Transnet strike poised to expand

2010-05-17 12:09

Johannesburg - Labour unions behind the Transnet strike have called on other trade unions to join them in "an unprecedented solidarity action" after the breakdown of talks to resolve ongoing industrial action at the logistics utility.

"Management was adamant there would be no improvement on its offer," said United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu) secretary general Chris de Vos on Monday.

“We have requested our federation, Fedusa [ the Federation of Unions of SA], to help call all our affiliate unions to come out and support us in an unprecedented mass action against Transnet."

De Vos said attempts by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration to broker a deal - during which Utatu and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) lowered their 15% wage increase demand to 13% - have failed.

Transnet had refused to budge on its 11% increment offer by Sunday evening. "Last night we were negotiating on an unmandated 12% increase, which Transnet still refused," said De Vos.

The unions issued a joint statement on Monday, saying they would intensify the strike. Cosatu-affiliated Satawu was also set to request the federation to lend support through a solidarity mass campaign of fellow affiliates to put pressure on Transnet. 

'Step off their inflexible pedestal'

"Management effectively walked away from any negotiated settlement, after stating an unwillingness to budge on any item of money substance," read the joint statement.

It said the 13% compromise was "stonewalled" by Transnet negotiators, who were only prepared to reduce contract employment in the company by 2012 and guarantee no retrenchments for the next three months. "On every other item they remained absolutely rigid," said the unions, which represent about 85% of Transnet's workforce.

The strike entered its second week on Monday, and there seems to be no resolution in sight. Transnet, which claims strike-related sabotage has cost it R24m in infrastructure damage, said it was continuing to implement contingency plans to ensure critical flows and the transport of commodities to their destinations.

"We also have a comprehensive recovery plan to address the backlog when the strike is resolved," said acting group CEO Chris Wells.

The unions said Transnet must be "instructed" by its shareholder - government - to "step off their inflexible pedestal" and resolve the strike.

"As unions we have come to the conclusion that Transnet negotiators are acting in bad faith, and are incompetent and uncaring of the company and its workers, despite what they say in their full-page newspaper adverts. We believe they have been misleading their own board, government and the public."


  • AJ - 2010-05-17 12:23

    One can understand that the low-income workers inflationary cost of living is well above the publisized inflation rate, but to demand a double the inflation rate increase for mid and higher paid workers is a bit unfair. The strike will most definitely affect the world cup due to the harbour situation.

  • KingKong - 2010-05-17 12:36

    Pitiful. Governemnt & transnet dont give a damn about poor commuters affected by this strike...

  • Chantel - 2010-05-17 12:37

    To all previous comments from all. If you are not a Transnet employee or spouse and you don't know what you are talking please keep quiet. We, the wife's must live with the fact that our husbands is sometimes working more than their normal hours, where they must sit in the veld without food and waiting for kombi's to pick them up. It is our husband's that is making all projects work but still management gets incentive bonusses of over R100 000 each and we must be pleased with a shameless amount of just over R5000.00. IS THAT FAIR TOWARDS US? Why don't management cut on their salaries and give to the people who really deserve it.

  • RON - 2010-05-17 12:37

    Privatise the Ports and watch poverty decline in this Country. Has anybody calculated what it costs this country for go slows, delays etc, especially containerised cargo in Durban?.

  • Anton - 2010-05-17 12:42

    90% of employees would be very happy with 11% annual increase, but noooo not these guys.. Yes understandably the "lowest" earners can expect 15%, but these prawns in the middle and closer to management must first prove themselves worthy of increases ( i.e. do training to make it worthwile for Transnet to give them decent increases ).

  • Ramahlwe Mphahlele - 2010-05-17 12:43

    I think that its time for COSATU affiliates to join SATAWU strike in order to press transnet to give workers what they deserve because transnet managent are only sitting up there doing nothing and enjoying themselves.

  • Michael - 2010-05-17 12:43

    Management started at a reasonable 8%. Workers started at 15%. Management has already moved 4% where they have moved 2%. So tell me who is negotiating in bad faith. I'm calling the unions ridiculous negotiators who know they have a gun to the countries head due to 2010 soccer.

  • WorkForce - 2010-05-17 12:44

    Just over 3 weeks to WC, I am concerned that things wont return to normal by then. A backlog is not simply cleared... Besides I think 15% is way out of the norm. Contractors are their for a purpose, why remove them?

  • HONKY - 2010-05-17 12:45

    Fire the lot of the useless idiots and employ people who really want to work

  • PD. - 2010-05-17 12:48

    Transnet management all get a 100% bonus every year for 5 yrs, see attached link post 545, tells you why these guys are serious hey.

  • domdom - 2010-05-17 12:54

    "to help call all our affiliate unions to come out and support us in an unprecedented mass action against Transnet." This is not against Transnet. It's against innocent people of South Africa Transnet management are sitting in their plush air-conditioned offices while the country suffers the inconvenience of the strike action which has NOTHING to do with them. If there is a gripe against management, make management suffer!

  • Rob - 2010-05-17 13:02

    While I am sympathetic to the workers the reality is if your employer cannot afford it they cannot afford it. Also, please understand that it is these 'evil' employers, as the unions would like us to believe, that create jobs and not the unions. You may complain about the high salaries that top management earn but the reality is that if you don't pay top management their going rate thay will work for someone else who will leaving you with less competent management and even less money for salary increases.

  • Willa - 2010-05-17 13:05

    This is exactly what our country needs at this stage ahead of the soccer world cup. Thanks to those that decided on this strike. We make us all look no better than those soccer hooligans and no better than the criminals in our country. Thanks for the negative image to the outside world and thanks for the negative publicity of our country. Thanks for nothing.

  • GR - 2010-05-17 13:07


  • Brad - 2010-05-17 13:10

    I've heard that Transnet can't afford the increases, this is fair enough, if this is true why not give the increases to everyone anyway and in two months time when the company is running at a loss start retrenching. The guys that stay behind would have to work harder and earn their increases. And this way they can also clean out lazy useless staff they would want to get rid of anyway.

  • DownWithUnions - 2010-05-17 13:15

    How much longer will unions be allowed to pillage and extort RSA? Union leaders should be held accountable for every cent of damage caused by their strikers irrespective of whether they tried to control the crows. I wonder how FIFA are feeling right about now?

  • Exporter - 2010-05-17 13:16

    Try and explain to your customer overseas that you cannot ship their goods because of a strike. Their response is simple - we will now have to go somewhere else!! As a country we desperately need exports and I feel that 11% is not unfair - demanding 15% and holding the country to ransom is totally wrong and disrespectful towards businesses that are trying to bring in hard earned foreign currency.

  • Ann - 2010-05-17 13:16

    As a commercial worker who has to be satisfied with max 8% annual increase, I have no sympathy for this strike. In fact, the ramifications of this strike to SA's overall economy makes it disgusting, especially now that the unions involved want to involve the hospitality industry on the eve of the SWC. It's shameful and I hope that workers start to resist union pressure.

  • justin - 2010-05-17 13:16

    Maybe its time we do away with Unions! They cost a lot of money! Its as if a union would fail its mandate if they never demonstrated evey year. 11% i'll accept that any day! Many this year only receive 8% at tops! Its very hard to tell a struggling company such as transnet to push up salaries when the clients can't afford 11% increase in cost. The fact is these unions lie to employees telling them that companys has more than they actually do. To all workers we are not a rich country. There maybe wealthy people but we a poor nation that must eat bread and milk to get through. Yes there is a wage gap from top to bottom thats how we get people to work harder and promote them!

  • Charl - 2010-05-17 13:16

    You can never be held ransom by your employees. They should stick to their guns. Employees Trade Unions always foget to wager in the amount of days of no-work no-pay in their negotiations and dont do the math. Each day lost at the office effectively negates their increase in any event. Rather settle for less and get back to work and start earning again. Trade Unions are laughing all the way to the bank because they are the only ones winning here, not the employees and definitely not the employers or the rest of the country. Ban trade unions I say.

  • Diesel Pomp - 2010-05-17 13:23

    Geez! 11 percent is a very good offer, Press Zuma should take a strong stance and adress the Striking Nation imediatly. We don't need this now and the offer is NOT unrealistic- The world is watching us!

  • Brent - 2010-05-17 13:23

    Whatever, the fact is that they are using the world cup to get what they demand. Stuff the whole country in the process!!! Could they not wait for the SWC to finish before making their demands?

  • CTheB - 2010-05-17 13:23

    "We're not getting our way so therefore the employers clearly don't care about the workers." The unions claim to care about the workers, but demonstrate through their actions that they don't. How come they expect businesses to be any different? Why must the business "step off its inflexible pedestal" given that they've already doubled what they were originally offering. If anyone's being inflexible, it's the unions.

  • GF.A - 2010-05-17 13:26

    These union people must be sued for damages and held liable for losses especially for small and emerging businesses.

  • SoSad - 2010-05-17 13:29

    That's right, tear the country apart. Someone else will pick up the pieces and it won't be you. How's JZ working out for you? Want to try Malema next or go straight to Mugabe?

  • Ian D - 2010-05-17 13:36

    8% was more than enough - still 3% above inflation! Why should parastatals and their govt buddies get these ridiculous increases? Privatise the ports, railways etc and let's get this country moving!

  • DangerGirl - 2010-05-17 13:41

    The harbour situation as it stands, with the mounting back log, one week into the strike AJ will take 3 MONTHS to clear!! The world cup cargo will more than likely only surface in the market a month after it's completed. Transnet are using the world cup as leverage, which should not be tolerated. Zuma must step in and take charge of the situation and soon.

  • PM - 2010-05-17 13:50

    Come on Zuma! Stop pussy-footing around Cosatu, show some GUTS for once and sort this out today. Left to run this strike spells World Cup disaster with Eskom's record and emergency generators still on the water and time running out for them to be installed in time. Just imagine a BILLION people watching out lights go out.

  • James - 2010-05-17 13:59

    I think it is typical of all the unions to threaten with strikes , right now before the SWC. It is quite clear that they have no understanding what serious consequences a failure of this event would have on all SA citizens. Already crime and rip-off pricing structures have started by scaring off tourists.

  • Chris - 2010-05-17 14:26

    Really Disappointing, It is a real pity that the other issues, like executive Salaries,bonuses,trust issues and smaller matters like maternity leave, etc. clouded the negotiations, other issues relating to pay disparities should have been dealt with as separate issues rather than deal with all grievances simultaneously. I don’t believe there is enough consultation on an ongoing basis instead off all out War during Wage Negotiations. What the Transnet Management should be asking their Human Resources Department is how many of their employees are receiving Debt Counseling and find out WHY? We can only hope that Sanity prevails.

  • Bonganini - 2010-05-17 15:09

    Get rid of the "strikers" that's not happy with 11%, there is a lot of unemployed people that will happily fill the places.... How to get rid of them??? Well there's many way's to kill a cat if you really are desperate enough....

  • TOMO - 2010-05-17 15:12

    STRIKE...........its almost as commom as asking for coffee in SA. all strikes should be banned, negotiate relevant issues around the table and keep the country moving. IDIOTS

  • Teboho Khumalo - 2010-05-17 15:27

    For the sake of the country & the continent at large, I appeal to the government to intervene in order to save the embarassment i.e economy, world cup etc. I also appeal Transnet to move with 1% to 12%, I believe since the Unions moved to 13 they'll also move 1 down. I call on Public enterprise & Transport Ministers to help. TD Khumalo Tshwane Regional Chairperson (SARWHU)

  • Casper - 2010-05-17 15:28

    The Utatu and others should know that by calling on other unions to support them in their strike for wages way above inflation rate they are really on a dangerous route. They may win now but later they are going to cry. Transnet should not yield to this irresponsible union behaviour. What did the striking unions do to increase their productivity?

  • mike - 2010-05-17 17:03

    Go Transnet. Don't give into these thugs. They know the WC is around the corner and should put these type of actions on hold until after the event. This would truly show they have the best interest of the country at heart. Transnet should start reducing their offer by 1% per week. ie 10% Monday--- next week 9%

  • GertPeens - 2010-05-17 19:24

    Why did Transnet offer 11% in the first place, clearly they gave in too early. CPI at 5%!

  • Brakenjan - 2010-05-18 09:58

    Welcome to Africa! Yeah let's make sure the whole world knows we are unreliable and don't give two hoots if we mess up the economy or future foreign investment, lets mess up the import and export business while we are at it, we want our increase even if it means we have to bring the whole country to it's knees. Personal thanks to the strikers and the unions for messing up our businesses and showing your fellow South Africans you don't care about the country! Fire the lot of them and replace them with the millions of unemployed people who would work for their wages with a smile! This would have been resolved long time ago if the unions didn't demand such a unreasonable increase, 15% is really way over the top, any person with some common sence knows that!

  • chantel - 2010-05-18 12:18

    To Brakenjan and all the others. If you don't work for Transnet don't wash your mouth out. Why must the train drivers and assistants and cleaners etc be happy with only 7 % increase like last year, but management got 14 % increase last year. management will probably get 35 % increase this year if they sign with the unions for 15 %. This is unfair to our kids who don't see their dad's that is working their asses off for Transnet during night shifts and long hours. When they are on duty for more than 12 hours (which is unpredictable) they don't always have enough food with them or are near a shop to buy them somethings. WAKE UP AND KEEP YOUR NOSE OUT OF TRANSNET'S BUSINESS. Some of the people did go back to work today as the management don't want to give in. THAT IS A BIG TRAGEDY.

  • JLS - 2010-05-18 12:26

    It is about time that the world know what people are really earning. Train drivers are totally overpaid in this country and their salaries must be reduced by at least 50%. Why must train drivers earn more than R30 000 per month! The poor house doctors work much more hour where they are actually working, not just sitting waiting for kombi's and earn less than half that of a train driver!

  • Casper - 2010-05-18 15:39

    Chantel, you and your union cronies should have put your noses in and complained when management got 14% increase but you very conveniently kept quiet at that time sodat you now think you have an excuse to claim increases way above inflation rate. What did you and your union cronies did to increase your productivity? But you claim.

  • Brakenjan - 2010-05-18 16:04

    30K, that is a big salary for a train driver, 13K to 15K is the average wage when working as a train driver in the EU and that includes working weekends. Time for a reality check I would say...

  • chris - 2010-05-19 09:05

    to many managers vs employees top management 40% bonuses of znnual sallary wow thats mega bucks

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