SAfrica’s Transnet ups wage offer to avert strike

A South African workers’ union said on Friday that logistics group Transnet had improved a wage offer to its workers in a bid to avert a strike that could cripple rail, pipeline and port operations in the country.

A strike at monopoly Transnet could paralyse coal and iron ore exports, distribution of fuel and interrupt shipping at ports in Africa’s biggest economy.

Power utility Eskom said the strike would have no impact on transport of coal used to power its plants, as only small amounts of coal were transported by rail, with the rest supplied by conveyor belts directly from mines.

“We are not anticipating any disruptions of electricity supply as a result of this strike, that is highly unlikely,” senior Eskom manager Tony Stott said.

General Secretary at the United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu) Chris de Vos told Reuters that Transnet had improved its wage offer, after Utatu and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), rejected its initial offer, but declined to give any details.

Satawu and Utatu, which represent some 85 percent of Transnet’s workforce of around 50,000 people, received a go ahead from authorities to hold the strike as of Monday after wage talks with Transnet had failed.

“We are just trying to get the mandate (to accept the offer) from our members,” de Vos said.

De Vos said even if a strike went ahead, the union and Transnet had agreed the industrial action would not affect its Metro rail operations, which supply commuter transport.

But he declined to give details on the wider strike involving the pipeline and other rail transport infrastructure.



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