Rail company Transnet on Monday appealed to striking workers to consider in earnest its offer of an 11% salary increase.
“We believe our latest and revised offer is both fair and generous,” said spokesperson John Dludlu.
The offer, which Transnet described as well above the rate of inflation, included an 11% increase on all pensionable earnings for those in non-managerial positions.
This was an increase on its original offer of an 8% across-the-board increase plus a guarantee of no retrenchments for at least 12 months.
“We have tabled a fair wage increase offer,” said Dludlu.
The South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union, which represents 45% of Transnet workers in the bargaining chamber, rejected the offer and embarked on a nationwide strike at 6am on Monday.
The union is holding out for a 15% increase.
The United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu), representing 39% of the workforce, intended joining the strike, but said it needed to speak to its members before accepting or rejecting the offer.
Utatu president George Strauss said he had received calls from Durban that people were being intimidated. He urged protesters to give Utatu a chance to brief its members at a mass meeting on Tuesday. He said the mandates coming in were showing mixed views on whether members should join the no work, no pay industrial action.
Transnet said contingency plans were yielding the “desired result”.
“We have redeployed resources to critical areas of the business,” said Dludlu.
The company was ready to deal with potential violence with police and legal teams on standby.
“We are concerned about the impact of a divided workforce, especially regarding violence and intimidation,” he said.
Transnet employs nearly 54 000 employees in its five operating divisions: Transnet Freight Rail, Transnet Rail Engineering, Transnet National Ports Authority, Transnet Port Terminals and Transnet Pipelines.
“Transnet does not move passengers,” Dludlu said.
Meanwhile, 15 striking workers were injured when police fired rubber bullets on them in Bayhead Road, Durban on Monday.
“It is alleged [they] failed to disperse on the instruction of police,” said Netcare911 spokesperson Jeff Wicks.
The injured were treated on the scene before being taken to hospital. — Sapa