NSFAS workers on strike for higher wages

GroundUp reports that about 200 employees of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) protested outside its offices in Wynberg, Cape Town, on Tuesday, demanding higher salaries and other improvements. The workers claimed management had failed to meet demands submitted by their union, the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) in September last year.

Among their demands were higher minimum salaries, promotion for cleaners, medical aid for parents of employees, permanent employment for workers on contract, and an end to “abuse of power and prostitution for jobs”. Baxolise Mali, Nehawu Regional Secretary, told protesters: “NSFAS has been playing hide and seek. Nehawu has decided to take workers out of the workplace as we believe [it] is the language the employer would understand.” “If we do not get a response by Friday, we will call other branches to join the strike,” said Mali. The demands were handed to Steven Zwane, NSFAS CEO. Zwane said management would look into workers’ demands. “Their right to go on strike is respected. We believe we will be able to find common ground soonest.”

by Bernard Chiguvare

NUM marches at Optimum Coal mine

Mining Weekly reports that the Department of Mineral Resources conducted an inspection on February 8 and Optimum Coal must take measures to reach compliance within 60 days of a pending order, the ministry said by email. Hundreds of members from South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) marched on the premises of Optimum Coal Mine owing to fears they might not be paid as the mine was owned by Gupta family company, Tegeta Resources. The NUM said it went on strike because key questions have yet to be answered at the mine.  Livhuwani Mammburu, NUM spokesperson, said:  “What our members want to know is are they going to sell the mine or not.

They also want to know if they’re going to be paid this coming Friday.”  Gupta-controlled Oakbay Investments and Duduzane Zuma, the former president’s son, bought Optimum through Tegeta Exploration from Glencore in December 2015.  Oakbay said in August that it agreed to sell Tegeta to Swiss company Charles King.  Reports that the Gupta brothers have left the country have raised anxiety of workers at Optimum, where NUM is the majority labor group, Mammburu said.  “Our members were asking a lot of difficult questions about the future of the mine.”

Ref: Bloomberg

NEHAWU CURRENTLY PREPARING FOR A STRIKE

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union in its national meeting of Water and Sanitation held on the 20th January 2018 was directed to convene membership general meetings throughout the country to report on its outcomes of the meeting but also consult to sort a mandate on a possible national strike in the department. Having met with its members, the mandate given is clear that the union should go for a total shut down in the department. This will be in the form of a strike action that will commence on the 08th March 2018.

The strike action comes after failed protracted negotiations with the department that lasted more than 12 months solely because the department was not negotiating in good faith. The department continued to make unfulfilled promises in the Departmental Bargaining Chamber, which resulted into the union declaring a dispute and obtaining a strike certificate in December 2017. The Acting Director General requested to meet the union on the 19th December 2017 wherein he requested time to resolve the impasse but to date he has dismally failed to even come back to the bargaining chamber to report progress. To this effect, NEHAWU will be commencing with lunch hour pickets effectively from the 05th March 2018 leading to the total shut down on 08th March 2018. The union hopes that the department will revert back to the negotiating table with tangible proposals to avert the strike action.

NUM members at Sibanye Stillwater’s Kloof Mine to observe a day of mourning

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members will today observe a day of mourning at Sibanye Stillwater’s Kloof Mine mine in Westonaria in honour of the two miners who perished last week. A decision to observe a day of mourning was taken by the NUM members during a mass meeting today because they are worried about the ever deteriorating levels of safety at Sibanye Stillwater operations.

The NUM is disappointed on the trend of incidents and accidents at Sibanye Stillwater. There was a near miss of disaster where about 1000 workers were trapped underground as a result of power failure two weeks ago at Beatrix Mine in Welkom. Less than a week again two workers died as a result of fall of rocks at Kloof Mine at Sibanye Stillwater. NUM Health and Safety Chairperson comrade Peter Bailey and Cosatu Deputy General Secretary comrade Solly Phetoe, SACP and ANC representatives are expected to address the event.

The details of the event are as follows:
Time: 9 am
Venue: Kloof Mine
Date: 15 February 2017

Nehawu, Sol Plaatje University reach wage agreement

SABC News reports that members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) at Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley have reached a settlement with the higher learning institution after being on strike for three weeks. Union chairperson Keeme Mongale said they would be meeting with the university on Wednesday to sign the agreed settlement.

The members had been demanding a 10% salary hike, an annual 100% bonus and a 13th salary cheque.  “We agreed on a 100% bonus on the low earners and the rest is followed by 80% on those who earn from R470,000 and upwards.  So, others they only remain on 70% bonus.  Others remain on 7% salary increment.  But we managed to say based on the sliding scale let the low earners at least get a upward movement in terms of salary remuneration,” Mongale indicated.

by Refilwe Gaeswe

Another worker killed at Sibanye-Stillwater mine

eNCA reports that another mineworker has died at a Sibanye-Stillwater mine, less than a week after two people were killed at another shaft, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said. The union said a worker was killed at the Driefontein’s No. 1 shaft on Monday while trying blast an ore pass box that was blocked by big rocks. When the rock was crushed, a rush of mud overwhelmed the worker, who suffocated to death.

A rockfall at the company’s Kloof mine killed two people on Wednesday.  “We are very much concerned about the loss of lives happening at Sibanye-Stillwater,” said Mbuyiseli Hibana, NUM Carletonville regional secretary. “The company must be made to account on all of these incidents and those found responsible must be made to take the blame.” In another incident in January, more than 1,100 miners were trapped underground at the Beatrix gold mine in the Free State province, after a power outage at the mine caused by a severe storm in the area. No one was injured. Trade union Nehawu has demanded all Sibanye mines be shut down until they can be declared safe.

Ref: ANA

NUM calls on workers to report unsafe working conditions in mines

Mining Weekly reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Friday called on its structures in the mines to confront management and employers whenever there were health and safety deviations or substandard working conditions. In a statement, the NUM said that workers must exercise their right to refuse to work in a dangerous workplace and must not be victimised for doing so as they were empowered by the Mine Health and Safety Act.

Peter Bailey, NUM chairperson for health and safety, said that the union was very disappointed by the recent incidents and accidents at Sibanye-Stillwater mines after two workers died in a fall-of-ground accident at Kloof gold mine on Wednesday and about 1,000 were trapped underground as a result of power failure at Beatrix gold mine.  Bailey said that the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) inspectorate must pull up its socks and pay consistent visits to the mines to ensure compliance in a bid to save lives.  He applauded those mining houses that were able to mine for 12 months or more without a fatality.

by ANA

SAMWU on negotiations with SALGA

Salary and Wage negotiations with the employer body are at advanced stages. SAMWU last year submitted joined trade union demands for salaries and wages for our members. Already two rounds of negotiations have been held. Trade unions had demanded;
1. A single year agreement
2. An across the board 15% salary increase or R3155
3. R2000 housing allowance for all employees
4. R10 000 sectoral minimum wage
5. All benefits and conditions of service linked to salaries to increase the across the board salary increase

In the first round of negotiations, the employer responded by submitting the following counter proposal.
1. A 5 year collective agreement
2. 4.6% in the first year collective agreement and CPI plus 0.25% for the remainder of the collective agreement.
3. Housing allowance to increase in line with the 5 year collective agreement.
4. Minimum wage t increase in line with the 5 year collective agreement.
5. A proposal that all benefits linked to salaries and wages be linked to the collective agreement.

 SAMWU rejected the employer proposal which led to a second round of negotiations held in first week of February. Samwu believes that the demands, which we have put through for our members are reasonable particularly going given the fact that municipal workers are the least paid government employees. In the second round of negotiations, the Disciplinary Procedure Collective Agreement was signed. This follows the nullifying of the previous Collective Agreement by the Labour Court. The nullification resulted in municipalities dealing with issues of disciplinary in a manner which prejudiced workers.

The SAMWU NEC received a report of the conclusion of the Disciplinary Procedure Collective Agreement which would protect the interests of our members. Under the new collective agreement, employers would no longer be allowed to use lawyers in disciplinary cases. The collective agreement further states that disciplinary action should be concluded within three months. This is a step ensuring that workers are treated fairly and ensure that workers are not on suspensions for long periods while waiting for disciplinary action to be taken as we have seen in the City of Johannesburg. SAMWU is now preparing for the third round of negotiations which will be held in the first week of March.

COSATU on Minister Bathabile Dlamini and SASSA

eNCA reports that Social Development Minister Bathabile is holding both the Constitutional Court and the “entire nation” in contempt by applying for an extension of the Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) grants contract, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said. In a statement on Thursday night, it called for Dlamini to be removed from her post immediately and to be investigated. The SA Social Security Agency’s application to the Constitutional Court was a sign of “a dearth of leadership at government level’, the trade union federation said.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said it was “disingenuous” to claim that the payment by CPS needed to be phased out when the minister and Sassa were  “well aware” they had had a year to cut ties with CPS, by March 2018. Cosatu said it was “shocked but not surprised” that Sassa had once again applied to the court to illegally extend its CPS social grants contract.  “Minister Dlamini, her family and senior officials in her ministry and Sassa’s leadership must undergo a lifestyle and forensic audit by the Auditor-General and law enforcement agencies to determine if there is a corrupt relationship with CPS.  If this is found to be so, they must be charged, arrested, assets seized and prosecuted,” Cosatu added.

CWU and Multichoice agree to co-operate

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) met with MultiChoice South Africa CEO, Calvo Mawela and other MultiChoice executives on Tuesday, the 6th of February 2018, to discuss the Union’s concerns following the announcement that MultiChoice will not renew its contract with ANN7 at the end of August. CWU wanted to understand the rationale for MultiChoice’s decision. The Union’s primary concern is possible job losses at ANN7 and it wanted to know what steps MultiChoice will be taking in this regard.

 The outcome of the meeting was an agreement to set up a team to work on practical solutions to reduce the negative impact on the loss of jobs at ANN7 as far as possible. The parties agreed to look at how best ANN7 employees can be redeployed to the new news channel MultiChoice is commissioning, as well as within the broader industry. The Communication Workers Union said: “We welcome the outcomes of the meeting as a first step as we continue to strive for media diversity and an industry that is inclusive. As a union, we view job security as a primary objective of any trade union movement.