Strike looms in the road freight industry

A strike by members of unions in the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI) appears unavoidable if employers do not come to the table.

This is according to the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU).

Labour unions, including SATAWU, the Motor Transport Workers’ Union (MTWU), the Transport and Allied Workers’ Union of South Africa (TAWUSA) and the Professional Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (PTAWU), have declared a dispute after marathon wage negotiations did not produce an agreement.

Wage negotiations between unions and employer associations Road Freight Association (RFA) and National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA) started on 4 June but to date parties have not reached a settlement despite sittings carrying on till the early hours of the morning.

The four labour unions who represent more than 30% of the 105 000 workers in the industry are demanding an accumulative 32% across the board wage increase over three years while employers are offering only 18%.

Unions also want the minimum wage for cash-in-transit officers to be raised to R20 000 per month to compensate for the danger they face on a daily basis.

Following several protests by truck drivers that saw the N3 and N4 blockaded, unions have proposed minimum wage for Code 14 truck drivers be increased to R15 000 to discourage employers thinking they can exploit foreign nationals by paying them less than their South African counterparts.

Unions are also demanding R7 000 minimum wage for general workers. Employers have refused to raise minimum wages. Unions are also looking to limit the employment of foreign nationals to 25% within each company but employers contend this is a matter for Parliament to look into.

Taking into account the spike in cash-in-transit heists in the first half of this year, unions are demanding that each vehicle be manned by at least three people to ensure the safety of both the cash being transported and the officers.

Unions have also appealed to companies to provide officers with adequate artillery so they can protect themselves from heavily armed robbers. Labour also wants government to regulate the manufacturing of cash-in-transit vehicles so that safety features are standardised across the industry.

Parties now await the Commission of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to notify them of the dates during which wage talks will continue under its auspices.

Should these negotiations not produce a settlement, the CCMA will issue a certificate allowing unions to embark on industrial action.

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