SATAWU (South African Transport and Allied Workers Union) who initially rejected a wage negotiation deal reached between Transnet and majority union UNTU (United National Transport Union), has called off its strike and has asked its members to go back to work as of the 20th Oct 2022.
News24 has quoted SATAWU spokesperson Amanda Tshemese as saying “We have appealed to our members to go back to work tomorrow morning. In the interest of the economy, the majority has signed and we just have to release our members.”
Tshemese is reported to have said that while the union still doesn’t agree with the current agreement between the majority union UNTU and Transnet management, it would address its issues internally.
SATAWU demanded a wage increase linked to South Africa’s year-on-year inflation rate, which was 7.5% in September, but UNTU and Transnet settled on a 6% increase for 2022, 5.5% in 2023, and 6% in 2024.
In an announcement commenting on the formal mandate from its members to return to work after the Transnet strike, SATAWU said “Even though the numerical majority opted to betray the struggle by secretly signing an anti-working class agreement with the employer, we have proven to be a cultural majority in areas of collective bargaining, organising and mobilisation. Our members expressed their real suffering by picketing at various sites of class struggle rather than stay-away from engaging in real collective and countervailing forms of action.”
Impact of Transnet Strike
As per the BankservAfrica Economic Transactions Index, South Africa’s economy contracted 0.7% in the second quarter and may be in a technical recession with this strike crippling a lot of key industries in SA including mineral and fruit exporters who suffered losses of millions of dollars per day.
While Transnet has started implementing its recovery plan, the primary focus will be on clearing the backlog of vessels at anchorage and alongside the bulk, break bulk and container berths..
Transnet has advised that all its 8 commercial ports remain accessible and priority is also being given to the evacuation of import cargoes/containers to create more fluidity in the ports..
Exporters of perishable goods such as berries, citrus, etc who were the most affected by the strike, and as per the Citrus Growers Association of South Africa, “Staffing levels across all the main container terminals have increased today, upwards of 80% and in some cases fully manned. The trend indicates that staff compliments could be fully manned very soon.”