Transnet informed Organised Labour today that the state-owned enterprise (SOE) cannot afford any salary increase for 2021 due to the impact of Covid-19 on its business.
According to Transnet all employees must make sacrifices and put shoulder to the wheel to ensure that SOE remains in a financially sound position so that it can continue to pay its interest to its lenders.
Asking for a bailout from Government is not an option for Transnet who has been self-sufficient despite the decade from state capture which resulted in the irregular expenditure of billions of Rands.
Transnet agreed with Organised Labour that a multiterm wage agreement is off the cards and stated that it would want to preserve jobs at all costs but was not prepared to include the no retrenchment clause Organised Labour demanded.
As example Transnet used Transnet Engineering where there is according to the Employer an excess of 2 900 employees since the SOE got no manufacturing orders.
Transnet tabled a 0% salary increase for 2021 and says that Organised Labour’s demand of a 12,5% increase in wages and on all allowances will increase its wage bill with R5,6 billion.
The SOE cannot afford both the medical aid allowance and the housing allowance to be increased to R2 500 and refuses to pay the medical allowance to all employees irrespective of which medical aid they belong to or if they belong to a medical aid.
Organised Labour demand that the medical allowance when on retirement must be lifted from the current R213 to R500, but Transnet disagreed.
Transnet is also not prepared to do away with the capping of the overtime threshold of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which has been lifted to R211 596 per year (R17 633 per month) from 1 March 2021.
Steve Harris, General Secretary of the United National Transport Union (UNTU) says the threshold is to the detriment of Transnet employees who are forced to work overtime to allow Transnet to operate 24/7, but who earn above the threshold.
UNTU and its affiliated federation, the Federation of Trade Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA), requested Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi to exempt employees of Transnet and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) from the threshold, but he ignored it, says Harris.
Transnet also did not want to bite on paying employees the ten (10) days “Paternity Leave” allocated to men but felt that the employees must apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) for payment of these days, which will result in that they are out of pocket until the application is processed and paid out.
Transnet denied that it had plans to privatise some of its divisions despite Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan repeatedly making these statements at various events over the past few weeks.
Lastly Transnet also refused to insource all contract workers. The negotiations are continuing.
UNTU will keep its members abreast of any new developments as the negotiation process unfolds.
S Carstens: Media Liaison & Communication Officer
o.b. o SA Harris