110 Jorissen Street, Braamfontein

NUM says Optimum Coal workers won’t return to work until salaries paid

EWN reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says its members at the Optimum Coal mine are not willing to return to work until their salaries for October and November are paid. The union says over 1,000 workers – some directly employed by Optimum and others working for a contractor – have been protesting outside the Mpumalanga mine on Monday.

It’s understood the Optimum employees have not been paid their November salaries which were due last week, and the contract workers are now two months behind. The NUM’s Nelson Ratshoshi said: “Based on the situation that they are in, in relation to the amount they are owed by Eskom, they are advocating to pay those employees their salaries by Friday.”

by Kgomotso Modise