Johannesburg - Cargo carrying ships have bypassed idle South
African harbours during the past week, causing severe delays in the movement of
goods in and out of the country.
"There's nothing happening at the ports," said
Alan Olivier, CEO of JSE-listed shipping and logistics group
South Africa's harbours are inactive due to a strike by
Transnet employees who are members of the United Transport and Allied Trade
Union and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, which together
represent 85% of the state transport utility's workforce.
The strike started a week ago and hopes for a resolution
were dashed on Monday, after fresh talks broke down in the morning.
"The situation has already reached crisis proportions
for us," said Charde Etchmaier from Famous Pacific Shipping (South
Africa), which operates at Cape Town and Durban harbours.
Etchmaier said that vessels are unable to stop at South
African harbours and wait the strike out. As a result, many ships are
continuing to their next destination.
She said that a client had intended to drop cargo off at
South Africa. The goods were meant for sale during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
This particular ship has now passed South Africa, continuing its journey to
The goods on board are unlikely to reach the country before
the soccer tournament starts.
Strikes at ports are also causing delays in cargo which
needs to be offloaded at South African harbours and then repacked on new
vessels to reach its final destination.
"Our international clients are not happy," said
Etchmaier. Famous Pacific Shipping trades with companies in the Far East,
Africa and the Americas.
A freight company based in Cape Town, which deals in fruit
exports to Africa, said that the cost of the strike has already filtered down
to consumers of perisherable exported goods.
"Our clients in Africa are waiting for their food and
they are throwing their toys in a big way," said a representative from the
"We look like we don't know what we are doing," he
Several freight companies that deal with non-perishables
have kept their containers at the harbours over the past few days, in the hope
that the strike may be resolved.
Volkswagen may feel the pain
Volkswagen SA said on Monday work at its engine plant in
Uitenhage will be disrupted due to the strike, reports Sapa.
Although the engine plant may not close down completely, one
or two shifts might be affected if the strike continues, said spokesperson Bill
"The situation is very fluid and whether or not the shifts
will be affected depends on the processing of containers at the harbour."
Trade unions which initially demanded a 15% hike have now
revised demands to 13%. Transnet is not budging on its offer of 11%, which it
says is "fair and generous".