By Heba Girgis
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
CAPE TOWN, South Africa—The mining strike from the past several weeks has evolved into violence and destruction being caused by truck drivers east of Johnannesburg. The Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said that the striking truck drivers who committed the violence would be approached and the situation handled by law enforcement. Mthethwa noted, “We are monitoring the situation and frankly, what we have been observing is pure criminality.”
The Union decided to strike since there has been a deadlock in wage negotiations since June of this year.
About 20,000 workers in the freight transport sector have been on strike over their wages since Monday of this week. An extended strike will affect not only the delivery of goods but also the delivery of gasoline and food products. This strike, including the mining strike will likely put a damper on South African’s economy should it continue.
Mthethwa further noted that these acts of violence and intimidation toward innocent people cannot be justified as a form of public protest. The police intend to act harshly against this type of lawless behavior and arrests will be imminent.
The South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) recently sent delegation to Ekurhuleni today in order to investigate problems being caused by the striking truckers. The police counted three people injured just this morning by the striking truck drivers. Also this morning, a light delivery truck was burned and the group of strikers stoned two trucks on the road.
Yesterday, two other vehicles were set on fire by the strikers in the Western Cape of the country. The Congress of South African Trade Unions spokesman Patrick Craven said today that “the Federation therefore joins Satawu in appealing to the workers on strike to avoid any resort to violence, even when provoked, and to implement Cosatu’s longstanding policy of protesting in a peaceful, lawful and disciplined manner.”
The Unions now demand a 12% increase after already rejecting a lower offer made by the employers on Tuesday. While talks have finished up for the day, no resolution was reached. However, the spokeswoman for the Road Freight Employers’ Association said that “[the Association] has committed [themselves] to being available for further talks. Nothing has been forthcoming thus far and we shall see where we go.”
For further information, please see:
Business Day Live – Satawu Sends Delegation to Investigate Violence by Striking Truckers – 27 September 2012
The Washington Post – South Africa Labor Strikes Spread to Transport Sector – 27 September 2012
Associated Press – South Africa Strikes Spread to Transport Sector – 26 September 2012
All Africa – Trucker Violence Condemned – 25 September 2012