Satawu calls Transnet's wage deal with UNTU a 'betrayal' of workers, vows to continue strike

18th October 2022 By: News24Wire

Satawu calls Transnet's wage deal with UNTU a 'betrayal' of workers, vows to continue strike

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) has vowed to continue striking at Transnet, calling the entity's three-year wage deal with the United National Transport Union (UNTU) a "betrayal" of workers.

On Monday afternoon, Transnet announced that it had reached a three-year deal with UNTU, the largest union at the bargaining table under the auspices of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA).

The deal, running from April this year to the end of March 2025, includes a 6% increase in year one, a 5.5% increase in year two, and a 6% increase in year three.

The deal comes after a weeks-long strike at Transnet rocked operations at ports and disrupted exports and imports. Estimates are that the the strike could cost the SA economy up to R1 billion a day.

Transnet said in a statement that it would now shift its focus to clearing backlogs and addressing low manning levels at ports and rail due to the weeks-long industrial action.

In its own statement, UNTU said although the 6% increase was not exactly equal to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), it is much closer to it than the original 1% offer.

But Satawu slammed Transnet and UNTU over the deal in a statement released late on Monday evening.

"The decision in question not only disadvantages but correspondingly undermines the interests of the working-class, low-earning employees, in particular. This demonstrates that the working class is not homogeneous but is divided from a stratification, theoretical, conscious, social and economic point of view," the Satawu statement said.

The statement said the removal of a "no-retrenchment clause" and Transnet's power to restructure any areas of its business due to economic or structural reasons would be a setback to all bargaining workers.

"Irrespective of the employer's commitment to comply with all provisions of its existing recognition agreement and prevailing legislation, material reality dictates that the bane and whip of retrenchments will be directed to the rank and file," said the statement. 

"In summary, our industrial action should continue as planned regardless of the betrayal in question," the statement added.