Friday, February 18, 2011

Truck Strikes Follow Different Paths As Freight Deliveries Suspended

Drivers Attitudes A World Apart
Shipping News Feature

SOUTH AFRICA – COLOMBIA – As vehicles burned after petrol bomb attacks in Durban, peace reigned across the world in Bogota when union officials won their own battle to preserve minimum freight rates for cargo carried throughout the country. Hauliers feared the lifting of a bottom rate would mean a price war they could ill afford and agreed to meet the Government to press forward regulation in the haulage market.

Meanwhile there were signs of a let up in South Africa where recorded traffic levels have dropped 40% in places, after officials considered an offer from the Road Freight Employers Association (RFEA) to raise wages 9% this year with a further 8.5% increase in 2012. The history of this dispute was detailed in an earlier story since when things have turned really ugly with threats, beatings and even shots fired as pickets clashed with working drivers.

The Association of Colombian Truckers had what was described as a ‘marathon meeting’ with Government representatives to thrash out their deal after suspending freight deliveries two weeks ago and they agreed a return to work this morning. This strike also saw more than its fair share of violent conflict with blockades and burnt vehicles.

Hopefully members of the four striking South African unions, the Transport and Allied Workers Union of South Africa, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), the Motor Transport Workers Union and the PTWU will feel that the revised offer they have received will be close enough to their original 10% per annum increase demand to settle the matter without further bloodshed. Despite reports that the union officials had rejected the latest offer out of hand, it is believed they are actually canvassing opinions amongst their members.

With more than twenty trucks looted, several burnt out, numerous injuries and over thirty arrests so far, in addition to fuel and food shortages, it is to be hoped the South Africans can follow the Colombian lead and reach an amicable settlement.