SA HR news roundup: Comair withdraws S189 notice, labour relations for informal business

Labour Court reinstates worker fired for eating two slices of carrot.

CCMA and court rulings put employees in the spotlight, with the Durban Labour Court reinstating a Nando’s employee who was fired for eating carrots, plus the CCMA partners with the South African Informal Traders Alliance to provide labour relations skills. Comair withdraws its Section 189 notice, although restructuring remains on the cards.

Opening engineering pathways for women
Under the High Gear initiative, the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (Naacam) and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) has found that early exposure to engineering careers, information about the workplace and career paths, as well as female role models and supportive family and community environments, can go a long way to opening engineering career pathways for women.

“Training and development programmes organised by employers, workplace initiatives championing gender equity and the retention of young women, as well as company cultures that support women through mentoring and support, would go a long way in developing a more balanced next generation of engineers,” says Naacam commercial director Shivani Singh.

Labour Court reinstates worker fired for eating two slices of carrot
The Durban Labour Court has ruled that an employee at Nando’s Scottsville must be reinstated, almost four years after being fired for eating two slices of carrot.

In 2018, the employee was charged with gross misconduct for the “unauthorised consumption of company stock” and fired for “dishonesty” following a disciplinary hearing.

At both the disciplinary and Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) hearings, the employee said he was “testing” the cooked carrots because they appeared to still be frozen.

The CCMA found that the matter was substantively unfair, and ordered reinstatement. Nando’s took the matter on review to the Durban Labour Court.

Comair withdraws Section 189 notice
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) reports that it has received correspondence from airline operator Comair about the formal withdrawal of its Section 189 notice.

Comair issued the Section 189 on 1 March as the airline sought to cut salaries by 15 percent and to reduce the medical aid benefit of its employees.

According to Business Live, in a letter to the CCMA, Comair employee relations practitioner Barnett Marillier stated that “[a]fter much deliberation on the issue of operational restructure and with due consideration of legal advice obtained, while we still need to restructure the conditions of employment that place the organisation at risk, we will seek to explore other avenues of achieving the same saving, which may include the collective bargaining process.”

Upskilling informal business on employee relations
The South African Informal Traders Alliance (Saita), together with the CCMA, will run a one-year programme to upskill informal businesses in effective labour and employee relations practices. It will be rolled out nationally and facilitated online.

Representing more than million informal and micro businesses, the Saita plans to reach approximately 20,000 workers across the informal economy over the next year.