All aboard for Transnet strike, says union
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA May 09 2010 08:18
The nationwide Transnet strike by the South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) would go ahead, but the United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu) was still undecided by Saturday.
Satawu spokesperson Jane Barrett said the union refused an offer made by Transnet of an 11% increase, seeing it as "too little, too late".
"The offer was made on a take it or leave it basis at the 11th hour," she said.
The United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu), who originally said they would join Satawu in the strike, said they would first present the offer to its members.
"As a responsible union we have decided to suspend the strike for two days and ask our members to consider the offer," said Utatu general secretary Steve Harris.
The Utatu management would meet on Tuesday to discuss the response of their 22 000 membership of Transnet employees.
"If our members come back and say they don't accept the offer we will be on the streets on Wednesday," said Harris.
Harris said Utatu had not signed any agreement, nor had they withdrawn their notice to strike.
Barrett said Satawu expected a 100% turnout of their over 18 000 members to join the strike and said even without Utatu the impact would be considerable. Transnet employed 50 000 employees, of which 87% was unionised.
Barrett said the Satawu negotiating team did not consult their members in declining the offer.
"The 11% offer is misleading in that there are other areas of the offer where there has been a reduction," she said. "In any event, the 11% offer is not in line with our current mandate for settlement."
Among other problem's with Transnet's offer, she said the union was not happy with the company's proposal on permanently employing contract workers, and a non-retrenchment clause that the union insisted on was removed from Transnet's offer.
The Satawu strike was expected to start on Monday. Utatu extended their deadline to Tuesday.
Satawu indicated that the strike would continue until their demands are met.
Both unions said in a joint press conference last week the strike would be the largest that South Africa had seen to date, with major effects on freight-rail services, ports and fuel lines in the country. - Sapa