Truck drivers in pay dispute

Truck drivers who previously worked for Green Door have accused their new employer of cutting their wages
Truck drivers who previously worked for Green Door have accused their new employer of cutting their wages
Image: Thulani Mbele

PLEASE NOTE: This article has been ammended. Scroll down for a breakdown of the changes made

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Dozens of truck drivers have had their salaries cut by thousands after their employers allegedly dumped them onto a labour broker.

Their union, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), is embroiled in a labour court challenge with freight company Moody Blue Trade Invest, while the industry's bargaining council has appointed an inspector to gather evidence in a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration case against Green Door Cargo 2 Congo.

This was after the companies had also "off-loaded" their permanent employees, some of whom had worked for the companies for over 10 years, to RP Africa Fleet Services.

Some drivers at Moody Blue told Sowetan that they were forced to resign and join RP Africa Fleet Services to do the same jobs they were doing before, but at a lower pay.

Some of Green Door's employees showed Sowetan their payslips which showed that their basic salaries had dropped from R8,000 in 2014 to R4,800 18 months ago.

The National Bargaining Council of Road Freight and Logistics Industry stipulates a minimum salary of R11,000 for truck drivers.

A Zimbabwean truck driver who resides in Tembisa, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he joined Green Door more than four years ago taking home a basic salary of R8,000. In addition, he used to receive a R1,500 food allowance and a R1,200 bonus for reaching his truck off-loading point in Koelwezi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) within 10 days.

However, his salary has dropped to R4,800 in three years. He showed Sowetan copies of his payslips dating back to early 2016.

"The quality of my life has constantly gone down over the last five years... Those who asked questions or tried to fight this are now unemployed," he said while adding that 40 employees who had questioned the salary cuts had been either laid off or told that the routes they were operating were no longer available.

Richard Hall, a manager at Green Door, said they did not employ any cross-border drivers. "We have an agreement with RP Africa to supply us with cross-border drivers."

He said the company would not comment on the issue unless Sowetan revealed the employees it had spoken to. He also declined to respond to questions relating to the salary cuts Green Door's employees had seen over the years.

"Once again, unless we know who these employees are we cannot comment. Suffice to say that as far as we are concerned, this is untrue," Hall said.

In court papers seen by Sowetan and filed before the labour court in Johannesburg, Moody Blue has applied for a review of a CCMA November arbitration ruling which found that the matter should fall under the ambit of the freight industry bargaining council.

Moody Blue, which has already transferred more than 100 truck drivers to RP Africa Fleet Services, has applied for a review of a CCMA ruling.

Neil Demaris, a Moody Blue director, argued in court papers that his company was being forced to be registered under the scope of the road freight bargaining council when it was in actual fact operating in retail.

He claimed in court papers that Moody Blue is a wholesaler which transports its own goods from SA to the DRC while employing a majority Congolese workforce.

"The majority of staff is Congolese and only 30 are South African-born," Demaris said in an affidavit that is before the labour court in Braamfontein.

‘No truth in salary cut claims’

Satawu’s Zanele Sabela said: “The situation at Greendoor is grossly unfair as workers who have been employed there permanently for over 10 years have now had their salaries reduced from R10,000 to R3,000 a month. The company claims it pays them according to Zambian salary scales. However, Greendoor is registered in South Africa and operates it business from here and its employees were hired here.”

Sabela said the union was ready to support their bargaining council in the CCMA dermacation case against Green Door.

RP Africa’s general manager Johann van Aswegen, said the company did not merely provide truck drivers to clients, but had valuable infrastructure in African countries in which clients delivered cargo.

Van Aswegen denied drivers were forced to resign or that they provided cheap labour.

“There are also trip bonuses that these guys get but again if they waste time on the road they might not achieve bonuses.

“They might also have had lawful deductions in some cases.

“ I just cannot share other payslips with you due to confidentiality reasons.”

He said there was a year-long consultation with truck employees before they were absorbed by RP Africa and no one was forced to join RP Africa. – Isaac Mahlangu

Correction:

In the article headlined Truck drivers in pay dispute, published on April 8 2019, Sowetan erroneously referred to RP Africa Fleet Services as a labour broker.

RP Africa is a fleet management services company in the road freight industry, specialising in cross border transportation.

The article also referred to truck drivers suffering salary cuts. The truck drivers were retrenched from their previous employer, and RP Africa bought over their contracts.

The payslip discrepancy was the result of a structure change to paylips.

Sowetan apologises for the error.

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