Parliament passes amendment to Minimum Wage Act to correct technical error

ANA reports that parliament has finally passed an amendment to the National Minimum Wage Act to provide for ordinary workers to be paid at least R20 an hour after a technical error was picked up in the initial legislation. The amendment bill was passed during the National Assembly’s final plenary sitting of the fifth parliamentary term on Wednesday afternoon.

The National Minimum Wage Bill aims to amend the National Minimum Wage Act, 2018. The Act is aimed at advancing economic development and social justice by improving the wages of lowest paid workers, protecting workers from unreasonably low wages and promoting collective bargaining and supporting economic policy. The Act sets a mandatory national minimum wage at R20 for each ordinary hour worked. The Act states that all employees are entitled to receive and all employers are required to pay wages no less than the national minimum wage.

Farmworkers protest at Parliament

GroundUp reports that over 200 farm workers marched to Parliament on Wednesday to hand over a memorandum demanding an immediate moratorium on farm evictions, an urgent meeting with the minister of rural development and a task team to address farm evictions. In 2014, then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa promised a moratorium on farm evictions. That promise is yet to be fulfilled.

The march was organised by the Women on Farms Project. In the memorandum, the workers said that evictions in the broader Cape winelands and in Drakenstein Municipality had become a crisis. 20,000 people are at risk of eviction on Drakenstein farms.

by Ashraf Hendricks

COSATU slams Standard Bank’s planned branch closures and job cuts

The Citizen reports that COSATU says the decision by Standard Bank to close 91 of its branches and retrench more than 1,000 employees countrywide has reinforced the trade union federation’s call for the Labour Relations Act to be amended to make it impossible to lay off employees easily. Last week, Standard Bank said it planned to close offices and retrench about 1,200 staff by the end of June.

The move was apparently necessitated by the need to digitalise its commercial and business bank.  The fear has been expressed that the decision to close offices and retrench staff could trigger a domino effect, with other banks following suit as banking was shifting to internet and mobile banking thereby rendering some staff redundant.  On Sunday, COSATU’s spokesperson Sizwe Pamla condemned the bank’s decision.  “We reiterated our position that we need to amend the Labour Relations Act that allows this to be possible,” Pamla said.

by Eric Naki
Ref: SA Labour news

NUM meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa, Ministers Pravin Gordhan and Jeff Radebe

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) can confirm that yesterday, Tuesday 18 March 2019, met with State President Cyril Ramaphosa who was accompanied by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Energy Minister Jeff Radebe. The meeting was held at the union’s head offices in Johannesburg. It is important to note that the NUM will still need to consult with its Eskom members on the contents of the meeting and discuss a way forward. The three-hour meeting with the President and the Ministers came to a result of resolutions that were taken earlier this month by thousands of frustrated Eskom workers.

The NUM would like to categorically state that the meeting with the President yesterday was productive and brought some elements of hope. Going forward, there will be an open dialogue on issues affecting workers, and that will accommodate every stakeholder.  Most importantly, the NUM is relieved after being assured by the President that no jobs will be lost in the process of unbundling and that the power utility will remain 100% state-owned. The President also assured the NUM that going forward, stakeholders will be taken along or consulted when major decisions are taken. Lastly, the NUM Eskom members will still go ahead with their planned march to ANC headquarters Luthuli House on the 30th of March 2019.

National Assembly approves names for SABC Board

SABC News reports that the National Assembly has approved the Communications Committee report which recommends eight names of candidates to serve on the SABC Board. The committee brought its report to the House for final approval. It is now up to President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint the eight non-executive SABC Board members.

House Chairperson Cedric Frolick read the results. “There are no abstentions. 78 has voted against the recommendation and 198 has voted in favour of the recommendation. Honourable members, Miss Mary Papaya, Miss Jasmina Patel, Dr Marcia Socikwa, Miss Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi, Miss Bernedette Muthien, Advocate Benjamin Motshedi Lekalakala, Professor Sathasivan Cooper and Mr David Maimela are accordingly  recommended for appointment to the Board of the South African Broadcasting  Corporation. The names will be forwarded to the President for consideration for appointment.”

by  Mercedes Besent

SA NGO workers get boost with new professional qualification

News24 reports that there is hope that a new professional NGO qualification will give community workers the skill set to make an impact on social problems at local level. “Solving social issues is often complex and multi-layered. By doing post matric training in community development, such community leaders can begin to engage with social problems at a deeper level, but without compromising the validity of their lived experience and the deep knowledge and experience they have as people living in communities,” Joan Daries, programme manager at Community Chest, told News24 about the new qualification.

The higher certificate in community development is not simply a synonym for a service diploma – it’s intended to specifically address the needs of vulnerable groups. While it will be offered at South African universities, funding will come from Community Chest with the support of the National Lotteries Commission. Course participants will complete the qualification over two years, part-time, and Community Chest has provided scholarships of R32 000 each for an initial group of 30 students.

by Duncan Alfreds

SACTWU submits 2019 wage demands

The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has submitted its 2019 wage demands to employers, for those sectors for which the union is negotiating this year. This follows on the union’s 2019 National Wage Mandating Meeting held on 7-9 March 2019, in Durban, which was attended by 160 shop stewards from all parts of the country, and where the national wage demands for this year were consolidated.

The demands were submitted to the employer counterparts between Thursday last week, and yesterday 18 March this year. The sectors for which SACTWU is negotiating this year includes the following: Footwear, Tanning, General Goods and Handbags (GGH), Sheltered Employment Enterprises (SEE) and Distribution Retail. Most of the wage increases for these sectors are due between April and July this year. The demands include an average of 15% wage increase, improvements in employer retirement fund contributions, a 40-hour work week without loss of pay, local procurement promotion, and stronger organisational rights such as improved paid time-off for shop steward trade union duties, and the permanent employment of all contract workers. Negotiations are expected to commence with effect from the end of March 2019.

‘No strike,’ but hundreds of cops stay away from work

The Citizen reports that Minister of Police Bheki Cele has vowed to check why scores of police officers did not report for duty yesterday amid rumours that the police, who are essential services civil servants, were going on strike. He said at least 400 officers in the Western Cape and up to 120 in KwaZulu-Natal did not report for duty yesterday. The minister called on those who did not go to work for any other reason to return as the SA Police Service (SAPS) management was working on finding a solution to their concerns.

Cele met with more than 1,200 station commanders in an effort to find a solution to end the impasse in Centurion yesterday. He said it emerged during the meeting with station commanders that members were not happy about the level of promotions. Police officers were unhappy about backlogs in promotions after the minister last year reportedly pledged to address the backlog of over 69,000 promotions, which had been reduced to 45,000. He said it was agreed to review the promotion process to accommodate the worst affected, engage the officers involved within a week and get expert advice on how to go about the process of tackling the backlog. Cele said the experts should have completed their report within three months, but warned those officers who stayed away from work that they would be called on to explain.

by Sipho Mabena

Transnet gives small businesses a leg up in KZN

Engineering News writes that state-owned freight utility Transnet, in attendance of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, on Friday launched an enterprise development megahub for small businesses and entrepreneurs in Empangeni, in KwaZulu-Natal. The hub will assist small businesses, aspirant entrepreneurs and startups to be incubated into a real business environment. The initiative forms part of Transnet’s enterprise development programme and will help small businesses in need of company registration; business skills development; temporary office space and mentorship; tax registration and administration; project implementation and monitoring plans; supplier readiness programmes; and to participate in the public procurement system.

To get the small businesses ready, Transnet formed partnerships with the South African Revenue Service, the National Youth Development Agency, the Small Enterprise Financial Agency and the Small Enterprise Development Agency, which will assist in providing accredited training programmes, registrations and capacity building to new and existing businesses.

by Marleny Arnoldi

Eskom to implement ‘Stage 4’ load-shedding from 09:00 to 23:00

Engineering News reports that Eskom said on Monday it would commence Stage 4 rotational load shedding from 09:00 to 23:00 and continue into Tuesday due to a shortage of capacity. Stage 4 load-shedding requires the state-owned utility, which supplies 95% of South Africa’s electricity, to rotationally take 4 000 MW of demand off the grid at a given period to avoid a total collapse.

“We remind customers that load-shedding at Stage 4 is no cause for alarm as the system is being effectively controlled,” Eskom said in a statement. Eskom said its maintenance teams were working round the clock to return generation units to the system. “We appeal to customers to switch off geysers during the day as well as all non-essential lighting and electricity appliances to assist in reducing demand,” it said, reminding consumers to treat all electrical points as live during load-shedding.

by ANA