Three unions have so far agreed to adjust their wage demands in a bid to end the ongoing truck drivers strike.This was confirmed on Wednesday by the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) and the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu), which represent the three unions. “All the unions agreed that we have to conclude the wage negotiations now,” said Fedusa general secretary Dennis George. “We agreed to take the initiative and table a freshly mandated demand to the employers and we reached agreement on several points as put forward in the draft agreement by the employers last Wednesday.” Two Fedusa affiliates are involved in the strike – the Motor Transport Workers’ Union (MTWU) and the Professional Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (PTAWU). The Transport and Allied Workers’ Union is affiliated to Nactu. They are not linked to the largest of the striking unions, the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union, which is an affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions. George said it was decided to facilitate a meeting of the three smaller unions after talks between unions and employers broke down on Tuesday. He said the three unions agreed they wanted a two-year rather than a three-year agreement because of the unpredictability of financial conditions and inflation.
The unions said they were prepared to settle for a 10% increase in the first year and an 8% increase in the second.Road Freight Employers’ Association (RFEA) spokesperson Magretia Brown-Engelbrecht said the employers had tabled two offers. These were a three-year deal with increase of 10%, 8% and 9% over three years, or a two-year deal with 9% in the first year and 8% in the second. George said the unions wanted a 7% increase for both years for new entrants to the industry. They also sought the speedy implementation of a sector-wide job grading system. The unions wanted a cross-border allowance to rise by 7% in the first year, and 6% in the second. It currently stood at R105 a day. They wanted the same increase for night-shift allowances. “We have advised the unions to put these freshly mandated demands in writing and submit them to the employers as soon as possible,” George said. “We are hopeful that these constructive proposals will facilitate a break in the deadlock and take us forward.” Satawu, which represents about 28 000 workers in the strike, is not included in the unions’ new agreement.