Transnet strike poses risk to Western Cape agricultural exports: Provincial Minister

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Western Cape authorities say 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 says while marine services are functional, operations, especially at the container terminals, are limited.

She says the strike poses a risk to the province’s agricultural sector, which is highly export driven. Premier Alan Winde says the economy cannot take another hit like a strike.

He says the industrial action comes at a critical time as the economy is still emerging from the impact of COVID-19 and continuously grappling with the energy crisis.

Eastern Cape feeling the impact

The strike in the Eastern Cape is already starting to impact on imports and exports from the two harbours in Gqeberha.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber says their members are reporting that some of their operations are affected.

Impact on Eastern Cape:

Transnet employees 

Transnet employees say they will not back down.

Thembelani Madolo says inflation is much higher at the moment and the cost of living is also increasing.

“The amount that we are getting cannot sustain us from day to day. And now what we have requested from the employer is what we believe can sustain us and put food on our table. Petrol hikes, everything has gone up that has emanated from various things.”

Similarly, a mother and Transnet employee in Durban says she is battling to pay her children’s school fees.

“We are earning peanuts whereas our needs increase every year. We all know everything went up, cost of living is extremely high, municipal rates increased, school fees increased and even electricity and bonds everything increased except our salaries. That is why we downed tools; we want better living wage so we can afford basic needs. I have three kids; they are all in school, I cannot afford to pay school fees anymore.”

Unions vow to continue with strike

Striking unions, Untu and Satawu, at Transnet’s Bloemfontein depot have vowed to continue with industrial action over wages.

Representative of Untu Minette Meiring says, “If you look at the cost of everything today it is too expensive, the people are suffering. Some of them are single parents the only bread winners looking after the whole family. We are coming together today to say as workers we unite for management to start taking us seriously.”