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Richards Bay - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has said that its local office in Richards Bay will be marching to Transnet offices in that area on Friday. 

This comes after contractors at Transnet in Richards Bay Port staged a bizarre protest in May, using bulldozers to damage infrastructure and overturn police vehicles. At least 13 contract workers were arrested and charged with malicious damage to property.

At the time, Transnet Port Terminals said the protest was the result of an illegal strike by contract workers employed by materials handling company Radds at their facility in the Port of Richards Bay.

Numsa's Richards Bay local secretary, Charles Mohlala, said on Thursday that contractors were "fed up" with being treated like animals and the majority of them did not experience dignity and equality. 

Mohlala said the union expected at least 1,500 contract workers to join the march as all affiliates of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) would be represented, including secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi, adding that their march would be peaceful and they had obtained permission to hold it.

He said some of their grievances included an alleged sex-for-jobs scandal, corruption, equal pay for equal work, health and safety at workplace, as well as the banning of labour brokers. 

"Some Transnet managers are guilty of violating female workers by demanding sex in exchange for jobs," Mohlala said.

"Numsa is [also] calling for an independent enquiry into how Transnet awards tenders. There is no transparency in the tendering process which means that nepotism and cronyism are rife."

Transnet spokesperson, Molatwane Likhethe, was not immediately available for comment as his phone rang unanswered. 

Mohlala also accused Transnet of pay discrimination, saying that contractors and permanent staff fulfilled the same work for the same amount of hours, but the permanent staff were earning more than the contractors and receiving transportation, meal subsidies and other basic benefits.

"We want a ban on labour brokers. Some contractors have been on contract with Transnet for as long as 20 years without being made permanent.

In terms of health and safety, Numsa claimed contractors did not have access to dust masks or respirators, whilst permanent staff did, meaning that in an environment full of dust, workers were vulnerable to illnesses.

African News Agency