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Truck strike ends but Satawu holds out

Oct 09 2012 13:20 Reuters

A Shoprite Checkers truck was torched in Naledi, Soweto, on Monday afternoon (October 8 2012), allegedly by striking truck drivers. Picture: Lucky Nxumalo/City Press

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Johannesburg/Cape Town - About 15 000 striking South African truckers agreed to return to work on Wednesday, easing pressure on Africa’s biggest economy where two weeks of labour unrest in the transport sector have hit supplies of fuel, cash and consumer goods.

The decision on Tuesday by three small unions puts pressure on the biggest labour group, the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), which represents about 28 000 workers, to reach a deal and suspend its calls to widen the strike to ports and rails.

“We are willing to compromise on our demands, but only as long as the employers do the same,” said Vincent Masoga, spokesperson for Satawu. He was not immediately able to comment on the deal struck by the smaller unions.

“Three of the unions have agreed to suspend strike action,” a spokesperson for the employers association said. It was still in talks with all groups to hammer out a final deal.

An employers body said last week the freight industry was losing around R1.2bn in turnover each week due to the strike.

Affected companies include logistics groups Imperial Holding, Super Group, Grindrod, Barloworld and Bidvest. If the protests expand to rail and ports, they would hit exports of coal and other minerals.

The news that the truckers would return to work eased investors' concerns about widening strikes that could slow growth.

The rand, which fell to three-and-a-half year lows against the dollar on Monday on worsening investor sentiment about labour strife, firmed immediately after the news truckers would return to work, hitting a session high of R8.735.

Thousands of striking truck drivers have taken to the streets in often violent protests, demanding annual wage increases of 12% for two years - more than double the inflation rate.

Employers have offered a total 18% pay rise over that period. It held wage talks with Satawu on Tuesday.

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satawu  |  transport strike



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