Tuesday, May 18, 2010

South African Transnet Strikers Ask Parliament to Settle Labour Dispute

Strikers ask parliament

Tue, 18 May 2010 09:20

Striking Transnet workers were set to appeal to Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele on Tuesday 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.

'We should only call to accept'

"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 Vos.

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 percent wage offer while the unions had dropped their demand to 12 percent in failed weekend wage talks.

Management's 14% raise

But their main gripe with the employer seemed to stem from salary talks last year, when the unions accepted a seven percent offer, only to discover later that Transnet management had received 14 percent 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 on Monday.

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", spokesperson Patrick Craven said.

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 spokesperson John Dludlu said strikers had caused some R30-million in damages to Transnet equipment.

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