Johannesburg - SA is bracing for a national transport workers’ strike, set to start on Monday, which a leading economist has warned will see all transport of fuel, coal, food, steel and hundreds of other products grind to a halt.
With negotiations still deadlocked on Monday night, SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union spokesman Vincent Masoga said the strike was almost certain to go ahead.
This comes as labour unrest continues spreading through the mining industry, with workers at AngloGold Ashanti the latest miners to embark on a wildcat strike on Friday, the National Union of Mineworkers said.
NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said the workers had downed tools and were demanding R12 500 a month.
It is the same amount initially demanded by workers at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, who recently settled with their employer.
“We always had suspicions that this thing could spread anywhere, especially in the wake of the Marikana agreement,” Seshoka said.
But leading economist Mike Schussler has warned that the economic impact of this week’s transport sector strike could be far worse than the mining strike, and would bring the country to a standstill.
While it would be pre-emptive to quantify the financial impact, Schussler said SA could lose millions if the truck drivers went on strike.
“The size of the transport sector is double that of the mining industry. So the country stands to lose more than it did during the recent Marikana strike,” he said.
The strike comes after the transport union, together with fellow unions in the transport and logistics industry, reached a wage negotiation deadlock after tense discussions that started in June.
The unions were initially demanding a 12 percent increase across the board, but have since reduced this figure to 9 percent. The employers are, however, offering 1 percent less.
“The fact that we have reduced our initial wage increment indicates that we are the ones that are willing to compromise, but the employers are obviously not.
“We will not accept the 8 percent, and we will down tools [tomorrow] until our demands are met,” Masoga said.