No end to violent trucker strike

2011-02-15 09:04

Johannesburg - If the demands of the four striking freight unions were not met at a meeting with employers on Tuesday, the nationwide strike would continue, the Professional Transport Workers Union (PTWU) said.

"If the employer refuses it, it will mean that we will continue with the national strike," PTWU spokesperson Reckson Baloyi said.

This came after trouble erupted during protest action on Monday.

Four freight workers were injured after police fired rubber bullets in a protest that turned violent in the Johannesburg city centre.

It started at midday when the protesters, including those from the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), smashed the windows of 10 trucks, pulled drivers out of their vehicles and forced them to join the march.

"The protest turned violent on Rissik street at about 12:20," said metro police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar.

"The protesters smashed the windscreens of trucks. The situation was tense.

"Later in the afternoon the situation had calmed. The metro police and members of the SA Police Service were keeping a close watch on the protesters..."

Baloyi said the unions would meet with the Road Freight Employers Association (RFEA) in Boksburg at 10:00 to negotiate their demands.

"We are going to negotiate in good faith to resolve the strike," Baloyi said.

The unions involved in the wage dispute are the PTWU, Satawu, the Motor Transport Workers Union (MTWU) and the Transport and Allied Workers Union of SA (Tawusa).

The workers are demanding an increase of 20% over the next two years and the banning of labour brokers.

The RFEA was offering an increase of 7.5% across the board for 2011 and a further 7.5% increase for 2012.

The wage talks between the unions and RFEA deadlocked in December.

Truck drivers started a go-slow on Sunday.

Baloyi said cash-in-transit drivers should receive an increase of 17% and truck drivers an increase of 10% - and only then would they "settle as unions".

  • Dnt8 - 2011-02-15 09:22

    I will support these guys them their worth because without them we won't have our daily food, bread, newspaper, petrol....ect. Think about it

  • robgun - 2011-02-15 09:29

    Inflation was 3.3% YOY for Jan 2010 - Jan 2011. How do these morons motivate this type of increase (besides through their use of extrotion and violence). Most people would be lucky to get more than 4%

  • mikeh - 2011-02-15 09:31

    And the government sits idly by and lets these mother truckers hold the country to ransom. Another reason for overseas companies not to invest in South Africa. Why are the police not more active at toll plazas where strikers are intimidatind truck drivers who are working? If they get this over inflated demand then they will strike repeatedly with unrealistic demands. One hears os some truck drivers earning very low wages, so introduce a minimum that is reasonable and not an across the board increase where some drivers are earning very good wages. The unions will really harm the economy and then the governmunt target of creating jobs will be a non event.

  • stack - 2011-02-15 09:34

    We have just been informed that one of our drivers has been forcibly removed from his vehicle and they have taken him and the vehicle keys... pinetown kzn. His assistants are hidng nearby from a very angry bunch of people and our customers are too scared to offload their vehicle. This is nonsense - by all means strike but violence is ridiculous - he is not a union member and is working to feed his family

  • Nick - 2011-02-15 09:48

    striking is killing this country. where do they thing the money is coming from? Increases are not a right but dependent on far more factors than just a "demand" - get back to work, if you don't like the wages, look for a better job and give yours to someone who will be willing to put in an honest days work and be grateful.

  • John Clark - 2011-02-15 09:49

    These jerks don't use rubber rocks and rubber crowbars when attacking those who wish to work - the police show too much restraint. Live ammunition is the only thing that will get these idiots to understand that violence is not inherent with the right to protest.

  • mark - 2011-02-15 10:03


  • 50 CALIBER - 2011-02-15 10:27

    Dear Mr. President, So sorry for striking but we are very hungry. I cannot feed my fifteen children on these small wages. You promised us HEAVEN,ONE CHICKEN AND ONE 'T' SHIRT if we vote for you. Thank you for already giving us HEAVEN. We HEAVEN got jobs We HEAVEN got food We HEAVEN got running water We HEAVEN got electricity EISSHH BABA, EISSHH.

  • Shan - 2011-02-15 10:40

    Strike Season has started again. Demand, demand, demand I am so sick of the Entitlement Brigade. Better to have a salary than no salary at all. The whole lot should be fired, as there are plenty others to take their place and would be grateful to have employment. The employers should dock their salaries to compensate for the malicious damage to property. Unfortunately our Labour Laws protect idiots like these.

  • DANIE - 2011-02-15 10:42

    We have received a letter from a renown Transporter with their official letterhead informinig us that 5 truck drivers were pulled of their vehicles and shot dead in cold blood, anyone know about this? Nothing in the news.

  • ant - 2011-02-15 11:02

    For some reason nobody seems to understand that by giving all current employees huge increases on demands, every company will only be able to employ a certain amount of employees which in time will once again lead to strikes about few people having to work preposterous hours & shifts. Stop being greedy, be glad you have jobs, rather allow more people to be employed by one company (which in turn allows you to be able to go on leave etc) and slowly but surely we will be decreasing our unemployment problem. I really wish people would start thinking pro active about these situations. And @ Dnt8 - There will always be someone who would do the work, without out them, they would also not have daily food, bread, newspaper, petrol etc. Think about it.

  • tinyT - 2011-02-15 11:02

    I will never ever support a strike if the strikers act in a violent manner. There is never a good enough excuse to hurt another person or cause damage to their possesions. We are all struggling to survive and you have no right to possibly destroy everything one has. The second a strike causes damage to property or to people, their wages should be docked to repair the damage and any chance of an increase banned.

  • Stephan - 2011-02-15 11:03

    Dnt8 - If only it was as simple as that my friens! The same food you are worried about will cost you 110% more. And before you can feed yourself into a frenzy,there is someone that needs to flash this additional cash before he/she can recover it from a client - if indeed it can be recovered. So, maybe your 110% support is not really the simplistic Eutopia you thought it to be!

  • Rendz - 2011-02-15 11:30

    I side with the drivers, they are actually paid in a very informal mannor ,and these work very unreasonable hours..........and remember these are the poeple that enhance the availability of almost all the products that live by yaa they must be given an ear.. THANK YU

  • Pipes - 2011-02-15 11:31

    It is not the 'labour laws' that allows this type of violent action. Yes, strike action could be legal but violence and intimidation most certainly are not. And in SA history has shown that where COSATU unions are involved, no strikes take place without violence/intimidation. Last year matric pupils were beaten up by union thugs. Now whose fault is this ? Unless the Government is prepared to act swiftly against the thugs (not the peaceful strikers) by bringing in the SAPS riot squads and maybe the army (or what's left of it) we will always have deaths and mayhem during strikes. But guess what? The Government will not do what the Constitution expects of them - simply because they will risk losing a couple of COSATU votes during forthcoming elections. Only when COSATU can be held responsible in a court of law for the actions of their members, will we perhaps see some change...

  • Raven - 2011-02-15 11:46

    Being in the transport sector myself in a managerial position I know how drivers especially long distance are being downgraded by some employees. Money are subtracted without their consult, they spend long hours on the road, do not sleep enough, yet are being treated like pigs. Maybe the time has come for the transport owner to sweep before his own door. We need this people, to treat them with dignity and respect, ensures a loyal workforce in the end. Yet violence is not the way to sort out a grievance. We should listen!!!!!!!

  • Jack Ryan@dnt8 - 2011-02-15 11:53

    So dnt8.. By supporting these guys you also support the fact that they assault other drivers and break windscreens to get to them. So by default you would not mind if they pass your house/business and break the windows/doors and assualt your workers/family??? t is mos right because they are unhappy with their job?? Think a bit before making comments... This sense of entitlement is soooo frustrating

  • @Dnt8 - 2011-02-15 11:53

    "Pay them their worth". You my friend will end up paying as risings costs ALWAYS get passed on my friend.

  • George - 2011-02-15 11:56

    With 40% unemployment, these clowns should be grateful for jobs. South Africa defies all economic teachings in the way labour behaves in these circumstances.

  • Rikesh - 2011-02-15 12:16

    R5000 p/m to be on the road away from your family...these truckers deserve better salaries...Some of these bloody bigwig companies exploit their employees so Don't come with that bulldust story, "lucky to have a job..."

  • DANIE - 2011-02-15 12:32

    We have received a letter from a renown Transporter with their official letterhead informinig us that 5 truck drivers were pulled of their vehicles and shot dead in cold blood, anyone know about this? Nothing in the news

  • Nicov - 2011-02-15 12:35

    Who has any idea how many transport companies has closed down these last three years? 100 plus Maybee somebody can put this ugly fact on the table. How many will close down this year? That means no money at all!!! They are looking for intelligent life in space! Why? Is it because there is none down here?

  • ICe - 2011-02-15 12:37

    funny how people always want to compare the workers with the "big wigs" of the company, sure the drivers are on the road, worry about their family etc, but WHO must worry about the profitbality of the company, cash flow to pay salaries if a client makes a late payment, maintenance of the trucks so they can be on the road, which the drivers by the way need to make their money,unions keeps on throwing the threat that the economy will come to a standstill should workers strike, it works both ways, the employee needs the employer just as much as the employer needs the employee,

  • Enoch - 2011-02-15 12:39

    The right to strike should be immediately revoked should any act of violence or intimidation be reported. With every right is a concomittant resposibility.The Unions should have to put down deposits when applying for the right to strike, and if they cannot control their membership, they should lose their deposits and be billed for any additional damages caused. The solution is simple - it just needs some spine on behalf of the law makers to have it implemented.

  • Harksmith - 2011-02-15 12:41

    People are saying "pay them their worth". Absolutely agree with that, but the issue is then about how you define "their worth". Our economy runs on supply and demand, and pay is applied on the basis of skill and value. Yes, our country's drivers are a huge asset, but the rate for the job has been established for years. If you want to be a driver, then you know what the pay scale will be. You cannot accept the rate initially and then come with a demand that is 3 or 4 times the inflation rate. It will just rebound and hit all of us in the cost of living and you will lose you increase by paying the higher food prices which will happen as a result. Think!!

  • Dawie - 2011-02-15 12:53

    They must negotiate but acting violently to get you will is retarded and counter productive. Peaceful acts of non compliance is the only ethical wat. Smashing windows and forcing protest?? arent we past the stone age in this country?

  • KarinS - 2011-02-15 12:56

    @George, I agree @Mikeh @Rikesh, where do you get the R5,000 pm figure? I wonder if the public is aware that any increase in wages, results in an increase in all contributions the Company makes on behalf of employees? Therefor the 7,5% wages offered isn't just for the wage, but has a ripple effect. The negative side to this strike is that our Company doesn't make use of labour brokers. Also, that clients are now using the opposition (who have contract workers in place) for deliveries/collections. Does the Union realise that this has a direct effect on the Company's earnings? Also, where will the workers end up if the Company is unable to carry the strike, should it carry on for more than a week? The Company will be forced to go on a "short week", leaving the worker out of pocket with a day's wages. Is the strike then really worth it - more so, as the "no work, no pay" rule is in place. If one has a family to feed, you will think twice before taking to the streets. Voilence in strikes are unacceptable to me! Where is democracy in this Country? If a worker wants to work, how can a Union or co-workers force him not to?

  • MGG - 2011-02-15 13:33

    @robgun - I think your calculations are incorrect there buddy. Inflation (taking into account fuel, electricity, school fees, municipal fees etc, is well over 6% - these are OFTEN "conveniently left out of the economist's calculations - but affect the man in the street). These guys get paid peanuts - get fines deducted from their salaries for being caught overloaded, when in fact, the error lies with the loading point's weighbridge. Expected to drive long hours, in some trucks that are just NOT roadworthy so the operators can make all the cash - NOT RIGHT! I don't agree with the violence at all, however, being in the industry, I FULLY support their request for an increase of 20% over 2 years.

  • lenn - 2011-02-15 15:48

    violence is not a solution to any problem , in this case the unions need to engage their members immediately to stop these violent acts. checking the comments one can see that there are many people talking trash about drivers , people please understand that many drivers are exploited by our bigger transport companies if you take the time to inform yourself you would find that the non-striking drivers are most probably working for companies that do pay better and regard their employee as an asset and not as a burden.

  • angel - 2011-02-16 07:12

    they deserv it. im dating a driver and he is on the road most of the day . they should pay them!!!!!

  • ChrisS - 2011-02-16 09:20

    As a founder member of a courier company established in 1969, I must say the strikes are only applicable to my company regarding the Unions wage demands. For the record, the average cost of wage to 35 Union affiliated employees in my company is R 1,554-68 per employee per week. SATAWU is demanding a wage increase of 10% for 2011, which is an R155-47 increase per week. The employer is offering 7.5%, which is R 116-60 increase per week. SATAWU rejected the offer, sticking to their guns at 10% which is R38-87 per week more than the offer on their table. Notwithstanding the average loss of income per employee for each day on strike is R310-94. If the strike continues for e.g 4 x days, the loss of income per employee is R 1,243-74. Should SATAWU receive the 2.5% additional increase, by my calculations each employee will have to work for 32 weeks, to be at the point he would have been if the Union accepted the 7.5% wage increase. Taking the above into consideration, it is senseless for the Union to embark on a strike causing a disruption in business activities and the economy,including harming the goodwill between the respective employer and employee.

  • KarinS - 2011-02-16 09:45

    What is really upsetting about this strike is the violent form it has taken on. The attack on a White Male (owner) of a business (delivering his own goods) only to be beaten nearly to death is totally unacceptable! I also find it disturbing that even in-house staff, including the Manager, receptionist and general workers have joined the strike. Was this strike not meant for Drivers and to oppose labour brokers? Since when can a Union decide the whole spectrum of Union Members must comply with a strike, when in actual fact they don't even form part of the issues on hand? Their motto of "injury to one, injury to all" is absurd! What is most sad is to see the total number of delivery vehicles stoned and burned during the strikes. Do these people not realise this is the means to an income for both employer and employee? Also, that clients are the future of the company and if their goods are damaged, burned or lost it has a direct effect on future business. I believe a law should be passed by the Constitutional Court, where strike action should be limited to one day! That's all it takes to make a point and for all to notice that the workers are not satisfied. To attack another human being and to damage company property and clients’ goods are downright barbaric!

  • Madri - 2011-02-16 14:52

    My truck got BURNED down!!!! My driver asssaulted!!! We pay our drivers a very good salary. We treat them as family, and they are very loyal towards the company. They want to keep on working, despite of the current stike. We have desided to pull all the trucks (20)into our depo, the stakes are to high! The strikers are very voilent. Some drivers have been KILLED!! What about their families at home. Those drivers could have been the only income provider. But the strikers just want to demolish, kill and break down. All of this will have a ripple effect. My insurance premium might go up, drivers salaries might go up.... at the end the transport rates go up. So the price of bread, milk and eggs you buy will be 20% more expensive. We might even loose some contracts, because of the higher transport rate. Might have to sell trucks, drivers will loose their jobs. What then?? What about the 60 families that will be effected in my company. POVERTY!!!! I would like to repond to "Angels" remark: "THEY DSERVE IT!!!" Who are 'THEY"??? Do I deseve it for my truck and trailers to get burned down?? Althoug I pay my drivers a good salary. Do I deserve the fact that the company will be without the income of that truck for who knows how many months untill it been repaired. Do my driver deseve to be assaulted, or dare to risk his life for an income???? You deside.

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