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Last-minute handshake avoids national shutdown in South Africa

A national shutdown planned by the All Truck Drivers Forum (ATDF) for this Monday was suspended following a last-minute agreement between the ATDF and government departments.

Last week, the ATDF warned commuters and road users that it intends to host a national strike with all its members to down their tools on Monday, 20 May, until government heeds their demands.

The ATDF stated that it wants better regulation of foreign nationals employed in the trucking and transport sector, and claims that government has made little to no effort to do so.

According to Gugu Sokhela, General Secretary for the ATDF, most employers in the trucking sector look for the “easy way out” when trying to save costs and therefore contract illegal nationals from other African nations to work for them for lesser salaries than South African drivers, which in turn stokes local unemployment figures as well as fosters dangerous road conditions as these drivers are not always properly trained.

The eleventh hour

An agreement between the ATDF, minister of transport, minister in the presidency, and national and provincial police commissioners was reached late in the evening on Sunday, 19 May, which led to the association calling off its planned strike for the following morning for the time being.

During the meeting, the ATDF voiced its concerns to the relevant government parties and handed them a list of companies that it believes are currently operating illegally.

The parties agreed to an “implementation plan” that will see the Department of Transport carry out more inspections of the businesses that are allegedly employing illegal foreign nationals as well as perform more roadblocks to catch perpetrators in the act.

Sokhela told 702 that the resumption of the planned national shutdown will depend on how well these initiatives are implemented in the near future.

These agreements and issues will be handed over to the incoming parliament following the national elections on 29 May, who will be responsible for the execution thereof.

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