SA port and rail workers reject revised pay, continue strike
The two unions at state-owned Transnet said workers had rejected the latest offer and would remain on strike.
South African rail freight and port workers have rejected a revised offer from state-owned logistics firm Transnet and decided to continue the strike that started last week, a union leader said on Thursday.
Transnet, which operates South Africa’s rail freight and ports, said on Tuesday it had raised its wage offer to 4.5 percent from 3-4 percent previously, with additional 5.3 percent annual increases over the next two years.
It also offered a 4.5 percent increase in medical insurance allowances this year.
But the United National Transport Union (UNTU), one of the two unions at the firm along with the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), said workers had rejected the latest offer and would remain on strike.
“UNTU has rejected this offer and so has SATAWU. We have indicated to Transnet that they are not being responsible and reasonable,” UNTU general secretary Cobus van Vuuren told Reuters news agency.
“The strike will be intensifying today and over the coming days, picketing will also be intensifying.”
SATAWU was yet to comment on the development.
Van Vuuren said the unions had tabled demands for an increase that would be related to South Africa’s annual inflation rate, which was 7.6 percent in August.
Transnet has said meeting the unions’ demands would not be sustainable as wages currently make up two-thirds of its total expenses.
On Wednesday, South Africa’s government and leading business groups warned the ongoing strike would hurt Africa’s most advanced economy.
Exporters of minerals and fresh farm produce are some of the economic sectors affected by the hobbled freight rail network and ports.