Durban - Trucking bosses walked out on negotiations when their final offer of 8.5 percent was rejected by the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) in an urgent meeting this week.
“They said we are uneducated and we wouldn’t know what to do with more money, and they took their books and walked out,” said the union’s provincial deputy chairman, Nthimose Pakkies.
He had been addressing about 2 000 employees from the sector who had marched up Dr Pixley kaSeme (West) Street yesterday to the city hall, where a memorandum was handed over to a representative from the KZN road freight bargaining council and logistics industry.
“It’s not about being educated, it’s about knowing our rights and a decent salary we can live on,” said Pakkies.
The nationwide protected strike over wages by more than 20 000 workers began on Monday, after wage negotiations deadlocked.
Pakkies said a meeting was held on Tuesday where unions had said they were not budging from their 12 percent demand.
“The least we are asking for is that code14 drivers get a minimum salary of R10 000, because these guys spend a lot of time on the road, [away] from their families. They get dispatched to places like Zambia, CapeTown and Botswana,” said Pakkies.
He said these drivers only got to spend about three months of the year with their families.
But the Road Freight Employers’ Association have accused union negotiators of reneging on an in-principle agreement for a 9 percent wage increase, payment of which would have been staggered at 8.5 percent and an additional 0.5 percent in the same year.
Magretia Brown-Engelbrecht, executive officer of the association, said yesterday that the parties had met on Tuesday, when employers, had been led to believe that the in-principle agreement would be signed.
“It was thus after a total of 18 days of engagement that a final deadlock was reached, because the unions reneged on said in-principle agreement and increased their demand to 12 percent,” said Brown-Engelbrecht.
She accused the unions of negotiating in bad faith and leaving the employers with no choice but to revert to a lower offer.
The workers march yesterday closed Dr Pixley kaSeme (West) Street to traffic from about 10.30am until 1pm.
Three trucks that had been approaching the street from Williams Road came to a standstill and the drivers got out and ran before some of the marchers could reach them.
Metro Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Eugene Msomi said that they had received reports that some striking truck drivers had been intimidating those who were at work.
He said that there had been another incident on Williams Road, where strikers were intimidating truck drivers. “We are monitoring the situation.”
Motorists on Solomon Mahlangu (Swales) Drive were urged to exercise caution, with reports from some motorists of strikers hurling bricks at passing cars. - Daily News