Port Elizabeth - A small strike by members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA at the Ngqura Container Terminal outside Port Elizabeth has been declared illegal by the Labour Court.

Permanent Transnet employees who downed tools now have to return to work by 6am on Wednesday or face dismissal.

The Numsa members went on strike in April over transport allowances, working hours for particular tasks, and the use of labour brokers.

The strike was marred by violence, with the majority union at the port, the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) accusing Numsa of threatening its members who wanted to go to work with death.

Numsa in turn accused Satawu of slander and plans on going to court over the matter.

The two unions are meant to meet Cosatu over allegations that Numsa is “poaching” Satawu’s members at the port, but this meeting is yet to take place.

Transnet CEO Brian Molefe said today that the parastatal, through its employee assistance programmes, would help reintegrate the striking workers.

The Labour Court found that Numsa and its members had failed to follow procedures set out in the Labour Relations Act governing industrial action.

The court also said Numsa and its members were bound by existing procedural agreements between Transnet and its recognised unions. Numsa represents around three percent of Transnet’s employees.

The union was ordered to pay all Transnet’s legal costs.