Satawu vows to go on with rail strike despite deal

WHILE South African Transport and Allied Workers Union seeks sympathy support from sister unions, Transnet has indicated they will not be holding any more talks with the union.

This comes after Utatu, an alternative union for rail workers, signed an 11percent wage increase agreement with Transnet on Friday.

Satawu rejected the offer, demanding a 12percent raise instead.

Satawu general secretary Zenzo Mahlangu said they would engage in talks with other Cosatu-affiliated unions, roadfreight hauliers and private port related companies and the Transport Workers Federation to embark on mass action.

"We are still talking and there are legal matters that need to be sorted out," he said.

Mahlangu said they were unfazed by Utatu's decision to accept the Transnet offer.

"Obviously Utatu members will be resuming work but our members are still the majority," he said.

Mahlangu said ports would, however, continue to remain closed, while freight rail operations and engineering will continue to merely limp along.

A statement released by Satawu said the strike had throughout been sustained primarily by its members, and this would continue to be the case.

"Should management attempt to unilaterally impose the agreement signed by Utatu, this will inflame the situation," the statement said.

Transnet spokesperson John Dludlu said yesterday the company had no further talks scheduled with Satawu.

"We remain disappointed at the fact that the offer, which we think is fair and has the support of the majority of our workforce, has been rejected by Satawu," he said. "We appeal to Satawu members to return to work tomorrow (Monday), and we believe they have no reason to lose more money."

Dludlu said the company was heartened that increasing numbers of employees had returned to work even before the conclusion of the agreement on Friday with Utatu.

"We are confident that more will join us tomorrow (Monday)," he said.