Satawu calls on minister to intervene amid tensions in trucking industry

Trucks have been attacked and torched on the N3 in KwaZulu-Natal in the past year resulting in the deaths of 213 people.

FILEl A truck driver was killed on Sunday, 12 May 2019, after a rock was hurled at his vehicle on the N1 near De Doorns. Picture: Facebook.com

JOHANNESBURG – The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) says it wants the Department of Labour to investigate some employers in the trucking industry for allegedly hiring undocumented workers.

Trucks have been attacked and torched on the N3 in KwaZulu-Natal in the past year resulting in the deaths of 213 people.

The union's General Secretary Jack Mazibuko says that tensions are rising in the sector because qualified members are being overlooked for cheaper immigrant labour.

Satawu says it wants the labour minister to intervene and make sure employers comply with the law when they hire foreign nationals.

The union claims this is causing friction between their members and foreign drivers.

Mazibuko says driving is not a scarce skill which means local workers need to get first preference. He says this is not about discrimination but the law.

“It’s not xenophobic, it’s just the employers who are refusing to comply with the provisions of the law. They’re creating a problem.

“We’re calling on the minister of labour to intervene, failing to intervene would lead us to engage the employers who are within the bargaining council to stop the operations in protecting of our members and their employees.”

He says if the labour department fails to adhere to their demands they will be left with no choice but to advise their members to stop driving for their own safety.

ILLEGITIMATE DRIVERS

Satawu accused the government of engaging with an illegitimate truck owner association, the Positive Freight Solution Forum, which allegedly hires undocumented foreign nationals over qualified South Africans.

The union said this was creating tensions in the industry.

“The association is on record as saying South Africans do not possess the required skills to drive their trucks thereby justifying the employment of undocumented foreign nationals.

“South African legislation is clear that a company cannot employ a foreign national unless he/she possesses a scarce skill. Possessing a code 14 driver’s licence, however, is hardly a scarce skill,” Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela said in a statement.

Satawu called on the Department of Labour as the custodian of the Labour Relations Act to monitor employers and bring those who do not comply with the law to book.

“Satawu vehemently condemns the burning of trucks and the loss of innocent lives that results. Sadly, compliant employers are not spared.

“We are extremely worried that government, in the form of Department of Labour, Home Affairs and the South African Police Service, enters into talks with an illegitimate association while excluding registered trade unions and employers that are party to the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry,” Sabela said.

Should the government not heed the union's call to intervene, Satawu warned it would mobilise all employer associations nationally to stop operations and cease the movement of all goods until the government takes effective action.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)