Organised Labour and Transnet’s top management are left with more questions than answers after the unexpected and politically driven announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa, that Government intends to establish Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) as an independent subsidiary of Transnet.
The leaderships of the United National Transport Union (UNTU) and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), the only recognised Trade Unions in Transnet, virtually met with Portia Derby, Chief Executive Officer of Transnet, and her delegations to seek answers as to why Organised Labour was blindsided by Ramaphosa’s announcement without any prior consultation.
Both Unions demanded clarity from Derby as to the job security of the affected employees, what their conditions of service would be, future job creation, the timelines involved and how Transnet would be able to afford the cost of two Boards after pleading poverty in the ongoing wage dispute.
The leaders of both Unions told Derby she should have confided in them when she held an “open and honest” meeting with them last week to prevent a national strike of Transnet employees by amending the final wage offer of the state-owned enterprise to a 5% wage increase with a no retrenchment clause for the current financial year.
“We are disappointed. If we cannot be honest with each other, we are wasting our time,” Hendrik Fourie, President of UNTU, told Derby. She denied that she had knowledge of Government’s decision last week, according to Derby she only learned of the announcement that was to be made on Saturday.
Derby says she requested Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to inform Organised Labour prior to the President’s announcement which he did. The Minister’s office forgot to invite Derby to his meeting with the Leadership of the two Unions.
Ntuthuzelo Mhlubulwana, President of SATAWU, wanted to know why there was such an urgency to make the announcement if the groundwork was yet to be done? Both President’s agreed the announcement was purely politically motivated without considering the best interest of Transnet and its employees.
Mhlubulwana pointed out the concerning discrepancies between what Gordhan and Ramaphosa had to say about the deal between South African Airways (SAA) and Takatso consortium.
Last week Gordhan announced that Takatso is to acquire 51% of SAA, while Government will retain 49%. Yesterday Ramaphosa said the plan to sell Government’s majority stake in SAA is not a done deal. “Only after the due diligence is completed will the rubber hit the road,” Ramaphosa. The Unions demanded Derby set up a meeting between them and the Board of Transnet as they doubt the decisions of the Board.
Organised Labour will continue to keep Transnet employees abreast of developments.
For media interviews and soundbites phone Harris on 082 566 5516 or Mazibuko on 082 660 4793.