PMB transport workers join strike

2009-03-01 00:00

“We refuse to die for peanuts,” were the words on many placards as cash-in-transit guards and their Motor Transport Workers’ Union (MTWU) representatives in Pietermaritzburg joined in the nationally organised strike over deadlocked wage disputes and unsafe working conditions.

MTWU provincial organiser, Zodwa Zama, said the average wage their members are currently receiving is R5 400, which is less than the normal basic salary.

The negotiations have been ongoing since August last year and the workers are demanding a 12% increase, while management is offering 10%. “The 12% will only push the salary to R6 100, which is the normal basic salary. And the strike will go on as long as possible because even that is not worth our members risking their lives,” said Zama.

One of the strikers, who wished to remain anonymous, said he is a family man, but every day he leaves for work, he is unsure whether he will return. “I am a father of two little children and I’m still the bread winner for my whole family. I have to work because with the little money I get I’m responsible for two households. We have been complaining about the unsafe working conditions every day, yet our brothers die day in and day out.”

The strikers believe that it is within their bosses’ powers to change the situation, but they choose to compromise their safety for profits. “They cut hours down so that only two people are working, where three people are needed … ” some strikers said.

Things became tense on Saturday outside the Group 4 Security offices, formerly known as the Fidelity Guards, in Mkondeni.

Management accused the strikers of obstructing the driveway and their service. The police were called in to monitor the situation.

On Saturday, Weekend Witness reported that major banks have said cash will be available at most ATMs and branches.

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