South Africa: Ministers Urge Speedy Resolution to Transnet Wage Impasse

The Ministers of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan; Agriculture, Thoko Didiza and Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, have urged parties in the Transnet wage negotiations to find a speedy resolution to the current wage offer dispute.

Union members have been engaged in industrial action for at least a week following an impasse in wage negotiations, which commenced as far back as May this year.

The two parties have, since this Monday, been in negotiations mediated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), which culminated in a new wage offer by the company.

“It is the view of government that it will be in the interests of the country to find a speedy resolution to this impasse and for parties to continue to engage and, where appropriate, to employ the facilitation services of the CCMA.

“Our country cannot afford further job losses in other sectors of the economy and the interruption of imports and exports to and from South Africa.

“Government urges both parties to return to the negotiating table and to adopt an approach which balances the rights of workers, who are affected by rising prices, against the long-term stability and growth of Transnet, and the economy as a whole,” the three Ministers said in a statement.

They emphasised that the impact of the strike at Transnet could have a lasting impact on the economy.

“Government is extremely concerned about the negative impact on the South African economy, particularly those sectors that are dependent on Transnet for their logistical services.

“We need to remind all that if we are able to, as soon as possible, resume exports of agricultural products, mineral resources and other manufactured products, we will be contributing to sustaining hundreds of thousands of jobs across the economy.”

The Ministers said they have been engaging with all affected parties in order to “appreciate the extent of the impact of the strike on industry… and the gap that exists” in the wage negotiations.

“We appreciate the constructive engagement we have had with the unions. Equally, we acknowledge the offers of industry to assist where they can. Government commends the work of the Department of Labour and the CCMA in assisting the two parties to finalise picketing rules.

“Government understands that our labour relations regime allows for labour to exercise their right to strike and picket within the limits of the law. However, government reiterates its view that the right of workers to picket and strike must not be marred by violence and destruction of property,” the Ministers said.

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