‘Impact of prolonged Transnet strike likely to be devastating for SA’s economy’

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The Head of Ports, Transport and Logistics at law firm, Bowmans, Andrew Pike has issued a stern warning that the impact of a prolonged Transnet strike is likely to be devastating for the country’s economy.

Unions, United National Transport Union (UNTU) and South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) at the state port and rail utility have rejected Transnet’s latest offer of a four point five percent increase followed by a five point three percent for the following two years.

UNTU wants a 12% increment and SATAWU is demanding 13.5%.

Pike says the strike is a huge blow to an already struggling economy.

‘For each day of lost productivity, it takes 9/10 days to recover that and we have containers stacked up there that exporters are unable to come and collect  – potentially they are running massive storage costs but trucks can’t come in to the port to collect.

You have thousands of truck drivers who are earning nothing at the moment, you have fleet operators who are trying to meet their financial commitments because if a truck is not working it is no earning, It is an unquantifiable loss which is a real problem and a there’s a knock on effect and a huge blow to the economy.”

VIDEO: Transnet strike I Ports at standstill as talks between Transnet and unions deadlock:

Satawu has accused Transnet’s top management of stalling wage negotiations after talks deadlocked on Wednesday night.

Satawu and UNTU members are striking, seeking a wage increase of up to 13%, while Transnet is offering between 4 and 5%.

Satawu’s Deputy President, Nkoketse Sepogwane says, “The employer, late last night, regressed from the 5% they were offering to 4.5% and we deadlocked again. Then we decided to take a break again and go to the picketing lines with our members because the employer is not negotiating in good faith anymore and the employer is stalling. We thought the negotiations were progressing because of the involvement of the CCMA but the employer is just not pulling their side.”

VIDEO: Union members stick to double-digit wage increase as negotiations continue:

Economic recovery

Earlier, the Western Cape authorities said the ongoing strike by Transnet workers will be a major setback to the province’s economic recovery.

The Western Cape Cabinet met and was briefed by Provincial Finance and Economic Opportunities Minister Mireille Wenger. She outlined the impact of the strike, particularly on the Port of Cape Town.

Wenger said while marine services are functional, operations, especially at the container terminals, are limited.

She said the strike poses a risk to the province’s agricultural sector, which is highly export driven.

Premier Alan Winde said  the economy cannot take another hit like a strike.