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Durban - Cosatu in KwaZulu-Natal will embark on industrial action aimed at highlighting the harsh working conditions of truck drivers.
The labour federation said it would hold a picket at the premises of Sagekal Logistics, the Phoenix truck company whose 18-wheeler truck was involved in the Fields Hill crash which killed 23 people.
The picket is planned for October 7, the International Day for Precarious Work.
Cosatu provincial secretary, Zet Luzipho, said the company would be targeted because the federation felt it displayed some of the worst working conditions in KZN.
“As Cosatu we have got the responsibility to protect the interest of workers. It cannot be right that the worker is given the tools of work - in this case a truck allegedly with faulty brakes - by the employer.
“But when there is an accident, the employer is quick to blame the driver even before the court cases are completed,” he said.
Luzipho was referring to statements by Sagekal Logistics which recently alleged that Sanele May - the 23-year-old driver involved in the crash - had been driving using fraudulent papers.
Cosatu believes there is a connection between harsh working conditions in the transportation industry and the number of road accidents.
“Actually we have been saying this since 2003 as Cosatu. It’s a pity that it has taken this accident for people to pay attention.”
Employers in this sector should also shoulder the blame for some of the crashes, Luzipho said.
He said it was possible that in some cases, the employers were involved in facilitating fraudulent papers for drivers so that they could get cheap labour.
The provincial executive committee (PEC) of Cosatu, which met last week, also requested Cosatu affiliates such as Nehawu, Popcru, Sama, and Satawu to play an active role and to intensify the road safety campaigns.
Cosatu said it was still going to engage with these unions as it wanted them to take charge of these programmes.
“This could mean that Popcru members, for instance, who are employed by the police could volunteer their time on road safety programmes, but this would have to be done within the confines of the law,” Luzipho said.
The PEC said a meeting would have to be convened between Cosatu and the departments of transport, labour and home affairs to talk about the law enforcement matters.
Sagekal Logistics’ publicist, Lisa Sukdel, had not responded to questions and requests for comment from the Daily News at the time of publication.