Truckers will strike while wage talks are deadlocked

2012-09-29 18:15

Attempts by the road freight industry and trade unions to end a truckers’ strike are set to continue at the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry tomorrow.

The talks will proceed while the road freight industry continues its attempts to interdict the strike at the Labour Court.

This week saw nationwide incidents of violence linked to the strike: drivers who chose not to strike were intimidated and attacked, and vehicles were stoned and burnt by strikers.

It took a Labour Court order on Friday to force the unions – the biggest of which is the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) – to order their members not to resort to violence during the strike.

The court also ordered that strikers should not obstruct public roads, must stop intimidating non-strikers and must stop damaging property.

The union maintains that none of its members are responsible for any violence.

During a brutal Satawu security guards wage strike in 2006, more than 50 people – non-striking workers – were killed, but no suspects were ever arrested in connection with the deaths.

That strike led to a Constitutional Court ruling earlier this year that found that march or gathering organisers must be held responsible for damages caused during those marches or gatherings.

So far, 45 people have been arrested in Gauteng in connection with the latest strike.

Ekurhuleni metro police spokesperson Kobeli Mokheseng said the arrested men had been charged with public violence and would appear in the Boksburg Magistrates’ Court this week.

Gauteng police spokesperson Katlego Mogale said no further arrests had been made because the police had focused on helping victims rather than on chasing suspects.

Road Freight Employment Association spokesperson Magretia Brown-Engelbrecht said the cash-in-transit sector reached a wage agreement on Friday night, which meant people who transported money would return to work immediately.

Satawu, however, denied that any agreement has been reached.

“The alleged agreement that has been signed is nothing else but a fraudulent document signed by employers and some coerced drunkards,” said union spokesperson Vincent Masoga.

Yesterday, the parties were still at the bargaining council where the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) was facilitating attempts to find a solution to the wage deadlock.

The unions are demanding a 12% pay increase, while the industry is offering 8.5%.

CCMA director Nerine Kahn said it was a “source of great disagreement that there is so much violence” accompanying the strike.

Masoga said the strike would continue alongside attempts to break the deadlock.

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