SATAWU and UTATU are trying to hold our World Cup to ransom
Manie van Dyk, Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises
12 May 2010
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is concerned by the decision of the two unions at Transnet, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) and the United Transport and Allied Trade Union (UTATU), to embark on indefinite industrial strike action even though Transnet has offered an 11% wage increase - which is almost double the current rate of inflation, linked to the consumer price index.
The Business Day reported that UTATU and SATAWU had initially accepted Transnet's offer, but SATAWU later broke ranks with UTATU and decided to strike. A press release by Transnet's Acting Chief Executive, Chris Wells, confirms this, and goes on to explain that SATAWU unilaterally rejected the offer without consulting its membership.
The fact that an indefinite strike is being embarked upon, even though an offer of a 11% wage increase is on the table, with just a month to go until the start of the World Cup, points to these two unions attempting to use the World Cup as leverage to achieve what are, objectively, not reasonable wage increase expectations.
It is also concerning that any economic repercussions likely to be the consequences of a protracted strike may, in fact, be multiplied by the fact that, during the World Cup, there will be a significant increase in the demand on South Africa's transport sector. In particular, we understand that a strike from these unions during the World Cup might affect the supply of jet fuel to airports, thus placing a transportation mode key to World Cup visitors in serious risk.
For this reason, we call on the Minister of Public Enterprises, Barbara Hogan, to intervene immediately to assist in achieving a swift resolution and to take firm action against any violence or damage to property.
This strike has further been marked with reports of violence and intimidation at various spots around the country, with at least 18 train locomotives apparently being damaged, and fears that strikers were responsible for tampering with lines, which reportedly caused the derailment of diesel tankers. This is adversely affecting key operations and could have serious economic consequences. It is irresponsible for any institution, including a union, to hold the success of our World Cup to ransom, while they try to engineer unrealistic wage hikes for their members.