By Babalo Ndenze for EWN
Parliament has continued public hearings into land expropriation without compensation.
There have been submissions from organisations opposed to the move and those in support of amending the Constitution to explicitly allow it.
Members of the public and affected parties have been offered another opportunity to make their voices heard following three previous rounds of public hearings over the past three years.
Some of the submissions argued that there was no justification for a constitutional amendment, with some saying that the courts should play a role in determining compensation.
Those representing the agricultural sector have come out in opposition to a constitutional amendment.
AgriSA’s Christo van der Rheede said that his organisation opposed expropriation without compensation, saying that the process should be less politicised.
“And that we specifically talk about fundamental human rights in terms of ownership of property and that should not be motivated and compromised by politics but by reality and practicality.”
The Helen Suzman Foundation has also opposed the move, saying that there was no need for an amendment.
But Cosatu said that it supported the change.
The labour federation’s parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks: “We feel it is a rational intervention, we feel there is just utilisation in the bill for a new conversation for the expropriation of land to advance land reform and as Cosatu we support this bill as is.”
The hearings continue on Wednesday with submissions from AfriForum and the banking sector.
All of the major banks across South Africa will partake in strike action on Friday unless a court rules in favour of stopping it.
If The South African Society of Bank Officials (Sasbo) succeeds on Wednesday, service will be disrupted nationwide. The total shutdown may result in up to 70 000 employees downing tools.
Sasbo, which is affiliated with Cosatu, is is planning five marches throughout the country in Johannesburg, Durban, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. They are scheduled to take place from 10:00 onwards.
The union is striking over the digitalisation of banking practices which have lead to job losses and retrenchments in the sector.
The South African outlined how each bank might be affected:
Employees: 54 000
Customers: 8.12 million (as of 2018)
Response: The bank are waiting for the court’s decision before responding to planned strike action
Other information: Standard Bank are said to have slashed 1 200 jobs in the last year, following the closure of 91 branches across South Africa. The bank is facing the harshest criticisms from the union.
Employees: Around 30 000
Customers: 8.15 million (as of 2018)
Response: FNB envisage staff shortages on Friday, but the group have customers to ease the workload by registering for online banking, or downloading FNB’s official app before the end of the week
Other information: They have expressed their willingness to co-operate with Sasbo, after getting wind of the potential bank strike last Friday
Employees: 42 000
Customers: Between 8 – 9 million. Just over five million people use it as their “main bank”
Response: ABSA has confirmed to Fin24 that they “will deploy a business continuity and contingency plan to mitigate the impact on customers and clients” – they expect a small number of workers to strike.
Other information: Around 187 ABSA branches have been cut from service over the past decade
Employees: 31 000
Customers: 7.85 million (as of 2018)
Response: They have revealed through a statement that some branches will have “a limited number of workers available”, and continued to say: “For optimal service delivery, clients are encouraged to make use of our ATMs and our convenient digital banking platforms to transact.”
Other information: The institution has joined Business Unity South Africa’s application to halt the bank strikes. Around 1 500 Nedbank staff are currently facing unemployment or redeployment elsewhere
Employees: 12 000 – 13 000
Customers: 10.2 million (as of 2018)
Response: A representative told Business Tech: “Over the past year, our staff complement has grown by over 200 people. We also plan to open a further 17 branches in the next six months.”
Other information: Don’t expect too much disruption at Capitec. Their ship remains steady on the bank strike issue
Cash machines, inter-personal bank services and a host of branches are expected to be impacted across the country.
In order to prepare for Friday, consumers should:
- Withdraw money in advance and make sure you have enough to last a few days
- Any tax-related payments to SARS should be made before the close of business on Wednesday
- Register for your bank’s online banking or download their bank app.
In 2016, Amazon unveiled the “future of shopping” with its Go store.
The store does not require shoppers to go through a checkout point – you walk in, pick what you want from the shelves, and walk out.
Everything is tracked by computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning, and customers are automatically billed via their Amazon account.
The first store was launched in Seattle, USA, and offered ready-made meals and grocery items.
“We created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. No lines, no checkout,” said Amazon.
In late 2018, Amazon has expanded its Go stores to other areas in the USA and they are now being called the “inevitable evolution of supermarket retail”.
Engadget stated that Amazon Go is “a natural extension of existing retail trends”, and added that Amazon plans to open 3,000 Go stores by 2021.
Not in South Africa
While shoppers used to visit a butcher for meat and then travel to a hardware store for tools, today’s customer can buy these items from a single outlet like Makro – or visit a shopping mall where different types of shops are grouped together.
This was a natural progression which made it easier to shop. The argument for cashierless stores is the same, since walking in, taking what you want, and walking out makes the life of the shopper easier.
In South Africa, however, it is unlikely that this technology will roll out to retail chains such as Pick n Pay or Checkers in the foreseeable future.
The reason for this is that the initial job losses that would be suffered by cashiers and store staff would not be tolerated by workers’ unions.
This was proven in 2016, when Pick n Pay trialed a self-service checkout at a store in Cape Town.
The system was set to be tested for six months, and the company would see how it benefited consumers before taking the next step.
Cosatu was quick to pressure the company into not expanding the self-service trial; however, as the union stated at the time that it would lead to job losses.
Fast forward to 2018, and Pick n Pay told MyBroadband there have been no developments to the system, with no plans to take it forward either.
Cosatu told MyBroadband it is still “bitterly opposed” to the self-service checkout system, as it will decimate much needed jobs in the country.
“Our unemployment statistics are shocking and we are not going to allow the reckless introduction of mechanisation and automation,” said Cosatu.
It stated that it will fight the introduction of these systems in South Africa, and it is opposed to “technological ‘solutions’ that are imposed with no regard for local economies and cultures”.
With workers’ unions wielding the power to strike and protest, and local companies known for backing down against unions on a regular basis, it is unlikely that Amazon’s “future of shopping” will land in South Africa any time soon.
COSATU has announced a one day national strike for all employees on Friday, 7 October 2016.
NEDLAC has confirmed that COSATU has complied with s77 of the Labour Relations Act, No 66 of 1995 (LRA) in serving the necessary notices on NEDLAC. The activities on 7 October 2016 will therefore constitute protected protest action and will not be a strike, despite COSATU calling it such.
Similarly, the activities on 7 October 2015 were called a national strike but were in fact protected protest action.
Section 77 of the LRA provides for “protest action to promote or defend socio-economic interests of workers” and covers a much larger scope of demands than those of mutual interest between employee and employer.
The demands that COSATU wishes to “fight for” are:
• “Demand the total banning of the labour brokers;
• Demand the scrapping of the e-tolling system including the expensive toll gates;
• Fight in defence of our Jobs and against retrenchments;
• Demand the implementation of the Legislated National Minimum Wage;
• Fight to defend and protect our Collective Bargaining Agreements;
• Fight for compliance with Occupational Health and Safety Standards in all workplaces;
• Fight for the implementation of the NHI;
• Fight for the scrapping of the Taxation Amendment Law; and
• Demand the implementation of Free Education.”
Any employee is entitled to participate in the protected protest action and may not be disciplined for being absent from work. Participating employees enjoy the same protection as in the case of a protected strike. However, the principle of no-work-no-pay will apply.
Any employee engaged in an essential service may not participate in the protest action. Employees in a maintenance service may participate if permitted by the agreement regulating the maintenance service.
It is not yet clear whether any of the non-COSATU unions will take part in the protest action organised by COSATU.
It is also not clear how widespread the protest action will be. Some of the COSATU regions have already indicated that they will support the project.
By Faan Coetzee and Samantha Coetzer, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr