Striking Transnet workers turn to Parliament

2010-05-18 08:22

Striking Transnet workers were set to appeal to Transport Minister

Sibusiso Ndebele today as wage talks reached a dead end.

The United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu) and SA

Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) were planning to march to

Parliament to hand over a memorandum to Ndebele.

“The strike is continuing. Indication we got from [Transnet]

management is that we shouldn’t try and talk to them. We should only call when

we are prepared to accept their offer,” said Utatu general secretary Chris de


Satawu deputy president Robert Mashego earlier said he believed

there was a need for political intervention to end the strike.

Transnet had made an 11% wage offer while the unions had dropped

their demand to 12 percent in failed weekend wage talks.

But their main gripe with the employer seemed to stem from salary

talks last year, when the unions accepted a 7% offer, only to discover later

that Transnet management had received 14% increases.

“How can they justify paying themselves such high salaries when the

average workers only earn a fraction of their bonuses? It doesn’t make sense to

us,” said Federation of Unions of SA general secretary Dennis George


The Congress of SA Trade Unions warned that it would not hesitate

to mobilise its two million members to launch solidarity action if Transnet did

not come up with “genuinely improved offers”, spokesman Patrick Craven


Several companies and organisations had expressed concern over the

effects of the strike that started last Monday and affected freight rail, rail

engineering, ports, port terminals and pipeline services.

Transnet spokesman John Dludlu said strikers had caused some R30

million in damages to Transnet equipment.

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