South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) members are set to down tools at all of South Africa’s ports from 06:00 on Thursday, May 30.
Satawu on Monday served the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) with a strike notice after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) issued the certificate in April.
The union alleged that there was a discrepancy in the salaries of black and white mariners, with the latter said to draw “higher salaries than their black counterparts even when they have less experience”.
Since the strike certificate was issued in April, TNPA and Satawu have held meetings but could not reach a satisfactory agreement, Satawu said.
Satawu members are set to go on strike at all of the country’s ports including Durban, Richards Bay, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Saldanha Bay, Mossel Bay and East London.
This will include pilots who move the ships in and out of port, tug masters who assist pilots in moving the ships in and out of port and chief marine engineers who maintain the ships and operate the engines.
“The mariners’ skills set is such that its withdrawal will result in a total shutdown at all ports,” the union said in a statement on Tuesday.
TNPA, in a separate statement, said it had assessed the impact of the strike action and that it had activated contingency measures through its business continuity plans.
“We will continuously update our customers and directly engage with them on shipping matters to ensure minimum disruption to port operations,” TNPA acting CE Nozipho Mdawe said.
Satawu, meanwhile, said that, should an agreement not be reached by June 3, it would “have no option but to elevate the action to a secondary level where all its members at TNPA will down tools”.