Striking truck drivers cause havoc in Nelson Madela Bay

Small groups of striking truck drivers have been causing havoc along major truck routes throughout Nelson Mandela Bay this morning, with at least eight confirmed cases of malicious damage to property being opened.

Police spokesman, captain Stanley Jarvis, said groups of between 50 and 60 striking workers had been stoning trucks and private vehicles in at least four different areas throughout the city.

“We have received reports of around 50 to 60 striking workers throwing stones, rocks and other objects at trucks and private vehicles at the Truckstop at the entrance into Motherwell,” he said.

Jarvis said between 40 and 50 strikers had also stoned trucks and vehicles at the intersection of Mathi and Uitenhage Road, as one enters into New Brighton, while another group of about 60 strikers stoned trucks and vehicles along the old Grahamstown Road, as one entered Deal Party.

“Another small group were also reported to have been stoning trucks as they travelled along the R61 past Motherwell to Addo,” he said.

Jarvis said at least eight cases of malicious damage to property had been opened this morning by truck owners as well as individuals not associated with the trucking industry who had had their vehicles tsoned by the striking workers.

The protests are believed to be related to the strike over wages by more than 20,000 workers in the freight transport sector, where unions have reverted back to a 12 percent pay demand after rejecting a lower offer by employers.

The strike is co-ordinated by four unions, namely the Professional Transport and Allied Workers’ Union SA (PTAWUSA), the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu), the Transport and Allied Workers’ Union of South Africa (TAWUSA) and the Motor Transport Workers’ Union (MTWU).

Satawu, a Congress of SA Trade Unions affiliate, is the biggest union in the four-union strike, with an estimated 28,000 members in the road freight sector.

“Whereas the parties were able to reach agreement on many issues, the across the board (ATB) increment, remains in dispute,” National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI) spokeswoman Karen Daniels said in a statement.

“As a consequence, the strike called by the trade unions will continue, and at this stage no further discussions between parties are planned.”

The employers and the unions remained committed to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration process, she said.

Yesterday workers rejected the Road Freight Employers’ Association’s (RFEA) proposal of a staggered increase of 8.5 percent effective from March, and a further 0.5 percent from September next year.

The RFEA represents the labour interests of around 650 companies, from small operations to vast regional companies.

It confirmed on Wednesday morning that no further meetings had been scheduled.

Workers in the sector embarked on a protected strike on Monday after wage negotiations deadlocked.

Members ranged from drivers delivering fuel to workers associated with a truck network which travelled around the country or crossed borders into neighbouring countries for other deliveries.

Jarvis said police members from the public order policing units had been deployed to each of the areas where workers had gathered.

He said this had resulted in the various groups calming down and that the strikers were currently peaceful and no further incidents had been reported. No arrests had been made.