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Local truck drivers’ issue strike warning for April 30, protest over hiring of foreign nationals in the industry

Trucks and cars are seen taking a bend on a highway.

Trucks on the N3 between Johannesburg and Durban. The All Truck Drivers Forum and Allied South Africa are set to hold a strike on April 30. File Picture: Karen Sandison African News Agency (ANA)

Published Apr 26, 2023


Durban - Disgruntled truck drivers will be striking on April 30 over long-standing issues related to the employment of foreign drivers in the industry.

All Truck Drivers Forum and Allied South Africa’s Sifiso Nyathi said the strike would demonstrate the power of the local drivers, and serve as a warning that they should be taken seriously.

He accused truck owners of overlooking local drivers and opting to employ foreign drivers, who offered cheap labour.

The issue of foreign truck drivers being given preference for employment has been raised for the past three years by local driver associations.

An inter-ministerial committee of various government departments, including Transport, Home Affairs and Labour and Employment, was set up in 2021 to look into the matter.

“The fact is we have been calling for the matter to be attended to by the government and truck owners, but our appeals have fallen on deaf ears,” said Nyathi.

Asked why they had chosen a weekend date for their strike action, Nyathi said the strike would still have an impact.

“Whether it is a weekend or not, the fact is trucks move goods across the country all the time, and therefore the impact of our action will be felt,” he said.

Road Freight Association CEO Gavin Kelly said they were aware of messages circulated on social media about strike action, and warned about the impact of such a move.

“Shutdowns create long-term, negative consequences to the logistics supply chain and the economy. Jobs are lost. Revenue (both to companies and to employees) is lost. Tax revenue is lost. Business confidence is lost. International trade and investment is lost. Inevitably, opportunistic criminality and violence occur,” he said.

Kelly appealed to disgruntled drivers to follow the normal rules of engagement to avoid long-term effects that would be brought by a strike.

“We are all losers when shutdowns happen (as in the South African economy and citizens). In addition, compliant trucking companies (operators) are always caught up in these activities – again and again.

“The Road Freight Association has called on those who drive such activities to address their concerns with the relevant authorities, and to assist these authorities in providing details of the non-compliant transport companies so that the necessary relevant action can be taken,” he added.

Kelly expressed hope that the relevant authorities, including the SAPS, would show the same resolve in dealing with any illegal activities creating a shutdown of supply chain routes, as was shown in the previous national shutdown.

President of Truckers in South Africa Mary Phadi warned that the strike would be a massive blow to the country’s already battered economy.

“The fact is that we all need each other, and so our appeal is that the drivers should not embark on strike action, but should rather come to the negotiation table,” she said yesterday.

Department of Transport spokesperson Lwazilwaphesheya Khoza was not available for comment.