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SATAWU strike at Transnet to shut down Eastern Cape ports

May 28, 2019
SATAWU strike at Transnet to shut down Eastern Cape ports

Port Elizabeth - The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) has reportedly issued Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) with a 48-hour notice for TNPA Mariners to embark on a protected strike action on Wednesday from 17h30.

This is apparently the result of an unresolved dispute of mutual interest that exists between TNPA Mariners, who are members of SATAWU and TNPA.

It is anticipated that participants will included SATAWU-affiliated Marine Pilots, Tug Masters and Chief Marine Engineering Officers.

“We have assessed the impact of the strike action and have activated contingency measures though our Business Continuity Plans," said Nozipho Mdawe, TNPA Acting Chief Executive.

"We will continuously update our customers and directly engage with them on shipping matters to ensure minimum disruption to port operations."

SATAWU strike to shut down Eastern Cape ports as well

In its statement, SATAWU said that its members at Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) are set to down tools at 6am on Thursday, in a strike that will see a total shutdown of the country’s ports.

"SATAWU served the strike notice to TNPA on Monday morning after the Transnet Bargaining Council issued the certificate in April. At issue is the salary discrepancy between black and white mariners, with white mariners drawing higher salaries than their black counterparts even when they have less experience," said Zanele Sabela, SATAWU Media Officer.

"Following the granting of the strike certificate, TNPA called on SATAWU to put off the industrial action, saying it wanted to negotiate. The parties held two robust meetings but could not reach a satisfactory agreement despite the company admitting to pay discrepancies across all divisions. SATAWU then requested that a neutral third party be commissioned to conduct an investigation and make recommendations on how the issue should be handled but management declined the request.

"On consulting affected members, SATAWU received a strong mandate to embark on strike."

Sabela said that SATAWU members are set to go on strike at all of the country’s ports including Durban, Richards Bay, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Saldanha Bay, Mossel Bay and East London.

"Workers who will be striking include pilots who bring the ships from the ocean into the port and vice versa; tug masters who assist pilots move the ships and chief marine engineers who maintain the ships and operate the engines. The mariners skills set is such that its withdrawal will result in a total shutdown at all ports," she described.

"On average the mariners move three ships per two-hour interval. These vessels ferry goods worth millions of rand bringing the potential loss due to the strike action to billions of rand.

"Our members are convinced the employer does not care about them considering 25 years into democracy, TNPA is still implementing apartheid-style pay scales. If management does not come to the table meaningfully by 3 June, SATAWU will have no option but to elevate the action to a secondary level where all its members at TNPA will down tools."

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