Tag: strike

Union eyes Black Friday for Massmart strike

By Khulekani Magubane and Penelope Mashego for News24

The South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) has confirmed it plans to kick off with a national strike at the Massmart group on Friday, which could impact some 229 stores under the retail and warehousing giant.

On Tuesday, the group said it had received no formal notice of a strike. A senior executive, however, said he was aware that the union’s leadership was “cajoling” members into strike action, alleging that some members appeared to have been threatened into participating.

Saccawu denies allegations of intimidation.

The union first hinted at the possibility of a strike last week, aiming to time its industrial action alongside Black Friday – set to take place on the last Friday of November.

Massmart senior vice president of group corporate affairs Brian Leroni told Fin24 that Massmart had not yet received any formal notification of strike action from the union as required by the Labour Relations Act.

“We are, however, aware that Saccawu leadership is cajoling its members into taking strike action during the current trading period.

“It would appear that Saccawu’s approach has, in [some] cases, involved threatening reluctant members to participate in a strike at a time when they would typically maximise sales commission-based earnings due to higher footfall and sales volumes in our stores,” said Leroni.

Leroni said the rationale for the threatened strike action was “not immediately clear”, but the company was aware that Saccawu officials referenced wages, working conditions and restructuring in media interviews.

“Specifically, Saccawu leadership recently advised its members employed by Game not to accept alternative positions that the company had identified following the implementation of a Section 189 process that was completed at Game in June this year,” Leroni said.

He said Makro, Game and Builders would release new Black Friday deals each week during the whole month of November and that the company did not anticipate that the potential strike action would impact meaningfully on the promotion.

Saccawu said in a statement on Tuesday that its strike would go ahead on Friday and was expected to affect Makro, Game, Makro Fruitspot, Builders Warehouse, Builders Express, Builders Trade Depot, Builders Superstores, Rhino Cash and Carry, Jumbo Cash and Carry and Cambridge.

The statement added that Saccawu secured certificates of non-resolution of disputes from the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to embark on a protected national strike at stores under the Massmart Group after section 150 facilitation sessions where the company showed “little interest” in resolving the labour disputes.

The union was waiting for the CCMA to finalise a certificate for Builders Warehouse, it said.

“On 19 November 2021, Saccawu will commence an indefinite national strike at the Massmart Group of companies which include Mass Warehouse, Massbuild and Mass Cash representing 229 stores nationally,” the statement said.

Industrial action has loomed for some time at the retail giant. Earlier this year, Massmart was dogged with threats of strike action over its plans to retrench staff.

On Tuesday, Saccawu said there was a dispute regarding wages and working conditions at Massbuild, and that it demanded a R500 across-the-board increase. “Other areas of dispute involve unfair labour practice wherein the company is placing workers on unpaid seven-day isolation whenever they have been embarking on lunchtime pickets that were a build-up to this national strike,” the statement said.

The union is also unhappy about the retrenchment of some 380 workers at Massmart, as well as the working conditions of the remaining workers, including a reduction in working hours, wages and benefits.

Speaking to Fin24 on Tuesday afternoon, Saccawu head of communications and research Sithembele Tshwete denied Massmart’s claims of intimidation and cajoling attributed to Saccawu members, or members of any other union recognised by Massmart.

“That’s just propaganda. We are not about that. We were on a strike for three days and they said the same thing. We are not about violence. Everything is within the law. We don’t force people, we are going to persuade people,” said Tshwete.

Tshwete told Fin24 that Saccawu had approached the Labour Appeals Court on Monday to appeal the ruling of the Labour Court and won. He said the union will argue for the reinstatement of the workers who were dismissed.

“It is a protected strike. We have a certificate on non-resolution, but we are sending the last memorandum of notice. There is Massmart, Makro and Builders. It is only Builders where we have not given notification. It is the CCMA that has delayed us in that regard,” Tshwete said.

Saccawu said its strike programme also involved mobilising a national consumer boycott of Massmart Stores, the handover of a memorandum of demands at a number of Massmart stores and secondary strikes at other retailers by other organised labour structures.

 

SAA remains a disaster

Source: MyBroadband

Less than three weeks after taking to the skies again, South African Airways (SAA) is already facing a backlash from staff, cancelled flights, and support problems.

Only days after relaunching flights on 23 September 2021, SAA made significant changes to its new international schedule.

Some flights to Kinshasa and Lusaka were cancelled, and the airline delayed the launch of daily flights to Maputo.

Testing by MyBroadband further revealed that the airline’s support services — specifically its refund department — are not operating.

Calling the SAA’s refunds helpline triggers an automated message, after which the call is disconnected.

A reservations agent told MyBroadband that the SAA Refunds Department had been closed down, and they could not assist with any refunds.

MyBroadband contacted SAA’s communications department for clarity about this issue, but the request for comment went unanswered.

In the latest blow to the airline, SAA workers represented by the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and Numsa will picket outside the Airways Park office in Kempton Park on Tuesday.

These workers are unhappy about unfair working conditions, including a 35% pay cut and the airline’s bloated management structure.

SACCA President Zazi Sibanyoni-Mugambi said that while their members had to take a 35% pay cut, SAA management has increased their salaries.

She added that employees who have taken voluntary severance packages are being employed again when current SAA employees can fill those positions.

“The biggest concern to us is that we have an SAA CEO who refuses to see the unions,” Sibanyoni-Mugambi said.

To make matters worse, there is no deal yet between the SAA’s new equity partner, Takatso Consortium, and the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE).

The Takatso Consortium is set to take a 51% shareholding in South African Airways and pump billions into the struggling airline.

This deal has not happened yet, which means Takatso is not currently involved in any SAA operations.

Speaking to Moneyweb on 29 September, Takatso CEO Gidon Novick said he naively thought the deal could be done a lot quicker.

Novick dismissed speculation that Takatso’s shareholders — Harith and Global Aviation — withdrew from the process.

“Both are involved. Harith is the key strategic funding partner, and Global and the team at Lift are involved as technical partners. So, it’s very much in play, very much intact,” Novick said.

Novick could, however, not commit to a timeline on when they will make a deal with the DPE.

It means SAA is currently operating without its promised equity partner, it has staff and union challenges, and its customers are faced with uncertainty about flights and support services.

This is familiar territory for South Africans who are tired of funding a failed airline gutted by mismanagement and corruption, and which burned through billions in bailouts.

 

Numsa workers continue to strike

By Banele Ginindza for IOL

Not an improved offer from employers, the death of a worker on the picket line, nor the woes over the collapse of the collective bargaining system have swayed workers nor employers in the ongoing National Union of Metal Workers (Numsa) organised strike, which continues into this week.

Cracks in the wall emerged over the weekend between employer organisations, with the National Employers Association of South Africa (NEASA) saying they would not be led by the nose through negotiations by Numsa, as they offered a 4.28 percent wage increase against the 8 percent plus Consumer Price Index (CPI) demanded by Numsa.

Employers are counting on a yet undecided Numsa to consult with members on an undisclosed offer tabled late Friday, while violence and intimidation claimed the life of a worker on Friday, while subsidiary stakeholders, including NEASA, decried monopoly of the bargaining table.

“We have an offer above what employers have tabled before. We still have to take it before our members. We cannot disclose details, but it still has to go through our structures. For now, the strike continues,” Numsa’s spokesperson, Phakamile Hluni-Madonsela, said yesterday evening.

This was confirmed by SEIFSA’s CEO Lucio Trentini, who said at the last engagement organised labour was made an offer which the industry recognises still has to go before employee processes.

“This offer is above the normal expectations. Employers embarked on lockouts when Numsa decided to go on strike. We are dealing with half the economy we did in 2014. This strike is costing in the region of R250 to R300 million a day. We are waiting on Numsa to come back to us on the revised offer,” SEIFSA’s CEO Lucio Trentini said last night.

At the height of the industrial action last week, an angry motorist ploughed into a group of protesters in Wadeville, killing one worker, wounding several others, prompting Numsa and Seifsa to convey condolences.

National Employers Association of South Africa (NEASA) CEO Gerhard Papienfus said individual employers had different offers unrecognised by NUMSA, but which formed the bone of contention as levels of capability of employers were different.

“They must have a deal with us. Never again will there be one body dictating for everyone in the steel industry, which hasn’t grown in the last 30 years. We made a 4.28 percent offer. We recommend an increase plus CPI to our members,” Papenfus said.

“Industry can give no more than10 percent. We can’t dictate to each business. Each one has its own challenges,” said Papenfus.

 

By Edwin Ntshidi for EWN

Talks between public sector unions and government have deadlocked.

This comes after marathon talks between state negotiators and the Public Servants Association (PSA).

The association, one of the largest parties at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council, tabled a wage demand of over 7% – with government saying it cannot afford the demand.

Government proposed a 0% increase but has been willing to talk.

The PSA and government negotiators met until late last night in an attempt to avert a strike that could see over 200,000 government workers downing tools.

However, the parties could not find each other as the association’s Ruben Maleka elaborates.

“It is regrettable that last night we could not find each other with the employer. The employer would not revise its offer of 0%.”

Wage negotiations stalled after the government did not accede to public servants’ wage demand of CPI plus 4%.

Instead, the government said the demands are out of sync with the Fiscal Framework.

With talks now deadlocked, this paves a way for unions to declare a dispute.

Should the strike go ahead, it will result in public servants in the public sector embarking on industrial action while the country faces the COVID-19 health crisis.

What will happen next?

  • Unions are finalising declaring a dispute after the deadlock
  • Then the matter will be conciliated
  • Should that fail, unions can apply for a strike certificate

Earlier in the week, Public Service and Public Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu described this year’s wage talks as “the most difficult negotiations” the country has ever faced.

He urged government and labour representatives to put the public service first and not treat each other as adversaries.

The bad state of the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for drastic changes in the public service are just some of the reasons Mchunu listed as factors that have made this year’s talks the most difficult.

National Treasury aims to cut about R300 billion from the public wage bill in the next three years as it becomes ever more apparent that government cannot afford to foot the bill as the pressure on the fiscus increases.

However, trade unions are equally under pressure to appease their members who have gone without wage adjustments in the past year.

 

Eskom workers strike

By Lauren Isaacs for EWN

Eskom on Monday confirmed that some workers at its power stations would embark on a planned protest from Tuesday.

The demonstrators are temporary workers employed by contractors and Eskom Rotek Industries.

It is believed they are up in arms over the use of labour brokers.

Eskom’s spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said: “Eskom has put in measures to minimise the disruption to production and it bears noting that the matters that are being raised by the protestors are already before the CCMA,” he said.

On Tuesday night Eskom sent a notification on Twitter to say that the power grid was under pressure.

This comes as President Cyril Ramaphosa said that government was making progress in overcoming the problems Eskom has been facing for years now.

Ramaphosa has used his weekly newsletter to address the energy crisis gripping the country.

He said that improvements were continuing in municipal debt collection and despite load shedding, maintenance work was continuing at power stations.

He said that South Africa would be buying electricity through a transparent tendering process that prioritised competitiveness and cost-effectiveness.

Government has gazetted ministerial determinations that will enable the development of more than 11,800 megawatts of additional power generation.

Will SAA survive this strike?

South African Airways (SAA) says its future hangs in the balance after its workers went on strike to demand higher wages and protest planned job cuts which forced the state-owned carrier to cancel all its flights.

More than 100 international and local flights international flights were cancelled when the unions began their strike on Friday, which saw SAA shedding at least R200-million – plunging its balance sheet into a deeper crisis.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the South African Cabin Crew Association embarked on a strike after SAA announced a restructuring process which may affect 944 jobs.

The striking unions are demanding an 8% across-the-board wage increase. Unions also want to have job security for at least three years and the in-sourcing of services like security, cleaning and ground handling.

According to Numsa and SACCA, SAA pilots recently received a 5.9% increase. The two unions said their members were simply demanding increases as well, which should be higher than pilots as they earn less.

SAA has pointed out that the 5.9% salary stems from a 5-year salary agreement after an arbitration process to which the airline is legally bound.

In a meeting with the striking unions, Minister of Public Enterprise Pravin Gordhan has said that no further financial resources can be advanced to cash-strapped flag carrier SAA. In September, the government issued a R5.5bn bailout to cover SAA’s operational costs, but will be unable to help any more.

Retrenchments loom at SAA

Source: eNCA

South African Airways (SAA) has informed its more than 5,000 employees that it’s restructuring. It is estimated that about 944 staff will be affected – nearly 20% of the workforce.

The national carrier has had its fair share of financial turbulence.

But in the mid-term budget, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced that the state would pay off the airline’s R9.2-billion debt over the next three years.

The airline has incurred over R28-billion in cumulative losses over the past 13 years.

The South African Society of Bank Officials (Sasbo) has vowed to shut down all digital banking platforms on Friday, according to an article published by ITWeb.

South Africa’s largest financial union has threatened the country with a complete blackout of transactional services, including cash withdrawals, in response to the increase in digitalisation and job losses in the sector.

South African banks have been advising their customers to use online banking platforms on Friday.

However, Sasbo general secretary Joe Kokela told ITWeb in an interview: “Whatever the banks say, it’s their right; I can only speak on behalf of Sasbo and say the digital platforms will be affected. Those services are all controlled by human beings to be able to perform a function. Our argument is that these services will be affected on Friday.”

Sasbo hopes the single day of industrial action will mitigate the retrenchments that have become common in the sector.

Saudi oil attacks cause price wobble

Source: CNN

Investigators from Saudi Arabia and the United States of America have determined “with very high probability” that the weekend attack on the Saudi oil industry was launched from an Iranian base in Iran close to the border with Iraq.

What happened?
Ten drones performed co-ordinated strikes on key Saudi Arabian oil facilities knocked out half of the country’s oil capacity — more than 5-million barrels a day. This amounts to about 5% of the world’s supply. Saudi and US investigators have determined “with very high probability” that the attack came from an Iranian base, according to a source.

Who’s behind this?
Yemen’s Houthi rebels said they’re responsible for the attacks, but a spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said that Iranian weapons were used in the oil field attack.

Where the US stands
President Trump said it looks like Iran was behind the attack but suggested it was too early to say for sure. Trump also insisted that he does not want war with Iran.

How it’s affecting oil
On Monday, US oil prices spiked by more than 14%. It was the biggest spike since January 2009.
Oil prices dropped sharply Tuesday, following Monday’s surge that sent shock waves around the world.

US oil futures dropped 4.6% to $59.98 per barrel, following a Reuters report that Saudi Arabian oil production would return to normal within two to three weeks. Investors took that as a positive sign about the impact of the weekend’s attacks on global oil supply.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, is down 5.8% at $64.99 a barrel.

How it could affect South Africans
According to Fin24, a strong rand rally over the past week put the petrol price on track for a cut in the first week of October. This would mean petrol price cuts of between 11c an 24c a litre.

The Automobile Association spokesperson Layton Beard says the massive increase in the global oil price will likely cancel out the forecast price cut.

Waltons staff down pens in wage protest

By Sne Masuku for IOL

Workers at the stationery manufacturing company Bidvest Waltons have walked off the warehouse floor and local stores in a wage protest.

They carried placards on Monday outside the warehouse at Riverhorse Valley highlighting what they say are poor working conditions and demanded 100% bonuses.

In addition, staff demanded an 11% salary increase across the board and a minimum wage of R7 000 a month.

The Bidvest Waltons employees in KwaZulu-Natal said they were further prejudiced as they were allegedly paid less than their counterparts in Cape Town.

They are also demanding double pay for working Sundays, an 18% shift allowance, and a guaranteed 13th cheque, amongst others.

Police were on sight at the warehouse to monitor the situation while the union officials were in negotiations with management.

Also on the worker’s grievances were allegations of racism. They also complained of workers being forced to use one toilet.

“We are made to use one toilet for both males and females. We, women, feel uncomfortable to be in the same toilet wither male colleagues.We have complained a number of times to management, but we have been ignored,” said a worker who wished not to be named for fear of victimisation.

The management was unavailable for comment as officials were still locked in negotiations.

Watch the video here.

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