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S. Africa Transnet Strikes Intensify

Transnet workers protest as a labour strike continues in Durban, October 12, 2022.

South African freight rail and port workers who have been on strike since last week over wage disputes, Thursday rejected a pay offer from the state-owned logistics firm Transnet and vowed to continue striking until their demands are met.

Authorities at South Africa’s state-owned logistics firm Transnet say its employees have rejected a pay offer that was proposed on Tuesday, which would have witnessed employee wages increasing by 4.5 percent, with an additional annual increase of 5.3 percent over the next two years and a 4.5 percent increase in medical insurance allowances that would have been distributed this year.

Officials at the United National Transport Union, UNTU, and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, SATAWU which represent majority of the workers at Transnet, say the state-owned logistics firm is being unreasonable with its employees.

Cobus van Vuuren, the Secretary General at UNTU said the unions rejected the Transnet offer and vowed to continue striking.

“UNTU has rejected this offer and so has SATAWU, we indicated to Transnet that they are not being responsible and reasonable,” said Van Vuuren.

“The strike will be intensifying today and over the coming days, picketing will also be intensifying,” added Van Vuuren.

UNTU and SATAWU’s union leaders said there was joint agreement to stick to the demanded 7.6 percent wage increase which would relate to South Africa’s annual inflation rate.

In a statement released Thursday, SATAWU said it received the Transnet offer “with great sadness” and echoed UNTU’s sentiments on continuing the strike.

“SATAWU is going to intensify the strike on the streets until the employer does the right thing,” read the statement.

A Transnet worker protests as a labour strike continues in Durban, South Africa, October 12, 2022.
A Transnet worker protests as a labour strike continues in Durban, South Africa, October 12, 2022.

Transnet authorities say meeting their employee demands would be unsustainable because wages at the state-owned logistics firm already account for 66 percent of its annual expenses.

South African officials Wednesday said the Transnet strike is destined to impact the southern African nation’s economy.

Officials add, the strike is already impacting the exporting of minerals and fresh farm produce.