Business: SATAWU Prepare to Strike Against RFEA Over Wages
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The Road Freight Employers’ Association (RFEA) has accused the SATAWU of failing to take the current economic climate into account in their demands for wage increases that are “excessive in the extreme,” according to Magretia Brown, labour relations manager of the RFEA.
SATAWU has issued a notice of a strike which is to commence on 7th April 2009. “The RFEA has offered 11% to avoid a strike,” she said, “which we believe is more than reasonable under the current economic conditions.”
However, although freight volumes are continuing to drop, a recession is looming, and hundreds of heavy trucks are already parked off because of lack of business, SATAWU is still insisting on a massive 37% hike on the minimum wages and a 13% increase across-the-board. “In addition they want four-months’ fully paid maternity leave and a number of allowances that will also result in a huge on-cost for employers,” Brown added.
And, although annual increases were intended to be implemented on March 1, this has now been delayed. “And it will even be more so in view of the upcoming elections,” said Brown.
“The department of labour has indicated that they will be under pressure to promulgate the agreement if it is submitted to them beyond the first week of April - since they will no doubt be affected by the dissolution of parliament in early April. “They have advised the National Bargaining Council of the Road Freight Industry (NBCRFI) that any further delay in securing an agreement may very well result in promulgation being delayed until as late as June”.
The trucking industry, meantime, is bracing for a strike – which would see the employers’ 11% offer revert to their previous 10.5%. “The RFEA negotiations team, however, has been and still is committed to the negotiation process,” said Brown. “But, whilst we will always endeavour to avoid a strike, we will be prepared for one and we will stand our ground.”
The other 3 unions who are party to the negotiations, MTWU, PTWU and TAWUSA have confirmed to the RFEA in no uncertain terms that they do not support SATAWU’s position in this regard and that they will advise their members not to participate in the upcoming strike action.
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