South Africa transport unions threaten strike action


South Africa’s national transport unions have threatened strike action which could begin later this week.

The United National Transport Union (UNTU) served a 48 Hour Notice on nationalised infrastructure operator, Transnet, indicating the intention to embark on Protected Strike/Protected Industrial Action from 6 October 2022.

The dispute comes after months of salary negotiation, to which UNTU argues Transnet has yet to make a reasonable offer for its employees.

Rail and port facilities under Transnet import and export bulk and container goods in and out of the country, with staff walkouts potentially crippling supply chains in the nation.

After UNTU threatened to give notice of the industrial action as per the circular letter that was issued on 28 September, Transnet provided proposal on 3 Oct 2022, which included a 1.5 per cent increase and backpay from 1 April to 30 September, due to be paid in full by the end of March 2023.

READ: US railroads reach last-minute deal to avert strike

UNTU has rejected the offer, adding in a statement: “It is an insult to our members who have put everything on the line to help get this company back on track. Our members, and the Transnet employees at large, are expected to bear the brunt of years of historic mismanagement and corruption that occurred during state capture.”

Separately, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union has announced it will also strike from 10 October, after rejecting the same offer.

On 4 October, Transnet wrote that it has applied to the national Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to convene conciliation discussions over the current wave negotiations.

“Transnet has consistently made the point that its wage bill currently makes up over 66 per cent of monthly operating costs. This is not sustainable, particularly given the current operational and financial performance,” Transnet wrote.

“Transnet has urged unions, and Transnet workers, to accept its offer as the best possible deal that can be made right now.”

In September staff at the Port of Felixstowe have staged their second walkout in a handful of weeks, compounding congestion problems in an already struggling UK supply chain.

Also in the UK, senior officials at the Port of Liverpool have voted to take part in a new strike action commencing mid-October.

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