Satawu to down tools over pay offer

THE South African Transport and Allied Workers Union said yesterday it was expecting all its 19000 members who work for Transnet to join the strike which starts today.

But members of the United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu) will be hard at work after the union accepted an 11percent pay rise the rail parastatal tabled on Friday.

Satawu's Jane Barrett said: "The 11percent that is being spoken about is not actually 11percent because it means taking away other allowances such as housing and medical aid."

The strike would affect business divisions of the parastatal, including seven commercial ports, the rail freight network and pipeline that transports fuel from Durban to Gauteng.

Metrorail services would not be affected though.

Barrett said their demands included:

l Employment of more than 5000 temporary workers;

l Negotiations on retrenchments; and

l Improvement of terms of maternity and paternity leave.

She said while all the demands were important, the placement of temporary staff, some of whom had been with the parastatal for more than 17 years, was paramount.

Utatu said they reviewed their position because they considered the country's economic situation.

Dennis George said Utatu would present the offer to its members today.

"We will visit branches and present the offer," George said.

Transnet group chief executive Pradeep Maharaj said he was disappointed with Satawu's about-turn.

"After two months of negotiations, it is time for all our employees to make up their minds on our offer, which is twice the rate of inflation," Maharaj said.

He said they were not expecting negotiations until tomorrow afternoon after the unions had reported back to their members.

He said Transnet would engage the police to ensure the safety of non-striking workers. - Vusi Xaba