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South Africa joins list of countries going through labour disputes in logistics sector

Workers belonging to some unions have embarked on a strike at the ports of Durban and Richards Bay in South Africa, resulting in work stoppages.

It has been reported that workers belonging to United National Transport Union (UNTU) and the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) rejected the latest pay offer by Transnet, the State Owned Enterprise that operates the port and rail facilities in South Africa.

Transnet initially offered a 1.5% increase on guaranteed pay effective 1st April 2022 along with a once-off ex gratia payment of ZAR10,000 before tax. On the 5th of October, it sweetened this deal, doubling its increase to 3% effective from 1st April 2022 payable end of October, but reduced its ex gratia payment to ZAR7,600 before tax to be paid at the end of the financial year in March.

In a statement, Transet said, “Transnet’s wage bill already accounts for 66% of the company’s monthly operating costs, and given the current operational and financial performance of the business, it would be ill-considered to offer unsustainable wage increases”.

“However, given the role that Transnet plays in the economy, it is equally crucial that everything possible is done to ensure that a strike is averted,” it added.

Reacting to the strike announced by UNTU and SATAWU, Transnet said that “Any strike action taking place presently is illegal and unprotected as the unions have not followed the prescript as set down in the Labour Relations Act prior to embarking on strike.

“We are assessing the impact on operations, and our priority is to ensure the safety of our assets and those employees who have reported for duty. A strike is not in anybody’s interest – not the workers, the company, or the economy,” as per Transnet spokesperson Ayanda Shezi.

In the event of mass industrial action, contingency plans will be implemented, and the company will do all in its power to ensure the safety of personnel and facilities. Staff have also been informed that the principle of no work, no pay shall be enforced,” added the statement from Transnet.

South Africa joins a list of countries currently going through labour disputes in the logistics sector with the USA, the UK, Germany, and France all going through similar situations in the recent past putting pressure on an already choked supply chain industry.

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