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Labour union files wage dispute against Maritime Authority at CCMA

Satawu threatens if talks fail it will unleash a strike that would cripple the country’s coastline commercial activity. Picture Debbie Yazbek, file photo.

Satawu threatens if talks fail it will unleash a strike that would cripple the country’s coastline commercial activity. Picture Debbie Yazbek, file photo.

Published Apr 5, 2022

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SOUTH African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) yesterday filed a wage dispute with the Council for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) against the South African Maritime Safety Authority​ (Samsa) with sabre rattling of a crippling strike should talks fail.

The labour union yesterday gave indications it was being pushed to a breaking point point over wage increments and salary adjustments, which have not been addressed in the past two years as a shifting of musical chairs goes on in the board and executive levels of the authority.

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A strike by about 4 000 workers manning South Africa'’ shoreline for ship inspections and emergencies, including oil spills among other functions of the authority, would cripple the country's coastline commercial activity.

Satawu Maritime Sector Co-ordinator Thulani Dlamini said yesterday: “We filed a dispute with the CCMA this morning because there are things we are not successful in resolving internally. We hope this may lead to a resolution and we are going through the whole process.

“These discussions have dragged on for two years. We did not have wage increments or adjustments in all that time because we were told the board was still finding its feet but workers are weary of the wait now,” Dlamini said.

Dlamini said workers had demanded a 7 percent salary increment and package adjustments ranging between 12 to 35 percent for the different tiers of workers at the entity and would go on strike if all processes to resolve the impasse were not met.

“We cannot wait anymore, nothing has worked for the entire two years. At some point were were told the Board was being replaced and then when they came in they pleaded for time to understand issues. We’re kept waiting while Samsa goes on with its life. We want workers to be placed in the market range, the gap has widened very much in the last two years while we waited,” Dlamini said.

He said Satawu represented more than 75 percent of  the about 4 000 workforce, which was ready to down tools after exhausting the legal channels.

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“Ships coming into the harbours will not be inspected for sea worthiness in compliance with requirements and if there are emergencies on the coastline there will not be anyone to attend to them,” Dlamini said.

Samsa corporate affairs executive Vusi September was yet to respond to enquiries by late yesterday.

This comes as there have been new revelations of impromptu executive changes at corporate level.

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Samsa’s internal upheavals bubbled to the surface last year April with the suspension with pay of chief executive Sobantu Tilayi, company secretary Moyahabo Raphadu, and chief human capital officer Lesego Mashishi, with disciplinary investigations against them being instituted in November.

Sources said the process had still not been concluded.

Shade on corporate efficiency has also been cast with the lapse of tenure of acting CEO, Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane, who had been seconded until the end of March.

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Zama Conco, the chief financial officer (CFO) has been elevated to fill in the CEO vacancy while another staffer has been appointed to act in the CFO capacity.

“This brings into question efficiency and integrity at the  decision making processes of the organisation. An acting CEO who is really the CFO would not be immune from financial mismanagement because they have the ability to sign off or override decisions,” a source said.

In December, South Africa lost its seat on the International Maritime Organisation after failing to campaign for enough seats to keep it in the prestigious council, which makes decisions on marine practices the world over.

The implications are accreditation for South Africans working on international waters in any capacity, as Samsa is tasked with ensuring the credentials of individuals, vessels and projects undertaken off South Africa’s 3 000km shoreline, as well as losing the confidence of countries it partnered with off the ocean shores.

Some people looking for jobs on international waters may not be found eligible as the country’s standards are considered to be slipping after it failed to take care of issues at the Samsa level.

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