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S.Africa’s Transnet strike ends as smaller union calls off boycott

THE South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) has called off its strike at Transnet, ending a boycott that paralysed the state-owned logistics firm and impacted commodities exports from Africa’s most advanced economy.

“We have called off the strike and our members are going back to work tomorrow,” SATAWU spokesperson Amanda Tshemese told Reuters on Wednesday.

SATAWU had called a three-year wage deal agreed on Monday by Transnet and the majority United National Transport Union (UNTU) a “betrayal” and vowed to continue with a strike which started on October 6 following a dispute over pay increases.

Container ships are seen outside the harbour as workers at South Africa’s state-owned logistics firm Transnet continue to protest outside the Port of Cape Town on their nationwide strike action that could paralyse ports and freight rail services in Cape Town, South Africa, October 17, 2022. REUTERS/Esa Alexander

The unions were demanding wage increases linked to South Africa’s year-on-year inflation rate, which was 7.5% in September, but UNTU and Transnet settled on a 6% increase for this year, 5.5% in 2023 and 6% the year after, following mediation.

UNTU’s members, who make up 54% of Transnet’s workforce, started returning to work on Tuesday, allowing the company to start implementing recovery plans across its freight rail and port operations.

Fresh produce exporters who, along with miners, were among the most affected by the strike, said port operations had started to improve on Wednesday.

“Staffing levels across all the main container terminals have increased today, upwards of 80% and in some cases fully manned. The trend indicates that staff compliments could be fully manned very soon,” the Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa said in an update posted on its website.

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Last week, the Minerals Council of South Africa said mining companies were losing 815 million rand ($44.62 million) per day in export revenue due to the strike, as major mineral export harbours were operating at between 12% and 30% of their daily averages due to the strike.

By The African Mirror