It is regrettable that the United National Transport Union (UNTU) must inform its members in Transnet that it has withdrawn from monetary negotiations with the employer after a total breakdown in our trust relationship.
Transnet had to confirm to UNTU, who represents the majority of its employees, in writing that it had granted financial assistance to the South African Express Airways SOC Ltd (SA Express) to the value of R222 million on 29 December 2017 amidst wage negotiations at the Transnet Bargaining Council (TBC) with Organised Labour.
Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU, says throughout the wage negotiations Transnet maintained and submitted financial statements to indicate that it was experiencing cash flow problems after the state-owned enterprise (SOE) was downgraded to junk status by the international rating agency, Standard & Poor, at the end of November 2017.
“Throughout the negotiations Transnet maintained that a multi-term agreement was needed to convince investors to invest in the SOE. If Organised Labour did not agree to the multi-term agreement, Transnet refused to include the no-retrenchment clause needed to secure the work of our more vulnerable members,” says Harris.
In a turn of events, an audit process brought to light that the Board of Directors of Transnet, under Chairwomen Linda Mabaso who resigned yesterday, granted the R222 million financial assistance to SA Express in terms of section 45(5) (a) of the Companies Act, 71 of 2008.
According to a letter sent by Mark Gregg-Macdonald, Acting Chief Financial Officer, to Harris, Transnet provided a short-term capital loan to SA Express on the request and authority granted by the then Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynn Brown.
“Transnet explains that SA Express had to pay its suppliers before 31 December 2017 to avoid forced liquidation which would have resulted in 1 200 job losses and would have negatively impacted on the sovereign’s ratings outlook of all SOE’s by credit rating agencies.
“However, that is immaterial to UNTU. We negotiated in good faith with Transnet at the TBC. We signed a multi-term agreement for a 7, 1% wage increase for three years with a mandate from the majority of our members based on the financial statements and projections presented to us by Transnet. Now it is clear that Transnet had misled the Union,” says Harris.
According to him UNTU will consider terminating the wage agreement after the Union had discussions with Siyabonga Gama, Group Chief Executive Officer of Transnet who gave the negotiation team their mandate.
“UNTU will not tolerate Transnet making fools of our leadership by deliberately withholding crucial information,” Harris says.
For more information phone Harris on 082 566 5516.