Road freight sector strike starts

By Drum Digital
25 September 2012

Over 20,000 employees of the road freight sector were on strike over their pay increase on Tuesday, the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) said.

"At major depots, workers have downed tools and there is picketing at factories and warehouses," said Satawu spokesman Vincent Masoga.

Employees in the road freight sector -- which includes truck drivers --were demanding a 12 percent increase. Their employers had offered 8.5 percent.

The strike came when wage negotiations deadlocked after protracted discussions since early June at the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI), Satawu said.

Satawu, a Congress of SA Trade Unions affiliate, is the biggest union in the four-union strike, with an estimated 28,000 members in the road freight sector, said Masoga.

They ranged from drivers delivering fuel, to workers associated with a truck network which travelled around the country or crossed borders to neighbouring countries for other deliveries.

The other unions are the Transport and Allied Workers' Union, the Professional Transport and Allied Workers' Union SA and the Motor Transport Workers' Union.

The Road Freight Association, which represents employers, told its members on its website: "Although unions are consulting members on the proposal, the strike notice stands, so employees can strike..."

Masoga said the parties in the bargaining council were expected to meet at the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration at 3pm on Tuesday for further negotiations.

Satawu said the unions were aiming for an inflation-related wage settlement of 12 percent across the board for implementation in 2013 and 2014.

They also wanted an equal increase for workers classified under the council's extended bargaining unit.

Masoga said no marches were planned for Tuesday, but that workers would gather at Beyers Naude Gardens, opposite the Johannesburg Library, for news.

Notice was given for a strike from Monday, but the effects were not immediately visible because it was a public holiday.

Comment from the NBCRFLI was not immediately available.

The Consumer Price Index for August was five percent.

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