NUM members on strike at PPC Cement

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) confirms a strike by workers at the cement producing company PPC at Hercules in Pretoria over wage increases. Workers are embarking on a protected strike over the company’s refusal to bargain on wage increases. This comes after the NUM gave PPC a notice to strike on the 4th April 2019 and workers commenced with the industrial action on the 9th April 2019. The strike has entered its ninth day today. The NUM is demanding a salary increase of 12% across the board, a housing allowance of R1 500 and transport allowance for shift workers of R750 to be back dated to 1st October 2018.

“We are determined to fight for our rights as workers. Workers are determined to proceed with the strike in support of their demands. We signed a collective agreement granting us organizational rights as a majority union, so the company should meet our demands,” said NUM Branch Chairperson Surprise Baloyi. PPC is the leading supplier of cement in southern Africa. The company produces aggregates, metallurgical-grade lime, burnt dolomite and limestone. The NUM demands the company to close the wage gaps that exist within PPC. The company management is creating the wage gaps instead of closing them.

SAMA commissions PE Corporate Services to investigate levels of overtime worked by public service medical practitioners

The SA Medical Association (SAMA) indicated on Friday that it had commissioned management consultancy PE Corporate Services to conduct an investigation into the levels of overtime worked by medical practitioners in the public service. Dr M Thandrayen, SAMA General Manager, advised that:  A key objective of the study is to establish the relative equity of current National Department of Health overtime pay arrangements, and formulate recommendations on how any inequities should be addressed.

This investigation forms part of a broader study into the remuneration and working conditions of medical practitioners in South Africa.”  Dr Thandrayen went on to indicate that as part of the exercise, PE Corporate Services needed to gather current data on overtime hours worked by medical practitioners, and the impact of this on career and lifestyle goals.  SAMA members were invited to participate by completing and returning a questionnaire.  All the responses received would be collated and reported on in the form of aggregated analyses of overall trends and statistics.

REf: SA Labour News & SAMA News

Unions point to contributing factors leading to high levels of teacher absenteeism

The Citizen reports that although teachers’ unions don’t condone the shocking figures of absenteeism among their members, there are a number of contributing factors that lead to their absence and these need to be addressed in order to ensure 10% of classrooms aren’t left teacherless daily. Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga released the findings of the 2017 School Monitoring Survey (SMS) in Pretoria yesterday, and pointed out that the trend of teacher absenteeism from classrooms throughout South Africa is marginally growing, and remains a cause for concern.

The last time this report was published was in 2011.  The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) general-secretary, Mugwena Maluleke, said that although the union did not support or condone absenteeism, certain contributors like violence and depression could not be evaded. “There is violence in schools that [teachers] need to deal with and they are helpless because they lack support from government. There is also a high level of sickness among teachers who experience depression,” Maluleke said. National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) general-secretary, Basil Manuel, said it was important to contextualise and understand the sub-optimal conditions teachers worked in. “We do acknowledge there are some who are those who take advantage, but there are those who have valid reasons,” said Manuel.

by Chisom Jenniffer Okoye

Miners in Mpumalanga’s Coal Belt abandoned

eNCA reports that miners in Mpumalanga’s Coal Belt have been left destitute for months.  The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said its members are not receiving any support from the government. Optimum Coal NUM deputy branch secretary, Reuben Malibe said workers have not received their salaries in months.

“The business practitioner says they are engaging with AE – African exploration, they are going to inject R1-billion into Optimum. But there are a lot of Interdicts in the court by Guptas. To our surprise, the Guptas stole this mine by using Eskom money,” said Malibe. “We are appealing to government let judiciary to see the plight of the workers. And try and block interdict. Workers are not eating with the interdict but could be with the money that must come forward.”

SATAWU disappointed at SA Express failure to consult on job cuts

South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) is disappointed to read that state-owned airline, SA Express, intends to downsize its staff. According to an article in City Press, the regional airline’s board has approved a plan by acting CEO Siza Mzimela to cut jobs. Mzimela is said to have made a presentation to a board committee arguing that the ratio of 822 employees to 10 aircraft is an indication the airline is overstaffed. The founder of the now defunct airline, Fly Blue Crane, explained she was aiming for a staff to aircraft ratio of 25; SA Express is currently sitting at 56.  As a union representing workers at the airline, SATAWU is disappointed we had to read about the plan to cut jobs in the media.

When we met Mzimela and another member of the task team charged with reviving the airline after it was grounded last May, we were assured retrenchment was not on the cards and we would be advised were the situation to change. By targeting workers instead of ensuring the remaining seven aircraft are compliant with South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) safety standards, Mzimela is picking low-hanging fruit. This tends to happen with managers who lack ideas and are overwhelmed by the task at hand. Moreover, deciding to downsize the staff compliment without consulting social partners to explore alternatives is an indictment on management. It demonstrates a lack of understanding of the importance of strategic social partners.  SATAWU will request a meeting with SA Express to discuss this latest development. As far as retrenchment is concerned, we will address it as a labour relations matter because that is precisely what it is.

Nehawu still consulting members about latest Sars wage offer

The Citizen reports that the  National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) said on Tuesday that it was still consulting its members about the latest wage offer tabled by the South African Revenue Services (SARS). Khaya Xaba, Nehawu national spokesperson, said in a telephonic interview that the union’s officials were having a meeting with members to inform them of the Sars wage offer and to obtain a mandate from them.

“We are meeting our members today to get a mandate whether to accept or decline the Sars offer… As we speak, our members are not back at work at Sars,” Xaba said. This comes after the Public Servants Association (PSA), the majority union at Sars, on Monday reached an 8% wage agreement following lengthy and after-hour negotiations, picketing, and demonstrations by employees. Last week, at least 9,000 workers at Sars embarked on a legal strike, demanding 11.4% salary increases while Sars was only prepared to pay 7%. The strike crippled Sars services as the revenue collector had to close down 33 of its 53 branches across the country.

Ref: ANA

NEHAWU condemns the Mail and Guardian for misleading reporting on the SARS strike

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] condemns with the contempt it deserve the misleading reporting by the Mail and Guardian on the ongoing national strike at the South African Revenue Services [SARS]. The article which appeared yesterday on the website of the Mail and Guardian titled“SARS crippled by Moyane loyalists” suggest that the strike is part of a ploy by unions to fight the battles of the former SARS commissioner Tom Moyane. The article insinuates that Moyane’s allies who still in SARS are using the strike to cripple the institution. NEHAWU is gobsmacked that such a huge publication can throw around such unfounded and ridiculous accusation especially without affording the national union an opportunity to have a say on the matter before putting the article online. As NEHAWU, we strongly believe that we could have clarified the journalist on the reasons why we elected to go on strike than to speculate that we are on a silly conquest to defend individuals.

NEHAWU understands the mandate of SARS and the role workers must play in ensuring that it is executed with aplomb and earlier this week we highlighted how the management has been on the forefront of making it impossible for our members and workers to contribute to fulfilling that mandate by creating horrible working conditions and withdrawing our members benefits. To suggest that NEHAWU can be reduced to a personal army is an insult to us and we take serious exceptions to that. We have grown from strength to strength in the last 31 years because of our transformational agenda and exceptional service to members. Balance and fair reporting is a necessity and necessary for the public to be informed properly of current events. We appeal to the Mail and Guardian to desist from one sided and sensational reporting. Failure to do so will leave us with no option but to report the Mail and Guardian to the Press Ombudsman. In this regard, the union will formally write to the Mail and Guardian to demand a formal apology on deliberate distorting on the intention of the strike underway at SARS led by the national union.

Wage settlement ‘imminent’ in Sars strike as unions consider offer

SowetanLive reports that according to the SA Revenue Service (SARS), a wage settlement with its representative unions, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union and the Public Servants Association (PSA).  “Pursuant to the industrial action currently under way, the parties continued the engagements from Friday evening, March 29, as well as from the afternoon of Sunday March 31 into the late evening,” said Sars spokesperson Sandile Memela in a statement on Monday.

“The parties have made substantial progress in narrowing their areas of dispute and there is a possibility of reaching an agreement and settling the dispute. In this regard, organised labour will take the proposals to their members on Monday morning and will revert to the employer by 9am on Monday April 1.”  The draft wage agreement includes: an 8% salary increase from Monday; a projected CPI plus 2% salary increase on April 1 2020 and 2021 respectively; eight days of prenatal and vaccination leave; and five days of family responsibility leave every two years.

by Nico Gous

SATAWU VS PUTCO at Labour Court over wage increase

South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) members at Putco are picketing outside the Labour Court in Johannesburg today. SATAWU’s lawyers are going up against bus company Putco for not paying workers’ annual wage increase and bonuses in line with the agreement signed last May after workers downed tools for 28 days. The matter wass set-down for 10am today. Labour unions SATAWU, NUMSA, TAWUSA, TOWU and TASWU signed a 9% for Year 1 and 8% for Year 2 wage increase agreement with employer associations SABEA and COBEA at the South African Road Passengers Bargaining Council (SARPBAC), to end the near month-long strike that saw the industry ground to a halt. To date Putco has not paid its workers the annual increase or end of year bonuses despite having signed the agreement. Despite this, last June the company applied to SARPBAC to be exempt from complying with the wage settlement. SARPBAC’s Exemption Authority turned down Putco’s application for a zero percent increase.

The bus company appealed the decision. In response, the authority ruled that the employer pay workers a 6% increase for the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. In addition, Putco was ordered to pay an extra 3% on 1 April 2019 prior to paying the 8% increase for Year 2 as per the agreement. The company was also ordered to pay annual bonuses in December 2018. Until now the company has not complied, opting to refer the matter to the Labour Court. SATAWU rejects Putco’s assertion that it cannot afford to comply with the wage settlement because it is financially stressed. The bus company retrenched 220 employees and abolished 380 positions last year arguing the move would improve its finances. It also increased fares by between 8% and 14% across the various regions it services. Government also raised its subsidy to the company by 3.24% in 2018. SATAWU’s legal representatives will argue that Putco can in fact afford to pay the wage hike and bonuses, and will appeal to court to compel it to do right by its workers who have had the value of their earnings eroded by this year-long delay.

COSATU welcomes the NCOP’s adoption of the Financial Matters Amendment Bill today

The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the NCOP’s adoption of the Financial Matters Amendment Bill today. The federation supports and welcomes this progressive pro-worker bill.  It is a key foundation block for the expansion of state-owned banks.COSATU’s support for the FMA Bill’s is based on its amendment of the following acts:

1. Military Pensions Act:
Will be amended to fall in line with the Constitution’s anti-discrimination vision by recognising that military personnel are no longer men only but also women, that their spouses may be male or female, and that they may be married or partnered under different legal regimes. This is long overdue and critical as it has often resulted in delays when processing pension and beneficiary payments to deceased military personnel’s spouses and partners and thus their children as well.

2. Government Employees’ Pension Act:
Will be amended to speed up GEPF divorce settlement processes when members of the GEPF divorce and then need to separate their assets (e.g. GEPF) with their now ex-spouses and partners. This is important as divorces by their nature are acrimonious and the newly separated ex-partners need to quickly separate and build new lives e.g. set up new homes, purchase furniture etc.  Delays in settling the separation of pensions and assets hurt in particular mothers and children.

 3. Insolvency Act:
Will be amended to provide for surety of assets and credit for investors. This is part of South Africa’s obligations arising from its membership of the G20 and a key requirement for international banks and investors to remain and to continue to invest in South Africa. Workers, battered by a 37% unemployment rate and rising levels of retrenchments, need investments, both local and international, as part of ensuring the implementation of the Presidential Jobs’ Summit’s Job Creation Plans.

 4. Banks Act:
Will be amended to allow State-Owned Enterprises to apply for banking licenses. SOEs will be required to be in a healthy financial state when applying for banking licenses and in particular for their assets to exceed their liabilities for the previous 2 years, as well as to have the authorisation of both their line function Minister and the Finance Minister. SOE owned banks will be subject to the same licensing requirements and oversight as all other banks. COSATU supports the expansion of state banks as it will help end the de facto monopolies in the banking sector, ensure greater competition, lower bank charges; and bring greater accessibility to the marginalised and poor as well as neglected sectors of the economy.

COSATU submitted additional amendments to further strengthen the checks and balances and oversight for SOEs applying for bank licenses.  These are critical to protecting the fiscus and workers from possible looting as it will be taxpayers and workers who will pay the price if any SOE bank requires a bailout in future.  As the NCOP has now concluded its work today and thus there was not sufficient time to amend the FMA Bill, the NCOP has agreed to COSATU’s request to refer its proposed amendments to the 6th Parliament for consideration.