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Cosatu says Transnet crisis could lead to jobs bloodbath

Former Transnet CEO Portia Derby

Former Transnet CEO Portia Derby. Photo: Twitter

Published Oct 2, 2023


Durban - Labour federation Cosatu said the resignation of Transnet CEO Portia Derby came amid serious challenges with rail infrastructure due to vandalism, cable theft and destruction.

Derby was accused by labour unions and industry bodies of failing to turn around the fortunes of the entity. She resigned from her position on Friday, having spent three years in the position.

Cosatu’s Matthew Parks said Cosatu is extremely worried about the looming proposed retrenchments of up to 35 000 mine workers.

“Several companies in the mining sector have announced plans to retrench workers. Glencore has announced that 214 jobs at its iMpunzi coal mine in Mpumalanga may be affected. Seriti Power has initiated the Section 189 process at its Klipspruit, affecting up to 800 jobs. Both companies have cited the massive reduction in shipping coal exports by Transnet Freight Rail and the backlog in processing exports at our ports.”

Parks warned that if the crises at Transnet is not dealt with decisively, then 35 000 mining jobs and even more indirect jobs were at risk.

“This will plunge these workers into absolute poverty. Transnet is key to transporting mining, manufacturing, and agricultural products to their markets. Millions of workers’ jobs depend upon Transnet’s efficient management, continuous investments and protection from criminals.”

Parks said the consequence of Transnet’s rapid decline is now being felt by critical sectors and their workers.

“Transnet Freight Rail’s capacity has deteriorated from a previous peak of transporting 80 million tons per annum to a shocking 50 million tons.

“The decline in Transnet is plunging the state into a fiscal crisis as the mining, manufacturing and agricultural sectors are key sources of tax revenue for the state and earnings for the economy. Public services will be squeezed to the point of collapse directly due to the crises at Transnet,” Parks said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa met with business last week, where they agreed to tackle challenges in the ports and logistics sector.