By Hanna Ziady for Business Live

Capitec, the lender that indelibly disrupted SA’s banking sector, entered the insurance market with the launch of Capitec Insure on Monday.

It will dip its toes in the water with a funeral plan underwritten by Sanlam-owned Centriq Life Insurance Company.

“We know what our banking clients are paying to other providers and we are coming in well below the competition with more cover,” Francois Viviers, executive of marketing and communications at Capitec, told Business Day on Monday.

The vast majority of the bank’s clients had funeral policies with other providers. It would target these customers initially before launching marketing campaigns, Viviers said.

Capitec, which obtained its banking licence in 2001, now boasts nearly 10-million customers. About 46% of these are primary banking clients, who not only have loans with the bank but make regular deposits into their Capitec accounts, mainly salaries.

It now has 289,000 active credit cards in issue, launching that product at the beginning of 2017 to target wealthier customers. Its credit card product had a book value of R2bn at the end of February — about 4.2% of Capitec’s total loan book.

The funeral insurance market in SA is reportedly worth more than $500m in annual premiums. The Financial Services Conduct Authority could not confirm this figure at the time of publication.

Funeral insurance was a “good opportunity” for Capitec, as it had been very lucrative for large life insurers such as MMI and Sanlam, said Renier de Bruyn, investment analyst at Sanlam Private Wealth.

“Margins are high, which means Capitec can charge less and still be profitable,” he said.

There were 15-million funeral insurance policies in circulation covering 19-million adults, Viviers said.

“Based on our research, we estimate the average policy in the market to cover a main life, spouse, two children and one extended family member costs between R175 and R295.

“Capitec provides the equivalent cover at approximately R140 in branch and R124 on our banking app,” he said.

Policies start from R25 a month, through the Capitec app and R40 a month when applying in branch.

Funeral cover ranges from R10,000 to R100,000.

The product would be accessible via the Capitec banking app, where customers could change their cover amounts depending on monthly affordability, Viviers said.

The funeral plan featured cover for up to 21 dependants, including the policyholder.

Other features include a doubling of the funeral payout if a life assured died in an accident and a six-month premium waiver if the policyholder died for the remaining life assureds.

In addition, there was a voluntary policy pause for up to six months, with no premiums payable and no cover.

Capitec hoped to launch other insurance products in the long term, Viviers said.

Also on Monday, international short-selling outfit Viceroy Research published a letter containing questions for Capitec’s audit committee.

These relate to alleged changes in Capitec’s provisioning policy and the nature of internal consolidation.

A scathing Viceroy report in February torpedoed the share price and prompted a back-and-forth debate between Capitec and Viceroy.

Capitec CEO Gerrie Fourie said at the time that the Viceroy report was “riddled with inaccuracies”.

The share price did not react to the Viceroy letter on Monday.

Source: Business Day

Nearly 12% of the South African workforce spent more than 60 hours a week on the job. This is despite SA’s labour laws prohibiting more than 45 hours a week.

Mining and retail are the two sectors in which you are likely to work the hardest in SA‚ according to a composite review of professions around the world.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) says of the almost 50 countries sampled‚ SA was the fifth hardest working country with workers spending an average of 43.3 hours a week on the job. Looking only at jobs in the formal sectors‚ the OECD found the mining industry to be in the lead with workers putting in an average of 45.3 hours a week.

TimesLIVE spoke to Desire Mokoena‚ a mine production planner from Mpumalanga, who said mineworkers‚ particularly those in production‚ worked 12-hour shifts‚ mostly six days a week. Sharing her perspective from a woman in mining‚ Mokoena said that while the career could be rewarding‚ it was not always conducive for women.

She gave an example of sanitation for women working underground‚ concerns about personal safety‚ and the physicality of the work.

“As you advance forward [in the mine], you leave the toilets behind. As a woman‚ what are the chances of me having to go back to the [entrance] far away to walk to the bathrooms? It is not safe anymore. There are illegal miners underground so anything can happen. So normally the women would find a corner at the pillars and just relieve themselves … It is dark‚ no one can see you‚ but it is unhygienic‚” she said‚ adding there were no breaks in between the shifts.

Ten hours were spent on labour while the other two hours were spent travelling to and from the operations site underground.

“Underground‚ a lot of things need manpower. You pull cables‚ get onto a high machine, and remember‚ the ground is not level. They say it’s uncomfortable for women. Other women end up having back problems because of such things‚” said Mokoena.

According to the OECD‚ wholesale and retail came in second with workers clocking in an average of 44.7 hours‚ followed by finance and business services at 43.7, and transport and communication at 43.6 hours.

Lily Kok, who has years of retail experience, said, “Retail is one of the easiest industries to get into after matric. When you’re looking for a job‚ in most cases‚ retail would be the first to welcome you into the working field. So I think that’s the first option that people go for.”

With a six-day work week‚ averaging eight hours a day‚ Kok spends about 48 hours a week at work. Most of these hours are spent on her feet. “The only rewarding thing I would say is seeing your customers happy and pleased with the service you have given them‚” she said‚ suggesting there was not a lot of financial gain with the job.

60 hours a week

The OECD said nearly 12% of the South African workforce spent more than 60 hours a week on the job. This is despite SA’s labour laws prohibiting more than 45 hours a week and no more than 10 hours in overtime.

Quoting research from the Stellenbosch University’s Bureau for Economic Research‚ the OECD said men worked the hardest. “SA’s hardest workers are black men younger than 45 in a semi-skilled occupation and lucky enough to have a permanent job in a country with high unemployment.”

The study said women were more likely to work shorter hours‚ because they “tend to be more educated and work in the professional sector”.

But knocking off from work does not necessarily mean they are over for the day. For many women‚ leaving work means the beginning of another task — housekeeping.

“South African women without a housekeeper spend 183 minutes a day on housework‚ as opposed to 75 minutes for men. Women living with children also spent an average of 87 minutes a day taking care of them‚ compared to men‚ who spent seven minutes‚” the OECD said.

Working hours were shorter in more economically thriving provinces such as Gauteng and the Western Cape. These provinces had a high concentration of highly skilled workers.

According to the report: “The average working hours in these more affluent provinces is affected by migration from other provinces. The Eastern Cape also had some of the lowest working hours‚ but that was because so few people had permanent employment in the impoverished province.”

Banking complaints rise by 35%

By Robert Laing for Business Day 

The number of complaints from banking customers grew by an “unprecedented” 35% to 7 056 formal cases opened by the industry’s ombudsman in 2017, from the prior year.

Cases involving internet banking fraud overtook ATM complaints, banking ombudsman Reana Steyn said in the office’s annual report released on Wednesday.

Steyn said 22% of all banking disputes related to online banking, and “phishing” — a fraud scheme whereby consumers are duped into disclosing their login and password details via e-mails purporting to come from the bank — accounted for 77% of these.

“The category that previously topped the list, ATM complaints, were second highest at 18%, down 10% from the previous year, which is good news,” Steyn said.

The Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) is a voluntary dispute resolution service funded by the industry to offer consumers a way to escalate complaints without employing lawyers.

“It is unfortunate that consumers who are unsuccessful with their complaints levy the criticism of bias against the ombuds office. Our office works very hard to uphold high standards in adjudication and in applying the law to the fact of the case,” she said.

“The office found in favour of complainants in 27% of the cases, indicating that most matters capable of early resolution were resolved at the bank. While the number may appear low, it is in line with international experience at other ombuds offices.” People unhappy with their bank are encouraged to take their dispute to the OBS if their complaint has not been handled within 20 working days.

Property-related and business interruption losses as a result of fire and weather catastrophes have increased dramatically in South Africa, with 2017 having the highest underwriting losses on record.

Insurers incurred material underwriting losses driven by major natural catastrophes including the Knysna bush fires, the Transnet Rossburgh warehouse fire (the single largest fire loss) in Durban, a large hexane plant fire, a tornado in Gauteng and multiple heavy rainfall, hail and flooding events in Gauteng and KZN.

Reinsurers no longer regard South Africa as a low catastrophe risk region due to the high frequency of large loss events, resulting in adjustments and price increases.

“Given that the principle of insurance is that the losses of the few are paid for by the many, and the losses of the few have been greater than the total premium collected, insurers have had to respond by increasing premiums for all clients – even those with no claims at all,” says Clive Boyd of Aon South Africa, insurance brokers and risk consultants.

Insurers are also reviewing the types of risks they are prepared to take on, paying particular attention to high-hazard industries such as paint, plastics, wood, packaging, refrigeration, recycling and warehousing.

“Insurers are far more stringent when taking on risks, and clients will need to demonstrate their commitment to risk mitigation and prevention. In terms of fire risks, insurers may make the installation of Automatic Sprinkler Inspection Bureau (ASIB) approved sprinkler systems mandatory, and require that, in the event of a fire, the insured must prove that valid electrical and occupancy certificates had been obtained and that the premises was SANS 10400 compliant. In the absence of any of these, a fire-related claim can be rejected in its entirety, so the importance of managing compliance with fire-risk management requirements cannot be emphasised enough,” explains Boyd.

Risk management is another focal point for insurers. In the absence of a demonstrable risk management process, a business could find that an insurer may opt not to renew cover if it believes the risks are uninsurable. In order for a risk to be underwritten, there must be a survey report on file, indicating that the risk meets minimum underwriting guidelines and that the insured has adopted and implemented the risk control recommendations made in the report.

“After a decade of declining rates and profitability for insurers, battered by consecutive years of major losses due to natural catastrophes, it took a particularly bad year in 2017 to trigger the inevitable hardening of rates that 2018 is continuing to experience,” says Boyd.

“In order to remain insurable, risk managers need to review their formal risk management and audit programmes, ensuring that they comply with all national building regulations, installing ASIB approved sprinkler installations where recommended and adhering to risk control requirements as set out in underwriting survey reports. Mitigating fire risks requires close collaboration between insurers, risk managers and brokers to ensure that the current risk management programmes are still compliant with a significantly more stringent underwriting process. Failure to comply with the statutory requirements and codes of practice for fire protection can leave businesses in severe financial crisis and with potential legal ramifications.

Ultimately, reviewing such programmes is a task best undertaken with a professional broker who will work with the client to ensure that the fire prevention strategy is linked to an insurance program that fully addresses the needs of the business. With the assistance of professional partners, Aon assists clients with practical knowledge of building codes, fire codes as promoted by various specialist bodies, as well as knowledge of construction materials, manufacturing processes and storage practices and the relevant hazards involved therein. By linking this to an aligned insurance program that covers virtually all the ‘what if’ scenarios of not only the physical damage but the knock-on implications for business continuity, clients get to experience the real value of a comprehensive fire risk analysis and the support of a professional and experienced broker at their side to guide them through the process.

By Penwell Dlamini for Times Live

If you thought e-tolls were a total nightmare for consumers‚ wait until you read the new regulations that have been proposed by the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa).

The Rules for Registration of Small-Scale Embedded Generation‚ the draft consultation paper published last week‚ will require you to register with Nersa before connecting your generator at your home.

The rules apply both to off-grid systems‚ with no connection to the national electricity system‚ and systems connected to the grid in any way – whether or not they are intended to feed electricity back into the grid.

Small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) includes generators‚ solar photo-voltaic panels and backup generators.

The rules state that no customer may connect to the distribution system (municipality or Eskom) without the following:

  • Submitting an application for registration to Nersa;
  • Receiving a quotation after the application from the distributor‚ paying the required connection charge/fees and signing the required connection and use of system agreement; and
  • Ensuring that the connection and the equipment used are certified to comply with all required technical standards.

Upon receiving the application and conclusion of the customer connection and use-of-system agreement with the distributor‚ the distributor will then send the information to Nersa for registration.

To complicate matters‚ it is only possible to register by way of an electricity distributor – either Eskom or a municipality – even for generators that are not due to be connected to such a distributor’s system.

The rules apply to all generators of less than 1 megawatt. Above that level‚ the law requires the same sort of licensing as for a full-blown power station.

Eskom or a municipality responsible for distribution also has its own responsibilities‚ which include the following:

  • Providing to the customer non-discriminatory access to its distribution system‚ except if there are objectively justifiable reasons;
  • Ensuring that the connection to the distribution complies with the licence conditions of the distributor‚ grid code and national requirements; and
  • Should the customer want to increase the supply to above 1 megawatts‚ the distributor will redirect the customer to apply to Nersa for a generation licence‚ provided that the distributor agrees with the applicant’s request to increase the supply and exemption has been granted by the Department of Energy.

Nersa said the regulations were aimed at meeting the economic objectives of the Electricity Regulation Act of 2006. The proposals are open for public comment until the end of May.

By Ben Roberts, Prof Sharlene Swartz and Dr Adam Cooper for the HSRC

The current recommendation for a minimum wage of R3 500 for South Africans is far too little. It should be at least twice that. In addition, we should also legally cap the income of company executives.

This is according to the majority of people who participated in the HSRC’s most recent social attitudes survey. They responded to questions related to a minimum wage and whether there should be a limit to what company heads could earn. These questions were included as part of the HSRC’s ongoing work into issues of poverty, inequality and restitution.

Income inequality has grown in post-apartheid South Africa, as the democratic period has brought with it greater disparities in earnings between a small, increasingly deracialised affluent group and the poor Black majority. This has been shown by Prof Murray Leibbrandt and his colleagues at the Poverty and Inequality Initiative at the University of Cape Town who describe a shift in the Gini-coefficient, a measure of income inequality, from 0.6 in 1993 to 0.7 in 2008. According to Leibbrandt and colleagues, wage income is responsible for 85% of income inequality with the labour market playing the defining role in ongoing income differences.

To test how the South African public feels about these differences in wage earnings, questions on the topic were included in the 2017 edition of the annual South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS). SASAS is a nationally representative sample survey of adults aged 16 and older that investigates public opinion in the country. The long-term aim of this survey programme is to construct an empirical evidence base that will enable analysts to track and explain the attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviour patterns of the country’s diverse populations by age, sex, population group, educational attainment, province, geographic subtype and class.

The survey questions explored South Africans’ perceptions regarding appropriate legislative interventions in labour market rewards aimed at both the top and bottom end of the income continuum. Specifically, the questions probed what respondents thought were appropriate minimum wages for workers and whether remuneration of corporate executives should be restricted. The participants were asked:

“What do you think is a fair minimum amount that all South African workers should earn each month? (No worker should earn less than this a month).

and

“To what extent do you agree or disagree that a law should be introduced in South Africa that limits the amount that a person in charge of a large national company can earn?”.

Minimum wage is too low
Results showed that South Africans believe that a mean figure of R6,953 per month is an appropriate minimum amount, substantially more than the R3,500 for a 40-hour week proposed in the National Minimum Wage Bill. Differences between sub-populations within the sample were noteworthy, with figures ranging from rural farm dwellers believing R5,707 to be adequate, in comparison to R9,678 for students and R10,121 among adolescents.

Top-end wages should be capped
Opinions about executive pay were recorded on a five-point scale (ranging from ‘strongly agree’ that a law should be introduced to limit earnings to ‘strongly disagree’). In total, 53% of the participants agreed that executive pay should be limited, 15% disagreed, 22% remained neutral and 11% were uncertain of the appropriate course of action or did not answer the question. Interesting differences between attitudes of sub-groups also emerged from this question, as Black Africans displayed greater support for limiting executive pay, in comparison to White and Indian adults. More unemployed people favoured income restrictions than employed respondents, as did young people in comparison to those over 50 years old.

Results showed that South Africans believe that a mean figure of R6,953 per month is an appropriate minimum amount, substantially more than the R3,500 for a 40-hour week proposed in the National Minimum Wage Bill. Differences between sub-populations within the sample were noteworthy, with figures ranging from rural farm dwellers believing R5,707 to be adequate, in comparison to R9,678 for students and R10,121 among adolescents.

Opinions about executive pay were recorded on a five-point scale (ranging from ‘strongly agree’ that a law should be introduced to limit earnings to ‘strongly disagree’). In total, 53% of the participants agreed that executive pay should be limited, 15% disagreed, 22% remained neutral and 11% were uncertain of the appropriate course of action or did not answer the question. Interesting differences between attitudes of sub-groups also emerged from this question, as Black Africans displayed greater support for limiting executive pay, in comparison to White and Indian adults. More unemployed people favoured income restrictions than employed respondents, as did young people in comparison to those over 50 years old.

Source: Business Tech

The results resonate with data from elsewhere in the world – for example in the US, between half and three-fifths of Americans concur with this kind of regulatory policy. Populations in the highly unequal societies of South Africa and the US therefore agree that measures to restrict corporate salaries should be introduced.

The survey results indicate that the public is astutely aware of existing wage disparities and favours courses of action to reduce these differentials. This was true both at the top end, in terms of executive pay, and for attitudes towards those most vulnerable in our society, people who receive very low wages. At the very least, the minimum wage should be closer to R40 per hour according to the South African public. Importantly, these findings were consistent across the class spectrum, suggesting that a broad consensus exists in relation to this issue, one that can only function to bolster the South African democracy.

 

By Tehillah Niselow for Fin24 

Steinhoff, once referred to as “the Ikea of Africa” and its former CEO Markus Jooste as the African Warren Buffet has seen a spectacular fall from grace since December when it revealed accounting irregularities in its books.

More than 95% of its market capitalisation has been wiped out and the international retailer faces angry investors, from public servant pension funds to Wall Street’s biggest banks.

Four months later, and there’s still no official word on what the accounting irregularities were, the former CEO Markus Jooste is yet to answer burning questions and the share price remains volatile.

The complex and opaque nature of the company, registered in the Netherlands, listed in Frankfurt and Johannesburg and headquartered in Stellenbosch have increased the difficulty in investigations.

Fin24 takes a look at the events of recent months which saw the once giant company, nearly collapse.

24 August 2017

• German media reports that German prosecutors are investigating whether Steinhoff inflated earnings.
• JSE listed shares fell 16% in intra-day trade.
• The company rejects the allegations in the report.

6 December 2017

• Disclosure of “accounting irregularities” and appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers to investigate the financial statements.
• CEO Markus Jooste resigns, apologising to staff
• Share price dives on JSE by a record 62%, wiping out R117bn in the company’s market capitalisation.

7 December 2017

• Moody’s Investor Services cuts Steinhoff’s credit rating from “lowest investment grade” Baa3 to “highly speculative” B1 as a junk bond.
• Steinhoff’s second largest shareholder, the Public Investment Corporation’s (PIC) 56% stake is worth just R3.6bn. Two weeks prior it was worth R20bn.
• Steinhoff announces new sub-committee to improve governance, all of the 3 appointees are members of the board.

13 December 2017

• Steinhoff announces that the company’s 2016 financial statement can no longer be relied upon and will need to be re-stated.
• The Government Employees’ Pension Fund (GEPF) and its asset manager, the PIC, insist on having 2 representatives on Steinhoff’s board committee investigating the company.

14 December 2017

• Largest Steinhoff shareholder, chairperson and acting CEO Christo Wiese resigns from the board. Continues to insist that he was unaware of the accounting irregularities.

4 January 2018

• Steinhoff chief financial officer (CFO) Ben la Grange resigns.

8 January 2018

• European Central Bank sells entire holding of Steinhoff bonds. The ECB bought into Steinhoff Europe’s €800m bond issue in July 2017, when the bonds carried an investment grade rating. It had to sell due to the central bank’s requirements.

12 January 2018 to 17 January 2018

• JP Morgan, Citigroup, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs reveal losses relating to hundreds of millions of dollars in Steinhoff.

30 January 2018

• Former CEO Markus Jooste declines an invitation from the three parliamentary portfolio committees jointly probing Steinhoff, to appear before MPs saying he’s no longer involved in Steinhoff.
• Acting chairperson Heather Sonn tells MPs that Steinhoff has handed over evidence of fraud to the Hawks, against Jooste.
• Board and Christo Wiese say they are unable to reveal the state of affairs at Steinhoff, until PwC has completed its independent investigation.

12 February 2018

• Steinhoff’s former chairperson Christo Wiese involuntarily sells shares related to his margin loans reducing his shareholding in Steinhoff from 20.52% to 6%.

2 March 2018

• Moneyweb publishes leaked emails which show how former CEO Markus Jooste worked with other executives to move revenue figures around subsidiaries to boost their balance sheets and hide losses.

28 March 2018

• Hawks accuses Steinhoff board of “malicious compliance” with the law in handing over documents related to former CEO Markus Jooste, saying there was nothing contained in them to assist authorities with gathering evidence.
• Parliament’s joint committees probing Steinhoff resolve to subpoena Jooste as he twice declined an invitation to answer questions

5 April 2018

• Following public outrage, Steinhoff directors decide against the proposal to shareholders to reward themselves bonuses for working to restore the company after its collapse.

20 April 2018

• Annual General Meeting, in Amsterdam, Netherlands where the company’s board will for the first time come face to face with shareholders, since the December crash, and face tough questions about their handling of the crisis.

PEP has launched a new offering called Paxi (Parcel Taxi) which allows consumers, agents, suppliers and institutions to send, collect and return parcels to over 2 000 PEP store PAXI collection points.

PEP has a large footprint in South Africa, with stores in most malls and small towns throughout the country.

The parcel service is available from just R49.95. This is a more competitive price than many couriers, including the South African Post Office’s Speed Service offering.

Consumers can send gifts, gifts, products and documents from any PEP to any other PEP in South Africa. The recipient can collect the parcel provided they have adequate identification and the OTP they received via SMS, notifying them of the parcel’s arrival.

The South African Post Office has been beleaguered by strikes, poor customer service, missing, stolen and/or late parcels and mail, and a Web site which is constantly down.

Paxi is targeting PEP customers, providing a relatively cheap and reliable service, complete with insurance and track-and-trace.

In addition, Paxi is offering to send UNISA assignments for free, provided they are sent two weeks before the due date.

Happier SA on a buying spree

Source: Supermarket & Retailer

Consumer confidence in South Africa surged to an all-time high in the first quarter of the year, indicating the willingness of consumers to spend more, following the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as head of state.

The First National Bank (FNB)/Bureau for Economic Research (BER) consumer confidence sentiment index (CCI) raced to 26 points in the first quarter of 2018 from -8 points in last year’s fourth quarter.

The increase is the largest single quarter improvement since BER started publishing a composite index in 1982. It also dwarfed the previous record high of 23 index points reached in the first quarter of 2007.

FNB chief economist Mamello MatikincaCRT said the index indicated that most consumers were more optimistic about the outlook for the South African economy and their household finances.

“While the VAT hike to 15 percent would have weighed on consumer sentiment, the zero rating of basic food items such as maize meal‚ brown bread‚ dried beans and rice will mitigate the impact of this tax increase on low-income households,” Matikinca said.

“The extraordinary improvement in consumer sentiment during the first quarter of 2018 can largely be ascribed to the change in the country’s leadership, which triggered many positive economic developments.”

The BER said consumer confidence surged across all income and population groups during the first quarter of the year.

It said sentiment among those who take home R14 000-plus a month reached new record highs of 31 points while those who earn R3 000 a month improved their confidence to levels last seen in 1995.

FNB and BER said index among white consumers reached a level last seen in 1988, while confidence among their black counterparts also hit 34 index points, the second highest level since the all-time high of 38 points after the 1994-election.

Statistics South Africa said this month that retail sales, which best indicate consumer sentiment, increased 4.9 percent year-on-year in February and above market expectations of a 2.8 percent gain.

New car sales have also soared in the first three months of the year.

Citadel chief economist Maarten Ackerman said the buoyant mood among consumers bodes well for the future outlook for the economy.

“As consumer confidence acts as a leading indicator to the economy, the recent surge in consumer confidence in South Africa supports the idea that our economic growth in 2018 will likely be better than initially expected,” Ackerman said.

The BER, however, cautioned of a risk that the CCI overshot of the positive sentiment, charging that there could be a negative correction during the second quarter. All three sub-indices of the CCI saw substantial improvements.

The index, which gauges consumers’ perception of the economy in the next 12 months outlook, jumped from -2 points in the last quarter of last year to 34 points in the quarter under review.

The consumers’ assessment of their own financial position surged to 31 points from 2 points previously.

The number of individuals deeming it appropriate to purchase durable goods presently improved to 14 points from -24 points in the prior quarter.Lara Hodes, an economist at Investec said: “The waning of policy and political uncertainty following Ramaphosa’s election as president of the ANC and subsequently the Republic, together with the avoidance of a sovereign rating downgrade by Moody’s rating agency and a budget more orientated towards fiscal consolidation, boosted the outcome.”

Original article by Kabelo Khumalo for IOL

By Tehillah Niselow for Fin24 

Thousands of workers are expected to take to the streets on Wednesday for a one day strike as the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) plans to make the country “ungovernable”.

The federation marched to parliament on April 12 and handed over a memorandum of demands but they say that the response did not address their concerns and workers will embark on nationwide action to put pressure on members of parliament to reject several labour bills making their way through parliament.

Saftu, led by dynamic general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, was formed exactly one year ago.

Fin24 took a closer look at their plans for the general strike.

When: Wednesday 25 April 2018

How: Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) allows workers to undertake protected strike action to promote their social and economic interests. Saftu’s application to the Section 77 Sub-Committee of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) was unsuccessful but three trade unions affiliated to Saftu; NUPSAW, ICTU and Salipswu made a similar Section 77 application to Nedlac and it was granted.

On Wednesday, all employees, regardless of whether they are Saftu members or non-unionised may join the strike under the ‘no work, no pay principle’.

Who: According to unaudited figures, Saftu has 800 000 members. The largest affiliate is the biggest trade union in SA, the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) with approximately 300 000 members, mostly in the manufacturing sector.

“We want everyone to join, in particular appealing to rank and file members [of other unions], many of them will be disgusted that their leaders voted for the [labour law] changes, without a mandate”, Saftu spokesperson Patrick Craven told Fin24.

Where: Saftu is expected to announce the nationwide routes at a press conference on Monday.

Why Saftu is taking to the streets

1. Labour law amendments

Parliament is currently considering amendments to the Labour Relations Act‚ the Basic Conditions of Employment Act‚ and the new National Minimum Wage Bill.

“Various amendments to labour laws will make it incredibly difficult to strike, it’s already quite difficult,” Craven said.

He said that the new labour bill making its way through parliament will include more rigorous requirements for pre-strike balloting and that this will be difficult for smaller unions with limited funds.

Craven added that the proposed amendments to the LRA will also allow for the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to intervene in strikes deemed to be lengthy and/or violent.

2. Minimum wage

Saftu objects to the R20 an hour minimum wage agreement, which was set to be implemented on 1 May but has since been postponed due to lengthy parliamentary processes.

“We want a living wage, we haven’t set a specific figure [but] we were very impressed with Marikana Lonmin workers who wanted R12 500. R20 is an insult to their memory,” Craven said.

The Parliamentary portfolio committee on labour said on Friday it will refer the National Minimum Wage Bill back to the labour department to be redrafted so that it includes public input received by the committee.

3. Nedlac membership

Craven said that the nationwide marches on Wednesday “are linked to the campaign to be recognised by Nedlac”.

Saftu remains in the cold, outside of Nedlac, the forum which negotiated the minimum wage and the labour law amendments between the three other union federations, government, business and the community sector.

Requirements for Nedlac membership include audited membership figures and financial statements.

Saftu maintains it does not have these yet as the federation was only formed a year ago and the admissions procedures at Nedlac are too onerous.

Who will not be part of the general strike?

Cosatu – the Congress of South African Trade Unions spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said that while they agree with Saftu that the R20 per hour minimum wage is inadequate, it’s a starting point to improve workers’ lives and the figure is what the “South African economy could give us”.

Pamla added that the amendments to the LRA do not represent a dramatic change to the labour landscape as they were already provided for in the legislation, they just weren’t enforced.

At loggerheads since the formation of Saftu in April 2017, Pamla said that they have good working relations with the two other federations at Nedlac, Fedusa and Nactu and need to work with Saftu in the future.

Nactu – the National Council of Trade Unions general secretary Narius Moloto said that the federation believed that the minimum wage is “historic” as it will benefit 40% of workers, currently earning below R20 per hour.

With regard to amendments to the labour law, Moloto said they will not make embarking on strike action more difficult; “we don’t really understand what they’re protesting about”.

Fedusa (the Federation of Unions of South Africa) general secretary Dennis George said that the organisation won’t be joining the strike as the minimum wage was negotiated with government. He added that 4,5-million workers will be covered by the R20 per hour salary and this will be “a huge benefit to the country”.

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