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LOOK: Truck drivers ignore court order, vow to intensify their protest until demands are met

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ATDF secretary Sfiso Nyathi said plans were at an advanced stage to intensify the shutdown as the week progressed until employers met their demands.

AS part of the nationwide shutdown, striking truck drivers parked their vehicles across the N1 highway near Kraaifontein in Cape Town yesterday. Picture: Henk Kruger African News Agency (ANA)

Durban – Despite a court interdict, truck drivers took to the streets across the country yesterday, demanding that employers stop hiring foreign nationals.

Several videos went viral on social media depicting protesters stoning trucks and blockading roads.

The Road Freight Bargaining Council was granted a court interdict by the Gauteng High Court on Monday to prevent members of the All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF) from protesting.

ATDF secretary Sfiso Nyathi said plans were at an advanced stage to intensify the shutdown as the week progressed until employers met their demands.

Nyathi said truck drivers were not open to engagement with the government, saying they had done so for the past three years without any resolution.

“No one seems to care about struggling local drivers. The government is not doing anything, they keep forming task teams and we have had enough of that. Even during this period of Covid-19 our people are the ones being targeted by companies when they retrench,” said Nyathi.

He urged the government to engage trucking companies and come back with a positive response if it wanted the protest to end.

“When the drivers are taking action about their struggles, they are told that they are crippling the economy. That is not our aim. The employers are the ones that cause the whole issue. We will not stop supporting drivers. Hunger is the cause of this anger,” said Nyathi.

The National Joint Operational Structure (Natjoints), consisting of various government departments in the security cluster, met yesterday to find ways to resolve the impasse.

AS part of the nationwide shutdown, striking truck drivers parked their vehicles across the N1 highway near Kraaifontein in Cape Town yesterday.
Picture: Henk Kruger African News Agency (ANA)

The structure issued directives to law enforcement agencies to activate their contingency plans in all provinces to ensure that the strike was policed efficiently through priority deployments at identified key areas.

A statement issued by the structure yesterday said there would be zero tolerance of any form of intimidation against truck drivers and road users.

“Law enforcement will ensure that there are no criminal activities and that the lives of law-abiding citizens are not put in danger,” said Department of Employment and Labour spokesperson, Teboho Thejane.

Thejane said the task team established by President Cyril Ramaphosa last year had made good progress in resolving outstanding matters.

He said the ministers were dismayed and disturbed by the actions of the splinter groupings that continued to involve themselves in sporadic violence against trucks on national roads, social media threats and the calls for a shutdown.

“We have instructed the police to deal decisively with those involved, as we cannot tolerate further disruptions to the economy.”

The task team also acknowledged growing public concern around the continued presence of foreign nationals in the trucking, security, agriculture, construction, hospitality and domestic sectors amid high unemployment in the country.

Thejane said the Employment, Labour and Home Affairs ministers were urged to fast-track the international immigration and labour migration management policy and legal matters to the Cabinet.

He said they would also address some of these matters with their counterparts within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the AU.

“We call on Road Freight Industry workers to air their grievances and to stage protests within the confines of the law as it is within their right to do so. Protesters are also reminded that the country is still under the State of Disaster,” added Thejane.

Advocate Priya Hassan from the Positive Freight Solution Forum, which represents 3000 truck owners, said they were going to leave everything in the hands of the government.

“At the end of the day, we can’t do anything more. We have told the government in the meeting that they must ensure that they fight criminal activity.

“The losers here are the masses, the citizens who have nothing to do with the protest.

“Every delay of a loaf of bread, fruit and vegetables, milk, medication due to such protests is a loss of life. That’s exactly what these criminals should be charged for. They are creating a massacre,” Hassan said.

AS part of the nationwide shutdown, striking truck drivers parked their vehicles across the N1 highway near Kraaifontein in Cape Town yesterday.
Picture: Henk Kruger African News Agency (ANA)

The Mercury