CCMA urged to intervene in Transnet strike

Striking unions at Transnet on Wednesday asked the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to intervene in their wage dispute.

“The CCMA must intervene to help resolve this national strike of 35 000 workers to avoid harming the economy,” the Federation of Unions of South Africa and its affiliate the United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu) said in a joint statement.

Utatu joined striking SA Trade and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) members on Wednesday. Both unions had rejected Transnet wage increase offer of 11%, demanding 15%.

Fedusa general secretary Dennis George said they had written to CCMA director Nerine Khan to “assist us by conciliating the negotiations between Utatu and Transnet to avoid a drawn-out strike that could cripple the economy.

“We also do not want to expose our members to a strike that has the potential to become volatile, as we have already heard of widespread reports of intimidation, violence and damage to property,” George said.

Transnet spokesperson John Dludlu said the parastatal remained open to negotiations, but cautioned that the 15% the union wanted would fuel wage inflation.

“It will drive up our operating costs as a company and force Transnet to either raise the prices it charges its customers and even consider cutting jobs.

Operations affected
“As a responsible publicly-owned company, we are reluctant to go down this path … it is not in the interest of our employees, customers or the country,” Dludlu said in a statement.

Eighty-five percent of the workforce was on strike and he admitted operations were affected.

Transnet employed nearly 54 000 people. Satawu represents 39% and Utatu 45% of these workers.

“The strike does have an impact. Nobody wins in a strike situation. Our focus right now is protecting our assets, property and the people and ensuring that we move key commodities required in the country,” he said.

Dludlu cautioned against strikers resorting to violence and destruction of property.

A freight train derailed, possibly due to sabotage by strikers, in Burlington near Mount Vernon in KwaZulu-Natal early on Wednesday, resulting in 10 000 litres of diesel being spilt.

“The wilful destruction of Transnet property, assets and the targeted attacks against our employees who are exercising their democratic right to work is unacceptable.

Court action
“We are concerned that the longer the strike persists, the harder it becomes … to restore calm and the greater the damage to Transnet and the broader economy.”

Transnet obtained a court interdict on Tuesday to prevent striking workers from “unlawfully interfering with business or activities of Transnet”.

The Democratic Alliance said the 11% offer was almost double the current inflation rate.

“These two unions [are] attempting to use the World Cup as leverage to achieve what are, objectively, not reasonable wage increase expectations,” the party said in a statement. — Sapa

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

Odd drop in how Covid-19 numbers grow

As the country hunkers down for a second week of lockdown, how reliable is the data available and will it enable a sound decision for whether South Africans can leave their homes on April 16?

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders