Fourth miner confirmed dead at Kloof mine

eNCA reports that rescuers have found a fourth body at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Kloof mine, southwest of Johannesburg. Three miners were confirmed dead on Monday, after a group of five entered an abandoned shaft at the gold mine near Westonaria. Sibanye-Stillwater spokesman Thabisile Phumo said rescue teams had worked through the night.

They had not found the fifth miner yet. Sibanye-Stillwater suspended mining operations at the Kloof Ikamva shaft on Tuesday for a day of mourning. The Kloof mine is a shallow to ultra-deep gold mine consisting of five producing shaft complexes that mine open hound and pillars. The deepest operating level is some 3.3 kilometres underground. Sibanye-Stillwater expressed its “deepest condolences” to the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased employees.

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.

New CEO at SAA maps out austerity plan

BusinessLive writes six months into the job of running loss-making South African Airways, CEO Vuyani Jarana is mapping out a punishing austerity plan. Jarana said layoffs and other cuts were unavoidable as he contended with a draining cost-to-income ratio of 108%. “SAA cannot carry the same workforce, whether it is pilots, cabin crew or administration,” he said. “We have to make some tough decisions to save the airline. There cannot be sacred cows when it comes to SAA.”

He declined to put a number to the job losses. On Monday, SAA catering subsidiary Air Chefs announced it planned to retrench 118 workers in what could be the start of a more profound restructure of the airline’s entire workforce. SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said Air Chefs, like all other entities in the group, was implementing initiatives in the context of the broader turnaround plan. He emphasised that SAA had not made any firm decision on the exact number of people to be retrenched. This would depend on consultations with labour.

by Linda Ensor and Reuters

Department of Labour ready to use surplus to extend UIF benefits

GroundUp reports that sweeping changes to the Unemployment Insurance Act will mean that contributors who lose their jobs can draw benefits for up to a year instead of for eight months. The Department of Labour plans to use part of the R133.3 billion surplus in the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to expand the scope and reach of benefits, through amendments to the Act which are due to come into effect soon. Makhosonke Buthelezi, UIF Director of Communication and Marketing, told GroundUp that the benefit changes would have meant that an extra R7 billion would have been paid out between January 2017 and April 2018. The UIF paid R8.47 billion in benefits in the 2016-2017 year.

The extra benefits will be paid out from the surplus in the fund. There will not be any increases in contributions by employers or employees. Employees contribute 1% of their salary to the fund. The employer must match that amount and then transfer the money to the fund. The amendment Act was passed in January 2017 but has not yet come into effect. Buthelezi said that the Department’s systems were now “98%” ready for the changes. Matthew Park, parliamentary coordinator for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), sees the amendments as a step in the right direction for workers’ rights, but says there are still gaps which need to be addressed in future. “Once this goes into effect we’re going to look at the long-term unemployed, the unfair dismissals and resignations,” Park said. “You can only engage with these issues once policy takes shape.”

by Annie Cebulski

Four mineworkers found dead at Kloof Ikamva Shaft

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has confirmed that four mineworkers have been found dead at Kloof Ikamva Shaft after they went missing this morning. It is not known what is the cause of the incident. This is an operation owned by Sibanye Stillwater. The NUM is angry and concerned at the rate at which mining incidents are happening at Sibanye Stillwater.

“It seems that disasters have become the order of the day at Sibanye Stillwater. This is unacceptable as we don’t sell our lives, limbs or lungs to the industry but our labour to provide for our families. The Department of Mineral Resources Minister and its inspectorate must now act and act hard on this employer or bear the might of NUM,” said Peter Bailey, NUM Health, and Safety Chairperson. NUM sends its deepest condolences to the families of the deceased mineworkers during this difficult time.

COSATU to Present its Submission on Political Party Funding Bill

COSATU will present its proposals and views on the Political Party Funding Bill to the NCOP’s Ad-Hoc Committee at 2pm Wednesday 13 June, Parliament. COSATU welcomes the bill’s prohibitions on parties receiving funding from:
– Foreign governments and agencies;
– South African state organs and state owned companies; and
– The proceeds of criminal activities.

COSATU further welcomes the bill’s requirements for parties to disclose donations that they receive. However COSATU is deeply dismayed that political parties which cry about the bduget deficit, the wage bill etc. and who call for public expenditure to be reduced, the wage bill cut and public service posts slashed; are now all without exception pleading for increased funding from state coffers!  These are the same parties who have voted to increase VAT and many other taxes that are bleeding workers dry.  COSATU rejects any increase in public funding of political parties. COSATU is shocked that the bill allows for political parties to not disclose donations of less than R100 000.  This will in effect collapse the positive anti-corruption intentions of the bill and must simply be deleted.

Ex-mineworkers warned against unsavoury elements

As the registration of ex-mineworkers for unclaimed benefits by the Department of Labour and its entity, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), gains momentum in the Northern Cape Province, the Department has received reports that there are people operating in the Province targeting ex-mineworkers with a promise of assisting them with their claims for a fee. “As the Department of Labour we would like to warn our people against these suspicious criminal act and we urge them to  wait for the campaign to be publicised  and  reach their towns and respective areas, We have no relationship with any forum or agent purporting to act as middlemen for application intended for unclaimed benefits.  We distance ourselves from such acts and urge our people to report those people at their nearest Police”, said Acting Chief Director: Provincial Operations, Ms Emily Maneli.

The campaign, which is aimed at ex-mineworkers who left employment in the mines prior to 01 April 2002, has been successfully carried out this week covering the areas of Douglas (05/06/2018) and Barkley West (06/06/2018). This category of workers is further urged to come and make applications for unclaimed benefits from the UIF as the project continues next week in areas of Warrenton and Pampierstad. All ex-mineworkers who left their employment after that date will be assessed in line with the Unemployment Insurance Act of 2001 (as Amended).

The Department of Labour as the agent charged with responsibility of tracing and paying these ex-mineworkers urges all potential applicants to bring along the following documents for verification:
Identity document, Access card (from previous mine employer), IRP 5 (from the previous mine employer), Old Blue card, Previous salary advice, Or any proof of mine employment (including “Makhulu’s kop” card, Dompas or TEBA record)

The registrations will be held as follows:
Date: 12 June 2018
Venue: Ikhutseng Community Hall (Warrenton)
Time: 09:00 – 16:00
Date: 14 June 2018
Venue: Mooki Lobelo Primary School (Pampierstad)
Time: 08:30 – 16:00

The campaign will reach the John Taolo Gaetsewe District in the next quarter as it continues to spread to other parts of the province. We further remind our ex-mineworkers that our services are free of charge.

Unions strike wage deal in public service negotiations

COSATU affiliated Public Sector Unions under the Joint Mandating Committee (JMC) representing the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union(POPCRU), National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union(NEHAWU), Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA), Public and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (PAWUSA) and South African Medical Association (SAMA) have all signed the 2018/2021 wage deal following close to ten months of protracted negotiations. It’s however the 59, 39% majority of the workers under COSATU who pushed the employer to accede to an average nominal increase of 2, 2% above inflation for all the public servants.

The wage deal will see 7% increase for junior employers for 2018/19. Mid-level employees will receive 6, 5% increase and senior officials will receive 6% increase. The salary adjustments will take place as follows: those receiving their salaries on the 15th, will receive a separate supplementary run and those who are paid between the 25th and 30th, their increments will be included in their end of June salaries.