Port strike averted - unions settle

May 30, 2005
Author: P&S

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The nationwide port strike that was threatened for 31 May (tomorrow) has been averted, following the acceptance of a wage offer by members of the South African Transport & Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) (see News report in this column dated 25 May 2005).

According to Ronnie Mamba, national media officer for SATAWU, an offer of a 6.5% increase, placed on the table by SA Port Operations (SAPO) and the National Ports Authority, was taken back to the members and accepted.

“We conducted our negotiations in a very mature manner and we feel that all parties were happy with the settlement even though it was not the initial request of 7% increment,” said Nadeema Syms, SATAWU’s national treasurer. She said members were happy that they did not have to resort to downing their tools.

The union said it had been locked in negotiations with SAPO and the NPA for several months over wage demands, which moved from an initial 10% down to 7%. Offers from management increased from 4.5% to 6%. As a result the 6.5% finally agreed was regarded by the union as a just compromise.

On Friday the Customs department of South African Revenue Services put out an advisory to port users and other interested stakeholders saying that the NPA was advising its Durban office of the possibility of a massive strike action affecting the Durban Container Terminal, the Durban Car Terminal, Maydon Wharf and Pier One, and scheduled to commence on 31 May 2005.

Port users have applauded the settling of the dispute before such action became necessary. It also follows an agreement reached between trade unions and Spoornet settling a wage dispute between the rail company and its employees.


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