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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has called on all citizens to join the group, and other organisations including faith-based movements and taxi associations, to put pressure on government to reduce the fuel levy by R1.
At 10h00 on Tuesday 31 July, OUTA and other groups will gather in Church Square, Pretoria, to hand over a memorandum to the National Treasury, calling for the reduction in the general fuel levy.
“South Africans have suffered under the burden of high taxes, maladministration and corruption for far too long. The exorbitant increases in the fuel levy during the Zuma era can be linked to Government’s need to increase its revenue to cover the costs of corruption that have permeated our state and continue to cripple our economy. Government leadership needs to do the right thing and reduce the fuel price by R1, if they are serious about easing consumer pressure, ” says Ben Theron, OUTA COO.
Concerned citizens are encouraged to lend their voices and participate in sending this important message to Government, by assembling at Church Square in Pretoria Central on Tuesday 31 July. In addition, social media activists can change their profile pic in the build-up and on the day of the march. OUTA will be making images available on www.outa.co.za.
“OUTA is an a-political organisation, that encourages people and movements from all sectors, including parties and labour unions to join us on Tuesday,” adds Theron.
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”.
Caxton Central / Southern Courier
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is planning a total electricity shut down on Thursday 14 June to protest against the 0% salary increases of Eskom employees. Here’s what you need to know.
South Africans might experience a day of no power because of strike action set to take place against Eskom for not increasing the salaries of their workers this year.
1. Eskom announced 0% salary increases for their staff
In January this year, troubled state utility company Eskom appointed a new board of directors to help resolve their leadership crisis. President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan as Public Enterprises Minister in February to be in charge of state enterprises like Eskom. This week the power utility announced a 0% increase in wages and earmarked 10 000 jobs to be slashed.
Allan Gray has pointed out the real problem at Eskom – a productivity meltdown. In 2003 #Eskom employed 32,000 people. Today that number stands at around 47600, up almost 50%. Eskom’s electricity production is roughly the same as it was in 2003. So 50% more people, a massive wage bill and the same amount of output.
2. NUM released a statement calling for a national shutdown
NUM released a statement saying that they were “disgusted by the brutal arrogance shown by the black majority led by Eskom”. They called for a national shutdown of electricity supply. The action is set to occur on national, regional and branch level. NUM and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) held a joint briefing earlier today to this effect.
3. NUM launched a response to Eskom in a series of tweets
One of the questions raised was “why should workers’ pay for the sins of management? It’s a fact that Eskom managers drove the SOE to the brink of financial ruin through rampant looting, corruption and mismanagement.” They said Eskom senior managers are responsible for the financial crisis at the SOE – “if jobs are to be cut they should start by cutting down the BLOATED executive which is made up of approx 500 people!”.
4. Eskom has contingency measures against Thursday’s strike
Eskom released a statement that they have measures in place to mitigate against the planned industrial action. They assured people that they will ensure the security of power supply should the strike happen.
5. People have taken to their social media to respond to the announcement
There’s been a generally mixed response to the Eskom announcement with some people claiming it is wrong to not increase the staff salaries in the wake of VAT increases and rising petrol prices. Others, however, believe Eskom workers have unrealistic demands.