Tuesday, October 2, 2012

South African Strikes Impact Freight Deliveries as Road Haulage Drivers Protest

Trucks Burnt Out in Dispute Over Pay
Shipping News Feature

SOUTH AFRICA – The wave of industrial action sweeping across South Africa is affecting the freight sector badly, particularly the road haulage industry as strike action by drivers has turned ugly. Last month, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) announced that after discussions lasting three months, wage negotiations with the Road Freight Employers Association (RFEA) at the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFI) had reached a deadlock.

Last week, the situation escalated when SATAWU, along with the Motor Transport and Allied Workers Union (MTWU), the Transport and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (TAWU), and the Professional Transport and Allied Worker Union (PTAWU), called for industrial action as a consequence of the stagnated talks. The group of unions have condemned the violence that has affected Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape during which more than 10 trucks have been set alight by some of the protesters and as the industrial action goes into its second week, the Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa warned those responsible for the violence, saying:

“We are monitoring the situation and frankly what we have been observing is pure criminality. Acts of violent destruction and intimidation of innocent people cannot be justified as public protests and that is why we shall act harshly against lawlessness. As we speak our intelligence is currently conducting an analysis of the situation and arrests of the perpetrators are imminent.

“The Government recognises the democratic rights of any person to express their grievances, whether through a public protest or any other legal gathering as stipulated within the labour laws. However such rights do not imply that those do not who wish to participate in a strike must be intimidated, beaten and properties destroyed.”

The workers are asking for a 12% pay rise and the RFEA initially countered the offer with a 6% rise which was rejected by the unions. The RFEA then proposed a staggered increase of 8.5% effective from March 2013 and then a further 0.5% from September 2013 which again was been rejected. The drivers also want holiday and sick pay and talks are expected to resume on Wednesday with industrial action still in effect and cash machines and fuel pumps now being left empty in several regions as the action begins to hit ordinary people.