Tag: workers

Source: Supermarket & Retailer

The National Minimum Wage Act (NMWA) provides for, amongst others, a national minimum wage; the establishment of a National Minimum Wage Commission; a review and annual adjustment of the national minimum wage; and the provision of an exemption from paying the national minimum wage.

Who does the NMWA apply to?

The NMWA applies to all workers and their employers, except members of the South African National Defence Force, the National Intelligence Agency, the South African Secret Service; and volunteers who perform work for another person without remuneration. It applies to any person who works for another and who receives, or is entitled to receive, any payment for that work whether in money or in kind.

What is the national minimum wage?

The national minimum wage is R20 for each ordinary hour worked. There are, however, certain exceptions to the national minimum wage amount of R20 per hour.

Farm workers are entitled to a minimum wage of R18 per hour. A ‘farm worker’ means a worker who is employed mainly or wholly in connection with farming or forestry activities, and includes a domestic worker employed in a home on a farm or forestry environment and a security guard on a farm or other agricultural premises, excluding a security guard employed in the private security industry.

Domestic workers are entitled to a minimum wage of R15 per hour. A ‘domestic worker’ means a worker who performs domestic work in a private household and who received, or is entitled to receive, a wage and includes: a gardener; a person employed by a household as a driver of a motor vehicle; a person who takes care of children, the aged, the sick, the frail or the disabled; and domestic workers employed or supplied by employment services.

Workers employment on an expanded public works programme are entitled to a minimum wage of R11 per hour from a date that will be determined by the President in the Government Gazette. Expanded public works programme means a programme to provide public or community services through a labour-intensive programme determined by the Minister. And funded from public resources.

Workers who have concluded learnership agreements contemplated in section 17 of the Skills Development Act 97 of 1998 are entitled to the allowances contained in Schedule 2 of the NMWA.

Employer’s should note that, within 18 months of the commencement of the NMWA, being 1 January 2019, the National Minimum Wage Commission, will review the national minimum wage of farm workers and domestic workers, and within two years, determine an adjustment of the applicable national minimum wage. The national minimum wage in respect of workers in the expanded public works programme will be increased proportionately to any adjustment of the national minimum wage.

How is the national minimum wage calculated?

The calculation of the national minimum wage is the amount payable in money for ordinary hours of work. It excludes:

  • any payment made to enable a worker to work including any transport, equipment, tool, food or accommodation allowance, unless specified otherwise in a sectoral determination;
  • any payment in kind including board or accommodation, unless specified otherwise in a sectoral determination;
  • gratuities including bonuses, tips or gifts; and
  • any other prescribed category of payment.

‘Ordinary hours of work’ means the hours of work permitted in terms of section 9 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 (BCEA) (currently 45 hours per week) or in terms of any agreement in terms of section 11 or 12 of the BCEA. worker is entitled to receive the national minimum wage for the number of hours that the worker works on any day. An employee or worker who works for less than four hours on any day must be paid for four hours on that day.

This is applicable to employees or workers who earn less than the earnings threshold set by the Minister over time, presently being R205,433.30. If the worker is paid on a basis other than the number of hours worked, the worker may not be paid less than the national minimum wage for the ordinary hours of work.

Any deduction made from the remuneration of a worker must be in accordance with section 34 of the BCEA, provided that the deduction made in terms of section 34(1)(a) of the BCEA does not exceed one quarter of a worker’s remuneration.

Does a worker have a right to the national minimum wage?

Every worker will be entitled to payment of a wage not less than the national minimum wage. Employers will be obligated to pay workers this wage. The payment of the national minimum wage cannot be waived and overrides any contrary provision in a contract, collective agreement, sectoral determination or law.

Must a worker’s contract of employment be amended in light of the NMWA?

The national minimum wage must constitute a term of the worker’s contract, unless the contract, collective agreement or law provides for a more favourable wage. Employers should thus, where applicable, amend their contracts of employment to make reference to the national minimum wage. An employer should note further that a unilateral change of wages, hours of work or other conditions of employment in connection with the implementation of the national minimum wage will be regarded as an unfair labour practice.

When does the provisions of the NMWA come into effect?

The NMWA will came into operation on 1 January 2019. Section 4(6) of the NMWA, which prohibits the payment of the national minimum wage being waived and further provides that the national minimum wage takes precedence over any contrary provision in any contract, collective agreement, sectoral determination or law, operates with retrospective effect from 1 May 2017.

Can an employer be exempt from paying the national minimum wage?

An employer or employer’s organisation registered in terms of section 96 of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 (LRA), or any other law, acting on behalf of a member, may apply for exemption from paying the national minimum wage. The exemption may not be granted for longer than one year and must specify the wage that the employer is required to pay workers. The exemption process provided for in the regulations to the NMWA must be complied with when doing so.

An employer or a registered employer’s organisation may assist its members to apply to the delegated authority, for an exemption from paying the national minimum wage.

The application must be lodged on the National Minimum Wage Exemption System.

An exemption may only be granted if the delegated authority is satisfied that the employer cannot afford to pay the minimum wage, and every representative trade union has been meaningfully consulted or if there is no such trade union, the affected workers have been meaningfully consulted. The consultation process requires the employer to provide the other parties with a copy of the exemption application to be lodged on the online system.

The determination of whether an employer can afford to pay the minimum wage must be in accordance with the Commercial, Household, or Non-Profit Organisations Financial Decision Process outlined in Schedule 1 of the Regulations to the NMWA.

The delegated authority may grant an exemption from paying the national minimum wage only from the date of the application for the exemption. The exemption must specify the period for which it is granted, which may not be more than 12 months.

The delegated authority must specify the wage that the employer is required to pay workers, which may not be less than 90% of the national minimum wage.

The delegated authority may grant an exemption on any condition that advances the purposes of the NMWA.

An employer exempted from paying the national minimum wage must display a copy of the exemption notice conspicuously at the workplace where it can be read by all employees to whom the exemption applies. Further, a copy of the exemption notice must be given to the representative trade union, every worker who requests a copy, and the bargaining council.

Any affected person may apply to the delegated authority for the withdrawal of an exemption notice by lodging an application on the online system in the prescribed format. Before the delegated authority makes the decision to withdraw an exemption notice, the delegated authority must also be satisfied that the employer has been consulted, and the representative trade union or affected workers have been given access to the application lodged.

If an exemption notice is withdrawn, the delegated authority must issue a notice of withdrawal on the Exemption System.

What is the role and responsibility of the National Minimum Wage Commission?

A National Minimum Wage Commission is established by the NMWA. The Commission must review the national minimum wage annually and make recommendations to the Minister on any adjustment of the national minimum wage. The recommendations must consider: inflation, the cost of living and the need to retain the value of the minimum wage; wage levels and collective bargaining outcomes; gross domestic product; productivity; ability of employers to carry on their businesses successfully; the operation of small, medium or micro-enterprises and new enterprises; the likely impact of the recommended adjustment on employment or the creation of employment; and any other relevant factor.

Jacques van Wyk is director and labour law specialist at Werksmans Attorneys.

By Nicole Norfleet for Seattle Times

To appeal to more workers, many companies and building owners are re­designing and renovating their offices. Modern kitchens with high-top seating, collaboration areas made for informal meetings and adaptable office furniture with standing desks have all become the new standard for office renovations.

While many of those features are predicted to still be prevalent in 2019, architects and designers say new design trends have emerged, with some clients investing in more privacy for their open offices, heavily branded design that reflects their company ethos, and more adaptable layouts.

Branded environments. Many clients want their workspace to reflect their company, a marketing tool that helps organizations stand out to prospective clients as well as a way to reinforce company culture among employees.

“They are really coming up with unique ways to define themselves,” said Natasha Fonville, brand manager of Minneapolis-based Atmosphere Commercial Interiors. “That beautifully branded experience is really going to keep trending and keep elevating the spaces around us.”

At the new downtown offices of Sleep Number, the company’s emblem is throughout the space on the wall and ceiling with Sleep Number settings on some of the tables.

At Field Nation’s new Minneapolis offices, a network of orange piping that runs electricity to light fixtures was designed as a representation of a technological network.

No receptionists
Some companies have decided to do away with front-desk receptionists, sometimes using technology to direct guests to where they need to go or having a more informal entry area.

Betsy Vohs, founder and chief executive of design firm Studio BV in Minneapolis, said 75 percent of her clients don’t really need a receptionist to answer calls or greet guests. “Having them at the front desk isn’t the best use of their time and energy,” Vohs said.

At the new Hopkins offices her firm has helped to design for Digi International, the company opted to skip the front-desk receptionist and use the space for an entry lounge with a coffee bar and a digital kiosk.

This past summer, Studio BV designed the offices of Field Nation, which also doesn’t use receptionists.

More agile space
Adaptable space has also become more of a priority as many companies have reduced the square footage dedicated to individual employees. With workers more nomadic, many new offices are currently designed to allow for rearrangement of the furniture layout and changes to walls and partitions.

“I think it’s just a sign of our times that workplaces are being so agile and really adapting to how people work best … and that’s always evolving,” Fonville said.

At Atmosphere’s downtown office, the walls are moved about once a year. For example, the company recently noticed that employees weren’t using some of the office enclaves, so leaders decided to take out a few walls to allow for more breathing room and larger meeting areas.

Audio privacy
As offices have become more open, one side effect has been that sound can carry throughout the space, making audio privacy a concern. Many new offices have private call rooms. Companies also have requested other sound-dampening materials such as acoustic foam, felt, drapery and carpet, Vohs said.

The renovated offices of Gardner Builders in Minneapolis, which Studio BV helped design, feature cubbies wrapped in acoustic foam.

The recently renovated RSM Plaza downtown has similar cutouts in its lobby. Some companies go as far as installing white-noise machines throughout their offices.

Move over, millennials
Much has been said about how current offices have been designed with millennial employees in mind, but designers have already begun to shift gears to interpret how the younger Gen Z might use their spaces. After millennials, defined as being born between 1981 and 1996, Gen Z is the newest defined generation. Gen Z is believed to be more realistic, social change-oriented, tech-integrated and interested in on-demand learning, said Rich Bonnin, a design principal at HGA in Minneapolis.

“These aren’t the decision-makers now, but they will be,” he said, at a recent broker event at the St. Paul Curling Club organized by real estate company Newmark Knight Frank.

Gen Z workers are more likely to value face-to-face interactions, shared space, choice-rich environments, security and the natural as well as the digital experience, he said.

Wellness
More architects have begun to incorporate design standards to advance workers’ health and well-being. WELL certification is still a relatively new concept that explores how design can help workers live better through improvements in air, water, light, fitness and other areas.

“It has kind of become the new LEED,” said Derek McCallum, a principal at RSP Architects in Minneapolis, which now has WELL-certified staff.

The 428 office building in St. Paul was WELL gold-certified and has high-level air filtration close to hospital grade, added water filtration, and a prominent and open staircase to promote physical activity.

Engaging employees
Companies are studying and surveying their employees more to make informed design decisions.

For the new headquarters for Prime Therapeutics in Eagan, external consultants studied the company’s previous offices to determine how much square footage per person was being used and the operational costs of the space.

They interviewed employees and observed to how they worked. Data showed that desks were sitting empty about 60 percent of the week, with people opting for shared spaces, said Kim Gibson, the company’s senior director for real estate workplace.

“We really wanted to understand how people were working and the things that they desired to help make them more productive,” Gibson said. The data helped Prime Therapeutics and architecture firm HGA create different spaces to accommodate workers, such as one-on-one spaces and private “oasis rooms.”

Amenities, amenities, amenities
The amenities race continues for many multi-tenant offices, with landlords investing heavily in community space and building perks such as modern gyms and lounges with high-end furniture. Many downtown Minneapolis office buildings have undergone recent rehabs of their amenity spaces, including RSM Plaza and the AT&T Tower.

Piedmont Office Realty Trust, the owner of U.S. Bancorp Center, plans to spend about $7.5 million to create a tenant-amenity space on the top floor of the tower. The building is more than 98 percent leased, but the company wanted to continue to improve the building, said Thomas Prescott, executive vice president of the Midwest region of Piedmont.

“It’s the right thing to do, enhancing our asset,” he said. “We’re excited. We’re making a significant investment in a building that’s mostly leased.”

A large stairway will lead up to the space that will feature a full fitness facility, tenant lounge, conference area and a game room with a golf simulator.

Written by Jason O’Brien for Training Journal 

The introduction of digital technologies into the workplace has brought with it a number of advantages. Businesses have solutions to improve productivity and reduce expenditure. Employees have greater flexibility and better tools to do their job.

However, the evidence suggests there are some downsides to the amount of technology we use in the workplace. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, sometimes limiting the amount of technology employees use can actually increase their productivity. Limits on tech can prevent fatigue and help staff avoid procrastination so they are worth taking a look at.

Tech affects our mental state

Technology may make our professional lives easier, but studies have been conducted that suggest it doesn’t make us healthier. Take this 2015 study of college students, published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. It shows the link between smartphone addiction and negative physiological and psychological symptoms including increased blood pressure and anxiety.

In 2012, the University of Gothenburg’s research into smartphone and computer usage found that excessive use is linked to stress, sleep disorders and depressive symptoms. If users undertake excessive use of both smartphones and computers, the risk of these symptoms is heightened.

Affecting everything from attention spans to creativity, use of technology affects our ability to get a good night’s sleep. This in turn affects a business’s bottom line.

Sleep is the real issue that underpins the negative aspects of technology use. Affecting everything from attention spans to creativity, use of technology affects our ability to get a good night’s sleep. This in turn affects a business’s bottom line.

A 2016 study from Hult International Business School showed that a lack of sleep costs organisations $2,280 a year for every sleep-deprived employee. Without enough rest, the ability of staff to communicate effectively and problem solve is lowered – costing businesses money.

Help employees reduce usage

To combat the detrimental effects technology brings to the workplace, organisations are adopting the ‘Digital Detox’, an initiative that looks to reduce the level of exposure employees have to technology both in and out of the office.

For office-based workers, a computer is a necessary part of the job, but it means employees can clock up 30-hours screen time a week just at work. To bring this down, you could implement some of these work policies:

In the office

Active lunchtimes

Given all the distractions the internet provides us, it’s all too easy for staff to stay seated at lunchtime and use their computer for entertainment. To encourage people to get a break from the computer screen, you could organise recreational lunchtime events, particularly around exercise.

Put on a yoga class or find a local gym that could offer discounted rates to your staff – anything that gets people engaged and active. Exercise has been demonstrated to improve our ability to shift and focus attention. An active mind will help staff return from lunch ready to refocus on the afternoon’s tasks.

Tech-free meetings

Communication tools and applications make it easy to chat to colleagues no matter your or their location – but as a result, face-to-face interaction has become a bit of a lost art. Meetings are a great opportunity to ditch digital communications and rediscover vocal interchanges.

Adopt a meeting or two each week that specifically sets out a no-tech policy.

Inadequate communication between employees reportedly costs large businesses $62.4m a year. Communicating over digital channels like email doesn’t allow for facial gestures and tone of voice, making misinterpretation common. Encourage personal, face-to-face communication to minimise these effects and grow your team’s interpersonal skills.

Out of the office

Encourage a ‘leave in the office’ policy

Given the impact technology has on our stress levels and sleep patterns, organisations should look to minimise the level at which employees take their work home with them. Some office cultures expect this of their employees despite evidence suggesting it’s likely to have a negative impact on productivity in the long-term.

You might not want to go as far as France, who have enshrined in law the right to avoid checking work email out of hours, but encourage staff not to engage in too much work activity in their own time. The blue light emitted from our smartphones and computers suppresses melatonin, the hormone that controls our sleep cycles.

Given the effect poor sleep patterns have on productivity, the more you allow your employees to switch off at home the more they will be able to focus when in the office.

Improve employee sleep to improve employee focus

A good night’s sleep is the key to having an engaged, focused and happy workforce. Too much exposure to technology makes it more difficult for us to achieve this – either through negative psychological symptoms like increased anxiety or stress or by suppressing the hormones we need for better sleep.

But organisations can help. Adopt a Digital Detox policy and help reduce the things that cost your employees valuable sleep. The result could see your company’s productivity increase.

It’s a odd-sounding word that’s often mistaken for something illegal or someone who likes books, but biophilia is simply humankind’s innate connection with nature. And it is a trend growing more popular in South Africa’s offices.

Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, says biophilia helps explain why crackling fires and crashing waves captivate us, why a garden view can enhance our creativity and strolling through a park have restorative, even healing effects.

“Simply put, humans are programmed to feel good in nature. And nature has a powerfully positive effect on our well-being. Globally urban designers and office designers are incorporating the phenomenon into their work. They want to bring it to where we spend about a third of our lives: the office.”

Says Andrews: “Natural light, wood grain, living walls, plants and outdoor seating are just a few ways to bring elements of nature to the workplace. We are increasingly being asked to incorporate nature into the work we do across South Africa.

“In the workplace, it is therefore about tricking our brains to feel like we’re in a natural environment by triggering underlying patterns that we’re programmed to recognise and feel good in.”

With the emergence of the green building movement in the early 1990s, linkages were made between improved environmental quality and worker productivity in research by Browning & Room 1994. While the financial gains due to productivity improvements were considered significant, productivity was identified as a placeholder for health and well-being, which have even broader impact.

The healing power of a connection with nature was established by Roger Ulrich’s 1984 landmark study comparing recovery rates of patients with and without a view to nature. Environment psychologist Stephen Kaplan noted that people with a view of natural elements, such as trees, water or countryside, report greater levels of wellbeing than those looking over more urban settings.

Andrews noted the last decade has seen a steady growth in work around and the intersections of neuroscience and architecture, both in research and in practice and that even green building standards have begun to incorporate biophilia, mostly for its contribution to indoor environmental quality.

Andrews described a biophilic design in the office.

“Whether your preferred environment is the desert, forest or ocean, nuanced design can encourage recognisable connections to nature.”

Biophilia is also about different hues, textures and colours Andrews adds.

“People have this preconception that nature is green. But biophilia can also be inspired by say rich desert colours.

“If you design a space the right way, people will want to spend time there, engage more frequently with colleagues and then also be more engaged with their work,” Andrews concluded.

The term ‘biophilia’ was first coined by social psychologist Eric Fromm in 1964 and later popularised by biologist Edward Wilson (Biophilia, 1984). The denotations have evolved from within the fields of biology and psychology, and been adapted to the fields of neuroscience, endocrinology, architecture and beyond.

What do Millennials want at work?

Analysing and interpreting Millennials is an industry in itself, but are they really as different as experts would have us believe – especially when it comes to the workplace?

Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, says, “While pointed descriptions of what makes Millennials unique are presented as self-evident, very few are supported with solid empirical research.

“On the contrary, a growing body of evidence suggests that employees of all ages are much more alike than different in their attitudes and values at work.

“If gaps do exist, they amount to small differences that have always existed between younger and older workers throughout history and have little to do with the Millennial generation.”

And there are plenty of examples as evidence.

“Even the most widely accepted stereotypes about Millennials appear to be questionable” Andrews noted, pointing to a recent study by IBM’s Institute for Business Value. The report entitled Myths, Exaggerations and Uncomfortable Truths – The real story behind Millennials in the workplace was based on a multigenerational study of 1 784 employees from companies across 12 countries and six industries. It found that about the same percentage of Millennials (25%) want to make a positive impact on their organisation as Gen Xers (21%) and Baby Boomers (23%). Differences were uniformly minimal across nine other variables as well.

A 2015 study commissioned by international business broadcaster CNBC showed similar results.

“Looking at the importance of six traits in a potential employer — ethics, environmental practices, work-life balance, profitability, diversity and reputation for hiring the best and brightest — the CNBC study found found that Millennial preferences are just about the same as the broader population on all six.

“In fact, contrary to the hard-to-please image, Millennials reported being more satisfied with the training and skills development they receive. And 76% were satisfied with their opportunities for promotion, 10 percentage points higher than the rest of the population.”

A KPMG study also showed Millennials also to also be virtually identical to their older colleagues on every measure of overall engagement such as pride in the organisation, optimism about the firm’s future and trust in leadership.

So why do so many people perceive Millennials as so different? An interesting study was carried out by researchers from George Washington University in which they reviewed 20 studies examining generational differences.

“The conclusion was that meaningful differences among generations probably do not exist in the workplace. The small differences that do appear are likely attributable to factors such as stage of life more than generational membership, “ Andrews notes.

“For example, one of the prevailing perceptions of Millennials is that they have much higher traits of narcissism. But interestingly, this study shows it’s a trait more associated with young people, and not linked to when you were born.”

Andrews added that the myth of the job-hopping Millennial is just that — a myth. The data consistently showed that today’s young people are actually less likely to job hop than previous generations.

In light of all this evidence, it’s likely that companies pursuing Millennial-specific employee engagement strategies are wasting time and money.

“They would be far better served to focus on factors that lead all employees to join, stay, and perform at their best,” Andrews added. “And those factors are the same for all workers – a winning organisation they can be proud of, an environment in which they can make the most of their skills, good pay and fair treatment and enjoyable, fulfilling work.”

Technology is making workspaces and work styles more flexible and collaborative by the day. Cutting-edge personal devices continue to infiltrate the workplace and with cloud computing and superior Internet connectivity, the idea of working from anywhere is the new norm. The physical workspace is evolving from static to dynamic to meet changing business and employee needs.

Bring your own device (BYOD) is a growing trend that permits employees to use personal devices such as laptops, tablets and smart phones in the workplace to access company information and applications. From increased productivity and reduced hardware, software and networking costs, to increased convenience, employee satisfaction and work-life balance, there is no reason not to foster a BYOD culture.

To BYOD or not to
Studies show that a BYOD policy can boost productivity by 34% and save workers well over an hour every day as employees work faster on devices they are comfortable with. New employees have a decreased learning curve associated with new devices. When tech hungry employees bring trailblazing technology into the workplace, it is bound to save time and boost productivity.

Roughly 75% of employees in high growth global markets and 45% in developed markets are currently using their own devices at work. In South Africa, BYOD is still in the early stages of adoption. Nevertheless, it is fast becoming an achievable must-have with the aid of security, device management and network scalability solutions to manage BYOD on business networks.

Overcoming the challenges
Data is the lifeblood of any business but giving employees access from anywhere on personal devices is enough to keep business owners up at night. Do their devices have the right security measures in place? Who else has access to their devices? What happens when devices are lost or stolen?

Start with the right cyber security. With Nashua’s Managed Document Solutions (MDS), businesses can harness the remote workforce by enabling secure access to documents from any device, provided employees have the appropriate access privileges. It considers whether documents can be saved onto personal devices and if so, what security measures need to be in place. MDS also takes into account the workforce’s need for secure and convenient access to business applications, bearing in mind that these are no longer protected by the business’ IT security.

BYOD is marred by grey areas, particularly regarding security, device monitoring and employee privacy and reimbursement. That said, best practices and policies are continually refined to strike a balance between business and employee needs. BYOD offers a win-win situation so instead of fretting about risks that may never materialise, invest in solutions that can bridge the gap.

Before stepping into the BYOD space, start preparing for device integration with a detailed digital strategy. Draw up a policy that stipulates usage terms at work and outside of the office. It must clearly communicate the implications of data breaches and should make employees aware of any device monitoring technologies used to track business-related activities.

Consider your network scalability and capability to accommodate the influx and simultaneous use of personal devices. Studies show that businesses need at least 20% more Wi-Fi capacity and sufficient wireless bandwidth to support mobile devices. As far possible, businesses should specify access rights and only authorise access to confidential information on a need-to-know basis. Businesses can also improve end-point security by enforcing the installation of the latest security programs and anti-malware and by linking devices to secure cloud-based network and data storage services.

To capitalise on the benefits of an increasingly flexible workspace, businesses must embrace BYOD as a powerful tool that can empower workforces and boost business productivity.

Plan for further load shedding, warns Eskom

Source: News24

While consumers were spared load shedding on Monday, the power utility has cautioned South Africans to remain on the alert for further power cuts.

In a statement on Monday evening, Eskom warned that the power system continues to be constrained.

“Customers are advised to keep checking their load shedding schedules on the Eskom and their municipal websites, and plan on the assumption that load shedding will take place,” it said.

“We thank all customers for using electricity sparingly during this period, assisting us to pull through the evening peak.”

The country has since last Thursday experienced routine blackouts, as Eskom battles to restore supply challenges created by workers’ demonstrations at power plants.

The power utility has reported a significant increase in plant outages and bottlenecks in routine maintenance, because of a lack of resources to operate plants optimally.

Eskom said that blackouts can be expected for the next 10 days.

Workers had left their work posts because of intimidation and violence by fellow employees, who are demanding salary increases.

Load shedding schedules are available on the Eskom website loadshedding.eskom.co.za. Customers can also contact the customer contact centre at 0860 037 566.

Meanwhile, Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe in a tweet reminded Johannesburg City Power consumers that planned maintenance will take place in certain areas “after the Tunisia vs England match”.

Source: Fin24; The Citizen

The National Minimum Wage Bill submitted before the National Assembly on Tuesday is a historic achievement – a direct response to the call made in the 1955 Freedom Charter, and a first since the dawn of South Africa’s, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said on Tuesday.

The National Minimum Wage Bill, which sets minimum wages at R3 500 a month or R20 an hour, was passed with 202 votes from mostly ANC benches. The other two Bills, the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill and Labour Relations Amendment Bill also passed with the same number of votes.

All three Bills have been severely criticised by opposition parties, as well as Saftu.

All three bills were passed by the National Assembly and will be sent to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

“Every journey starts often with a small step. The journey to address the plight of the lowest paid workers reached a milestone,” she said. Oliphant added that even though the bills seemed “mild”, they are “groundbreaking” in character.

Referring to the “robust engagement” between social partners throughout the formulation of the bills, Oliphant said it is a reminder that democracy is alive and real in South Africa.

“We must recognise that we may not agree all the time, it is normal to disagree at times.”

The national minimum wage seeks to improve the lives of the lowest paid workers in the labour market and will address the inequality challenge in South Africa and by extension poverty, Oliphant explained.

A national minimum wage commission will also be established to take over the functions of the Employment Equity Commission. The commission will review the national minimum wage, currently at R20 per hour, annually.

Oliphant added that the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Billl has proposed amendments as a consequence of the National Minimum Wage Bill.

It is designed to reinforce and create an “enabling legal environment” for the national minimum wage. It also redefines the role of the Council for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration on matters which may arise as a result of the implementation of the minimum wage.

The Labour Relations Amendment Bill in turn will give effect to a code of good practice on strengthening collective bargaining, preventing violent and prolonged strikes.

The bulk purpose of the amendments is purely administrative – preventing employers from side-stepping new legislation without following due processes, she explained.

“For far too long millions of South Africans [have sat] on the margins of economic and social progress,” said Oliphant.

The disconnect between those at the top and those at the bottom must be addressed, and the wealth creators and disadvantaged in society should be brought together.

African National Congress MP and chairperson of the portfolio committee on labour Sharome Van Schalkwyk hit back at claims that the committee rushed the process of considering the amendments.

She added that the R20 per hour rate is a starting point, increasing the income of more than six million South Africans. The benefit of this move will have a wider reach as these workers often have to support their families.

She also criticised the call by the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) for a minimum wage of R12 500, calling it a “massive shock” to the economy.

“We must be realistic and not reckless in the process,” said Van Schalkwyk.

Democratic Alliance MP Michael Bagraim criticised the “undue and desperate haste” with which the bills ran through the portfolio committee.

He also raised concerns over the job losses that would follow. He noted that Saftu did not have a fair opportunity to make its submissions in the consultation processes.

Economic Freedom Fighters MP Thembinkosi Rawula also shared views that government should not exclude Saftu from making submissions.

Saftu is also against the national minimum wage of R20 per hour. It previously held marches across various cities in the country in a national strike in April, demanding a living wage.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Costau) meanwhile issued a statement on Tuesday welcoming the finalisation of the bills. It has called for Parliament to adopt them speedily so that the president can sign them into law.

Cosatu has said that even though a minimum wage is not a living wage, a living wage cannot be legislated. “In fact no country has legislated a living wage.

“That is something that unions and workers must campaign for. That is something that government must work towards. That is something that business must be compelled to do,” parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks said.

Cosatu also hit out at Saftu for slamming the Labour Relations Amendment Bill. Saftu believes the bill will make it impossible for trade unions to organise protected strikes, even after attempts for a negotiated settlement reach deadlock, the federation claimed.

Cosatu said the bill does not collapse the right to strike.

Uniting labour

Saftu acting spokesperson Patrick Craven told Fin24 that it is unfortunate that Cosatu supports the labour bills, but the federation has requested to meet up with Cosatu to discuss issues of “common interest”.

These comprise poverty, inequality, unemployment, privatisation and the VAT hike. Saftu has not yet had a response from Cosatu on the matter.

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said that the congress is aware of the request and plans to meet with Saftu within the next two weeks, once secretary general Bheki Ntshalintshali is back in the country.

“We want to explore a situation to unite workers when it comes to policy questions.” He said it is important to look at what unites workers, rather than the issues that divide them.

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.”

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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