Johannesburg - The South African fruit industry appealed to
the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) on Wednesday not to involve
railway and port workers in the ongoing freight industry strike.
"Around 460 000 people are employed full-time in the
fruit industry and 2 million people are dependent on their income,"
Fruit SA chairperson Justin Chadwick said in an open letter.
The industry was the worst affected by the Transnet strike
of 2010, when R150m was lost.
"The fruit industry's supply chains were severely
disrupted and in some cases export contracts were permanently lost."
While the fruit industry acknowledged the right to strike,
it asked that the livelihoods of workers in other industries be considered.
"Reliable transport services for perishable products
are vitally important for the fruit industry and the economy in general, and
when they come to a halt, both the sector and the economy suffer," said
The strike, which began on September 24, has been marked by
violence and intimidation, although Satawu has blamed this on criminals who
want to tarnish its reputation.
Federation of Unions of SA general secretary Dennis George
said three trade unions - excluding Satawu, which is the largest - had agreed
to adjust their pay demand in an attempt to end the protracted strike.
George said it was decided to facilitate a meeting of the
three smaller unions after talks between unions and employers broke down on
He said the unions agreed they wanted a two-year rather than
a three-year agreement because of the unpredictability of financial conditions
"We are hopeful that these constructive proposals will
facilitate a break in the deadlock and take us forward."
Satawu, which represents about 28 000 workers in the strike,
was not included in the unions' new agreement.
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