Transnet faces strike after unions reject its 4% across-the-board offer
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UNION leaders at state-owned South African freight logistics group Transnet said they planned to pursue a strike after their members rejected a 4 percent across-the-board wage hike offer.
The United National Transport Union (Untu) and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) said their members had rejected the offer, which was one percentage point higher than Transnet had put on the table.
“We have just sent communication now to the bargaining council to say we've had quite a bit of response and the response was to reject the offer,” John Pereira, a deputy general-secretary of Untu, said yesterday.
“Both unions have rejected the mediator's recommendation of 4 percent and the unions want one thing only and that is a certificate to strike,” said Jack Mazibuko, the general secretary of Satawu.
The certificate will allow the two largest unions at Transnet, representing more than 75 percent of the total workforce of around 48 000 staff, to give the company 48 hours notice before embarking on a protected strike.
Any prolonged strike at the state-owned company in charge of South Africa's port and rail freight network could affect key exports of vehicles, grain and mineral ore, just as the country tries to get its struggling economy working again.
Transnet said it believed the non-binding offer recommended by the mediator, though unaffordable, was acceptable as a means to arrive at a quick settlement, given the “current operational and financial challenges the company continues to face”.
“The demand by the unions is simply unaffordable in its current form,” Transnet said, adding that any solution must have due regard to the sustainability of the company.
South Africa faces a raft of crippling strikes over wages, from the public sector to city waste removers, as unions try to eke out the most for their members in a pandemic-battered economy with massive unemployment.
“We will decide when is the best time to strike for maximum impact,” Untu's Pereira said.