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South African truckers set to strike

Damian Brett | Tue, 25 Jan 2011

Action could bring country’s supply chain to a halt

The South African supply chain is braced for strike action by truck drivers, as their unions meet to discuss wage negotiations with employers.

Four leading drivers’ unions are holding meetings with their members this week to discuss wage demands and terms of employment before showdown talks with the Road Freight Employers Association (RFEA).

The SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), Motor Transport Workers Union (MTWU), Professional Transport Workers Union (PTWU) and Transport and Allied Workers Union of SA (TAWUSA) are seeking a mandate to strike.

Given the go-ahead for strikes, the unions would only need to give employers 48-hours’ notice of any industrial action.

IFW understands the unions are calling for wage increases of 20% over the next two years, and will also ask for a housing allowance, reduced overtime and reduced working hours for certain members of staff, as well as a ban on labour brokers in the industry.

They have, however, indicated that they are willing to negotiate on the wage demands, but RFEA has only offered a 7.5% increase in 2011 and a second 7.5% increase in 2012.

RFEA employs about 65,000 people, 51% of whom are members of the four unions.

Commentators have suggested that an all-out strike would bring the country’s supply chain to a halt.

The four unions negotiate with RFEA through the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry, and the two sides have been in deadlock since December.

The unions initially announcing they planned to strike in the middle of last month, but action was put on hold to allow negotiations to continue.

The MTWU said that non-members could also join in the strike action.

Are the South African unions right to strike?
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