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27 March 2015

The 70th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of theFederation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) coincided with World TB Day and the launch of the national campaign,  “Ending South Africa’s TB Epidemic”, said FEDUSA General Secretary Dennis George. FEDUSA President Koos Bezuidenhout chaired the NEC meeting, which was attended by the Affiliate Presidents, General Secretaries and other additional NEC senior affiliate delegates.

Sadly, the NEC conveyed it deepest condolences to Heloise, wife and Inge daughter of the NTEU President, who passed away. Jacques Wessels will be remembered as a fighter for decent work and decent life for all, specifically by his academic colleagues in the higher education sector. Wessels was a great believer of the Theory X and Theory Y assumptions that workers will contribute more to the organisation and workplace if they are treated with respect as responsible and valued employees, said George.

FEDUSA supports the National Strategic TB Plan, aimed at mobilising the nation to be screened for TB at least once a year, and argues that it is imperative to care for those who are infected. The Federation calls on all our hardworking health workers, the doctors and nurses, to assist the country in keeping the population healthy and devoid of TB, added George. Naturally, TB specifically affects workers and their families because of socio-economic conditions, particularly difficulties in the mining and agriculture sectors, and it is essential to promote decent work and decent life for all.

The FEDUSA NEC also discussed the progress report of the Nedlac Labour Relations Task Team, pertaining to proposals by Government to limit the duration of protected strikes, forcing the parties to utilise arbitration as well as strike ballots using sealed ballot boxes and verification processes conducted by the CCMA. The vicarious liability legislation, which confers responsibility upon unions in respect of damages caused by striking workers during marches and picketing, was also discussed intensively – as this approach would make it exceedingly difficult for trade unions to function. The FEDUSA NEC has mandated our chief negotiator, Leon Grobler, who served on the Nedlac Labour Relations Task Team, to be vigilant insofar as our position based on empirical evidence. Many neoliberals are attacking worker rights daily, said George.

The NEC recognised, with great concern, that these attacks are fuelled by headlines that consistently portray South Africa as a country that is hobbled by strikes. However, these headlines – news stories, radio reports and television reviews – fail to mention the well-publicised excessively high executive pay, as a contributory factor to these strikes. Some headlines describe the country as being gripped by upheaval due to violent, relentless industrial action, or blame strikes for causing spiraling currency depreciation. The Marikana incident in August 2012, further fuelled the opinion that South Africa is “strike-prone,” and a “striking nation,” when compared with other countries.

But, by using actual data and some simple comparative statistics, one can demonstrate that South Africa is not strike-prone, a striking nation or hobbled by strikes. FEDUSA has, on numerous occasions, challenged these common perceptions and found them to be based on myths. Using the available labour statistics between the periods 1999 and 2008 (published by the International Labour Organisation, ILO), evidence suggests that it is not true that South Africa’s long-term labour movement is one of the most excessive and strike-prone country in the world. The standard measurement for the severity rate of strikes used by Laborsta, published in European Union reports and frequently used by analysts is “rates of days not worked” calculated as the number of working days lost as a result of strikes and lockouts per 1,000 general workers per year, said George.

By using this measure, it is worth noting that South Africa’s long-term strike rate ranks fifth in the world with 206 days lost per 1,000 workers. Lithuania ranks first (5,295 days) [2], followed by Argentina (1,042 days), Israel (631 days) and New Caledonia (279 days), who all rank well above South Africa, said George.

The FEDUSA NEC has also approved the appointments of three more specialist officer positions to further strengthen support for our Affiliates in the areas of the Social Justice, Research and Policy Development and Training and Education, which must all be filled by 1 May 2015. Activating these positions will considerably enhance the already high standard of service delivery to our Affiliates through its respective FEDUSA Subcommittees, said George.

It was also decided, at the meeting, to strengthen the collaboration with the Confederation CONSAWU, through constructive leadership engagements to strengthen grassroots development, training and shop floor communication. This first high-level leadership meeting is scheduled for 7 April 2015 in Pretoria. The NEC has also welcomed the close collaboration with the independent trade unions in the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council, and has supported the call for mediation to settle the wage dispute. FEDUSA stands entirely behind our public servants and realises the important role our teachers, nurses, and policy administrative staff play in the lives of our workers and country.

Excitingly, a further milestone which FEDUSA, as the second-largest trade union federation in South – and Southern Africa (founded on the 1st April 1997) is about to achieve, is that it is turning 18 years old! As its “maturity” is an important milestone, it will also bring with it the expectation of a certain level of advancement and responsibility. Responsibility is the main consideration that is needed from the labour movement to advance decent work and a decent life for all. Therefore, the leadership has decided, post the inputs and discussions at its Senior Leadership Indaba held from 19 – 20 January 2015, and attended by the majority of the Affiliate Presidents and General Secretaries who participated and provided insight and wisdom to serve its affiliates’ members better, to utilise the capacity-building process to empower shop stewards to organise roadshows. These sessions, to be held in various regions, will allow the federation’s leaders to interact with the grassroots structures to stimulate sound labour relations and productivity enhancement for job creation, poverty eradication and inequality, according to George.

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FEDUSA is the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa and represents a diverse membership from a variety of sectors in industry.  See www.fedusa.org.za for more information.

For interviews:

Dennis George (FEDUSA General Secretary) 084 805 1529



25 March 2015

Retirement fund

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) is deeply concerned that non-compliance could wreck the entire retirement industry as more employers fail to pay over contributions to umbrella funds. FEDUSA decided to convene an urgent meeting on 23 March 2015 with the Registrar of Pension Funds Dube Tshidi and various industry stakeholders to develop a new robust approach to ensure full compliance and even criminal prosecution where fraud and corruption are involved said Dennis George FEDUSA General Secretary.

The meeting was also attended by representatives of PTAWU, UASA, MISA, BATSETA and Anesh Soonder of Soonder Incorporated Attorneys whose firm has played a critical role in making positive strides and recovering hundreds of millions of rand on behalf of various funds. The meeting agreed that it is critical to deal with s13A non-compliance in the retirement funds industry and it is essential to ensure that the rights and interests of all parties i.e. the Fund, Member and Employer remain protected said George.

Soonder said about more than 20 billion rand is outstanding as a result of non-compliance and it is important for all stakeholders to work together to ensure full compliance.

FEDUSAis concernedthat the lack of compliance by many employers has resulted in numerous Funds having a substantial backlog in terms of outstanding s13A of the Pension Funds Act contributions. The Federation argues that the Board of Trustees has the responsibility to recover outstanding contributions in terms of section 13A provisions and the mounting burden of non-compliant employers must be addressed urgently. It is also essential to recognise that the various funds and trustees have to deal with hefty litigation costs and resources to ensure compliance said George.

The meeting also agreed that contributions payable must reflect in the administrator’s bank account by the latest on the 7th day following the end of the month for which contributions are due. If a cheque or cash is delivered to the fund or administrator’s offices on the 7th day following the end of the month for which contributions are due, but after a time that it can be deposited in the bank account, it will be regarded as non-compliance with the Act. The contributions must be made timeously to ensure that the fund or administrator has sufficient time to deposit the contributions in its bank account.

FEDUSA maintains that there should be serious consequences if an employer fails to pay contributions timeously and regularly – this includes penalty interest of greater or less than R10 000 and in some instances can be as high as 23% per annum compounded. The situation of non-compliance is further compounded by companies and businesses that support non-compliant companies by utilizing their services and not insisting on regular submissions of compliance certificates.

The Federation argues that it is unethical if members contributions are collected but not paid to the Fund resulting in no death, disability and funeral cover for beneficiaries and members. Furthermore If an employee passes away or becomes permanently disable, they basically lose the benefits said George.

FEDUSA calls on companies not to engage with non-compliant companies and warned that these organisations are placing themselves at considerable risk. The industry should also be warned that nothing that prevents the funds from pursuing businesses who engage with non-compliant companies in order to recover outstanding monies. Furthermore, there are advantages of referring infringements of section 13A of the Pension Funds Act to the Financial Services Board Enforcement Committee. The Enforcement Committee is an administrative body established and governed in section 10(3) of the Financial Services Board Act, 97 of 1990 and by the provisions of the Financial Institutions Protection of Funds Act, 28 of 2001 said George.

The Enforcement Committee (EC) was established to adjudicate on all alleged contraventions of legislation, regulations and codes of conduct administered by the Financial Services Board said Dennis George.  The EC may impose unlimited penalties, compensation orders and cost orders and such orders are enforceable as if it was a judgment of the High Court of South Africa said George. It is therefore important that the new robust approach be implemented to ensure full compliance said George.

In order to effectively deal with the situations at hand and to bring the outstanding contributions under control, a robust approach must be adopted as a singular approach that focuses on merely recovering outstanding monies will result in the current situation repeating itself in the future. The approach will involve working with various stakeholders and engaging with key representatives at each one in order to ensure that information is forthcoming in order to allow the Fund to deal appropriately with each and every matter.

The meeting has also agreed to mandate FEDUSA to approach Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to convene a Ministerial Cluster Committee consisting of Justice and Correctional Services, Finance, South African Police Services and Trade & Industry to ensure better compliance and enforcement. FEDUSA is of the opinion that all relevant unions and federations and employer association should be involved of the monitoring process. The Office of Pension Funds Adjudicator, as well as the Financial Services Board and the Commercial Crimes Unit should assist with the prosecution said George.

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FEDUSA is the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa and represents a diverse membership from a variety of sectors in industry.  See www.fedusa.org.za for more information.

 

For interviews:

Dennis George

FEDUSA General Secretary

084 805 1529



16 March 2015

 Minister Collins Chabane The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Minister Collins Chabane in the early hours of Sunday morning, 15 March 2015. On behalf of the FEDUSA President Koos Bezuidenhout and our entire leadership we wish to express our heartfelt condolences to Mrs Mavis Chabane, wife of the Minister of Public Service and Administration and his family, said Dennis George FEDUSA General Secretary. Similarly, our deepest sympathies are also extended to the families of Sergeants Sekele and Lentsoane, his driver and bodyguard. Minister Chabane addressed the FEDUSA Collective Bargaining Conference on transforming the public service into an effective service delivery machine on 17 February 2015. At this occasion Minister Chabane argued about the importance of utililising decent work and decent life to create a new public servant, based on the values of our Constitution. In his unique style, he was able to draw people to himself, through his exceptional leadership skills and kindness. Minister Chabane was also deeply passionate about doing something for the disadvantaged people in our country. Through the establishment the annual Collins Chabane Charity Golf Day, funding was secured for charity organizations identified by the Minister himself. Since its inception in 2009 various charity organizations have benefited, thanks to the generous contributions of the Minister’s golfing friends. His genuine friendship, generosity and kindness will stay with us forever and we will really miss him. The FEDUSA flags shall be hoisted at half – mast for the rest of the week in salutation and remembrance of the Minister, his driver and bodyguard, said Dennis George.  

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 [263 words (excluding heading)] FEDUSA is the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa and represents a diverse membership from a variety of sectors in industry.  See www.fedusa.org.za for more information and follow us on   For interviews: Dennis George General Secretary 0848051529



13 March 2015

Misa Logo

 The Motor Industry Staff Association (MISA), a registered trade union within the motor industry, raised their concern regarding the potential threat and possible collapse of collective bargaining within the sector. The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) is deeply concerned about the irresponsible behaviour of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) and has already approached the Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant to resolve the matter urgently said Dennis George FEDUSA General Secretary.

The statement of MISA is in reaction to a letter which the employer body (RMI) circulated to its members basically requesting them not to deduct relevant union contributions from employees or to pay it over to MIBCO (Motor Industry Bargaining Council).

Whilst MISA doubt whether many employers will adhere to such an irresponsible request they are however concerned that certain employers may well be confused and uncertain as to what to do. The current scenario within the Motor Industry follows the expiry of the Administrative Collective Agreement, which regulated the industry.

Both Hermann Kostens (CEO: Strategy & Development) as well as Martle Keyter (CEO: Operations) confirmed that although the expiry of the Administrative Collective Agreement will have no or little effect on the day to day running of MISA and its operations, it could have a negative effect on certain individual members who may be unaware that the employer stopped the deduction of their union subscriptions which will result in forfeiting all MISA benefits.

 

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MISA is an affiliate of FEDUSA and a respected trade union in the motor retail sector. FEDUSA is the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa and represents a diverse membership from a variety of sectors in industry.  See www.fedusa.org.za for more information.

For interviews:

Hermann Kostens (MISA CEO: Strategy & Development) 082 8533563

Martle Keyter (MISA CEO: Operations) 082 8562496



 

budget 2

24 February 2015

 

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) is calling upon Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene to protect the poor and workers when he introduces the National Budget on Wednesday, 25 February 2015. The Minister indicated in January 2015, when he addressed the leaders of FEDUSA, COSATU and NACTU during a NEDLAC Indaba, that he is looking for additional revenue of R12 billion for the 2015/16 financial year and a further R15bn for the 2016/17 financial year by enhancing the efficiency of tax collection and changes to tax policy, said FEDUSA General Secretary Dennis George. An increase in VAT would shift the tax burden to the poor and the workforce of our country and would undermine the principle of decent work and a decent life for all, added George.

 

FEDUSA is strongly opposed to an increase in the VAT rate, since this tax is viewed as regressive and lower income groups spend a higher percentage of their income on food and transport, while higher income groups spend a smaller percentage of their income on consumption. The Federation calls on the Minister to rather build on the Medium-Term Budget Statement to support the broader economic objectives of short and long-term implications for growth and job creation, while also enhancing the progressive nature of the tax system, as well as implementing theNDP to support a competitive tax policy that fosters economic growth, an increase in tax revenue, and an increase in the tax base, argues George.

 

It is imperative for Minister Nene to pay close attention to the recommendations of the Dennis Davis Tax Commission (DTC) concerning Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), as the sub-committee through NEDLAC investigated the South African Revenue Service (SARS) statistics indicating that corporate revenue was fairly stable until 2008, and took a sharp downturn after the 2008 financial crisis, said George. This happened despite an increase in economic activity in certain sectors, and the corporate tax contribution to the GDP declined between 2008 and 2013. The Report of National Treasury disclosed that corporate tax revenue in South Africa declined from 7.2% of GDP in 2008/9 to 5.5% in 2009/10 and to 4.9% in 2010/11. In 2011/12, the ratio slightly recovered to 5.1% but then decreased again to 4.9% in 2012/2013, contended George.

 

The South Africa Reserve Bank (SARB), which records non-goods payments from 2008 to 2011 which includes payments for copyright, royalty and patent fees; legal, accounting and management consulting fees; advertising and market research; research and development; architectural, engineering and technical services; and agricultural, mining and other processing services relating to payments flowing out of South Africa increased by R10.2bn, said George. Interestingly, DTC finds it peculiar that legal, accounting and management consulting services increased by nearly R6.5bn (an increase of 32.6%), while engineering and technical services increased by R3.7bn (an increase of 39.5%), concluded George. In this context, the Federation supports the principle of government that tax must be paid where it is produced as it impacts upon collective bargaining rights, employment conditions as well as the campaign for decent work and decent life for all.

 

FEDUSA supports the call of the NDP that South Africa needs economic growth rate of 5 percent and more to reduce the unemployment rate and poverty. The Minister of Finance has agreed to meet with the Federation National Executive Committee on 24 March 2015 to discuss reform measures to address SA’s low level of savings, job creation – particularly for the youth of our country – and the investment that is required to grow the economy faster. The Federation reasons that it is important for the country to stabilise government debt, as the debt to GDP ratio has increased from around 27% in 2009 to almost 43% today.

 

It is also imperative to reduce wasteful expenditure and combat corruption in government. It was reported that, in the past 20 years, the state has squandered R700-billion on corruption and other wastage. FEDUSA also notes, with concern, that certain posts for nurses, teachers and police officers have not been filled, and this places an additional burden on public servants to render a quality service to our people. FEDUSA will propose that Minister Nene set up a joint task team with organised labour to address wasteful expenditure and corruption in the public service to free up more fiscal resources to support of economic objectives.

 

FEDUSA also supports the assertion of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa that the culture of unnecessary litigation, outsourcing by government and the employment of consultants must be stopped, as it also contributes to wasteful expenditure. It is critical that government spend our hard-earned taxpayers’ money wisely, and on priorities that will support our inclusive economic objectives. Outsourcing should be reversed to insourcing to make services more effective and efficient for our people and to support inclusive economic growth, reasoned George.

 

It is also important for Government to introduce strict corporate governance measures to ensure that Departments, State Owned Enterprises and Local Government respect budget ceilings given the current fiscal constraints. FEDUSA is also concerned that Eskom requires an additional amount of R20-billion, yet they have failed to recover outstanding debt from municipalities and to keep the lights on in our country.

 

ENDS

849 Words

For interviews please contact:

Dennis George

FEDUSA General Secretary

084 805 1529



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