South African unions reject Transnet’s revised wage offer, continue strike

PUBLISHED: Thu, 13 Oct 2022 09:48:20 GMT
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Workers at South Africa’s state-owned logistics firm Transnet gather in front of ship containers as they continue on a nationwide strike outside the Port of Cape Town that could paralyse ports and freight rail services, amid talks to end a wage deadlock with the company, in Cape Town, South Africa, October 11, 2022. REUTERS/Esa Alexander

Oct 13 (Reuters) – South African rail freight and port workers have rejected logistics firm Transnet’s revised pay offer and vowed to continue a strike that started last week, a union leader said on Thursday.

Transnet, which operates South Africa’s rail freight and ports, said on Tuesday it had raised its wage offer to 4.5% from 3-4% previously, with additional 5.3% annual increases over the next two years. It also offered a 4.5% increase in medical insurance allowances this year.

But the United National Transport Union (UNTU), one of the two unions at Transnet along with the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), said workers had rejected the latest offer and would remain on strike.

“UNTU has rejected this offer and so has SATAWU. We have indicated to Transnet that they are not being responsible and reasonable,” UNTU general secretary Cobus van Vuuren told Reuters.

“The strike will be intensifying today and over the coming days, picketing will also be intensifying.”

SATAWU was not immediately available to comment.

Van Vuuren said the unions had tabled demands for an increase that would be related to South Africa’s annual inflation rate, which was 7.6% in August.

Transnet has said meeting the unions’ demands would not be sustainable as wages currently make up 66% of its total expenses.

South Africa’s government and leading business groups on Wednesday warned the ongoing strike would hurt Africa’s most advanced economy.

Exporters of minerals and fresh farm produce are some of the economic sectors impacted by the hobbled freight rail network and ports.

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