Transport workers vow to strike after wage talks fail

"The talks reached a point where we could not go further and we will embark on an indefinite strike," spokesperson for South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) Vincent Masoga said on Tuesday night. 

The deadlock closed the latest negotiations between transport workers' unions and employers' body the Road and Freight Association, which began on Tuesday afternoon at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, 

Masoga said discussions ended with unions demanding a 12% wage increase to be implemented over 2013 and 2014 and the freight association refusing to budge from its offer of 7.5%.

Wage negotiations began in June at the National Bargaining Council for the road freight and logistics industry and continued until September 4 when unions declared an official deadlock. Following a series of discussions, the latest of which took place on September 22, Satawu declared transport workers would commence with strike action.

The industrial action began in earnest on Tuesday with gatherings of transport workers at Beyers Naude Square in the Johannesburg city centre. Over 20 000 unionised transport workers were expected to join the strike, represented by Satawu, the Transport and Allied Workers' Union, the Professional Transport and Allied Workers' Union of South Africa and the Motor Transport Workers' Union.

Earlier on Tuesday Magretia Brown-Engelbrecht, the freight association's labour relations manager, said unions wanted a 9% wage increase, while the association's last official offer stood at 7%. 

But Masoga insisted on a 12% increase. He said 9% was an offer previously taken to union members by union negotiators but rejected. The reason for the rejection was that the 9% was to be implemented in steps of 0.5% starting from 7%, with the full 9% increase only realised in September 2013.

The date for further discussion has not yet been determined. In the meantime inoperative trucks spell bad news for freight transport from the coast to inland regions, particularly for petroleum. The South African Petroleum Industry Association on Tuesday recognised the threat to fuel supply.

"While some [association] members own fleets of road tankers, others outsource most of the road transport activities to independent owner operators. The majority of independent owner operators belong to the Road Freight Employers' Association, whose drivers are now embarking on strike action," said the association's executive director of Avhapfani Tshifularo in a public statement.

Tshifularo said there was no reason for panic as "members have contingency plans in place to minimise supply disruption to their retail service stations". But with the details of these contingency plans deemed confidential, their efficacy remains to be seen.

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.


High Court strikes down ‘paternalistic’ lockdown regulations

The order of unconstitutionality has been suspended for two weeks

L’Oréal workers demand a shutdown of local plant, citing Covid-19...

The French cosmetics company’s Midrand plant has recorded 16 Covid-19 cases in two weeks

Protective equipment for schools in KwaZulu-Natal goes ‘missing’

Without protective equipment, schools in uMlazi, Pinetown and Zululand won’t meet the already delayed deadline for reopening

Press Releases

Empowering his people to unleash their potential

'Being registered as an AGA(SA) means you are capable of engineering an idea and turning it into money,' says Raymond Mayekisa

What is an AGA(SA) and AT(SA) and why do they matter?

If your company has these qualified professionals it will help improve efficiencies and accelerate progress by assisting your organisation to perform better

Mining company uses rich seam of technology to gear up for Covid-19

Itec Direct technology provides instant temperature screening of staff returniing to the workplace with no human contact

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday