Author: My Office News

SAA cancels routes as business rescue bites

By Selene Brophy for Traveller24

South African Airways (SAA) has consolidated its domestic and international flights schedule due to low demand, as the process of business rescue looks to conserve funds.

So while these flight routes have not been cancelled outright, flights with too few bums on seats are being re-accommodated.

SAA has confirmed the following domestic and international flights have been cancelled between the airline’s main hub Oliver Tambo International Airport Johannesburg (JNB) and Cape Town (CPT), as well as between Johannesburg (JNB) and Durban’s King Shaka (DUR) airports.

Mango has confirmed it is re-accommodating affected passengers on certain routes operated by both airlines to minimise disruption.

Domestic flights cancelled include routes between Johannesburg and Cape Town and Johannesburg and Durban. Certain flights on the Johannesburg – Munich, Germany route have also been cancelled.

SAA says it will be reviewing further possible flight schedule amendments over the coming days.

Affected passengers seeking a refund are being advised to contact the airline or their travel agent to make alternative arrangements.

News24 Journalist Jenna Vester, who was at Cape Town International on Tuesday morning, reports that “no obvious disruptions for SAA were immediately apparent”.

The onus is on SAA to accommodate passengers affected by these recently announced flight cancellations due to low demand. However, if passengers elect to cancel any future, operating SAA flights it should be noted that they won’t automatically receive a refund, according to industry expert Natalia Rosa.

Added to this specific cancellation fees will apply. The usual credit card insurance and reversal of purchase, for services or goods not delivered should however apply in the instance of flight cancellation.

SAA has advised it will not be able to assist with disruptions at the airport due to the strike.

Domestic operators to contact to make urgent alternative flight arrangements include: Mango, Airlink, British Airways and Kulula.

SAA has had a torrid 2020 so far, with the company being forced to sell some of its airplanes – and now even some profitable routes – to become more liquid.

Loadshedding costs City Power R60m

By Loyiso Sidimba for IOL

Loadshedding has cost Johannesburg’s electricity utility City Power almost R60-million in the past four months.

City Power announced on Thursday the financial impact experienced between October 16 last year and January 5, 2020 due to the intermittent loadshedding.

According to City Power, it lost R43.6m in potential profit, another R14m due to equipment failure and R1.2m it paid in overtime.

“City Power’s losses were felt mostly in three potential areas, which are staff overtime, as we are forced to avail technicians and operators after normal working hours to ensure restorations are done after load shedding,” the utility said in a statement.

Due to its aging infrastructure City Power has seen an increase in areas taking long to restore due to a surge of currents and explosions.
City Power receives its electricity supply from Eskom and is obliged to help the national utility to save a certain amount of electricity in order to avoid a total shutdown of the system.

It has warned that another effect of load shedding could be accelerating the ageing of its infrastructure as its system was never meant to be switched on and off at quick intervals and as a result took a serious knock during loadshedding.

The impact was still felt even long after loadshedding was temporarily suspended, according to City Power.
City Power also suffered losses as its equipment either failed during restorations, transformers or mini-substations exploded during insurgents of current.

The utility lost the potential profit it would have made if it was selling electricity to its customers during load shedding.

“These loses do not include billions of rands lost by business’s lack of activity across the City of Johannesburg during loadshedding,” City Power said.

Its chief executive Lerato Setshedi said the utility was considering load limiting through the smart meters, ripple relays and increasing generating capacity at the Kelvin power station to cushion customers against the impact of load shedding and plan accordingly to maximise on other opportunities.

“Plans are already underway to engage Eskom in this regard on some of these alternatives available for us,” said Setshedi.

SA’s average annual salary increase

Source: MyBroadband

P-E Corporate Services has released its 2019/2020 Salary Trends report, which shows the average salary increase in South Africa over the last year was 6.2%.

The P-E Corporate Services Salary Trends report is based on over 500 benchmarked positions across all industries.

The data is gathered from over 800 organisations employing in excess of 1.5-million staff, representing over 10% of South Africa’s economically-active population.

The report also provides market data for different levels of staff in South Africa, from lower-level income to middle/line management.

The report stated that the average salary increase was 6.2%, down from 6.4% the previous year.

While there has been a downward trend in annual salary increases in South Africa, inflation has also decreased during the period.

When adjusted for inflation, the average salary increases in South Africa have improved over the past five years.

The 2019/2020 Salary Trends report further revealed that construction staff received the lowest average increase at 5.8%.

Employees in the information technology sector also saw a consistent decline in salary increases over the past five years – down from 7.2% in 2015 to 6.5% last year.

Employees at state-owned enterprises, however, received the highest average salary increase at 7.1%. This was significantly higher than most private companies.

 

Faced with the prospect of a lengthy commute on a sweltering day, either jammed into a packed taxi or a never-ending queue at the traffic lights, plenty of us have dreamed about that ultimate career goal: working from home. Design the day to fit your other commitments, get a few things done around the house, and pop out for lunch with a friend – surely this is the answer to the quest for the perfect work/life balance?

Well, yes and no. Little or no social interaction, an endless list of distractions, and no motivation to ditch the pyjamas for something a little more… professionals are the other side of the coin. OK, the dishes might be done and the bathroom sparkles like a showroom – but what about those missed deadlines? What may sound idyllic on paper can prove disastrous in reality.
The disadvantages of working from home doesn’t stop there. Of course, the pitter-patter of tiny feet can be a joy, especially after you’re done for the day. But when you’re trying to prepare a presentation with one hand and break up warring siblings with another, things can look a little different. In New Zealand last year, demand for coworking spaces actually increased during the school holidays as practical parents sought refuge in an environment better geared to productivity. A survey of 15,000 people in 80 countries found that 68% South Africans cited family members as a barrier to getting things done.

Loneliness is another problem. The staggering rate at which technology has expanded has made our lives much easier: we can order dinner, something to read and a taxi with the tap of an app. But email and messaging platforms like Slack and WhatsApp, though extremely efficient forms of communication, have removed the need for any real interaction – and this can feel particularly acute for someone spending the day at home alone. Loneliness has become so serious, in fact, that in 2018 the UK became the first country in the world to appoint a minister for loneliness. What might at first sound wishy-washy is brought into sharp relief by this piece of evidence in a Harvard Business Review article, which found that loneliness is “associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”

At the same time, the office environment has its own distractions. Beware the colleague with a fervent belief in endless meetings as the solution to all problems: not only do meetings often take up a significant chunk of time in a typical eight-hour workday, but they also introduce more issues than they solve if they’re not handled with military precision and a ruthless eye on the clock. Then there’s the danger of being side-tracked by someone else’s project, as they ask you to come over and look at something “just for a minute” that quickly turns into another precious hour lost to a non-core task.

So, how to crack the remote employment conundrum? Coworking solutions like Spaces may well have found the sweet spot between the advantages and disadvantages of working from home. Firstly, being surrounded by like-minded individuals creates a buzzy atmosphere that puts paid to any feelings of loneliness – but because your fellow members are more often acquaintances than colleagues, the opportunities for downing tools and discussing last night’s TV are greatly reduced compared to the office. And that sense of quietly competitive camaraderie can be a great motivating factor when 4pm rolls around and your first impulse is to put off writing that long email until tomorrow morning.

That said, it’s all about balance – after all, burnout can also be a big problem in the world of work in the 21st -century. Traditional office culture is partly to blame but home based workers aren’t immune either. Who hasn’t ended up putting in more hours at the kitchen table to prove to the boss that they really are working even though they’re at home? And when the laptop’s left open while you’re preparing dinner, it can be all too easy to carry on with various bits and pieces in between chopping the vegetables. At SPACES, networking events like mindfulness talks and yoga classes act as gentle reminders that a good work/life balance is what will make us most successful in the end.

Another article in the Harvard Business Review found that people thrive in coworking spaces for a number of reasons. The sense of community, the ability to be yourself rather than adopt a “work persona”, and the empowerment that comes with being able to plan the working day according to your schedule, all play their part in developing the meaning and purpose that we all need to feel fulfilled at work. Even better, there are none of those working-from-home distractions that can so easily swallow up half our time if we let them, and no loss of productivity that comes with office life.

When working from home doesn’t cut it for you, there’s always another option. Our coworking memberships provide access to workspaces all around the globe, without the distractions.

Telkom plans to cut 3 000 jobs

By Sibongile Khumalo for Fin24

Telkom has issued a notice to cut as many as 3 000 jobs – nearly a third of its workforce – across multiple departments, as the company looks to streamline its operations amid falling earnings and changing market conditions.

Trade union Solidarity, which is one of the unions representing workers, said a notice of the process – which would be conducted in two phases – was received on Wednesday.

“We expected the retrenchments to happens but not in such large numbers. This is quite a large number… we did not expect it,” said Linda Senekal, the union’s sector coordinator.

She said affected workers include those employed in the IT department, customer services and small business.

With a 9 000-strong workforce, Telkom is adjusting to a shift in operating conditions, which have seen a significant move from voice to data.

The semi-privatised company, which operates in several countries in Africa, has also faced calls by Independent Communications Authority of South Africa to drop data costs.

Senekal voiced concern that the company had opted to lay off workers instead of opting to upskill employees for tech-driven jobs.

“Telkom employs a lot of contractors to do jobs that should be done by its workforce,” Senekal said.

The company’s interim financial results, released in November, showed that headline earnings dived 36%, while net debt increased by almost R2bn to R11.8bn.

Telkom is among several large organisations considering job cuts as the country battles high unemployment rates and tough economic conditions.

Last year, debt-stricken national airline, SAA, announced plans to reduce head counts, in a move which was fiercely opposed by unions.

This week, MassMart, which owns Game, DionWired and Makro, among others, announced on Monday that it was consulting with its employees about the potential closure of 34 stores. The move could affect up to 1 440 employees.

By Babalo Ndenze for EWN

Parliament wants the government to find a way to stop the pending retrenchments at retail giant Massmart.

Mandla Rayi, chairperson of the Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Employment and Labour called on those departments to urgently intervene.

Massmart, which is majority-owned by US retail giant Walmart, has this week indicated it had started consultations with unions about the closure of up to 34 of its Dion-Wired and Masscash stores which could affect 1 400 employees.

Rayi said that it might not be ideal for the government to interfere in business but the severity of the pending retrenchments necessitated some form of intervention.

“We would like to have a meeting with the departments of employment and labour and DTI, with them telling us how far they’ve gone with regards to their intervention in this matter.”

He said that it was the very same government that facilitated the American owned Massmart’s entry into the South African economy.

“Remember when Massmart, an American company, wanted to come to South Africa, government was involved in facilitating their coming into the country, so we want them to get involved over the pending retrenchments.”

He said that the select committee would request a meeting with the departments of employment and labour as well as the trade and industry department to try to find solutions.

SA’s huge Windows piracy problem

By Bradley Prior for MyBroadband

Only a third of PCs being shipped to Africa include genuine software, which is a reason for the increase in data breaches and malware attacks in the region.

This is according to Deniz Ozen, regional general manager for consumer and device sales at Microsoft Middle East and Africa.

Ozen said that this has resulted in the loss of important data and decreased productivity on the continent.

Benefits of legal software for Africa
“Africa’s emerging market potential is unparalleled and business development and the growth of existing SME’s remains a key focus across the continent,” Microsoft said in a statement.

“To tap into this potential growth, access to affordable genuine software and hardware is necessary if the digital divide is to be closed.”

Microsoft believes that access to genuine software ensures comprehensive security for devices and data, making legitimate software important to the long-term success of businesses.

The same applies to students who rely heavily on access to devices, software and information to complete their required tasks and projects.

Fixing the piracy problem
The Software Alliance said in its June 2018 report that the overall rate of pirated software in the Middle East and Africa region stood at 56%.

“Pirated software is often installed without the end user’s knowledge, and it is those users who suffer the consequences including lost data and unusable PCs,” said Microsoft.

Microsoft EMEA VP of consumer and device sales Bradley Hopkinson told MyBroadband in October that Microsoft has various measures in place to fight piracy in South Africa and in Africa as a whole.

“We have come up with a programme called the Africa Coverage Programme, which is an affordability programme with our multinational partners,” said Hopkinson.

“Effectively, it is a programme that we believe will address affordability, and at the same time we need to drive awareness for the value of genuine software, which we will do as part of that programme.”

Microsoft has also launched its Windows PC Affordability in Africa Initiative, which aims to reduce the prevalence of Microsoft software piracy in the African market.

“Through the Windows PC Affordability in Africa Initiative, we aim to educate consumers on the risks of using pirated software, and to work with our PC ecosystem partners including Acer, ASUS, Dell, Intel, Lenovo, Mustek and SMD to make Genuine Windows 10 PCs more affordable across Africa,” said Hopkinson.

“We have high aspirations to bring piracy almost to zero across Africa. We see a world across Africa where we can get genuine Windows in excess of 80% and even higher, and that is also based on the success we’ve seen through similar programmes in other emerging markets.”

Source: Fin24

An infamous Russian-speaking hacking group – referred to as Silence – is the likely culprit making thousands of attempts to hack major banks in sub-Saharan Africa, cybersecurity company Kaspersky Labs said on Monday.

The group is called Silence because of the silent monitoring done via their malware. They have already carried out a number of successful campaigns targeting banks and financial organisations around the globe.

According to Kaspersky, the typical scenario of an attack begins with a social engineering scheme, as attackers send a phishing e-mail that contains malware to a bank employee.

From there, the malware gets inside the banks’ security perimeter and lays low for a while, gathering information on the victim organisation by capturing screenshots and making video recordings of the day-to-day activity on the infected device.

“Once attackers are ready to take action, they activate all capabilities of the malware and cash out using, for example, ATMs. The score sometimes reaches millions of dollars,” says Kaspersky.

“The attacks detected began in the first week of January 2020 and indicated that the threat actors are about to begin the final stage of their operation and cash out the funds. To date, the attacks are ongoing and persist in targeting large banks in several SSA countries.”

Kaspersky accordingly advises financial organisations to introduce basic security awareness training for all employees so that they can better distinguish phishing attempts. Banks should also monitor activity in enterprise information systems and prepare an incident response plan to be ready for potential incidents in the network environment.

In August 2019 Kaspersky reported a cyber attack in which South Africa was apparently among 17 countries targeted by North Korean hackers, related to the activity of the so-called Lazarus group. They also targeted banks and other financial institutions.

Thanks to owning its own forests, the Faber-Castell Group can boast a climate-neutral production and 82% of the energy it uses comes from renewable sources. Germany and Peru have also signed new energy contracts for 2020.

The company is sticking to its ambitious environmental targets – despite the stagnating economy and crisis markets in Latin America.

A small yet highly efficient Faber-Castell factory is idyllically situated on the banks of the Danube, very close to the world-famous Danube Loop in Engelhartszell, Austria. Here, highly pigmented inks are mixed and filled for the global Faber-Castell Group, and millions of pen parts are produced from recycled plastic: for example for the “Ecco Pigment” fineliner and the “Textile Marker”. When the factory was hit by flooding in 2013 and machinery and goods disappeared into the Danube, the company used the disaster as an opportunity for a makeover and moved the building services into a new, flood-safe building. At the same time it also became a self-sufficient heat supplier thanks to the installation of modern energy recovery systems in the production halls and offices. Since then, the subsidiary factory has been purchasing 100% of its electricity from sustainable sources.

Engelhartszell was therefore regarded as a pioneer in the Group. By now, over 82% of the thermal and electrical energy used in Faber-Castell factories across the group comes from renewable sources. Thanks to a water turbine, the head office in Stein in central Franconia has been a green electricity producer for decades. Latin America in particular is playing a leading role when it comes to energy demand. Brazil, the world’s largest pencil producer and exporter of writing and drawing instruments to over 70 countries, began purchasing energy from renewable sources in 2006.

Since 2019, the Brazilian factories have been using only green electricity and have improved significantly in the area of wastewater and waste disposal thanks to ambitious environmental targets.

Carbon-neutral production through the company’s own afforestation measures
Around the world, Faber-Castell’s production companies in nine countries manage to achieve carbonneutral production thanks to the 10,000 hectares of company-owned pine forests in Brazil. This is unique in the industry. The 100% FSC-certified forests supply the raw material for the Brazilian pencil factory and cover 87% of the Faber-Castell Group’s global wood demand. The additional wood used is also FSC and PEFC certified, so that the 2.3 billion pencils and crayons produced by the Group itself come
wholly from sustainable and renewable sources.

Faber-Castell regularly publishes its Group-wide environmental performance indicators, creating transparency in terms of sustainability. By using 82% environmentally friendly energy sources and the proven carbon-neutral production thanks to its own forests, the company has a unique position in the market. The high share of renewable energies – and thus the advantage in the positive climate balance – is set to be expanded further: Germany and Peru have signed contracts with green electricity suppliers
for 2020, and Peru alone expects carbon emissions to be halved in the medium term.

Strict environmental targets despite drop in sales
Faber-Castell has also set itself the global goal of reducing the proportion of plastic in packaging and to increasingly use recycled materials for products. Despite the economic slowdown, the company is sticking to its ambitious environmental targets. In the past 18/19 financial year, the Group generated sales of EUR 587.5 million (-4% year-on-year). Adjusted for currency effects, there was a slight rise of 2.2% year-on-year.

“The Chinese market, where we believe our potential has not yet been fully realised, is performing particularly well,” says Chairman of the Board Daniel Rogger. For the current 19/20 financial year, Rogger expects sales to match the previous year’s level, especially in light of the Latin American markets, which are important for the Group and are affected by political and economic crises.

“At the moment, the situation there is unclear. Chile and Peru had been doing well until mid-2019, but now we have to wait and see what happens; the same goes for the markets in Argentina, Colombia and Brazil.”

South America plays a central role for the Faber-Castell Group and is responsible for approximately 45% of sales. Rogger is confident about the future: “With our focus on creative products, our decentralised organisational structure and sound financial ratios, we are prepared for an increasingly difficult market environment. We believe that our environmental topics, which set us apart from the competition, will enable us to win over consumers – not only in Europe, but increasingly in Asia and America as well.”

Massmart may cut 1 440 jobs

Source: EWN

South Africa’s Massmart Holdings could cut up to 1 440 jobs under a plan to close some stores, the retailer said on Monday as it struggles to grow sales in a tough economy.

Massmart, majority owned by US retail giant Walmart, swung to its first half-year trading loss in two decades last August, as low growth, high unemployment and a rising cost of living hurt South Africans’ spending power.

The retailer said in a statement it had started consultations with unions and other stakeholders around the closure of up to 34 stores, following a review that identified a number of outlets that were underperforming.

“A total of 34 Dion-Wired and Masscash stores and approximately 1,440 employees are potentially affected by this process,” it said.

Dion-Wired is Massmart’s electronics and appliances subsidiary, while Masscash is its wholesale division including cash and carry, food and cosmetics outlets.

Massmart shares, which sunk to a 13-year low last year after the retailer issued a profit warning, were up 2.4%.

A number of Massmart’s rivals, such as Shoprite, are also struggling in the difficult market conditions, and both retailers have also had to battle currency weakness elsewhere in Africa, especially Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

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