Planned port terminal strike could worsen truck backlog in Richards Bay

Union boss says privatisation is being sugar-coated as private equity partnerships.

Planned protest action against the privatisation of Transnet could mean the loss of millions for Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), and see worse truck backlogs in Richards Bay.

This is according to Transnet Port Terminals’ (TPT) head of business development Timothy Keit, who spoke to the Zululand Observer on Friday.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) vows to continue with its planned strike action on Friday, despite being issued with a ‘no work, no pay’ circular by TPT last week.

“The strike is not ideal for the business, however, we are going to implement the contingency plans we have in place,” said Keit.

Lobbying their counterpart and union federation mother body, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Satawu secretary-general Jack Mazibuko said they were optimistic the ‘current material conditions’ confronting Transnet would motivate Cosatu to empathise with the employees who want to protest.

“This action also considers the precarity of managerial employees. The history of Transnet and the recent turnover of executive managers demonstrates the deep-rooted contradictions and class antagonisms centred on the privatisation of the state-owned enterprise, although sugar-coated as private equity partnerships,” said Mazibuko.

He said that no amount of reactionary forms of intimidation, especially by a section of employees identifying as part of the ‘capitalist aristocracy’, would prevent them from championing the genuine class interests of the rank-and-file suppressed by the ‘antagonistic establishment’.

Meanwhile, the United National Transport Union (Untu) has distanced itself from the protest, citing various concerns regarding the demands that were raised by Cosatu in 2017 and 2020.

“We also have concerns regarding the extent of protection our members and the employees will enjoy since these demands were raised more than six years ago,” said Untu secretary-general Cobus van Vuuren.

“Based on the above, Untu does not support the Section 77 protest action.”

No privatisation, says Ramaphosa

Meanwhile, when addressing the nation last night, President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “I want to make it clear that South Africa’s port, rail and electricity infrastructure are strategic national assets, and that they will remain in public ownership.”

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