Truck driver protest on the N3 Toll Route obstructs traffic near Montrose in the Free State. File Picture: Twitter
Truck driver protest on the N3 Toll Route obstructs traffic near Montrose in the Free State. File Picture: Twitter

Freight industry faces labour inspections following protests over the employment of foreign nationals

By Zama Ngcoya Time of article published Nov 22, 2021

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DURBAN - THE Department of Employment and Labour will be holding an inspection focusing on regulations in the freight and logistics industry in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) in the Eastern Cape this week.

This comes a month after destructive protests by truck drivers, who alleged that foreign nationals took their work opportunities.

Disgruntled truck drivers blocked the N10 national route in Middelburg, Eastern Cape, and the N3 highway near Montrose, Free State last month.

The issue of foreign nationals working in the trucking industry has been a long-standing issue. In 2019, a task team was set up by the government to address the grievances after several attacks on trucks took place.

The department said its inspection and enforcement officials, migration officers from the Department of Home Affairs, SAPS and the National Bargaining Council for Road Freight and Logistics Industry would be coming together to address non-compliance in the road freight sector.

It said a launch event to detail the purpose of the inspections was expected to pave the way for mega blitz inspections led by Inspector General Aggy Moiloa.

It said it would direct their attention to compliance with the Immigration Act and other applicable legislation relating to foreign nationals.

The department added that it was responsible for ensuring there was compliance with the National Minimum Wage Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act, Employment Equity Act, Unemployment Insurance Act, Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, and the registration of truck drivers on the Employment Services of South Africa database.

Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi and Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula met disgruntled truck drivers in October in Middleburg, Eastern Cape.

After a lot of discussion, commitments were made. These included conducting regular inspections in the road freight industry to ensure that there was compliance with the applicable legislation, and dealing with undocumented foreign nationals.

Sifiso Nyathi of the All Truck Drivers Foundation, which has been very vocal about the hiring of foreign nationals in the industry, said the government needed to find more practical solutions and stop wasting resources on short-term ones.

He added that the employment of foreign nationals in jobs that did not require scarce skills was having a direct impact on the employment opportunities for local drivers.

“According to Section 38, local drivers are supposed to get first preference, but they keep pushing foreign nationals to get the jobs, and then claim it’s xenophobia when we complain. We want to reiterate that we don’t want foreign nationals driving trucks anywhere in the country,” said Nyathi.


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