State-owned Transnet has suspended several employees at its Ngqura Container Terminal for engaging in an illegal industrial action which has had a negative impact on port operations.
In a statement released on Thursday, Transnet stated that the illegal industrial action by employees had had a negative impact on all customers serviced by the port, particularly the citrus and automotive customers.
Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) confirmed on Thursday that it had lost production of 680 cars over the last 24 hours at its Uitenhage plant, in the Eastern Cape, owing to labour action at the Port of Ngqura. This equates to the company’s daily production volume over three shifts.
VWSA receives parts for its assembly plant through the port.
The local arm of the German auto giant produces the Polo for the local and export markets, as well as the Polo Vivo for the local and African markets.
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, meanwhile, expressed concern about the “go slow” during a briefing ahead of his Budget Vote address.
Gordhan said he had requested the Transnet board to deal with the matter urgently, as it was negatively affecting automotive trade flows.
Transnet noted that the employees were demanding additional incentives and that operations at its Durban Container Terminal had also been affected by equipment failure and a high level of absenteeism.
“Furthermore, a decline in performance levels at the Cape Town Container Terminal has been noted,” Transnet pointed out.
Transnet said it had established a daily command centre manned by national and local leadership to closely monitor performance. It was also “continuously engaging” with customers to communicate business continuity plans, including prioritising some of the urgent cargo.
Transnet noted that discussions were being held with labour with a view to normalise port operations, adding that the impact on the economy had yet to be quantified.
-Additional reporting by Irma Venter and Terence Creamer