Negotiations drag on into the night, but strike stays

By Time of article published Oct 1, 2012

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MPILETSO MOTUMI and Clement Manyathela

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A settlement is yet to be reached in the road freight transport strike with negotiations still under way last night.

And as negotiations continue, truck drivers are planning to march through the streets of Joburg to the bargaining council in Braamfontein tomorrow.

This comes after the Labour Court on Friday passed an interdict prohibiting worker unions and its members from obstructing public roads and workplaces, causing damage to any property and vehicles, committing any act of intimidation, public disorder and violence and carrying any weapons.

They were also interdicted from intimidating any person who did not voluntarily participate in the strike action. This included all non-striking employees in the industry.

But South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) spokesman Vincent Masoga said the interdict did not affect the actual strike.

He said their plan of action for the week, if they did not reach a conclusion with the employers, would include a national strike on Tuesday.

“We will be marching to the bargaining council in Braamfontein,” he said.

The week-long strike started last Monday when over 20 000 road freight transport industry members demanded a 12 percent wage increase.

The weekend talks came after the unions rejected the nine percent offered to them last Tuesday.

“We are still engaging in talks as no agreement has been reached,” said RFEA executive officer Magretia Brown-Engelbrecht.

But as the strike enters its second week, some non-striking drivers have expressed sympathy for their striking colleagues despite threats and violence.

Franse Sebola, a 44-year-old truck driver from Mpumalanga, says although his life is in danger for not joining the strike, he supports the strikers in their bid for a higher wage.

“Most of these truck drivers have families to look after, and the little money they earn is not enough,” he said.

Sebola, who supports his mother, wife and two children did not want to divulge how much they get paid but it is understood that a truck driver’s take-home pay is between R4 000 and R5 000 depending on overtime.

Sebola, who has been driving the length and breath of the country for the past six years, said he has to work overtime almost everyday to boost his salary. Sometimes he sleeps in his truck at the side of the road.

The company he works for has its operations in the Northern Cape, and Sebola is only able to visit his family every month end.

Since the strike started last Monday, several people have been injured and trucks damaged in incidents countrywide.

“We are scared… as long as you are driving a truck, you are in danger,” Sebola added.

He said while he was driving from the R21 on Thursday evening, he was shocked at the sight of a burning truck ahead.

“I then made my way back and chose an alternative route to get to my destination,” he said.

Satawu said on Saturday that truck striking drivers aligned to their union were not responsible for the acts of violence.

Satawu and the Motor Transport Union have distanced themselves from an alleged agreement between workers and employers in the Cash in Transit (CIT) sector.

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