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Africa labour news

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Zimbabwe: Chinese exploiting Zim labour, says report

2012-11-12, Issue 605

Zimbabweans providing cheap labour in the fast-growing Chinese mines bear the brunt of extremely harsh conditions and low wages, a Johannesburg-based advocacy group, Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) reveals in its research, the first such report detailing China's labour practices in the country. Hard labour, exposure to risky conditions, violation of labour laws, long working hours, non payment of overtime, disregard of public holidays and use of Chinese language in corporate literature were among extreme conditions faced by workers at most Chinese interests in Zimbabwe, the report said.

South Africa: De Doorns strike sparks call for nationwide agricultural stay-away

2012-11-12, Issue 605

With South Africa still reeling from mining sector strikes in Marikana, Cosatu has called for nationwide stay-way in the agriculture sector in support of farmworkers in De Doorns who today entered their second week of striking for higher wages. Passop’s organiser in De Doorns, Owen Maromo, said none of the striking farmworkers reported to work. He said about 5,000 strikers had gathered on an open field in the Stofland informal settlement waiting for Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich to address them.

South Africa: Mine strikes not over

2012-11-06, Issue 604

As Gold Fields announced its operations resumed, another operator said it was hit by a strike, suggesting labour unrest in the mines is far from over. Gold Fields said the reinstatement of 8,500 dismissed workers at its KDC East operations near Johannesburg had ended a 23-day strike and heralded a return to production. But Village Main Reef, one of South Africa's smaller gold producers, said employees at its Buffelsfontein Gold Mine had embarked on a wildcat strike.

South Africa: Police disperse striking miners

2012-10-30, Issue 603

Police in South Africa say they have fired rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades in clashes with hundreds of striking Anglo American platinum mine workers who barricaded roads outside Johannesburg. About 12,000 Amplats workers in northwestern Rustenburg who were dismissed early this month for going on an illegal strike were given an option to return to work on Tuesday morning if they want their jobs back.

South Africa: Police arrest dozens of miners

2012-10-15, Issue 601

South African police have arrested 90 people after a protest at a mine turned violen, officials say. The miners were from the Gold Fields KDC Kloof mine in Westonaria, about 45km west of Johannesburg. More than 5,000 workers reportedly staged a sit-in there to demand better pay.

South Africa: Anglo American to face SA silicosis hearing

2012-10-02, Issue 599

Anglo American will face a hearing next year to determine if it's liable for miners who contracted silicosis while working in its gold shafts. Anglo American no longer has gold assets in South Africa, but the proceedings, initiated by 18 plaintiffs, have been launched on the grounds that miners contracted the debilitating lung disease when the company still ran bullion mines.

South Africa: Farlam commission launches into Marikana shooting

2012-10-02, Issue 599

The commission's in loco inspection, set up to investigate the August shooting at Marikana, has revealed that the bodies of miners were not limited to a specific area as video footage led many to believe, but were in fact spread out over a vast area. On Monday, crime scene experts led the commission and those involved in the inquiry on an inspection of the area near Marikana where 44 people lost their lives. They were accompanied by a host of national and international media.

Cameroon: Start of cocoa season in Cameroon raises pay concerns

2012-09-23, Issue 598

The final quarter of the year is the main time of harvest and profit for workers in the cocoa industry, which employs full villages in southwestern Cameroon. But many cite low pay, with women, who are involved in the beginning stages of the process, saying they have no idea what products their labor yields in 'white man’s country'.

South Africa: Employment equity shows little progress

2012-09-25, Issue 598

Proposed changes to the Employment Equity Act will severely penalise companies that lag behind on transformation if they come into effect, including hefty fines for noncompliance. But companies still have a long way to go to achieve greater representation of black people, women and people with disabilities in the workplace. The Commission for Employment Equity released its 12th annual report this week, which shows that white men remain dominant in almost all top management levels in the workplace. They make up 65.4% of top management positions, six times the part of the economically active population they represent.

South Africa: Miners continue strike despite threats

2012-09-25, Issue 598

Workers at several Anglo Platinum mines have decided to continue their strike, despite management threats to dismiss all those who didn't show up to work by Monday evening. The strikers, who hope to meet with management on Tuesday, are pushing for at least the 11-22 per cent raises that Lonmin miners at the nearby Marikana mine received after a deadly strike that left 46 dead.

South Africa: Truck drivers on strike

2012-09-25, Issue 598

South Africa truck drivers and other transport workers launched a strike for higher wages Tuesday, a union spokesman said, amid concerns that the standstill could cause fuel shortages. Truckers were seeking a 12-percent increase for 2013 and 2014, but would not settle for less than nine.

South Africa: Cosatu calls for strike review

2012-09-16, Issue 597

Cosatu wants to review its strike processes to ensure workers are happy with the outcomes, and that associated violence and intimidation are reduced. 'It is worrying...that only half of the Cosatu members surveyed in the 2012 Workers’ Survey were satisfied with the outcome of the strikes in their workplace,' the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said. 'Public sector Cosatu members were more satisfied than their private sector counterparts,' according to Cosatu's organisational report prepared for discussion at its national congress.

South Africa: Miners complain of 'living hell'

2012-09-17, Issue 597

The community located near the Lonmin-owned platinum mine which has been the scene of a bitter strike, wages a daily battle with air and noise pollution, intense crime and appalling living conditions. With no access to sanitation and garbage removal, the surrounding plateau is strewn with rotting rubbish. Nearby streams are polluted by sewage as thousands live out realities far from the billion-dollar industry they clock their cards into each morning.

South Africa: SA church council steps in at Marikana

2012-09-17, Issue 597

South Africa’s beleaguered government continues its security crackdown in Marikana, with the South African National Defence Force announcing that it deployed 1,000 soldiers to the restive mining town in the North West. 'It seems as if both government and Lonmin misread the situation on the platinum belt, and now what seemed resolvable might become an untenable situation,' Bishop Jo Seoka, president of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) said in a statement released by the Bench Marks Foundation. And as South Africans react with alarm to the scale of the security presence in Marikana, Sekoa believes the government’s most recent attempts to assert control over the striking workers threatens the gains made in negotiations.

South Africa: Battle for Cosatu begins

2012-09-17, Issue 597

For the first time in more than 10 years, Cosatu goes to its national congress – starting on Monday at Gallagher Estate in Midrand – with the prospect of having the positions of two of its most senior officials – president Sdumo Dlamini and general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi – contested. Vavi's opponents say he acts as if above everyone else in Cosatu, and have taken issue with his public criticism of leaders of the ANC, government and the alliance. They want him to be replaced by KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Zet Luzipho.

Egypt: Partial transport and education strikes

2012-09-17, Issue 597

Egypt saw a fresh wave of strikes on Sunday as transport and education sector employees downed tools to push for financial and administrative reform. In separate bouts of industrial action, workers at the Cairo Transportation Authority (CTA) and non-academic staff at universities across Egypt walked off the job.

South Africa: Lonmin strikers accept pay offer

2012-09-18, Issue 597

Rock drillers at Lonmin's Marikana mine have accepted a 22% overall pay increase to end more than five weeks of crippling and bloody strikes. This increases their salaries to just over R11 000. Other workers will get a 2% increase on top of the 9% increase agreed upon earlier this year.

Egypt: One worker killed, three injured during protest

2012-07-25, Issue 595

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) has expressed great concern over an attack on workers of the Samoli Spinning and Weaving Company during protests held on 21 July 2012. Following the protest the workers went to the mosque when suddenly unknown individuals started to shoot randomly. Ahmed Hosni, one of the workers, was killed while three others were injured while protesting in front of the company headquarters.

Zambia: New minimum wage pits employers against government

2012-07-25, Issue 595

From the reaction of various stakeholders, ranging from the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to the Zambia Federation of Employers and ordinary citizens (through spoof letters stating new conditions of service for the domestic servants) who, before the new policy came into effect, could afford to employ domestic help, the minimum wage effected on 4 July 2012, is arguably one of the most controversial policies of the 10 months old Patriotic Front (PF) government, begins this article from Global Voices Online.

Swaziland: Public sector strike grows

2012-07-17, Issue 594

Nurses are to join teachers and civil servants in the growing public sector strike in Swaziland. They will strike from 18 July 2012 in pursuit of a 4.5 per cent salary increase. Teachers have been on indefinite strike for nearly a month and civil servants joined them last week.

Mauritania: Rights group denounces repression of copper mine workers

2012-07-23, Issue 594

The Forum of National Human Rights Organisations (FONADH), an umbrella organisation of about 15 non-governmental organisations, has strongly condemned the repression of a recent peaceful demonstration by workers of the Copper Mining Company of Mauritania (MCM) that led to the death of one worker and injuries to several others. In a statement issued in Nouakchott, FONADH demanded that the authorities should 'clarify the circumstances of the death of Mohamed Ould Mechdhoufi.' It demanded that those responsible for the death of the worker be brought to justice, saying 'FONADH considers them responsible for the consequences of this barbaric act and demands the immediate release of detained workers'.

Egypt: New unions face uncertain future

2012-07-15, Issue 593

The independent trade unions that have sprung up across Egypt over the last 17 months face an uncertain future, caught between Islamists and the military and operating under labour laws that have not changed since Hosni Mubarak was in power. 'The government and business owners don’t want to respond to workers’ demands or give them rights, so they are opposed to seeing workers establish independent syndicates,' says Kamal Abu Eita, a leader of the independent union movement.

Swaziland: Government fails to jail strike leaders

2012-07-02, Issue 592

The Industrial Court in Swaziland has refused to allow the government to jail the entire executive of the teachers’ union for leading a pay strike. The Swazi Government had previously gained an order at the same court outlawing a strike over a 4.5 per cent pay claim. But, some members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) went ahead with the indefinite strike. For the past week the strikers have been visiting schools where some teachers continue to work to persuade them to join the strike.

Global: Growing gaps in decent work for young people

2012-07-09, Issue 592

Across regions, young people are disproportionately affected by unemployment, underemployment, vulnerable employment and working poverty, says this article from the UN Focal Point on Youth, which looks at youth unemployment in the aftermath of the financial crisis. 'Even during periods of economic growth, many economies have been unable to absorb large youth populations into the labour market. In recent years, however, the global financial and economic crisis has further hit young people particularly hard in the developed world.'

South Africa: State workers demand 'bare necessities'

2012-06-19, Issue 590

The government is insensitive to the needs of the poor and does not understand the economic plight faced by many state employees. This is the sentiment of many public sector workers as the state and unions wrangle through wage negotiations, and while unions haven’t explicitly threatened to strike, their members are already preparing themselves for industrial action. The government suspended talks with unions last week, claiming they had no more money to put on the table.

Global: 90 million unskilled workers will be unneeded by employers globally by 2020, study says

2012-06-20, Issue 590

Tens of millions of people worldwide will be condemned to long-term joblessness unless global leaders make significant changes to address unemployment and worker training, according to a new study. Between 90 and 95 million low-skill workers - or 2.6 percent of the global workforce - will not be needed by employers by 2020 and will be vulnerable to permanent joblessness, according to a report released by the McKinsey Global Institute.

South Africa: Strike threat as state holds civil servants in deadlock

2012-06-05, Issue 588

Unions have given the government 24 hours to agree to terms to avoid a wage dispute that would throw the public service sector into disarray. Public sector unions have united in rejecting the government’s wage offer, which – as it is now – would see salaries in these sectors increase by 6.5 per cent and the housing allowance by R100. Unions are demanding an 8 per cent wage increment and R1,500 housing allowance, while the state is offering R900 for a housing allowance, an increase from the current R800. This adjustment would be effective for six months only.

South Africa: Battle lines drawn as municipal wage negotiations begin

2012-05-22, Issue 586

Wage talks between the South African Municipal Workers' Union and the South African Local Government Association have begun in Boksburg. Samwu and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union, have proposed an across the board increase of 15 per cent or R2 000 (whichever is greater) for employees under the scope of the South African Local Government Bargaining Council. Salga had responded with a 4 per cent wage increase across the board, no minimum wage for the sector and no filling of vacancies, said Sema.

Swaziland: Government wants to veto union visits

2012-05-22, Issue 586

A government minister has warned workers in the kingdom that they cannot invite trade unionists from overseas to Swaziland without permission. Lufto Dlamini, Minister of Labour and Social Security, said Swazi unions could not have any meetings with organisations which had not informed government of their mission. He was reacting to a meeting that took place 21 May between Swazi unionists and a delegation of workers from the UK and the Netherlands.

Malawi: Uranium workers strike

2012-05-15, Issue 585

Employees at Kayerekera Uranium Mine in Karonga have gone on strike demanding a 40 per cent salary increase in the wake of the recent devaluation of the Malawi currency, the kwacha last week. Effectively, this has completely halted all activities at the mine which is supposed to run for twenty fours on daily. A senior management employee was reported as saying that their demands are justified by the 49.7 per cent devaluation of the kwacha.

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