Violence a weapon for strikers

By yesterday morning the road freight strike, marred by violence and intimidation, and declared “boring in terms of macroeconomics” by a senior economist, had not been resolved.

Mike Schussler, the director of Economist.co.za, said the strike’s negative impact was manifest “mainly through petrol stations – in the bigger scheme of things it (the impact) is still small”. Isaac Matshego, an economist at Nedbank, agreed that the negative impact of the strike was limited and said the numbers for losses had not yet come through. According to reports, the Fuel Retailers’ Association said on Thursday that 70 petrol stations across the country had run dry.

Tony Twine, a senior economist at Econometrix said: “In terms of the macroeconomics of the country, the strike is boring.

“In-house delivery fleets are still running for Spar and OK Bazaars. The economy did not come to a halt,” he said.

Twine put threats of stocks running dry down to union-stoked rumour or media frenzy.

“What is going to be interesting is if the strike is still in place next Friday and there is an announcement of a 35c increase in petrol and there have not been deliveries at service stations for last two weeks.”

“The (truck drivers’) threat of the strike was telegraphed for weeks and months before it took place,” he said.

“You had to be a fairly bad executive manager not to have your stock in place…, ahead of the deadline for the strike.

“There has been no threat in the first week of strike. Losses have been constrained to the wages of striking workers and to perishables that could not be delivered.

“If the strike continued for weeks we would eventually run into a position where it would affect faster-moving goods and retail – petrol, bread.

“Some ATMs would not be filled. Some would. The bank ATMs tend to be serviced by in-house bank cash operations rather than independent truckers. It’s not such a threat and there is an awful lot of money that can be recycled.”

But Patricia Pillay of the Consumer Goods Council of SA said on Friday: “It is important that a settlement is reached as the potential impact to our members is great.

“The strike has an impact on road transport and rail, as well as port operations, with cargo potentially being stranded in ports as a result of no transportation to move the cargo.”

She said the impact on the consumer industry could be huge if the strike was not resolved.

On Friday, Chose Choeu, the president of the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry called for the police to monitor the violence and warned against the negative impact of the strike and its ripple effect on the economy.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the four unions involved in the strike denied the reports of violence.

On Monday, the Transport and Allied Workers Union of SA (Tawusa), the Motor Transport Workers Union (MTWU) and the Professional Transport Workers Union (PTWU) delivered their memorandum.

On Wednesday, the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union delivered its.

On reports of violence, Chris Nkosi, Gauteng provincial secretary for Satawu, said: “The TV was doing a cut-and-paste – they go to hospital and take pictures of people sleeping in the bed and marchers marching somewhere in Braamfontein and say they are doing those things.

“The general secretary gave the instruction that there should be no intimidation.”

Zack Munser, general secretary of Tawusa, said: “The issue of violence, if it was, is very unfortunate. This was an organised industrial strike, which means the workers cannot be fired from their employment. They will not be paid for the duration of the strike.

“We will not expect any of the workers, organised or unorganised, to carry on their duties at the time of the strike.

“The violence I hear about is the violence of people who are carrying on their deliveries during the time of the strike.

“We do not condone violence and don’t expect that to happen. There might have been incidents.”

Reckson Baloi, the general secretary of PTWU, said: “Our members are striking peacefully and picketing at their workplaces. It was peaceful on Monday, when our members marched to the bargaining council, and I can say our strike was peaceful.”

Mdumiseni Mabasu, general secretary of MTWU said: “On Monday we told our members to report to their places of employment and picket… I have not heard of any intimidation from our people. I just read about it (violence) in the newspaper. I have not seen it.” – Sunday Independent

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