A national shutdown of the trucking industry looms as the South African National Cargo Transport Drivers Association (SANCATDRA) continues to push for clarity on the employment of foreign drivers.
The association marched to the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI) in December last year to hand over a memorandum demanding the following:
- The bargaining council should be neutral and impartial
- Clause 35 should be scrapped from the main collective agreement
- Employment of foreigners is transferring poverty in our industry
- Labour brokers should be abolished in the road freight industry
- Court-designated agents must be investigated and apprehended.
The “truck drivers’ matter” march saw the memorandum handed to the council on 15 December 2020.
No response from council
The association’s president Daniel Mofokeng told The Citizen that the union expected a response from the council within 21 days.
“We are currently following the legal route in pursuing the council to respond to us. After we have obtained permits and authorisation from law enforcement agencies, then we will give out an announcement on when the shutdown will be,” Mofokeng explained.
The council’s “arrogance”, however, was another struggle for the union.
The NBCRFLI said in responses to The Citizen that the association’s memorandum was received, but because it was handed over during the festive season, “the board has not had an opportunity to consider it”.
They said the bargaining council’s first board meeting for 2021 was scheduled to take place in February.
Truck burnings and foreigners
The recent attacks on trucks and drivers in the country had also made the association’s plight more urgent, Mofokeng continued, adding that these issues had plagued the industry since 2018.
“There is still an issue of employment of foreigners. We are very much dissatisfied with what is happening in the country, with the burning of trucks and driver attacks.
“There is a lot of corruption, with no companies actually complying with the council. Drivers are frustrated, waiting, not being paid accordingly… There is total noncompliance in the industry but people are meant to monitor compliance. There are laws to follow.”
Mofokeng alleged that the bargaining council’s designated agents were “colluding with employers with the help of regional managers”.
The association was thus calling for regional managers, agents and the entire board of the council to step down as well.
The bargaining council disputed the association’s allegations “because they are unfounded and malicious”.
“Council does not have the authority to dictate to any employer who they can or cannot employ be it a local or foreign national. The role of the council is to administer and regulate conditions of employees who fall within the jurisdiction of the council irrespective of their nationality.”
SA truckers painted in a bad light
Mofokeng also said that the increase in truck accidents was often linked to foreign truck drivers.
He said it was common to find three or more foreign drivers travelling in the same truck.
He said that with most trucking accidents, the drivers were never found because “they run away and cannot be traced”.
This, he explained, links back to issues with foreigners being verified at the country’s borders by the Department of Home Affairs.
“This paints us [bad] as a country and as truck drivers, who are seen as barbaric and xenophobic.”
Mofokeng said the association was initially part of the ministerial task team established to deal “with the issue of foreigners” but that they had decided to withdraw.
The task team is chaired by Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi.
SANCATDRA’s withdrawal was, however, not acknowledged by the NBCRFLI, who were under the impression that “SANCATDRA has been participating in the task team meetings”.
“SANCATDRA is fully aware that the issue of employment of foreign nationals is being dealt with by the inter-ministerial task team,” the council said.
Mofokeng felt that the issue of employing foreigners was not being addressed as it should, however.
“With unemployment such as South Africa’s, we still believe someone is not doing their job properly; someone is benefiting. Ministers want to come up with quotas. If they allow say 20% of foreigners, it means another 20% of South Africans are not working.
“We’ve got all the resources, we need to deal with these issues, but we are turning a blind eye to the issue of foreigners,” he explained.
Mofokeng said Parliament was also “too quiet about this issue and about violence in the industry”.
SANCATDRA and the All Truck Drivers Forum and Allied South Africa’s (ATDF-ASA’s) national shutdown, which Mofokeng assured would be legal, is scheduled to start on 25 January.