DURBAN - The All Truck Drivers Forum (ATDF) said it was in support of the truck drivers’ protest which caused traffic to be backed up on the N3 highway in Harrismith on Tuesday.
Local truck drivers embarked on a nationwide shutdown, blocking both directions of the N3 with demands that freight companies remove all employed foreign nationals in the sector.
The protest comes a day after the truck drivers and small truck operators in the Eastern Cape blockaded the N9 and the N10 highways outside Middelburg.
ATDF general secretary Sifiso Nyathi denied that all participating drivers were their members. However, he said they were in support of their protest. He said the continual attack agenda on the sector must be brought to a stop.
“We are tired of addressing the issue of employment of foreign nationals for the past four years while no changes have been made. The companies and employees do not respect or comply with the rules and regulations of employment of the Department of Labour. The number of foreign nationals employed within the sector has grown rapidly and it continues to affect job opportunities for the citizens,” he said.
“There are a lot of companies across the country where you cannot even find one employee from this country. Foreign nationals are not hired because they are good drivers, professionals or experienced drivers, but because they agree to be underpaid. They allow the employers to pay them a salary that is three times less than the minimum wage. The salary that is supposed to pay one person in South Africa is divided to pay three people. The employers and investors are greedy.”
Nyathi said they were saddened that the government was opting for foreign nationals as drivers.
“We are not asking to be paid millions, but at least the minimum wage. Is that too much to ask? What is most disappointing is that even the ministers who have trucks do not employ South African drivers. We know they don’t want to register these drivers for UIF and provident funds. Our government is the reason why people in SA are unemployed,” said Nyathi.
N3 Toll Concessions spokesperson Anita Heyl said the situation in Montrose remained unchanged on Tuesday.
“The N3 toll route near Montrose remained closed due to an early obstruction by a number of trucks. Law enforcement has been deployed and continues to monitor the situation.”
Heyl said there were extensive traffic disruptions and delays between Tugela Plaza and Harrismith.
“Road users are advised to delay travel to this area until further notice,” she said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula, alongside Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi and the Eastern Cape MEC for Transport and Community Safety Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe accepted a memorandum of the list demands on Monday which negatively affects the drivers.