Truck drivers warn of national shutdown on July 18

TimesLive reports that a landmark case for the trucking industry will be heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on the 18th July 2019. The case between the Positive Freight Solution Forum (PFSF), representing truck owners, and leadership of the All Truck Divers Foundation (ATDF), representing truck drivers, is expected to get under way. The trial comes in the wake of a wave of attacks on trucks and drivers which have left several people dead and caused at least R1.2bn in damages to vehicles and cargo, according to the Road Freight Association (RFA). The issue between the PFSF and the ATDF – neither of which are registered with the National Bargaining Council (NBC) – is largely related to the hiring of foreign truck drivers, while competent South African drivers remain unemployed despite having the necessary qualifications.  

PFSF recently obtained an urgent court interdict to prevent the looting of trucks, the harming of drivers and the burning of trucks. The day of the trial is set to coincide with a national shutdown. In a widely circulated WhatsApp message, truck owners were warned of a looming national strike and that no trucks should operate on the day, which had been billed “Trucking Black Day”. The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) in the meantime expressed its disappointment at the government’s decision to engage with the PFSF. In a media statement on Monday, Satawu said it was worried that the government had given an ear to the PFSF while excluding registered trade unions and employers who are party to the National Bargaining Council (NBC) for the road freight and logistics industry. KZN premier Sihle Zikalala is expected to provide feedback early next week into the ongoing dispute.

by Orrin Singh



Stellenbosch University starts training data engineers

Engineering News writes that the Faculty of Engineering at Stellenbosch University (SU) will introduce a new BEng degree in Data Engineering from February 2020.  This degree will be a new specialisation stream in the faculty’s existing undergraduate degree in Electrical  and Electronic Engineering. The purpose of this new specialisation in Data Engineering is to prepare the university’s students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where the world of work has fundamentally changed and there is a deluge of data that needs to be structured, modelled and analysed to enable data-led organisations to discover underlying knowledge and make well-informed decisions, the faculty said in a statement.  

This initiative supports the soon to be established School for Data Science and Computational Thinking at SU.  The introduction of the new specialisation adds to the engineering faculty’s introduction of data science into all its existing BEng programmes, whereby all BEng graduates will be exposed to the development of data analytics and expert systems. The existing programmes and specialisations will have a limited exposure, but the new specialisation in data engineering will go in depth into the mathematical and statistical fundamentals of data science.

by Tasneem Bulbulia

Workers demonstrate over unfair treatment at Pretoria Zoo

Pretoria News reports that educational trips for school children and visitors to the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa had to be rescheduled as workers took to the entrance of the Zoo to picket over unfair treatment of employees. Workers were given the go-ahead to picket by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration, as of May 21. This as union branch secretary, Frans Rasethe, said labour representatives had been unable to get management to pay all its employees equally and for working conditions at the Zoo to be improved.

Rasethe said members complained about the lack of medical aid and housing allowances not being paid to them since they were transferred to the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) since April 1 2018. According to Rasethe, since the transfer from the National Research Foundation no benefits had been paid to workers consisting of personnel from the cleaning, conservation and or feeding, finance and landscape departments. “We tried to speak to the CEO and they informed us they don’t have the authority to release the funds, hence our president attempted to seek assistance from the Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries.” “We will strike until our demands are met as it’s not fair for some people to work seven days and receive overtime pay while others don’t get it.” He said they were not fighting with the Zoo management but only for what was due to be paid to workers.

by Goitsemang Tlhabye

COSATU MPUMALANGA TO SUPPORT SASBO NATIONAL YOUTH CELEBRATION

The Congress of South African Trade Unions in Mpumalanga will fully support the planned youth day celebration to be hosted by its affiliates in the financial sector (SASBO). The union will utilise the event to call for the address of the following socio economic challenges confronting young workers employed by the sector:

  • Fighting against the adverse of the fourth industrial revolution.
  •  The advancement of decent work for all and safe working conditions.
  • Decent salary and adequate fringe benefits
  • The advancement of equity for all and the fundamental transformation opportunities of the previously disadvantaged social groups.

The event is scheduled to take place as follows:-
Date:    15 June 2019
Time:   13h00
Venue: COSATU Provincial Offices Witbank

Victory for children’s rights in the Western Cape

GroundUp writes that for the first time, a province in South Africa will have a dedicated Commissioner for Children. The Western Cape Commissioner for Children Act was passed on 29 March 2019, and will come into effect on a date still to be determined. This follows years of lobbying by civil society organisations, and it has the potential to significantly further the protection and promotion of children’s rights. The Commissioner will be appointed by the Premier of the province for a period of five years. The public will be invited to nominate candidates and raise objections about potential candidates. The provincial legislature will consider nominations and make a recommendation to the Premier.

The Commissioner’s duties include monitoring, researching and investigating matters relating to the protection and promotion of children’s rights. The Commissioner must act independently and without fear, favour or bias. In addition, the Commissioner has powers to receive and investigate complaints about services impacting on children provided by provincial organs of state. The Commissioner may subpoena any person to appear before him or her and may make recommendations following investigations. Anyone who fails to furnish the Commissioner with written reasons for refusing or failing to implement recommendations is guilty of an offence and can be fined or sent to jail for up to 12 months. Anyone can approach the Commissioner to take up a matter for monitoring, research or investigation.

by Astrid Coombes

One third of domestic workers are still not registered for UIF

GroundUp writes that by law, all employees who work 24 hours or more per month are entitled to unemployment insurance. However, more than 300,000 domestic workers are not registered, meaning they will not be paid out if they lose their jobs. Employers are required to register domestic workers with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). The employer and employee must each pay must contribute an amount equal to 1% of the employee’s monthly wage. The employee must pay the same amount. According to Statistics South Africa, just over one million domestic workers are employed for 24 hours or more per month. About 680,000 were registered with UIF as of 31 March. This means one third of domestic workers who are entitled to unemployment insurance, and who may be entitled to maternity benefits, are not registered.

Workers can only be registered with UIF by their employer, who must fill out the UI-8 and UI-19 forms, and then submit them through the online uFiling system, fax, email, mail, or bring them to a Labour Centre. Employers often “just give up” once the online system fails, says Myrtle Witbooi, general secretary of the South African Domestic Services and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU). She says many employers have cited problems with the system as the reason they have not registered their domestic workers. Some find they cannot log into the system, and others do not receive the required registration number after filling everything in. But UIF communications director Makhosonke Buthelezi says since the launch of the system in 2013, “clients have had no problems registering on it.” Witbooi says the Department of Labour needs to increase oversight over employers of domestic workers to ensure that they are complying with the requirements.

The union has been trying to convince the Minister of Labour to organise an imbizo with domestic workers to inform them of their rights. Witbooi also said the labour department should produce pamphlets and use media to keep domestic workers informed. On 23 May, a judge ruled in the Pretoria High Court that the exclusion of domestic workers in the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act of 1993 is unconstitutional. But the law has yet to be changed.Domestic workers also have a lower national minimum wage. When the minimum wage was set at R20 per hour or R3,500 per month in May 2018, the minimum for domestic workers was only R15 per hour. This is because they are seen as more likely to lose their jobs if wages go up rapidly, according to a National Treasury document.

by Kristine Liao

State to reveal details of Marikana miners’ dockets

SABC News reports the defence team in the Marikana trial have successfully argued for the state to reveal details of dockets of the two scenes where 34 mine-workers were shot and killed in August 2012. Former North West Deputy Police Commissioner William Mpembe and three other senior police officers are facing charges of contravening the Commission Act, the IPID Act and defeating the ends of justice by lying about the death of one of the 34 mine workers at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry.

The State wanted to confine arguments to his death, which it says happened en route to a detention centre at Lonmin mine. But arguing that he was killed on the koppie, the Defence wanted dockets from scene 1 and 2 to be admissible. These are the dockets Mpembe and five other officers will be tried on in a separate case of four alleged murders and six attempted murders of workers. Lawyers representing the 34 deceased workers were in court.  This, as the case may have a bearing on the outcome of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. IPID investigators were expected to take the stand on Wednesday. Witnesses from IPID would be the first to take the stand. Judge Hendricks remanded the matter until Wednesday.

by Lucas Mothibedi

Continental Tyre SA starts retrenchment process closing down a PE unit

HeraldLive reports that a total of 170 jobs are on the line at Continental Tyre SA, which is shutting down its underground mining tyres and agricultural tyres production unit in Port Elizabeth and moving production out of SA. This comes on top of a rash of liquidations – and accompanying job losses – in the Bay since 2017, with an average of three companies a month being forced to apply for liquidation since then. Continental issued 170 employees – in both the affected manufacturing unit and its sales organisation – with a Section 189A notice on June 7.

The notice essentially initiates an employee consultative process which could see the company cut 170 jobs. The closure of the unit was confirmed on Tuesday by the international company’s facility in Port Elizabeth, which said its passenger light truck (PLT) tyre production would continue its operations. “The decision was made to review the Port Elizabeth manufacturing operations as a result of the restructuring of the global commercial specialty tyre business,” Shaun Uys, the managing director of Continental’s South African operations, said. He said all efforts would be made to minimise the impact and to reduce the number of employees affected.

by Shaun Gillman

NEHAWU intends to fight retrechment at NECSA

Business Report writes that the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) was due on Wednesday to kick-off three days of mass action at the state-owned Nuclear Energy Company of SA (Necsa). Branch chairman Zolani Masoleng announced on Tuesday that union members would embark on daily lunch hour pickets until Friday to oppose possible job cuts of 400 and to also call for the resignation of the recently appointed Necsa board.  “The new board has developed a corporate plan and a turnaround strategy without consulting organised labour.  

They (the board) have written to the Department of Minerals and Energy proposing assistance to cut 400 jobs in an effort to save R200 million a year,” Masoleng charged.  He said the cut would cost Necsa R106m for voluntary severance packages for affected employees.  “You have people sitting in dark corners and have never consulted the union.  Our view is that the process if illegal,” said Masoleng.  He also alleged that the company was planning to sell off parts of nuclear medicine production unit NTP Radioisotopes, a Necsa and international supplier of nuclear medicine cancer treatment, putting it at risk of losing market share.  

by Dineo Faku
Ref: SA Labour News

Nehawu ends strike at Vaal University of Technology

ANA reports that the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) on Wednesday said it has ended its strike at Vaal University of Technology (VUT) after an agreement was reached by the union and the employer after marathon negotiations. General Secretary Zola Saphetha said their members were consulted on the draft settlement that was agreed upon by their negotiation team and the employer.  After intensive consultation their members accepted the proposed settlement and the agreement was subsequently signed on Tuesday. Saphetha said they agreed on a 7.5% salary increase across the board backdated to April 2019. They also agreed to the equalisation of implementation of signed in-sourcing agreement of 2016 and non implementation of five days “no-work no-pay” in exchange of a R5 000 once-off payment.

The conversion of qualifying contracts into permanent jobs was also agreed to. Saphetha said charges laid against union members would be withdrawn. He said the unity demonstrated by VUT workers should teach all other universities a lesson that when workers are united nothing can defeat them. “The five day long strike by our members should have long been avoided had the university came to the negotiations table with progressive openness and care for its human capital than being fixated on one position of a zero percent salary increase,” said Saphetha. “We also hope that the assessor that has been appointed by the Minister of higher Education and Training will expedite his work and uncover elements of ongoing corruption and save our university.”  

by Thembelihle Mkhonza
Ref: Independent News