View Full Version : South Africa truckers threaten mid-February strike

28-01-2011, 13:21
27 January 2011

South African truckers are threatening a nationwide strike from mid-February, a union official said on Thursday, which could snarl ports and raise food prices in Africa's largest economy.

There is a chance the labour action can be averted because South Africa's labour laws encourage mediation to prevent strikes and the employer has indicated it is willing to negotiate.

The South African Allied Transport Worker's Union (SATAWU), the biggest body in the trucking industry and three other unions are demanding a 20% salary increase over the next two years, housing allowances, shorter working hours and improved medical insurance.

"We don't think our demands are unjustified. Other sectors received increases above 10% and our demands are fair," June Dube, SATAWU's first deputy president, told Reuters.

The unions have not yet informed the trucking industry group, the Road Freight Association, that they have rejected its 7,5% wage increase for 2011 and 2012.

"Last week we invited unions for further negotiations and suggested possible mediation. There was no response and we are surprised by the announcement to strike," the freight association's Magretia Brown-Engelbrecht told Reuters.

If the labour action goes ahead it would see at least 51% of the 65 000 workers in the trucking industry strike, which includes drivers and administrative staff.

Last year several major unions, including those representing about 1 million state workers, won pay rises of more than double the rate of inflation, leading the finance ministry to say the deals posed a risk to the economy.