Transnet worker activity as high as 80% as operations ramp up after wage deal

19th October 2022 By: News24Wire

Transnet said worker activity at its operations has returned to levels as high as 80% since the entity inked its three-year wage deal with the United National Transport Union (UNTU).

Transnet and majority union UNTU inked a three-year wage agreement that runs from April this year to late March 2025 and includes a 6% increase in year one, a 5.5% increase in year two, and a 6% increase in year three. 

On Tuesday, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) said they would continue industrial action and called the wage deal a betrayal of workers.

Transnet said in a statement that it started the implementation of recovery plans across all of its operations.

"Employee attendance is up across the board, averaging between 70% and 80%, with more employees expected to return over the next two days. Transnet continues to prioritise the safety of employees and assets, as operations prepare to ramp up," the statement said.

Transnet said it would continue to engage with customers and industry on plans to clear backlogs created by the strike.

"On the rail side, trolley trips are being undertaken to assess the safety of the railway network, as well as inspection of rolling stock to ensure trains are declared safe before services resume fully.

"Repairs to sections of the network affected by theft and vandalism are also being undertaken. At the ports, focus remains on clearing the backlog of vessels at anchorage and alongside the quay, including bulk, break bulk, and containers," the statement said. 

The statement said the evacuation of imports from ports is underway with perishable and time-sensitive cargo getting priority.

"All eight commercial ports remain accessible. Transnet Pipelines continues to transport fuel to the inland market, with contingencies in place to ensure the security of supply," Transnet said.

Satawu sent a letter to the management of Transnet, asking that it be given until Thursday to consult members on the deal.

On the sidelines of the 2022 Africa Energy Week on Tuesday, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe said while the Transnet strike hurt mining exports, the responsibility to manage strike action falls on Transnet management.

"When I was a trade unionist, I would talk about [it] freely. But the reality of the matter is that I am moving from a very strange position for an employer - I'm an employer now. Any industrial sector that is unionised, part of the management skills that are there is to manage conflict. And a strike is one such conflict. And when there is a long strike it's a reflection on the capacity in that company to manage conflict.

"The strike in Transnet did affect mining, particularly bulk exporters, your iron ore, your coal, your manganese. But the reality of the matter [is] I am not one of the people who think that there should be no strike. I think if you are unionised and industrialised, you will have strikes, but it requires managers who are sophisticated enough to deal with strikes," said Mantashe.