The violent week-long truckers’ strike is likely to end today after all unions agreed to persuade their members to accept the latest wage offer from employers.
“The union parties will be consulting with their members, during the course of today on the in-principle agreement and will be recommending acceptance,” said a statement issued yesterday and signed by the Road Freight Employers Association (RFEA), the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, the Transport and Allied Workers Union of SA, the Motor Transport Workers Union and the Professional Transport and Allied Workers Union.
Last week, one person died and 16 others were injured in the mayhem resulting from the strike.
At least 20 trucks were damaged or destroyed by strikers demanding better pay.
At the weekend, RFEA upped its initial offer of 7.5% to 9% for this year and an increase of 8.5% for next year.
All indications are that the unions will accept the offer after consulting with their members and strikers will return to work soon.
“Workers must be consulted today on the employer’s wage offer of 9% for this year and 8.5% for next year,” said the joint statement issued yesterday.
This tentative agreement signals the end of the strike, which resulted in fuel shortages at certain petrol stations.
There was also concern that a protracted strike could have resulted in food shortages and affected the supply of coal to Eskom power plants.
The unions had demanded a 20% pay rise over the next two years.
However, following the “memorandum of agreement” it was expected that employees would start reporting to their workplaces today.
Satawu’s general-secretary, Zenzo Mahlangu, yesterday said that he felt the employer had negotiated with “a gun pointed at unions’ heads”.
“I am a bit worried that the employer was applying some form of intimidation.
“It was negotiating with a gun at our heads,” he said.
Mahlangu was referring to RFEA’s earlier statement that if the unions failed to accept their latest offer by yesterday, the offer would be retracted and the RFEA would revert to its earlier offer of an 8% hike for this and next year.
“We have told them (the employer) that we will respond to their offer today after having consulted with our members,” said Mahlangu.
“We are left with six provinces to consult and the other three provinces had sounded positive. They felt the offer was okay.”
Mahlangu said that if the remaining provinces rejected the latest offer “the strike would continue”.