Union hits out at government over concessioning

Jul 23, 2003
Author: P&S

The South African Transport & Allied Workers Union (Satawu) says in a statement released today that it has become highly suspicious about talks between organised labour and government over the future of the SA Port Operations terminals which is says appear to be a sham.

”We have today demanded a public reassurance from Minister Radebe that the talks going on under the auspices of the National Framework Agreement are serious. This comes in the wake of a statement by the CEO of Transnet reported in the Business Day of 23rd July, as well as a statement by Minister Erwin quoted in the Business Day of 2nd July. There have also been numerous recent press reports about the intention of government to issue tender documents for DCT at the end of July, which reports have not been contradicted by government.”

Following urgent meetings between organised labour and government a Ports Restructuring Committee (PRC) was established in late May to pursue a ‘robust engagement…. and… examining all options available, i.e. both public and private.’

The PRC was tasked with examining the options available to port terminal operations on the basis of a range of issues including job security, employment conditions, widening ownership, provincial economic planning, and port efficiency, says Satawu.

Claiming that the PRC has not completed its work, and that it has still to report to the minister (Public Enterprises) via a meeting of the Transport NFA structure, the union maintains that any issuing of tender documents, or even talk about the tenders, is highly inappropriate.

”Should a reassurance on the integrity and seriousness of the talks not be forthcoming from Minister Radebe, Satawu will have to reconsider its participation. We will have to consider forms of court and national industrial action to force government compliance with the National Framework Agreement and with the agreed terms of reference of the Ports Restructuring Committee under the NFA.”

Satawu says it is deeply unhappy at the unfolding of government’s unilateral restructuring of other business units of Transnet, and names Transnet Housing and Transtel (the communications company).

In this context it says, “Satawu is considering mobilising its membership across Transnet for a twelve hour action.”

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