The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) has pledged to continue the strike at Transnet, calling the entity’s three-year wage deal with the United National Transport Union (UNTU) a “betrayal” of workers.
On Monday afternoon, Transnet announced that it had reached a three-year agreement with the UNTU, the largest union at the bargaining table under the auspices of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
The agreement, which runs from April this year to the end of March 2025, includes a 6% increase in the first year, a 5.5% increase in the second year and a 6% increase in the third year.
The deal comes after a week-long strike at Transnet rocked port operations and disrupted exports and imports. Estimates are that the strike could cost the South African economy up to R1 billion a day.
Transnet said in a statement that it would now focus on clearing backlogs and addressing low staffing levels at ports and railways due to industrial action that has lasted for weeks.
In its own statement, the UNTU said that although the 6% increase is not exactly equal to the consumer price index (CPI), it is much closer to it than the initial offer of 1%.
But Satawu criticized Transnet and the UNTU over the deal in a statement released late Monday night.
“The decision in question not only disadvantages but correspondingly undermines the interests of the working class, low-income earners, in particular. It demonstrates that the working class is not homogeneous but is divided from a stratification, theoretical, conscious, social and economic point of view,” Satawu’s statement read.
The statement said the removal of a “non-restriction clause” and the power of Transnet to restructure all areas of its business for economic or structural reasons would be a setback for all bargaining workers.
“Regardless of the employer’s commitment to abide by all provisions of its existing recognition agreement and applicable law, material reality dictates that the scourge and whip of the cutbacks will be directed at the base,” says the press release.
“In summary, our industrial action must continue as planned regardless of the betrayal in question,” the statement added.