Truck drivers warn war on foreigners will continue ‘until they are all gone’

2019-04-05 14:38
The burnt out shell of a truck on the N3 northbound near Merrivale after protests in January. PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT

The burnt out shell of a truck on the N3 northbound near Merrivale after protests in January. PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT

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The war on foreign truck drivers will continue until they are all gone, the All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF) which represents South African truckers, said on Thursday. 

Sipho Zungu, ATDF chairperson, told The Witness on Thursday they were unhappy at having been excluded from a meeting between truck owners and Police Minister Bheki Cele in Durban.

“We were not invited, and we don’t know why,” Zungu said.

He said despite agreements made between the truck owners and government, they wanted transportation companies to stop employing foreign nationals.

“All we are fighting for is that our fellow South Africans who are lounging at home unemployed to be given the jobs. There are many experienced South African drivers and they should be given first preference,” he said.

He disputed claims by the truck owners’ forum that South African drivers were inexperienced and that foreign truck drivers were hired due to skills shortages.

“They [foreign drivers] have experience to cause accidents and kill innocent people like how it happened on Field’s Hill in Pinetown.

“Is that the experience that is required? Who are these people looking for jobs if this is a scarce skill?” he said.

Zungu said angry truck drivers had taken a decision to torch trucks last Thursday after they were “disrespected” by the national Transport Department.

He said during the last meeting they had with the national Transport Department, it was agreed that their concerns would be resolved by end of March. “The truck drivers were angry because we were disrespected by the director-general. When we made an inquiry regarding the agreement, we were told we don’t have leadership.

“He came up with the deadline and now when we enquire, we are disrespected because we are truck drivers,” he said.

Meanwhile, a KwaZulu-Natal trucking forum representing more than 300 operators and 4 000 trucks, has vehemently denied government allegations of non-compliance and challenged Cele to provide evidence that members are flouting regulations.

The Positive Freight Solutions Forum also challenged the government to provide a site where members can establish a training centre for people in possession of a Code 14 driver’s licence now seeking experience.

The current employment requirement for the industry demands experience before allowing people to work for long-distance haulage companies.

Forum spokesperson Aven Naidu said the government has accused the industry of non-compliance without providing any reports on transgressions.

He added that forum members will provide the equipment and infrastructure to build experience among people looking for employment, effectively boosting local skills development.

Since 2015, 40 long-distance haulage trucks have been destroyed in KwaZulu-Natal and drivers attacked, Naidu confirmed.

Naidu said although the industry employs foreign nationals, those workers hold the right documentation and are legally allowed to work in South Africa.

“They are also paid salaries in line with the legally gazetted rates agreed at the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight Logistics Industry,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  truck strike
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