South Africa faces logistics headache following failure in pay talks
South Africa is in danger of coming to a standstill after yesterday's talks between striking truck drivers and employers ended in acrinomy, without an agreement on pay and conditions.
The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) accused the Road Freight Association (RFA) of walking away from the talks because three other unions, representing 15,000 truck drivers, had decided to suspend industrial action from today, Wednesday Oct. 10.
Satawu acting national media officer Vincent Masoga said he had been "hopeful" the talks would have ended in "consensus" in an effort to end industrial action.
"However, the employers' tactic signifies their total disregard to the workers who keep the wheels of the economy moving and therefore rendering the entire industry frustrated."
He said his union, which has 30,000 members, was also looking forward to a secondary solidarity strike next week by freight and port sectors.
RFA accused Satawu of "changing the goalposts" and demanding a 19% pay rise over the next two years, from March 2013, when the union's leaders had indicated a week ago that 18% over a two-year period would be acceptable.
It said this was why it had decided to leave yesterday's negotiations with future talks between the two parties brokered by the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration.
Agri SA president Johannes Möller, said continued industrial action was putting overseas fresh produce trade at risk.
"If you dishonor these contracts the overseas market doesn't check why and what is happening. We are worried that farmers and farm workers will lose their income and their jobs.
"South Africa might lose contracts for fresh cut flowers and fruit. It's not just bad for farmers and workers but for the country as a whole."
He added that shortages in supermarkets would mean a hike in food prices and if the truck drivers gained their wage rise, fruit overhead costs would increase.
Producers will start shipping nectarines in the next few weeks followed by grapes in the last week of October.