SA HR news roundup: Dramatic drop in salaries, workers looking for better EVP

The Labour Court upholds company decision to fire employee for cannabis use.

BankServAfrica data reveals that average salaries plunged 6.7 percent in May as consumers also feel the pinch of rising inflation and fuel costs. Meanwhile, PwC survey indicates that the majority of resignations in 2021 were due to workers seeking an improved EVP.

Dramatic drop in average salaries
South Africa’s average salary posted a dramatic fall in May, at a time when consumers are battling skyrocketing prices of food and fuel, according to BankServAfrica data.

The country's average take-home pay in May plunged 6.7 percent to R14,696 when compared to the same period during the prior year and was one of the largest annual falls on record, BankServAfrica said.

"With ever-increasing claims on the disposable income of households, consumer spending that contributes about 63 percent of South Africa's GDP is likely to feel the strain in coming months," BankServ said in its report.

Workers seeking an improved EVP
South Africa lost two million jobs between 2019 and 2021 due to the adverse impact of Covid-19 lockdowns, loadshedding, and a myriad other factors. According to PwC, the country lost a net 479,000 jobs in 2021 alone as these elements forced companies to cut employment.

However, the group also cited a notable increase in resignations, highlighting data from Old Mutual Remchannel which shows that 36.4 percent of employment terminations in 2021 were due to resignations.

It noted that the majority of resignations were due to workers seeking an improved Employee Value Proposition (EVP), with issues such as remuneration, job fulfilment and team dynamics some of the key issues highlighted by employees.

PwC’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022 found that money, a primary driver in employment decisions, is not enough by itself to retain global workers.

Unions reject Eskom’s wage offer
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) rejected Eskom’s proposal of a seven percent wage increase at the end of June 2022, and now plan to embark on further protest action against the power utility.

Union members are reportedly calling for the removal of chief executive Andre de Ruyter, COO Jan Oberholzer and general manager for people relations Thulane Ngele.

The impasse between Eskom and unions has plunged South Africa into its worst blackouts since 2019.

Labour Court rules on employee cannabis use
A long-serving Barloworld Equipment employee who was fired after repeatedly testing positive for cannabis, in breach of the company’s rules, has failed in her bid to be reinstated.

The employee said she used cannabis oil for medicinal reasons and smoked it recreationally for “spiritual reasons”.

But Johannesburg Labour Court Acting Judge Makosho Ntsoane said if the employee needed to use cannabis for medicinal purposes, she should have presented evidence of that. Instead she had only made the claim as an “afterthought”, after she had been caught out.

The judge said the company had a zero tolerance policy towards alcohol and drugs and required employees to undergo regular tests.