Tag: strike

Unions set to sign 7% Eskom wage offer

By Khulekani Magubane for Fin24

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have accepted Eskom’s one-year 7% wage deal in principle and will sign an agreement to this effect imminently.

This comes after a several-week deadlock in wage talks at the Central Bargaining Forum, which triggered protest disruptions at various Eskom plants and plunged the country into Stage 6 load shedding for the second time in the power utility’s history.

However, following an intervention from Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, unions returned to the bargaining table last week Friday to resume negotiations.

NUM energy sector coordinator Khangela Baloyi told Fin24 that unions accepted the offer in principle and were on the cusp of signing an agreement at 14:00.

The news of an in-principle agreement comes even though Numsa demanded 12% and the NUM demanded 10% at the time of returning to wage talks.

It also comes despite at least one leaked internal document signed by union officials at branch level reflecting that workers looked to reject the 7% wage offer and would only accept a double-digit increase.

Source: MyBroadband

The Public Private Transport Association (PPTA) expects at least 30 000 drivers from Uber, Uber Eats, Bolt, Bolt Food, InDriver, and Mr D Food will partake in a national shutdown of e-hailing and app-based delivery services on Thursday, 24 March 2022.

That is what PPTA’s founder Vhatuka Mbelengwa told eNCA on Monday.

The organisation claims to represent a collective of e-hailing representative bodies that want the government to regulate the industry, and give drivers more say on pricing.

Its three-day strike began on Tuesday, starting with a slow drive from Marabastad in Pretoria to the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition offices in the capital’s CBD. PPTA then handed over a memorandum with the drivers’ demands.

They also intended to hand over a memorandum at the Union Buildings, appealing directly to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The strike will continue on Wednesday and culminate in a national shutdown on Thursday, 24 March 2022, when drivers aim to block public roads and disrupt access to “critical institutions”.

Mbelengwa advised commuters in the country who relied on e-hailing services to make alternative arrangements, saying there would be a limited number of drivers available.

“Even those who are not participating in the active strike to submit the memorandum will be offline at home,” Mbelengwa said.

He explained that drivers were turning to the government for regulation as the e-hailing platforms they relied on were not addressing their concerns, including rising fuel and insurance costs, over-saturation of drivers, and driver safety.

“Let’s take petrol as an example. Uber independently takes decisions on what the pricing will be,” Mbelengwa stated.

“We are saying if we are truly partners in this sector, we need to have a joint decision-making platform reflective of a partnership, and Uber cannot then take pricing decisions as an independent organisation.”

Mbelenwga claimed that prices in the e-hailing sector had decreased since Uber became the first market player in 2013, while fuel prices increased over the same period.

“We are operating at below the cost of operating. We are losing money,” he stated.

“They continue to take their lion’s share of whatever is generated and leave us in a situation whereby we’re just continually getting poorer and poorer.”

Bolt’s SADC regional manager Gareth Taylor told MyBroadband that the company was aware of the planned action and respected drivers’ right to protest.

He appealed to them to do so legally, peacefully, and without impacting the rights of other drivers who choose to continue to operate and earn an income.

At the same time, Bolt condemned intimidation or violence directed towards e-hailing drivers and passengers or any other bystanders.

Bolt said it believes that every South African has the right to earn a living and move around without risk of harm, intimidation or coercion, or fear of death or injury.

Footage shared by EWN on Twitter showed that the striking drivers were already disrupting e-hailing drivers who tried to continue operating on Tuesday.

“We are concerned that intimidation of drivers wishing to operate may be taking place, and we will carefully monitor this in order to, where necessary, report this to the South African Police Services,” said Taylor.

“Bolt has received concerns directly from drivers and continues to communicate with our broader driver community.”

Taylor said that drivers on Bolt’s platform were able to raise their concerns directly with the company.

He also explained how Bolt balanced the earning needs of drivers with affordability for passengers.

“More people will choose to ride with Bolt if rates are affordable, which means that drivers have more opportunities to earn money,” Taylor stated.

He also disputed that Bolt had not increased prices to account for drivers’ increased running costs.

“Bolt increased its rates by up to 20% in March 2022, with increases implemented on the minimum fare, start rate, per kilometre rate, and the trip cancellation rate.”

He added that Bolt looked forward to the approval of the National Land Transport Amendment Bill that will create clarity in the transport sector.

“The Bill is currently being processed by Parliament, and we are optimistic that the Bill will be referred back to President Cyril Ramaphosa for his signature later this year,” Taylor said.

MyBroadband asked Uber, DiDi, and InDriver for comment, but they had not responded by the time of publication.


Bread price war, strike hits Tiger Brands

Source: Supermarket & Retailer

Tiger Brands, South Africa’s biggest food manufacturer and owner of brands like All Gold, Black Cat and Koo, saw its revenue for the quarter to end-December fall by 1%. This was due in part to a strike at some of its divisions – which cost the company R120 million – and a price war among South Africa’s bread manufacturers.

Tiger Brands, which owns the Albany bread brand, says its bakeries division experienced significant volume losses due to intense price competition.

“With regards to bread, the immediate priority is to recover the significant market share losses, facilitated by optimal pricing and effective promotional activity. However, profitability in this category is likely to remain under pressure for the remainder of the year,” it said.

Its bakeries business was also hit by rising cost pressures and illegal strikes in October and November.

Its snacks and treats division suffered after an eight-week strike in November and December, compounded by low stocks of finished product because of the civil unrest in July 2021. The company will only have a full supply of products by July 2022.

In addition, its rice business saw prices slump due to a decline in international prices, and “unfavourable weather” conditions which impacted sales of its insect killers, including Doom.

Tiger Brands said the past quarter was a “poor start to the financial year”, with its profit margins coming under pressure due to big cost increases of inputs in the past quarter. To prop up profit, it is hiking prices in the current quarter.

“The impact of these price increases on volumes is being carefully managed.”

In July, Tiger Brands recalled about 20 million KOO and Hugo’s canned vegetable products over safety concerns due to potentially defective cans. This amounted to a recall of 9% of annual production. Some of the cans had a deficient side seam weld that could cause the cans to leak.

On Wednesday, Tiger Brands said its insurance claim related to the can recall is still being assessed, but it has received confirmation of an interim payment of R17 million – which represents approximately 30% of the total amount claimed. This would bring the total insurance claim to around R57 million.

Last year, the company said the final impact of the can recall was estimated to be up to R650 million. The company is also claiming money back from the can supplier.

Tiger Brands’ share price fell by a percent following the release of the trading update on Wednesday afternoon.


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.

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