Goods bypass SA's idle ports

2010-05-17 17:17

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 Grindrod.   

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 South America.

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 company.

"We look like we don't know what we are doing," he said.

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 Stephens.

"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".



  • flaker - 2010-05-17 17:32

    please Mrs Thatcher,where are you?

  • Ian D - 2010-05-17 17:41

    The knock-on effects of this strike will be fealt for months to come. The right to strike needs to be tempered with the right to take legal action against those unions that make unfair and unrealistic demands that can be proven in a court of law. Should the decision go against the union concerned then the applicants legal fees should be paid by the union concerned without an opportunity to appeal the decision. 11% is more than fair and generous - 6% is fair, 8% generous, 11% is daylight robbery!

  • Diesel Pomp - 2010-05-17 17:49

    This can't go on! Surely the pressident should step up and save the country from a moerse dissaster. 11% is a very generous offer and Transnet staff should take it and get back to work. TRansnet: please pennilise the strikkers on their x-mass bonus. A bonus is what it say a Bonus. The strikkers and staff that dammage your property wich we the taxpayers must pay can stay without a bonus!!

  • Shorts - 2010-05-17 18:14

    When will this ANC Government realise that it has to operate in a way that is also acceptable to the global economy? Their current PDI [ Presently Dysfunctional Incumbent ] approach, as well as their alliance with these narrow minded Strikers Unions, is going to totally destroy this country at some stage in the not too distant future. They need to believe and understand very clearly that the rest of the world neither needs or really cares about a South Africa in it's present state. Bring these strikers to their knees and focus totally on doing everything necessary to build on this country' undoubted potential. Otherwise this part of the African continent, like most of the countries in it, are doomed to failure.

  • GRAHAM - 2010-05-17 18:16

    CRAZY. Add this to the recession effects and they will strike themselves out of a job. I agree with Ian D - 11% is a HUGE increase. It is time that Zuma showed some and intervened. He needs to break the unions as they hold the country to ransom every year. I left SA a few years ago. I love the country but these kind of actions will bring the country to its kness. Apart from the obvious - crime, etc - my main reason for leaving was to avoid becoming a financial prisoner when the currency goes into freefall. Yes, it is strong now. But it will go down again after the SWC. So sad. It is a beautiful country.

  • mike - 2010-05-17 18:21

    The ANC is reaping, what it has for so long taught its members to sow

  • Shorts - 2010-05-17 18:22

    @Diesel Pomp. The real tragedy is that the 'President' of this country and his ANC cadre comrades appear to lack the ability to not only understand what is really going on right under their nostrils but also are seemingly totally incapable of doing anything to stop it !!!!

  • Mozambique - 2010-05-17 18:37

    I am working at the Port of Maputo. We can see a marked increase of goods via us to South Africa. Thanks you very much

  • Airwolf - 2010-05-17 19:01

    We are a small import company and had a R700 000 order cancelled today by a new client. The containers arrived on time last week but have been stuck at Durban port since then.

  • Michael Bowery - 2010-05-17 19:04

    This is where the cracks in the ANC Tripartite Alliance are at last coming to reflect how bad the relations are within the Alliance. The ANC is committed to super capitalisim at a personal level and the other two are following the old socialist path. Absolutely bound to collide and the left has chosen the World Cup period as the one time they have the ANC by the balls.And that is not a pun!

  • Just Wondering - 2010-05-17 19:41

    Hang on its going to get even better with the Gov looking at laws to make our countries industries more labour intensive. That way we will be striking oursleves out of jobs, food, clothes verything. But hey none of that buys you votes...........

  • Pierre - 2010-05-17 19:45

    Have you seen the agreement, Transnet take more than what they give. It is no use getting more money but losing on your medical aid and other benefits. Please do not comment if you don't know what is happening. Transnet can never afford to pay staff properly but look at the packages of Chris Wells and his buddies. If you know what percentage of the bonuses was paid to top management you will know why employees are fed up? It is criminal what these managers are paying themselves.

  • neil - 2010-05-17 20:26

    Just wait until the world cup starts. Hotels, transport, taxis, customs, airport staff & baggage handlers will all jump on the strike wagon! Who really cares. The goose has laid it's final egg!

  • Benzo - 2010-05-17 21:02

    At the bets of time, Durban is not a "fast" stopover with unacceptable waiting times on anchor. Maputo and Beira are easy alternatives. Joh'burg is closer to Maputo by road. I don't know Walvisbay compared to Cape town. But, once shipping lines change their landing spots, they don't easily reverse their decisions. It is an investment for them!! From conversations, one can hear that unions have a problem with big bonuses for the Transnet top guys; Transnet could offer a fixed link between top bonuses and low range salaries in exchange for a lower % increase. Unions could offer such an exchange to break the deadlock. Both parties are stupid. Both parties should be held responsible for the damage done to ordinary Citizens and Zuma should step in or be fired as well ("re-deployed" is the correct term?).

  • Jan - 2010-05-17 21:50

    Pull your investments out of the country, like we are doing currently. The days of thinking SA is the solution for supply into Africa is long gone. Depends on the market you serve, but to manufacture in Turkey and then export to Africa is now our business model.Several USA companies is following suit with this.

  • hey - 2010-05-18 00:53

    the voters of the ANC can not tell a lie. Unfortunately they are coming out of the presidents mouth like verbal diarrhea.

  • Good grief - 2010-05-18 06:17

    Hie-hie; The labour unions intentionally called the strike just before the SWC. They dont care two stuffs about the country. As was rightly stated Zuma is being held by the balls. Call in the army to do the work at the docks; but NO, they will also strike for having to work for a change. The voters deserve the government they put in place. They unfortunately had nothing to start with; therefore they want everybody else to also have nothing. Try to argue that one away. I grew up with my black brothers and most of them are good and decent, but the communal spirit overrides this many a time. In the rural areas a black man would be industrious and get rich. The community gets jealous and declare that he/she is a "witch" and therby giving them the "right" to burn his/her ppalce down and often kill him/her. Does the union care about the economy? Look at their actions and the world realises; dont invest in SA South Africa is a very good example of what has already happened all over Africa.

  • p dee - 2010-05-18 06:24

    dont blame these good hard working men and women from demanding what transnet management offer others, about 1500 HMG-JV PERSONNEL were given a gauranteed 20% increase per year for 5 years just for continued service now reconcile this to the current offer.

  • p dee - 2010-05-18 06:32

    nearly forgot to mention and a annual increase at least at current inflation.

  • Deon - 2010-05-18 07:42

    They should get off their lazy butts and be thankful they have a job

  • Sparky - 2010-05-18 08:02

    Haugh...these economic things....

  • Danie - 2010-05-18 08:29

    One new law will solve the strike problem. In any striking union, all union staff must go unpaid as long as the strike last. All employers no bonusses to be paid to managers that year. It will pressure union representatives & staff - Tony to seek solutions with management.

  • zane - 2010-05-18 09:32

    the anc is too obsessed with world cup soccer to solve the country's problems more strikes to come..

  • Harry - 2010-05-18 09:53

    Don't buckle Transnet - let them see how far they get without getting paid. They should be grateful they have a flippin job! You get paid for the type of work you do - live with it

  • Margaret Thatcher - 2010-05-18 11:21

    We need a Margaret Thatcher to sort out the unions.

  • Lefty - 2010-05-19 07:39

    The shipping Lines have now levied a Congestion charge against all Imported / Exported containers due to their losses !! All chain affect , as we are the one that will fit the bill . Negative affect on SA growth . Adding we look like clowns in front of the rest of the world before the SWC . Great living in a third world mentallity !

  • Wade - 2010-05-19 13:02

    It is well and good to stand up for your rigths. Nobody is disputing the fact, but hell man, there has to be a balance!!!! This is has gone too far now, the unions does not care; they earn fat salaries. They do not worry about the "no work, no pay" factor. This cost the poor soles a plate of food at the end of the day!!!!!! 11% is better than 8%!!!!

  • DORA - 2010-05-21 09:44

    No Comment

  • logical - 2010-05-21 10:42

    I dont see the sense in this.companies would rather lose billions first.before they come to an agreement & see the light.can they not think logically.

  • Concerned - 2010-05-21 10:44

    This is why Transnet must not control all the major harbours... To all the strikers, I hope you are aware of the damage caused to the country and your pay check this month will be less than HALF what you normally get...

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