Johannesburg - Over 20 000 employees of the road freight
sector were on strike over their pay increase on Tuesday, the SA Transport and
Allied Workers Union (Satawu) said.
"At major depots, workers have downed tools and there
is picketing at factories and warehouses," said Satawu spokesperson
Employees in the road freight sector - which includes truck
drivers - were demanding a 12% increase. Their employers had offered 8.5%.
The strike came when wage negotiations deadlocked after
protracted discussions since early June at the National Bargaining Council for
the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI), Satawu said.
Satawu, a Congress of SA Trade Unions affiliate, is the
biggest union in the four-union strike, with an estimated 28 000 members in the
road freight sector, said Masoga.
They ranged from drivers delivering fuel, to workers
associated with a truck network which travelled around the country or crossed
borders to neighbouring countries for other deliveries.
The other unions are the Transport and Allied Workers'
Union, the Professional Transport and Allied Workers' Union SA and the Motor
Transport Workers' Union.
The Road Freight Association, which represents employers,
told its members on its website: "Although unions are consulting members
on the proposal, the strike notice stands, so employees can strike..."
Masoga said the parties in the bargaining council were
expected to meet at the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration
at 3pm on Tuesday for further negotiations.
Satawu said the unions were aiming for an inflation-related
wage settlement of 12% across the board for implementation in 2013 and 2014.
They also wanted an equal increase for workers classified
under the council's extended bargaining unit.
Masoga said no marches were planned for Tuesday, but that
workers would gather at Beyers Naude Gardens, opposite the Johannesburg
Library, for news.
Notice was given for a strike from Monday, but the effects
were not immediately visible because it was a public holiday.
Comment from the NBCRFLI was not immediately available.
The Consumer Price Index for August was 5%.
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