Big increase in retrenchments across South Africa

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) says it has noticed significantly higher activity with regard to retrenchments in May and June this year.

The group said it has been involved in a number of section 189A processes which have resulted in 27% of jobs saved – the equivalent of 2,549 of 9,369 employees who were likely to be retrenched. Actual retrenchments were recorded at 6,713 over the two month period.

The highest number of job losses were recorded in the mining sector (3,056) followed by Food & Beverages sector (1,631) and lastly by the manufacturing sector 324.

For the month of July, the CCMA said it received 190 large-scale retrenchment referrals and 1,307 small-scale retrenchment referrals.

The CCMA defines ‘large-scale retrenchments’ as employers who employ more than 50 employees and plan to cut a significant part (10% or more) of their workforce.

These matters are currently in process and an indication on the number of job losses will be provided in September owing to the 60 days’ requirement that may be extended for the process to be finalised, the CCMA said.

UIF payments

In terms of relieving the stress of lockdown, the Unemployment Insurance Fund says it has paid close to R40 billion, which was the figure that it had committed to before announcing that the period Covid-19 TERS benefit scheme will be extended in keeping with the period of disaster to 15 August 15.

The fund said it has made ‘great strides’ in closing the gaps of outstanding payments with over R1.5 billion paid since the beginning of August specially dedicated to outstanding payments over and above other payments.

These are the payments that the fund could not process as it did not have all the required information and through the process of intense negotiations with all the social partners, great progress has been achieved and the needle is moving.

“We have had many sobering and intense negotiations with all the partners over the last week or so and many of the areas of disagreement have been ironed out and we are all committed to making a real difference to the people of this country,” said the UIF Commissioner Teboho Maruping.

“This intervention of putting R40-billion directly in the hands of the workers in this country is unprecedented and I believe that this intervention has shored up our economy and to a great extent, has carried it over the worst of the effects of the pandemic.”

Under investigation

The Department of Employment and Labour says that it is also seen a slight increase in compliance from companies in following the country’s coronavirus health and safety guidelines.

The department’s Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) said it has seen a private-sector improvement of one percentage point to 58%. By comparison, there was a decline in the public sector of two percentage points to 45%.

“What should be noted is that the compliance rate for the general industry sector has been at a relatively constant of 57% with very little variance since the beginning while the government sector similarly has been at a very low compliance rate of 47% over the same period, again, with very little variance,” said IES inspector general Aggy Moiloa.

“There were more than 533 prohibition notices served over this period with a further 3,077 notices served overall.”

A total of 4,433 inspections have been carried out in the private sector since 27 March and 385 prohibitions notices were served, 470 notices of improvements and 1,445 contraventions. Most notices have been served by KwaZulu-Natal followed by the Western Cape.

In the public sector, out of a total of 1,138 inspections, only 516 were compliant against 622 which were non-compliant.

In the period, 148 prohibitions, 122 improvement notices and 507 contraventions notices were served.

Cumulatively, 5,571 inspections have been conducted with 3 070 compliant and 2 500 non-compliant – which is a cause for concern, according to Moiloa.

“We believe that all workplaces need to take extra care to ensure healthy and safe environments especially with the pandemic upon us. The slight improvement is a positive step and we urge accelerated improvements in compliance,” said Moiloa.

The manufacturing sector has had the biggest number of prohibitions at 43, followed by the hospitality industry (33), the construction industry (17), iron and steel (15), agriculture and forestry (14), financial industries including call centres (9) and the food and beverage industries (8).

In the public sector, the Post Office has been slated for leading in prohibition notices at 20, followed by the police (19), education (18), municipalities (17), health and community services both at 16, justice and constitutional development (15) and home affairs at 9.

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Big increase in retrenchments across South Africa