Category Archives: Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA)

Public Servants Association (PSA)

PSA concerned as economy tumbles in First Quarter of 2019

The Public Servants Association (PSA), remains concerned about the continuing economic instability facing the country and the threat of job losses following the release of the first quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) on 4 June 2019.

The decline in the economy by 3.2%, is the biggest drop in ten years and is much higher than the 1.7% drop that was forecasted by many economists. The PSA that represents thousands of public-sector employees pointed out that the decline comes at a time when the unemployment rate has already increased to 27.6% with the youth unemployment rate at over 50%.

The Union pointed out that South African are still paying for the compounded effects of fraud and corruption has on the economy. With the government announcing an ambitious target for the next five years to bring down unemployment levels to 14%, the PSA is concerned about the absence of clear plans to turn the economy around and stem unemployment amidst fresh reports of large-scale job losses in the banking, mining and various other sectors.

The PSA supports calls by the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) for the new Minister of Employment and Labour to ensure that more is done to prevent retrenchments and for National Treasury to intervene and assist those sectors that are already under economic pressure.

Dennis George

Dr Dennis George Responds to his Dismissal as Fedusa General Secretary

On 22 February 2019, I stated for the record that Fedusa currently does not have an investment company through which it transacts for empowerment investments. I said then that Difeme Investments was used as a nominee to warehouse AYO shares until such time as Fedusa and/or its affiliates set up companies to take up the AYO shares. Unlike other unions with investment companies, Fedusa was considering how best to generate additional revenue streams. Until Fedusa and its affiliates were certain about the direction of establishing investment companies, these shares are warehoused with no risk to Difeme.

In numerous meetings and correspondence since the allocation of 11 million shares to Difeme Investments, I had engaged with Fedusa affiliates, such as the Public Servants’ Association (PSA), the National Union of Leather Workers (NULAW) to arrange for the allocation of these shares to these affiliates.

My motivation was simply that these shares would assist Fedusa affiliates in building worker participation in the economy, that the affiliates would be financially strengthened and that workers would have representation on the board of the largest black ICT company in the country, AYO.

I reject with contempt the insinuation that I intended to benefit personally from these shares. These share only become tradable after the 5 year locking period is completed.

I am proud to be a non-executive director of AYO representing the interest of more than 2.5 million workers in South Africa today. My appointment to the AYO board was done with the full support and nomination of Fedusa. AYO believes in black economic empowerment, an inclusive economy and supports BEE initiatives which include the participation of workers in this economy.

The decision of Fedusa and/or affiliates to establish investment companies and take up these shares is entirely up to them. My role was to facilitate and ensure that they are given this opportunity. I have done this according to my discussions with these affiliates. I hope that they take up these shares so that they can benefit in the interest of workers from the growth of the share price and the dividends. It would be sad if, due to the negative media, which is defamatory against AYO, it is used to influence these affiliates not to take up these shares at the cost of workers not benefiting from shares.

Like other trade unions, I hope that Fedusa and its affiliates will take up this generous offer by AYO since it is the workers who will benefit from the value of AYO shares and from the dividends that will be received. However, Fedusa and its affiliates might not wish to take up this offer as a result of the negative media. If this is so, I will consult with AYO and recommend that these shares be made available to the workers directly so that they could benefit from the investment in AYO.

I have spent my entire life as a man of integrity, as someone who has fought for workers’ and employees’ rights. I have fought against corruption and I continue to do so. I am shocked that such disinformation and deliberate misrepresentation of my position in the facilitation of AYO shares to workers is being misconstrued. I was told by FEDUSA National Executive Committee members that the Federation spent more than R600 000 to get rid of me as General Secretary, while I only had a few months to complete my term of office on 31 January 2020.

In the meantime COSATU trade unions are growing financial stronger with the AYO shares and are able to grant bursaries to the children of trade union members.


FEDUSA and PSA Slam Gauteng Government for Health Head Office Blaze

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) and its public sector affiliate, the Public Servants Association (PSA) have expressed shock at the death of an emergency worker who fell to his death from the 22nd floor of the Gauteng Department of Health Head Office building in the Johannesburg CBD on Wednesday.

FEDUSA and the PSA slammed the Gauteng Government for the poor conditions of state buildings in the province that posed a serious health and safety risky to workers and members of the public.

“The PSA, which represents thousands of members in Gauteng, has over the past number of years been highlighting the poor state of Gauteng Government buildings. As recently as 17 August 2018, the PSA warned the Gauteng Provincial Government that none of the government buildings in the province meets the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

“The PSA specifically warned that the Gauteng Health Head Office was a hazardous environment. The GPG did not take these warnings seriously, resulting in today’s tragedy. The PSA puts the blame directly on the GPG as it ignored warnings and neglects the maintenance of departmental buildings to a stage of total dilapidation,” said PSA Acting General Manager, Tahir Maepa.

“A PSA official was on the 22nd floor of the building when the evacuation call came. There were no fire marshals to direct or assist people struggling down the stairs. There is no working fire alarm in the building and many people on lower floors did not know about the fire until they were alerted by people fleeing the building”.

Maepa said on many occasions, the PSA had warned the provincial government about the absence of trained health and safety teams in these buildings. 

“Government has neglected the maintenance of many buildings with dire consequences. The PSA is currently busy with a court application regarding the National Department of Health’s Head Office in the Civitas Building in Pretoria that also does not meet Occupational Health and Safety Act requirements. The Ministers of Health and Public Works attended a meeting with the PSA on 15 August 2018 where it was confirmed that Civitas Building should be vacated, and employees be provided with a workplace that is safe and free from health risks,” he said.

“On Wednesday the PSA was taken by surprise when the National Department of Health gave an ultimatum that employees must work under the same conditions of the unsafe building, instead of resorting to addressing members’ health concerns. It seems the Department is set on ignoring the health and safety of its employees in violation of their constitutional right. In view of today’s tragedy, the PSA demands that the Minister of Health immediately closes both the Gauteng Health Head Office Building and Civitas Building”.

the PSA has instructed its attorneys to institute an urgent application to compel the Department to provide a working environment that is not harmful to the Union’s members’ health and wellbeing, in an effort to protect the lives of employees and other people, concluded Maepa.


FEDUSA Condemns Hijacking and Kidnapping of Prasa Board Chair

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has condemned the hijacking and kidnapping of Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) Board Chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama on Thursday night. However news of the hijacking only became known over the weekend.

Information that has been made available by Gauteng police so far indicate that Kweyama was pepper-sprayed before being bundled into the boot of her car by unknown assailants. She was then driven around for three hours before being released unharmed in Kathlehong on the East Rand.

 FEDUSA and the United National Transport Union (UNTU), its affiliate in the passenger rail sector and the majority union at Prasa had campaigned tirelessly for the appointment of a permanent Board for the parastatal which faced many operational challenges and was embroiled in serious allegations of state capture; and of which Kweyama, a former Chief Executive of Anglo American and Chairperson of Business Unity South Africa eventually clinched the top position.

 FEDUSA General Secretary Dennis George hoped Kweyama will soon be back in office to continue her invaluable job of cleaning up the parastatal.

“We want a Board that will not be intimidated and distracted by such acts of senseless criminality and only focus on fully committing itself to confronting the challenges facing Prasa and introduce specific measures aimed at improving customer service and good corporate governance, underpinned by monitoring and accountability,” said George. We want to eventually see a Prasa that will provide the working class and commuters in general with access to affordable, reliable, and safe public rail transport services in line with the perspectives of the National Development Plan, concluded George.


FEDUSA Welcomes Passing of National Minimum Wage

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has welcomed the passing of the National Minimum Wage by an overwhelming majority of political parties in Parliament on Tuesday.

Alongside with COSATU, NACTU; FEDUSA fought hard for minimum floor of wages under which no South African worker should be paid. FEDUSA and the sister federations wanted a minimum wage of R26 an hour but after difficult negotiations with business and government at NEDLAC, settled for R20 an hour, which would an equivalent of R3 500 a month for a 40 hour-week.

FEDUSA is keenly aware that the minimum wage is not a living wage but will lift more than 6.4 million workers or about 47% of the South Africa’s total workforce who earn below this amount out of abject poverty. In South Africa wages are regulated by the tripartite Employment Conditions Commission using the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) as its key policy instrument to prescribe permissible wage levels and statutory deductions.

The BCEA allows employers to set wages at hourly, weekly and monthly rates. A living wage is much higher than the national minimum wage of R20 an hour or R3 500 a month for a 40-hour week or eight hours a day.  Employment Conditions Commission will be collapsed into a new tripartite structure to be known as the National Minimum Wage Commission once the new National Minimum Wage Act has been signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa and a minimum wage formally introduced in South Africa.

Versions of the NMW previously known as sectoral determinations that are announced by the Minister of Labour  every year for farm and domestic workers – currently standing at around R8 an hour – will be increased by more than 10% and collapsed into 90% and 80% respectively of the new national floor of R20 an hour wages. Minimum wages for these vulnerable sectors will be gradually increased to the level of the NMW, itself to be reviewed two years following the date of its introduction in South After and to be adjusted regularly thereafter in line with food and transport inflation for workers.


Appeal Tariffs Exemption Ruling– FEDUSA

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) wants government to appeal the decision by American President Donald Trump on Tuesday not to grant South Africa exemption from steel and aluminium tariffs as this decision will only accelerate job losses in the manufacturing and mining industries, sectors that have already shed thousands of jobs due to the unfavourable global economic situation.

FEDUSA believes that at any rate South African steel and aluminium exports to the US are so negligible as to constitute any threat to that country’s national security.

According to the figures that have been cited by the Department of Trade and Industry from the US Census Bureau data, in 2017 the US imported a total of 33.4 million tons of steel, of which imports from SA were approximately 330 000 tons or 0.98% of total US imports and 0.3% of total US steel demand of 107 million tons, the 330 kilo tons exported from SA represents only 5% of SA production equating to roughly 7500 jobs in the steel supply chain.


As such, SA does not pose a threat to US national security and to the US steel and aluminium industries but is a source of strategic primary and secondary products used in further value added manufacturing in the US contributing to jobs in both countries.  However, due to these measures, SA will be disproportionately affected both in terms of jobs and productive capacity. Furthermore, SA offered to restrict exports to a quota based on 2017 exports level. However, despite these assurances, the United States has decided not to exempt South Africa from the duties,” the DTI said in a statement.

“It is important to note that some of the exempted countries are the biggest exporters of steel and aluminium to the United States.  For steel imports: collectively, countries granted exemption accounted for 58% of total steel imports into the United States in 2017. For aluminium imports: collectively, countries granted exemptions accounted for 49% of total aluminium imports into the United States over the same period”.

FEDUSA will be working with International Trade Union Confederation and other fraternal labour formations in the US to exert pressure on the Trump administration to reconsider its tariff decision against South Africa.

FEDUSA General Secretary Dennis George said it ironic that the decision to exclude South Africa from the tariff exemptions was taken after President Trump played a round of gold with Australian businessman Joe Hockey.


FEDUSA Will Not Support March against National Minimum Wage

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) will not support any calls to march against the National Minimum Wage (NMW) of R3 500 a month from whatever quarter it comes from as this will be highly irresponsible grandstanding that does not serve the interests of millions of vulnerable workers.

FEDUSA remains fully cognizant that the proposed R20 per hour, translated to R3500 monthly, is not a living wage, but a minimum wage, recommended for 47% of workers currently earning less than R20 per hour. This alone means that half the workers will directly benefit from the NMW that has further been recommended to be subjected to an annual review, to ensure that its value is not eroded over time and that it addresses inequality.  

While FEDUSA is disappointed that the Department of Labour has had to push the implementation date of the minimum beyond 1 May 2018 as originally planned, the union federation fully understands the centrality of allowing for the completion of legislative processes and protocols that could not be accommodated by what was intended to be a most significant Workers Day event this year.

Properly crafted National Minimum Wage legislative instruments are critical as they will ensure that all employers in South Africa comply with their provisions and will also allow unions to be the eyes and ears of labour inspectors on the ground.

The South African minimum wage in its current form is the outcome of hard work; local research that has been benchmarked against the experiences of several countries that have implemented a minimum wage as well as the United Kingdom and others, using international examples and best practice as set down by the International Labour Organisation and of protracted negations between organized labour – as represented by FEDUSA, COSATU and NACTU – business and government, at NEDLAC over a two year period.

During the negotiation process – presided over by then Deputy President, now President of the Republic, Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa, organized labour pushed for a minimum wage of R4 500 on the basis of a living wage research that had been conducted on its behalf by the University of Cape Town but had to compromise down to R3 500 in the context of difficult economic realities faced by our country today and to secure the buy-in of other social partners, especially business.

Surely the false narratives being populated can in no way be seen as setbacks for workers, if the main objective of the NMW serves to address poverty, deal with inequality and address the apartheid legacy of low wages. Contextually then, how can a national minimum wage be viewed as a defeat, whilst raising the wages of 47% of workers be considered as a betrayal.

Despite the practical compromises that organized labour had to making during the minimum wage negotiations, we should never lose sight of the fact that more than 4.5 million vulnerable workers currently earning below R3 500 a month, including domestic, farm, retail and personal services workers such as hairdressers will be lifted out of abject poverty by its official implementation.


Land Issue could Delay Rating Agency Upgrade says FEDUSA 20 March 2018

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) as labour participated with government together with business in the international investor roadshow, who met with rating agency Standards and Poor, Fitch, Moody’s and eighty other investors from 12 to 16 March 2018 in London and New York, said Dennis George FEDUSA General Secretary.

Rating agencies and investors were pleased with the appointment of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Musa Nene, Deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele and congratulated the officials of National Treasury, that they managed the transition and the dark days of political uncertainty well in a professional and constructive manner in the interest of the country, added George.

Minister Nene designed a new methodology for this roadshow and suggested a “question and answer sessions” other than a presentation approach, as it gives the rating agencies and investors an opportunity to zero directly into the critical areas of concern. Rating agencies and investors focused mostly on future growth expectations, budget reforms, land redistribution without compensation, labour market reforms, and state owned companies (Eskom) and investor confidence.

Rating agencies and investors argued that land redistribution without compensation, the state owned companies specifically Eskom’s debt of more than R350 billion and structural reforms are the major barriers to uncertainty for the country.

Within this context, Moody’s is scheduled to publish its rating decision on South Africa’s debt this week, after cutting the country’s debt one level in June last year. Moody’s currently has South Africa one notch above junk status, though the rating is on review for downgrade and the announcement will be made on Friday 23 March 2018.

If South Africa loses its Moody’s investment grade status it was be a major economic disaster as certain types of investors, usually big pension funds or Exchange Traded Funds are mandated to only buy high-grade debt. Thus meaning that these investors are forced to sell any bonds if Moody’s downgraded the country to junk.

A downgrade would remove South Africa out of the Citi World Government Bond Index and the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index, which could in turn trigger financial outflows of as much as $6 billion (R72 billion). Moreover, a cut to junk could trigger up to R100 billion ($8.5 billion) in selling by foreign investors.

However, Team South Africa has noticed change in sentiment, since the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as president, and Moody’s also had a constructive meeting with president Ramaphosa a week prior to Team South Africa departing on the International Investor Roadshow said George.

Team South Africa assured investors and rating agencies that land redistribution without compensation would be done in a constitutional and responsible manner, while fiscal consolidation, both on the revenue and expenditure side will be managed prudently. The capacity of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) will be strengthened to improve tax collection, concluded George.


FEDUSA Calls on President Ramaphosa to Intervene in Central Line Crisis

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to urgently intervene in the long running crisis at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa)’s Central Line in Cape Town which for months now has seen thousands of working class commuters and FEDUSA members repeatedly arriving late at work or not arriving at all because the overcrowded trains were either running late or not running at all.

Over the preceding months, FEDUSA and its affiliate and majority union at Prasa, the United National Transport Union (UNTU) have respectfully and dutifully followed all the established channels of communicating their legitimate grievances starting with the Prasa reginal management structures, the provincial government structures and the national ministry of transport to no avail.

Promises to look into these serious grievances and assist timeously by instructing Prasa regional management to follow through with action on the ground have not been forthcoming and as a result of the crisis, crime has spilled into the Central Line with hundreds of commuters being robbed of their personal belongings at gunpoint, small children injured, women indecently assaulted and some workers have been dismissed from their jobs – in the context of a dire economic situation – as companies became increasingly lost patience with their late coming or failing to report for work on a repeated basis.

In light of the President’s recent and widely publicised critical to the national to look after their bodies by regularly walking around their neighbourhoods, places of work and schools and exercising regularly in general , FEDUSA calls upon the President to walk the talk by walking about the Cape Town Central Station and taking a ride to a working class suburb at peak hours to experience the crisis at first hand.

In a related development, UNTU has applauded the crucial move that has been taken by Prasa Acting Chief Executive Officer  Mthuthuzeli Swartz to dismiss Richard Walker from his position of its principal  regional executive in the Western Cape for his dithering about the Central Line crisis over the past 20 months.


FEDUSA Welcomes Postponement of SONA – Ready with Contingency Recovery Economic Plan

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) welcomes the postponement of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2018 to force Jacob Zuma to step down as President of the Republic of South Africa. The Zuma administration was dogged by scandal after scandal, our country was embarrassed internationally, the Constitutional Court rebuked him for failing to implement the recommendations of the Public Protector, he refused to act in the best interest of the country when he reshuffled cabinet 11 times and crashed the economy by appointing five finance ministers.
The Public Protector’s report implicates Zuma of improper and unethical conduct, advancing improper relationships and involvement of the Gupta family in the removal and appointment of ministers and directors of State Owned Entities (SOEs) resulting in improper and possibly corrupt award of state contracts and benefits to the Gupta family’s businesses. FEDUSA will not entertain any behind the scenes amnesty deals with Zuma and other in exchange for resigning as President. FEDUSA demands that the law should be allowed to take it full cause.
The corrupt and self-centred leadership style of Zuma caused deep political uncertainty, low economic growth and job crises that have gripped South Africa. President Jacob Zuma allegedly refused to step down from office following a crucial meeting with the top six officials of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.
FEDUSA General Secretary Dennis George said the postponement of the SONA will give our country an invaluable opportunity to stabilize the situation by electing a new leader to replace President Zuma under whose watch South Africa has been flung into a series of profound socio-economic difficulties such as the sovereign credit rate downgrading to sub-investment grade or junk status by Standard and Poor, Fitch and Moody’s; the cash flow and governance crisis at Eskom and other state owned enterprises; state capture in cahoots with the controversial Gupta family; and rampant corruption across the public sector.
FEDUSA commits itself to work closely with the social partner leaders representing government, business and organised labour to development a contingency recovery economic plan for South Africa to achieve higher inclusive economic growth and employment creation concluded George.