Strike by South African rail and port workers widens

Thousands have joined a strike by South African transport workers, crippling rail and port services across the country.

Unions want a 15% pay rise for staff at Transnet, the country’s state-owned main transporter of freight.

The United Transport and Allied Trade Union has joined the industrial action called on Monday by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union.

South Africa is preparing to host the World Cup, which starts on 11 June.

Unions have rejected Transnet’s offer of an 11% pay rise.

‘Nothing is moving’

Eighty-five per cent of Transnet’s 54,000-strong workforce are now on strike, says Reuters news agency.

Transnet transports thousands of tonnes of freight daily by train, as well as loading and unloading goods at South African ports.

“Nothing is moving today,” George Strauss, president of the United Transport and Allied Trade Union, told Reuters.

Deliveries of fuels such as coal have been minimal, reports South Africa’s Business Day newspaper.

The country’s passenger rail services, which rely on Transnet workers, have also been affected.

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has suspended all services operated by Shosholoza Meyl, the country’s long-distance passenger rail company, for the duration of the strike, says Business Day.

Up to 30,000 passengers would be affected “based on the assumption that the strike continues for a full two weeks”, Prasa acting CEO Tumisang Kgaboesele was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to visit South Africa for the World Cup, which is being held in Africa for the first time.

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