What you need to know about new parental leave

Moneyweb reports that currently, South African employment laws provide minimum entitlements to specified leave types for all employees, such as annual leave, sick leave, family responsibility leave, and unpaid maternity leave of four months for female employees. These entitlements originate in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 75 of 1997. A proposed amendment to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act has recently been passed by the parliament in the form of the Labour Laws Amendment Bill (the bill) which would introduce, for the first time, the new leave type of Parental Leave. Although passed by Parliament, this bill still needs to go through the National Council of Provinces and then be signed by the president.

The bill specifies that an employee who is a parent of a child will be entitled to ten days parental leave, which may be granted from the day of the child’s birth or the day of the granting of a child’s adoption order. The bill does not specify paternity leave but rather makes provision for Parental Leave, which could apply to both male and female employees. For this reason, the Labour Laws Amendment Bill is unclear how this Parental Leave type is going to complement maternity leave, i.e. if a female employee takes maternity leave, is she also entitled to Parental Leave? The wording of the bill does not seem to exclude this. An explanatory memorandum to the bill states that the intention of the insertion of the provisions is so that “an employee who is a parent and who is not entitled to maternity leave, is entitled to ten days parental leave when that employee’s child is born or when an adoption order is granted”. Adoption Leave is also provided for whereby an employee who is an adoptive parent will be entitled to ten weeks consecutive Adoption Leave. The bill specifies that if an adoption order is granted in respect of two parents, one parent will be entitled to Adoption Leave (ten weeks) and the other to Parental Leave (ten days).

by Bradley Workman-Davies (director at Werksmans Attorneys)

Battle with FSB over cancellation of ‘orphan’ pension funds to be heard by ConCourt

Mail & Guardian reports that the battle over the cancellation of thousands of “orphan” pension funds — believed to total more than R20-billion — by the Financial Services Board (FSB) will now be taken up by the Constitutional Court. Former deputy registrar of pension funds Rosemary Hunter claims that a mass deregistration of orphan funds — shell funds left without any members or assets or dormant funds without boards — from 2007 to 2013 was unlawful and potentially prejudicial to pensioners and other beneficiaries.

In July 2014, Hunter filed a whistle-blowing report to the board of the FSB alleging the mishandling of the deregistration process, which saw the cancellation of 4,600 funds, without — Hunter said — proper oversight by the FSB.  This matter has a long history of investigations, reports and court cases, which is detailed in this report.  The rules for cancelling funds, as set out by the Pensions Fund Act, will be key to the dispute at the Constitutional Court this week.  Hunter’s counsel will argue that the FS’s reading of the Act disregards the duty of the registrar to check the compliance of trustees with the Pensions Fund Act.  The registrar cannot cancel merely on the say-so of “unlawfully” appointed representatives, says Hunter.

by Sarah Smith

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.

Esidimeni families seek R1.5-million in damages

eNCA reports that lawyers representing the families of those who died in the Life Esidimeni tragedy will continue presenting their closing arguments before the arbitration hearings on Friday. The State and organisations representing the families agreed on Thursday that families should be compensated.

An amount of R200,000 they are to receive – for funeral costs and emotional shock – must still be reviewed by committee chairperson and retired Deputy Chief justice Dikgang Moseneke. More than 140 patients died in Gauteng after they were moved from the Life Esidiemni facility to ill-equipped NGOs.

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.


Two mineworkers are fatally injured at Kloof Mine

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is saddened that two mineworkers who were trapped underground at Kloof mine due to a fall of the ground have passed on. Kloof Mine is an operation owned by Sibanye Stillwater.

We are deeply worried about the safety of workers and we are continuing to witness these shocking fatalities. The cause of the incident is not yet known but DMR inspectors are investigating. We sell our labour, not our lives, lungs, and limbs. One death is one death too many as we talk about breadwinners of the families. The NUM sends its deepest condolences to the families of the deceased during this difficult time.


CCMA called in as DUT strike continues

Timeslive reports that the embattled Durban University of Technology has turned to the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in a last ditch bid to resolve the month-long impasse with unions over wage increases. The academic year was due to start on Monday‚ but the breakdown in negotiations over better salary packages‚ saw lectures being pushed to February 12. Management is offering a 6.5% increase in basic salary and a 6.5% housing allowance‚ without a once-off bonus. But striking unions are demanding an 8% increase and a R350 hike in the housing allowance.

“The deadlock on the salary increment which led to a staff strike…resulted in DUT management writing a letter to the CCMA‚ invoking a Section 150 of the Labour Relations Act‚ which allows independent mediation by the CCMA‚” said DUT spokesman Alan Khan. He added that the CCMA ordered that both parties appear before its commissioners. Khaya Xaba‚ National Health Education and Allied Workers Union spokesman for KwaZulu-Natal‚ said the strike would continue. He added that management had refused to budge on its offer and that a 6% increase on a R1 100 house allowance would only amount to R66.

by Suthentira Govender

Competition Commission unveils school uniform proposal

eNCA reports that the Competition Commission has made a tentative proposal that schools reduce exclusive contracts and open up the market for other suppliers of uniforms. The commission is probing the issue after it received complaints about high prices and anti-competitive behaviour. In an ongoing investigation into the R10-billion sector, some initial recommendations have been agreed upon, pending the finalisation of the probe.

The commission is pushing for an open market for suppliers who can compete fairly and provide affordability, especially for disadvantaged pupils. “Schools that decide to buy from particular suppliers sometimes shop within the schools themselves, but they should follow a competitive bidding process when appointing suppliers,” Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said. The commission says generic uniforms could be introduced with a separate school crest. It says it will release its report in coming weeks.