As more than 20,000 truck drivers dig in on their demand for higher wages, the supply lines of nearly every consumer good has been cut short and is now causing severe price hikes and service shortages. This marks the second week that South African truck driver unions have made their concerns a priority for the country, as it is causing riots and violent confrontations between them and police.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Thursday striking truck drivers who committed violence and broke the law would be acted against by law enforcement.
“We are monitoring the situation and frankly, what we have been observing is pure criminality,” said Mthethwa in a statement. He said acts of violence and intimidating innocent people could not be justified as part of public protests, and police intend to act harshly against such lawlessness, with arrests imminent.
The unions on strike include the Transport and Allied Workers Union, the Motor Transport Workers Union, the Professional Transport and Allied Workers Union of South Africa, and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union. Trucking employers are offering the unions an 8.5 percent wage increase in 2013 along with an additional 0.5 percent in 2014, but the trucking unions want 12 percent, and they don’t sound like they’re backing down.
The unions are in talks today with employers to try to come to terms on the wage increases, but the outcome is unclear as the unions appear to be serious about their demands.
If trucking employers can’t reach a deal soon, things could get worse very quickly as more than 20,000 workers dig in on their demand for higher wages.