Workplaces are increasingly under pressure with new issues and disputes that arise daily. Labour relations specialists must keep abreast of legislative amendments, court rulings, managing of complex relationships between employees, trade unions with different approaches, the human resources function and management, and all this sometimes under difficult and stressful conditions. Economic growth is now more important than ever to increase job security while labour relations play an integral role in the economic growth process and a service should be delivered that promotes stability in the workplace.
The objectives of this occupational network include:
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- Shop stewards
- Labour relations specialists
- Officials who must act as labour relations specialists or management
- HR practitioners minded with labour relations
- Line managers in labour intensive workplaces
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Guild members want to develop themselves and aren’t afraid to learn new things. They not only want to empower themselves with knowledge, but they also want to take responsibility for the next generation. This responsibility is transferred through sharing of knowledge, mentoring programmes, the provision of internships and job creation.
As guild member you are part of Solidarity and you will qualify for all the trade union benefits we offer.
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Additional benefits that labour relations specialists enjoy within the guild:
Akademia Guild members receive preferential selection at Akademia.
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The upshot of AMCU’s three-month old Sibanye-Stillwater strike is that the loss of income of the approximate 11 000 striking AMCU members has reached an average loss of R42 246 per striking worker. In other words, the workers are striking themselves into a state of being worse off as the strike will clearly not bring in more money for them.
With the so-called strike season upon us, trade unions will have to learn from AMCU’s poor judgment and will have to take a long, hard look at the loss of income associated with strikes.
When employees embark on strike action, they forfeit their pay for the duration of the strike. Striking workers can accept this loss if, within an acceptable period, the success of the strike will compensate for the loss of income during the strike. If it is going to take several years before the higher salary attained by the strike will compensate for the loss of income, then it is better to rather have accepted the lower offer and to not have gone on strike.
The Solidarity Research Institute (SRI) illustrates the loss of income due to strike action by means of the assumption that there are 250 workdays in a year, and a trade union has been on strike for ten of those days to get the employer’s 10% offer to 15% in the end. According to the SRI, it is not as simple as claiming that it would only take three months to make up for the loss if, for example, R6 000 (excluding benefits) was lost due to the strike and salaries are now, for argument’s sake, R1 875 higher a month after a 15% increase was granted.
The SRI argues that the matter becomes complicated when deciding which amount is used to calculate the strike’s “value”. The value of the strike is equal to the amount the striker scores as a result of the strike. However, this value is not equal to the total monthly increase of R1 875 but is only equal to the difference between the company’s original offer and the amount granted in the end. In this instance, it would thus be only the 5% (being the difference between 10% and 15%) that comes into the equation; which in other words, adds up to an extra R625 per month. Thus calculated, it would take more than nine and a half months before the loss incurred during the strike is wiped out. Only then does the salary increase really mean anything.
Further to this, a strike that involves 20 workdays to achieve a difference of 5% means that the striking worker would have to work for 19 months to compensate for what he lost during the strike. If a strike goes on for 20 days to achieve a difference of 2% it is going to take almost 53 months, in other words four and a half years to catch up – a fact the average worker in South Africa most probably does not realise. The only thing workers see is that their pay cheque has more fat, and so they feel “richer” from day one.
However, the SRI’s explanation makes it clear that the decision to strike, or not to strike, is a rather complicated one, and it could take several months, if not years, before the bigger pay cheque really makes a difference.
When a strike is being considered trade unions and their members should first think closely about how long workers are prepared to work after the strike to compensate for losses incurred during the strike. The decision whether or not to strike should be based on that.
For trade unions such as NUM, Numsa and AMCU a strike is sometimes a tactical way of showing an employer that a trade union does not only bark but bites too. Even so, the impact of a strike on members’ income should be taken into the equation before deciding to show one’s teeth. That is why AMCU’s Sibanye-Stillwater strike is illogical. However, Sibanye has also shown other employers not to pacify a dog that always wants to bite.
Gideon du Plessis is Solidarity’s General SecretaryNUM calls for Eskom board to step down as debt woes worsen
The Sunday Independent reports that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has called for the disbanding of the Eskom board after the power utility tumbled back into load shedding last week. This came after Eskom warned that it was near collapse and its coal reserves were almost depleted. The union said the board had failed to deliver a credible turnaround plan and sustainable business model. NUM energy sector coordinator Paris Mashego claimed that the board’s 2035 strategic plan remained concealed in secrecy and he added: “We, therefore, call upon President Cyril Ramaphosa to retire the current board, which has failed to develop a comprehensive turnaround strategy to save Eskom, from unbundling and privatization.” In a tumultuous week, Eskom escalated its load shedding from stage 1 to 2, cutting off about 2,000 megawatts from the grid The utility said it could take up to six months to replenish its depleted emergency reserves, which amounted to less than a third of the acceptable one month’s worth of supply. Eskom CE Phakamani Hadebe observed that Eskom was not able to service its debt, which had risen from R40bn in 2007 to R400bn in 10 years.
Read the full original report by Sechaba ka’Nkosi at Business Report
Miningmx reports that the South Deep regional branch of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has declined to accept an improved retrenchment package offered by Gold Fields. This raises the prospect of prolonged strike action at the mine. “I can confirm the offer was not accepted so it’s the status quo; it’s where we were,” said Sven Lunsche, spokesman for Gold Fields. In addition to a retrenchment package sweetener, Gold Fields would have spread the impact of the no work, no pay over four months, while affected employees would also have been provided with portable skills training and a call back provision. The incremental cost of the sweetener would have been an estimated R40m. Gold Fields said on 14 August that it would need to retrench 1,560 staff, including 1,082 permanent employees, in an effort to stem a cash burn. Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland said in a later statement: “However long the strike continues, it cannot and will not lead to changes in the restructuring plans, including the 1,082 retrenchments, that are necessary for South Deep’s long-term sustainability and saving the remaining 3,500 jobs.” Holland, claimed last week that there was evidence that employees wanted to return to work after some 1,900 of them had registered their interest in doing so.
Read the full original report in this regard by David McKay at Miningmx
ANA reports that Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe on Friday urged Sibanye-Stillwater to urgently resolve the workers’ strike currently underway at three of the company’s gold operations. Mantashe met with Sibanye’s executives on Friday morning to receive a briefing on the strike and to also understand measures in place for its peaceful and swift resolution. About 15,000 workers affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) embarked on a protected strike at Sibanye from Wednesday last week after an impasse in wage negotiations. The union is demanding minimum basic salaries of R12,500 per month, plus R1,000 increments every year for three years. The strike has been characterised by intimidation and violence, which has resulted in one fatality and a number of injuries. “We believe we had a good engagement with the company. We are also making attempts to meet with the relevant labour unions,” Mantashe said, adding that he would further encourage Sibanye to continue to engage directly with Amcu.
Read the full original report at Mining Weekly
ANA reports that more than 100 National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members marched on Saturday to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to hand over a memorandum protesting against Eskom’s plans to retrench workers. The marchers were joined by members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and union federation Cosatu. On Wednesday, the state-owned power utility announced that it had started a process to retrench workers at executive management level. Eskom furthermore reportedly plans to retrench 7,000 workers through voluntary severance packages over the next five years. NUM president Joseph Montisetsi said government was misleading the country about jobs created through the Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (IPPs). It is the union’s view that IPPs will collapse Eskom. Montisetsi insisted that the NUM was not opposed to renewable energy, but its introduction should be fair and not against the working class. “NUM is not against cleaner energy; cleaner energy must be independent and operate as an independent entity and compete with Eskom,” he stated.
Read the full original of this report at The Citizen