Truckers’ strike enters fifth day

2011-02-18 07:22

The countrywide road freight workers’ strike is set to enter its fifth day as no resolution could be reached last night.

“At 9.30pm, the unions advised us that they would consult with their members on the revised wage offer and come back to us by tomorrow at 2pm,” said the spokesperson for Road Freight Employers’ Association (RFEA), Magretia Brown-Engelbrecht.

Earlier, the four unions involved in the strike said they would reject the latest offer of a 9% pay rise in 2011 and 8.5% in 2012.

The unions – the Transport and Allied Workers’ Union of SA, the Professional Transport Workers’ Union, the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union, and the Motor Transport Workers’ Union – have demanded a 10% pay rise for 2011 and 10% for 2012.

They were also negotiating on decreasing the use of labour brokers and consultants in the industry.

The RFEA had initially offered 7.5% for 2011 and again in 2012.

And while representatives were locked in talks yesterday, two men were seriously injured when their truck was petrol bombed in Durban as the fourth day of the strike drew to a close.

“Both men – the truck driver and conductor – sustained burns to their heads and were taken to hospital for treatment,” said ER24 spokesperson Derrick Banks.

The truck was ambushed on the M7 motorway in Queensburgh after 4pm.

“Petrol bombs were thrown at the cabin of the truck. The windows were slightly opened. We suspect the petrol bombs were thrown against both windows. The men caught fire,” said Banks.

The driver lost control of the truck, which hit an embankment. The fire was put out and the arsonists fled. Police were investigating, he said.

About 65 000 workers were participating in the industrial action, which began with a go-slow on Sunday and downing tools on Monday.

Another two trucks were set alight, and a bystander beaten and robbed, near the Irene train station in Tshwane earlier yesterday. Fifty people were arrested in connection with the crime.

Incidents of intimidation have been reported throughout the week with non-striking truckers beaten and their trucks looted and burned.

More than 20 trucks have been damaged, 16 people injured and 32 arrested.

SA Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) executive director Avhapfani Tshifularo said reports of petrol pumps running dry were received.

“There are still some challenges of sporadic intimidation persisting and this is causing a challenge to supply,” he said.
“It is likely to be like this for the duration of the strike.”

Eskom said it had enough coal – a 40-day stockpile – but had experienced some delivery challenges.

On average, it received less than a third of its coal deliveries by road.

It was monitoring the situation daily.

Food and grocery deliveries were not severely affected.

Pick n Pay’s supply chain director, Burger van der Merwe, said its shops were “largely unaffected” by the strike.

“The company has extensive contingency plans in place to ensure that the service to our stores and customers are acceptable during the strike,” he said.

“Store deliveries from the company’s distribution centres are unaffected, but a limited number of suppliers are finding it difficult to deliver directly to stores.”

Cash-in-transit drivers were among the striking workers, sparking concerns that ATMs would run out of cash.

Capitec Bank said if the strike persisted for too long, the flow of cash in the economy would be hampered.

Neither Standard Bank nor First National Bank was experiencing any problems.

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