Talks to resolve Transnet strike set to continue on Wednesday following earlier deadlock

A STRIKE by South African ports and freight-rail workers entered a sixth day on Tuesday as talks to end the labor action that is curbing mineral exports remained at an impasse, said Bloomberg News citing an article by BusinessLive.

The newspaper said officials from state-owned Transnet met labour union representatives yesterday where they agreed on picketing rules for the strike that began on October 6. BusinessLive said negotiations, which are being facilitated by the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration are deadlocked.

“We regret that despite the efforts of the CCMA, the parties were unable to reach each other,” said labour minister Thulas Nxesi in the BusinessLive article.

The “parties remain committed to reaching an amicable solution with regards to the wage negotiations,” and are considering alternative proposals, with another meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Transnet spokeswoman Ayanda Shezi said in a statement. The company had earlier said talks would resume on Tuesday.

Kumba Iron Ore said on Monday that the initial impact on production would be about 50,000 tons a day for the first seven days, increasing to 90,000 tons daily thereafter. Exports of the steel making ingredient would be hit to the tune of 120,000 tons a day.

The strike, called by United National Transport Union (Untu) and the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu), was heavily criticised by the South African Iron and Steel Association last week which said it would have “devastating” consequences.

“Compounded by the ongoing energy crisis in South Africa, [it] is likely to have devastating consequences for all sectors of the South African economy, at a time when the country is trying to rebuild following the significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” it said.