Relationship between Transnet and labour reaches new low

Transnet CEO, Siyabonga Gama. Source: WEF

There’s been a further breakdown in the relationship between labour and Transnet over allegations that Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama described United National Transport Union (Untu) general secretary Steve Harris as “malicious”.

This after Untu announced that it had withdrawn from monetary negotiations with Transnet and was considering terminating its wage agreement over claims that Transnet had “misled” the union during wage negotiations by making no reference to its R222 million loan to SA Express Airways in its financial statements.

“Untu remains of the view that Transnet negotiated in bad faith by misleading us about alleged cash flow problems,” a statement from the transport union read. “It is common sense that Transnet would have had a much better cash flow had it not loaned R222 million to SA Express.”

Untu secretariat John Pereira told FTW Online that he did not understand why Gama had specifically singled out Harris in his statement as Harris and the union itself acted only on behalf of its members and not individually.

“This action has encouraged a further breakdown of trust between Untu and Transnet which is worrying for future negotiations as we will have to approach them very carefully,” he said. “The current wage agreement will last for the next three years and following that we hope to have the relationship back to where it should be. However, going forward, the mistrust and deception will always be in the back of our minds.”

Additionally, Gama was scheduled to meet with leadership of the transport union on May 30 to repair this “breakdown of trust” and renegotiate the wage agreement, but he has advised that he is no longer available to do so as he needs to attend a session of Parliament.

Pereira said that Untu had requested a meeting date after the Parliamentary session but had heard no response from Transnet as yet.

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