Truck owners meet with government ministers

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Truck owners say they are forced to hire foreign truck drivers because truck-driving is a scarce skill in South Africa.

They met with Police Minister Bheki Cele, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant and Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele on Wednesday.

The meeting followed last week’s blockade of the N3 near Mooi River in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, during which seven trucks were set alight.

An organisation representing truck drivers want companies to give South African drivers preference.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Avin Naidoo from Positive Freight Solutions has dismissed claims that the trucking industry hires foreign truck drivers as cheap labour.

“They are not employed purely to the fact of cheap labour. The minister will also clarify on it that we find that in South Africa an experienced truck driver is indeed a scarce skill. There is a gap for foreign nationals to be employed, but they are fully legal. Our companies are fully compliant and such that is why they have met the requirements for being employed by our companies.”

Cele says this statement by truck owners will be verified by the Department of Labour before coming to a conclusion.

“The Minister of Labour said not a single application has come through regarding this. Let’s respect what we have discussed up to this point, come with verification. This is the first meeting. I’m sure we will be briefing the people and the nation going forward on the matters. We need to come with verified, legit points as they are, rather than coming and guessing information of the nation.”