Prosecute mining companies over fatalities, NUM exhorts

City Press reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said after five workers were killed at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu mine that mining companies get away with minor sanctions over fatalities when they should face full prosecution. “Investigations are done after every incident, but we never know what happens to the reports and whether their recommendations are implemented.  Reports are often referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for possible prosecution, but in most cases you find these companies paying just a fine when people have died,” said NUM health and safety secretary Erick Gcilitshana.

He went on to say:  “We acknowledge that fewer fatalities were recorded in recent years, but one life is one too many.  We still don’t know what caused most of those accidents.  Workers continue to die and sustain serious injuries and we don’t see mining companies being punished when found to be in the wrong.”  Five mineworkers died underground following a “seismic incident” at Kusasalethu in Carletonville last Friday.  “We are looking forward to the investigation, to find out what exactly triggered the seismic event that led to the loss of lives at Kusasalethu mine,” Gcilitshana said.

by Poloko Tau

Trans Hex to close Baken mine, starts consultations with NUM over 332 lay-offs

Mining Weekly reports that diamond producer Trans Hex will be placing its Baken mine, in the Northern Cape, on care and maintenance from 1 November. The miner on Friday said that, while every effort had been taken to sustain operations at the mine, its low-carat production and subsequent financial losses have made the operation unsustainable.

Trans Hex has issued a notice to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and on 1 September started consultations with the union over the potential retrenchment of the mine’s 332 employees.  Operations at the mine will continue during the consultation process.

Workers at Spif Beleggings Chickens vow to strike until wage demand is met

Bosveld Review reports that some 500 workers at Spif Beleggings Chickens in Mookgophong (Naboomspruit) have been left without any source of an income since May. This was after wage negotiations between the company and union reached a deadlock and they went on strike.  Fawu Limpopo provincial secretary Nelson Semenya said:  “Workers are demanding a R300 wage increment, while the company is offering R250.  The strike is still continuing.

It is a lawful strike and we are still on a deadlock but we are trying by all means to bring the company to the table.”  The strike started on 18 May. The MD of Spif Beleggings Kevin Traviss blamed the poultry recession as being one of the contributing factors for their inability to meet the workers’ demands.  He added the continuous strike had violated a picketing agreement signed by both parties at the CCMA.

Ref: SALabourNews

COSATU Post Central Executive Committee media briefing today

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has a Post CEC media briefing today following a three day Central Executive Committee meeting that started on the 28th  of August 2017  to discuss Organisational, Political and Socio-economic issues affecting the workers and the working class.

The details of the media briefing are as follows:
Date : 31 August  2017, Today
Time : 11h00
Venue : COSATU House, 110 Jorissen Street, Braamfontein

Gigaba’s bombshell that PIC funds could be used to bail SOEs out angers Cosatu

BusinessLive reports that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has told Cosatu’s central executive committee (CEC) meeting that he cannot guarantee that the government will not attempt to make use of the Public Investment Corporation’s (PIC’s) funds to capitalise state-owned entities (SOEs). This comes as the government scrambles to raise money for struggling SOEs, notably airline SAA.  The labour federation’s leaders apparently took the minister to task after his presentation on Monday, demanding the assurance that the crisis of the country’s burdened fiscus would not affect workers’ “hard-earned” pensions and savings.

Cosatu’s biggest affiliate, Nehawu, has already stated its opposition to a potential bail-out of SAA by the PIC.  The union said such a move would be an abuse of employees’ retirement funds, to rescue SAA, which was a “mismanaged and corrupt” entity.  Delegates to the CEC meeting were due to debate the minister’s presentation on Tuesday night.  The PIC manages assets worth more than R1.8-trillion and invests funds on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) and other social funds.  The Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) said that it would never agree that PIC funds could be used to bail out “mismanaged” government entities.

by Theto Mahlakoana

Outrage that City of Johannesburg job applicants have to declare any political party positions

SowetanLive reports that the Democratic Alliance (DA) administration in the City of Johannesburg wants to know if its prospective employees hold any political office. This is stated in a new job application form for the city, which compels applicants to disclose political positions – permanent or temporary.  The DA said the intention was to ensure that there was a clear divide between party and state, and that those who hold senior positions in the city’s administration are appointed due to their professional qualifications rather than loyalty or seniority in any political party.

The move has been met with outrage by the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), whose regional secretary Bafana Zungu said the question was abnormal and that such a requirement was unheard of.  However, Mayor Herman Mashaba’s spokesman defended the move, saying the question was about preventing cadre deployment and was in line with the Municipal Systems Act.  “It asks you whether you hold political office, not what party do you support,” he pointed out.  The DA added in a statement last night that the question was introduced in 2014 under the previous administration, but this could not be recalled by former city manager Trevor Fowler.

by Isaac Mahlangu and Loyiso Sidimba

Family members identify bodies Harmony mine victims

SABC News reports that family members of the miners who died at the Kusasalethu Harmony Gold mine have identified the bodies of their loved ones on Tuesday. The rescue operation for the remaining miners continues as two more miners remain trapped underground. This follows a tremor which hit the mine in Carletonville last Friday. Earlier, the National Union of Mineworkers called on Harmony Gold Mine to intensify efforts to rescue the two remaining trapped miners at Kusasalethu mine in Carletonville.

NUM’s Health and Safety Secretary, Erick Gcilitshana says: “We are calling for this escalation because the last body was retrieved  in the early hours of yesterday. Now, it’s about 24 hours already now, nobody has been rescued. That is why we are calling for this escalation. And also that the company must also consider more manpower. We are talking of experienced miners and team leaders who can assist in the process of fast tracking the process of rescuing or recovering the bodies.”

Salary and wage demands by SAMWU submitted to Magalies Water

Business Report writes that the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) has submitted their salary and wage demands for the  2017/18 financial year to Magalies Water. Magalies Water supplies water to the Rustenburg, Madibeng, and Moretele Local Municipalities in the North West. The water utility company received the demands from SAMWU as they are the majority union representing the company’s workers. SAMWU, after rigorously consulting with their members, and the lapse of the previous salary and wage agreement, has submitted their demands asking for a single year agreement backdated from 1 July 2017, 20% salary increase for all workers, an additional 10% salary increase for workers on P7-P18 on a total cost to company, and a 12.5% standby allowance.

The union also asked for 10 days paternity leave, 10 days paid family leave per year, 25 annual leave days, 15% shift allowance, and 12% retirement contribution by the employer. “We trust that the employer will come to the table and negotiate with us in a good faith, particularly given the fact that there is currently no agreement which means that workers have automatically taken a salary cut until such time that a new agreement is signed,” SAMWU stated. Negotiations on SAMWU’s demands will begin on Wednesday 30 August 2017.

by Tamaryn Africa

COSATU Free State demands answers on Cde Mbuyiselwa Phajane Mnguni’s death

COSATU Free State welcomes the sittting of the court in Sasolburg this week to listen to the case on the death of Comrade Mbuyiselwa Phajane Mnguni. The comrade who was the Regional Chairperson of CEPPWAWU and COSATU Sasolburg Local Chairperson until he disappeared for more than a week until his lifeless body was found dumped in the veld. It has been quite a difficult era for the Family, Friends and Relatives as well as the broader progressive forces and the community at large to come to terms with the brutal and un-deserving death this selfeless leader who led the struggle for workers at all fronts suffered.

As COSATU Free State, we hope and believe that the proceedings of this court would answer the questions that have been haunting us for all this time, since the incident. We all need closure on this painful matter. We would like to know where, how and at whose hands did Comrade Phajane meet his seemingly violent and undue end to his life! The spirit of Comrade Mbuyiselwa Phajane Mnguni will live on and may his soul find peace amongst the stalwarts who passed on before him!

Liberated Metalworkers Union of South Africa rejects new MEIBC agreemen

Business Report writes that the Liberated Metalworkers Union of South Africa (LIMUSA) is not surprised but rather shocked by the recent settlements agreement in the Metal and Engineering Bargaining Council. According to a statement by LIMUSA, the agreement will increase wages by 7%. LIMUSA also stated that “The development has become a norm in the metal industry were compromised agreement are concluded in board rooms.

It is not a coincidence that in the history of the metal industry that the three main sectors e.g. Auto, Motor, and Engineering had concluded agreements without workers lifting a figure to employers.” They said it is a fact that the settlements represent a decline in terms of the achievements when compared to previous bargaining rounds. “There is no improvement factor in these settlements therefore in real terms the wages of workers are not increasing at all,” LIMUSA said.  The metal industry according to LIMUSA is facing a serious number of challenges particularly Metal and Engineering. The union referred to the challenge in courts on collective agreements as well as the Council being under administration due to financial challenges. “LIMUSA is in process of being party to the Council to ensure that the next round of negotiations metal workers has a voice that is caring inside the process,” the union concluded.

by Tamaryn Africa