Truck strike ends but Satawu holds out

2012-10-09 13:20

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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  • freddie.miff - 2012-10-09 13:47

    I love how business articles on this site refer to SA as Africa's biggest economy. They must enjoy it while it lasts, which will not be for much longer. Egypt's economy is 94% of ours and Nigeria's 75% and closing with double the growth rate of our paltry 3%. At this rate Egypt will overtake SA within three years and Nigeria four years later. We used to be the worlds biggest gold producer a decade ago, now we have dropped to fifth, all this even before the strikes. Tri-partite alliance handbook... "How to stuff up an economy for dummies."

      freddie.miff - 2012-10-09 14:33

      Yes, we have an uneven society with the 2nd worst Gini coefficient in the world. This needs to be corrected, but that must be done by growing the pie, not redistributing a shrinking one.

  • ditantane.kganakga - 2012-10-09 14:19

    this will just mean more trucks will be attacked by the remaining striking workers (just avoiding to say satawu members).

  • hitting.thefan - 2012-10-09 14:33

    It is now a fashion in S.A. to have these strikes and demand increases that has no concrete foundation to it, I want 12%, why do want 8%, I want 8% because of Marakana. Yes next year I want 15%. Incredible.

  • Erna - 2012-10-09 15:34

    Are we expected to be grateful now? Many of us satisfied with a small increase, but they just demand, demand, demand till their salaries are more than a qualified person's with years of experience.

  • klasie.kitshoff - 2012-10-09 16:34

    The whole Cosatu is slowly moving into "check mate"!

  • nataliepv - 2012-10-10 00:03

    OMG I didn't know that unions have more power than the Government and the president??looks like we have been doing everything wrong!show you exactly how pathetic the ANC really is!!come on people open your freakin eyes!

  • grenville.felton - 2012-10-10 14:53

    The unions are parasites who prey off the poor works, in return the union bossess earn fat pay check and drive luxury cars supplied and bought by union members.Zuma and his croonies are not too worried about the strikes it not effecting them, We the tax payers keep them a float, think its time we stricked dont pay your taxes for a month or two then we will see action.

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