Mining wage

Bottleneck at ports as wage talks enter day three

Transnet and its recognized unions are due to meet again Wednesday morning for conciliation talks facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Transnet hopes that the United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Untu) and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) will formally present their position to allow the company to assess its feasibility.

This while taking into account the imperatives of affordability and sustainability for the company, in balance with the needs of the employees.

“Quick” resolutions

The first day of conciliation took place on Monday, and ended with the agreement and signing of picket rules and sites for the ongoing industrial action.

ALSO READ: Transnet strike is ‘the most appalling act of economic sabotage’

Transnet says it remains committed to resolving the current impasse quickly, to allow the company to focus its attention on sustainable turnaround and improving operations.

Strikes by Transnet workers began last week, after employees demanded a pay rise of between 12% and 13%.

The state-owned entity offered them a 3% raise, which the unions rejected.

Transnet employs over 50,000 people and employee salaries represent its highest overhead costs.
Meanwhile, the Federation of South African Trade Unions (FEDUSA) said it supported its affiliate, the UNTU, in the Transnet strike. FEDUSA said it notes Transnet’s willingness to continue to negotiate and improve conditions in their workplaces. However, he stressed that Transnet management must come up with offers that can be taken into consideration and that can also allow its workers to have some financial freedom.

Economic impact

Fears of bottlenecks at ports following the strike are looming. As it stands, the ports are already under immense pressure with demand from the mining sector.

The Minerals Council South Africa predicts a revenue loss of R50 billion this year for exporters of iron ore, coal, chrome, ferrochrome and manganese, measured in tonnages delivered against contracted rail volumes.

READ ALSO: Mining sector hardest hit by Transnet strike, economist says

The economy is expected to take an even bigger hit if the strikes continue.

South African Shipping Operations and Agents Association (Saasoa) Told Moneyweb the prolonged industrial action, comprising around 80% of Transnet’s workforce, will lead to large shipment backlogs and cost the economy.

Saasoa CEO Peter Besnard told the publication that millions of rand worth of freight may not end up on the shelves due to the strike. This at the approach of the end of year celebrations.

Transnet administrators pocket millions

The Alternative Information and Development Center’s senior economist, Dr. Dick Forslund, said The citizen Transnet’s top executives pocketed millions in salaries and pensions.

SOE’s low wage offer was based on a cost of 66% of payroll.

Forslund said Transnet’s 20 directors are “paid millions, with the highest paid earning R7.8 million”. This, he said, caused the company to lose “all moral authority to negotiate wages for ordinary workers”.

Additional reporting by Brian Sokutu and Moneyweb.