The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) has vowed to commence what they termed a “total shutdown” of major seaports across the country from today over salary discrepancies between black and white mariners.
SATAWU, which had issued a 48-hour strike notice for the strike on Tuesday, said white mariners are drawing higher salaries than their black counterparts, even when less experienced.
The union said the strike became inevitable after negotiations with the management of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) to address the issue became deadlocked.
TNPA is a government corporation of South Africa responsible for managing and governing eight of South Africa’s major seaports. It is a landlord authority responsible for the master planning, controlling of port navigations, controlling of port services and facilities and marketing of the port.
SATAWU said striking workers will include pilots who bring ships into port, tug masters who assist pilots moving ships and chief marine engineers who maintain ship performance and operate the engines.
According to SATAWU, “The mariners skills set is such that its withdrawal will result in a total shutdown at all ports.”
TNPA, however, said it had taken measures to ensure minimal disruption at affected ports, including South Africa’s main harbour at Durban along the east coast to emerging oil and gas hub Saldanha Bay on the west coast.
“We have assessed the impact of the strike action and have activated contingency measures through our business continuity plans,” the acting Chief Executive at TNPA, Nozipho Mdawe, said in a statement on Tuesday.