Ugu municipality residents still without water

BusinessLive reports that residents and businesses on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast say they are still without water, despite a “truce” between Ugu district municipality and its workers who had gone on a wildcat strike. According to residents, there has been no respite and the taps have been dry for between nine and 27 days due to the strike. The provincial government declared the region a disaster zone on Thursday and sent technicians and support staff to help restore water supplies. The workers were demanding that the municipality stop docking salaries for last year’s illegal strike. They were also demanding to be paid for overtime during the Easter weekend, among other grievances.

The municipality said workers aligned to the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) had gone on an illegal strike and sabotaged the provision of water by tampering with its systems. But Samwu denied these allegations. Although a deal was agreed to on Friday last week that effectively ended the strike, workers only started returning to work on Saturday. On Wednesday some residents said they still did not have water. Ugu municipality spokesperson France Zama was said to be on leave and Dhanpalan Naidoo, the municipal manager, could not be contacted as his phone rang to voicemail. But on Tuesday, Naidoo told journalists that the municipality was doing all it could to restore water to all affected areas. A team from the municipality was working with personnel seconded by KwaZulu-Natal premier Willies Mchunu to iron out differences between the municipality and the workers who had been on strike.

by Chris Makhaye & Nce Mkhize

NOB’s meeting with Minister Pravin Ghordan – Eskom wage negotiations

The national leadership of COSATU met with the Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Ghordan, yesterday, to discuss mainly the stalled wage negotiations at Eskom and other pertinent matters under his portfolio that affect the workers and the working class. COSATU made it very clear to the Minister that while we support his efforts to turn around and clean up the State Owned Entities, we will not allow a situation where workers are forced to pay for the sins of others.

The federation’s position is that the 0% offer made to workers by the Eskom negotiators is offensive and provocative. The minister has promised to ensure that the Eskom negotiators treat these negotiations seriously and that they do not go back to the negotiating table with the same 0% offer that has enraged and provoked the workers. COSATU supports all the efforts to keep the lights on and restore the power utility to its rightful place because we understand the role of Eskom in our economy. The federation says it is also clear about the negative impact that an implosion of Eskom will have on the economy and jobs in general.

SATAWU PLACES CASH-IN-TRANSIT GUARDS AT THE CENTRE OF WAGE TALKS

The safety and remuneration of cash-in-transit (CIT) security guards are set to take centre stage at this year’s wage negotiations at the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI). Negotiations between the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU), three other unions and employer associations, Road Freight Association (RFA) and National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA), kicked-off late last week. Parties to the negotiations agreed that the NBCRFLI task team established in response to the Mooi River blockades, to probe the employment of foreign nationals in the industry, would also look into issues plaguing the CIT sector.   The task team held its first meeting at the wage talks on 7 June. The next meeting set for 4 July will discuss ways to improve the safety of CIT workers. Tabling their demands at the wage talks, unions insisted all CIT vehicles be manned by no less than seven employees at a time, namely:
– The driver; the driver’s security guard, two security guards to walk in front of the Custodian; the Custodian – he carries the canister/s filled with cash; two security guards to walk behind Box Marshall.

Unions are also demanding all CIT vehicles be fitted with proper air conditioning with drivers reserving the right to refuse work on vehicles that do not meet this requirement. All employees who load cash or pre-loaded canisters into ATMs are to be classified as custodians and are to be entitled to all custodian benefits such as 13th cheque and wellness program benefits. Heavy canisters such Tribus are to be abolished. Labour also wants a minimum wage of R7 000 for general workers including cleaners, R15 000 for Code 14 truck drivers and R20 000 for CIT guards. The minimum wage for truck drivers is geared towards discouraging employers from thinking they can exploit foreign nationals by paying them less than their South African counterparts; while the minimum wage for CIT guards is meant to compensate them for the danger they face on a daily basis as they perform their work. Labour also wants a hike in allowances including a cross border allowance of R1 000 per day, subsistence allowance of R700 per day and a new allowance of R500 per day for cargo security because by virtue of transporting cargo, drivers provide security for it. Unions also want to introduce a refrigeration allowance of R500 per day for drivers who transport refrigerated cargo because ensuring the cargo is kept at the right temperature requires a special skill.

Sibanye blames workers not following rules

Bloomberg reports that Sibanye Gold says workers failing to follow rules and procedures are largely to blame for a spike in fatal accidents at its South African operations, where 19 people have died since January. The company accounts for more than a third of the deaths in South African mines this year and faces growing criticism from unions and government. In the latest incident, four workers died and one was still missing on Tuesday at its Kloof operation.

“It is inexplicable to us,” Sibanye spokesman James Wellsted said of the increase in fatal accidents. “We think a lot of it is behavioural and due to people taking risks and not following safety procedures.”  The workers who died at Kloof this week had strayed into an abandoned area with no ventilation, Wellsted said. It’s unclear what they were doing there, he said. The area should have been barricaded, said National Union of Mineworkers Secretary General David Sipunzi. Sibanye “must take responsibility” for the deaths and should be forced to shut down all its mines to allow for a full safety inspection, the union’s safety chairperson, Peter Bailey, said separately.

by Felix Njini

‘Teacher abuse is escalating’: Sadtu on recent attack by pupils

TimesLive writes that teachers’ union Sadtu has condemned violence at schools‚ as a video surfaced showing pupils attack a teacher. In the video‚ the two pupils are seen repeatedly punching and kicking a teacher to the ground while she screams. The teacher can be seen trying to fight back‚ but the two girls overpower her. The school is believed to be in Limpopo. However‚ the department’s provincial spokesperson Sam Makondo said they had not yet established where the school is.

“We have sent the video to all our district offices to ask them to help us identify the school‚” Makondo said.  Sadtu spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said the incident was part of a worrying trend. “Such incidents seem to be escalating at a rapid pace. We condemn the incident. The law should take its course.” Cembi appealed to parents to play a more active role by instilling discipline in their children. She said Sadtu would look into hosting seminars on violence for school principals.

by Nomahlubi Jordaan

Unions against Eskom 0% wage increase

On Monday, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) said they would hold a hold a one-day shutdown at Eskom on Thursday to protest against 0% salary increases. Last week Eskom declared a deadlock after negotiating. In a joint statement, the NUM and NUMSA said that would exhaust all options available to them legally before resorting to go on strike. We have scheduled pickets during lunch time in different parts of the country where workers will demonstrate their disgust with Eskom for their provocative stance. On Thursday there will be a big demonstration taking place at Megawatt park during lunch.

The unions are demanding 15% increases across the board, a housing allowance increase of R2 000, the banning of labour brokers and the insourcing of workers such as cleaners and security guards. They also want paid maternity leave for six months and paid paternity leave for one month.

Penalties for national minimum wage defaulters still being decided

The Citizen writes that companies that fail to implement the national minimum wage (NMW) could face penalties, which could be harsher for deliberate avoidance. However, the National Employment Development and Labour Council has yet to deliberate on what penalties should be imposed against employers who breach the law. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) said they were looking forward to the day the payment of the minimum wage became a reality. They wished to see everybody complying with the law governing the wage.

They said the new wage set-up would make it easy for them as all employers would be required to comply, otherwise they could be charged, after the penalty situation was finalised.  The federations said the R20 per hour or R3 500 monthly minimum wage agreed to at the National Employment Development and Labour Council would go a long way to improving the lot of poor workers. It would also contribute to economic growth. They envisaged resistance by many employers, expecting some to plead poverty or display an outright ignorance of the new wage dispensation.

by Eric Naki

Exams postponed at Fort Hare university

News24 reports that students at the University of Fort Hare will have to wait until next semester to complete their exams after lecturers and other staff members embarked on strike action on Tuesday. East London and Alice campuses were brought to a standstill when National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) disrupted exam venues to demand a wage increase, said university spokesperson Khotso Moabi. He said that negotiations between the union and the university reached a deadlock when Nehawu demanded a 12% wage increase and the university countered with a 6% increase. Demands also included a notch increase of 5% and a housing allowance of R500, which were both rejected by the university.

“Fort Hare is currently not compensating workers in line with the national market like other 25 universities in the country, thus leading the institution to fail to attract the required quality talent,” Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba said. Xaba said that the relationship between the parties had already been compromised when the university deliberately postponed the bargaining forum since 2017 “without advancing tangible reasons”. Moabi said that no meetings had yet been scheduled with Nehawu, however, the university is open to negotiations.

by Christina Pitt

Fatal accidents at Sibanye mines this year

eNCA reports that Eighteen people have died at Sibanye-Stillwater mines so far this year. Here are some of the accidents that have cast a shadow over the company’s operations. January 29: About 950 miners are trapped underground for 33 hours because of a power outage at the Beatrix mine in Theunissen, Free State. They are all safely brought to the surface.  The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says the mine should have had contingency plans to deal with power cuts and urges workers to refuse to work in dangerous conditions.

February 7: Just a few days later, two mineworkers are not as fortunate, dying in a rockfall at Sibanye’s Kloof mine on the West Rand. The company says the rock fall might have been caused by seismic activity. February 12: Less than a week later there is another fatality, this time at Sibanye’s Driefontein operations, on the West Rand. March 23: A worker dies at the Khuseleka mine in Rustenburg. May 3: Seven workers die after a seismic event at the Driefontein mine, an incident Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe describes as a disaster. At a memorial service, unions are united in their criticism of the country’s mine-safety track record.

“Our voice as workers will be dignified and respected by the employers when we are united,” says NUM general secretary David Sipunzi. “Our differences in our affiliation don’t mean we must forget that the employer remains the workers’ biggest enemy.” Sibanye-Stillwater says the incident occurred at a time when the company was working on improving safety. “I wish to say to every employee working at Stillwater, we don’t condone working in unsafe working condition, we heard unions calling for safe working conditions, we want the same and we expect that right to be exercised. If there are constraints in doing that please bring it to management’s attention so that we can ensure you have that right to withdraw,” says CEO Neal Froneman.