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Fighting back through unity in South Africa

18 Jul 2019

Leaders of South African transport unions have met in Cape Town to find solutions to their members problems, boost cooperation and share information.

The unions met as part of the ITF national coordination committee (NCC) and agreed to work more closely together to give transport workers in South Africa a strong voice. 

Part of the ITF’s strategy after the 2018 Congress in Singapore is to reach out to unions in critical transport hubs, such as South Africa, to build union density. 

The NCC participants agreed to focus on organising to build cooperation, not conflict. This will include sharing information on collective bargaining agreements and developing targeted campaigns. 

Stephen Cotton, ITF general secretary, said at the conclusion of the meeting: “With so many transport workers unorganised in South Africa our resources and efforts have to be on building density. What I have seen from this initial meeting is a willingness to accept this and a commitment to do something about it.”

To demonstrate this commitment, later in 2019/early 2020, plans will be developed for a possible South African Transport Symposium to help identify issues of mutual concern for the unions, such as:

  • the increasing casualisation of work
  • lack of investment in transport infrastructure
  • the difference between a minimum wage and an acceptable living wage
  • freedom of association and health and safety issues in transport sectors

In addition, the symposium would also discuss strategies to overcome the low density of unionised transport workers, the need for national coordination and mechanisms to share experiences and strategies. As a first step the leaders would share information on barriers to organising and look at the possibility of union capacity building at the national level. 

It was also agreed that the ITF would organise a twice-yearly leadership forum to ensure the implementation of the outcomes from the summit and to build greater unity.  

The union leaders present in the meeting were DETAWU and SATAWU.

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