HomeNewsStriking South Africa truck drivers hold new wage talks

Striking South Africa truck drivers hold new wage talks


JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s transport union (Satawu) and employers held wage talks yesterday trying to end a two-week-old truck driver strike that has hampered deliveries of fuel, cash and consumer goods in the continent’s biggest economy.

The truckers have asked for sympathy strikes by port and rail workers. If paralysis spreads in the transport sector, it would be a further deterioration in investor sentiment that has pushed the rand to three-and-a-half-year lows against the dollar.

Large parts of the mining sector have been brought to a standstill in the last two months by wildcat labour unrest by more than 75 000 miners – about 15% of its work force.

Almost 50 people have been killed in the current labour strife – 34 of them shot dead by police on August 16 in the deadliest security incident since the end of apartheid in 1994.

President Jacob Zuma’s ruling African National Congress has been criticised for letting the strikes spiral. Moody’s ratings agency downgraded South African government bonds a notch last month, saying ineffectual governance was posing long-term economic risk.

More than 20 000 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 same period.

“We are willing to compromise on our demands, but only as long as the employers do the same,” said Vincent Masoga, spokesman for Satawu.

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

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