SA HR news roundup: Strike season with a Covid-19 twist

Striking Massmart employees are told to self-isolate, and Eskom refers a pay dispute to the CCMA.

The Labour Court supports disciplinary inquiry outcomes in the Public Protector’s office and Eskom asks the CCMA to assist with the unions’ wage dispute.

Massmart striking employees to self-isolate
Massmart employees who participated in protests have been told to self-isolate for seven days due to Covid-19 concerns, with the days being treated as paid annual leave.

The protests were triggered by store closures and retrenchments at Massmart (which owns Game, Makro, Jumbo and Builders Warehouse). In Johannesburg, hundreds of workers affiliated to the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU) marched to the Massmart head office.

SACCAWU, representing the workers, handed over a memorandum of demands and gave the company until Friday to respond. The memo demands that Massmart restore employment conditions that existed before the company’s restructuring and commit to including the union in future dialogues and negotiations, among other things, reports GroundUp.

Eskom refers pay dispute to CCMA
Eskom has triggered a dispute process with unions over pay, after unions rejected a 1.5 percent increase. The CCMA will now try to reach agreement between the parties.

Wage talks began with the National Union of Mineworkers, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, and Solidarity last month, with unions demanding above-inflation increases.

“Eskom, which relies on taxpayer cash bailouts to maintain its going concern status, has clearly demonstrated these demands are unaffordable,” Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha told Reuters.

Labour Court backs disciplinary inquiry outcome
The Labour Court has ruled against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s decision to alter a disciplinary inquiry outcome and dismiss two employees with immediate effect.

Labour Court Judge Edwin Tlhotlhalemaje said the assertions of the executive manager Ponatshego Mogaladi and chief investigator Lesedi Sekele that Mkhwebane had already decided their fate by dismissing them, were not misplaced. The two faced allegations of gross negligence or recklessness, unprofessional conduct, and gross dereliction of duties.

In April, the inquiry chairperson recommended that Mogaladi be given a final written warning and suspended for six months without pay and Sekele also be given a final written warning and suspended for two months without pay.

Mkhwebane wrote to the pair in May and indicated that she had decided not to implement the sanction and dismissed Mogaladi and Sekele with immediate effect instead. They challenged the decision through the Labour Court.

Mkhwebane was ordered to immediately implement and comply with the final sanctions which the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing had imposed.