Strike violence causes traffic chaos near Johannesburg airport

Three people were injured in protests by striking truck drivers in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg, on Thursday morning, metro police said.

“Up to now we can say three people [have] sustained injuries following truck protests around 7am,” said Inspector Kobeli Mokheseng.

“There were calls coming in on Thursday morning that on the R21 to Pretoria, one light delivery vehicle was burned, and truckers stoned two trucks.”

He said the R21 north to Pretoria, opposite OR Tambo International Airport, was closed.

“The R24 is affected going east and, if you are on the R21 going towards Pretoria, it is affected up to Griffiths Road offramp,” said Mokheseng.

“We are diverting traffic from East Rand Mall heading to Pretoria and… directing it on to the Griffiths Road offramp.”

Traffic on the R24 was also being redirected from Barbara Road.

“No arrests have been made. Police are dealing with the situation as it is happening,” he said.

Meanwhile, wage negotiations between the Road Freight Employers’ Association (RFEA) and unions remained deadlocked.

RFEA spokeswoman Magretia Brown-Engelbrecht said the situation had not changed since Wednesday.

“We have committed ourselves to being available for further talks. Nothing has been forthcoming thus far and we shall see where we go,” she said.

“We are hopeful that between today [Thursday] and tomorrow [Friday] we can get the process going again.”

The unions involved are the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu), the Professional Transport and Allied Workers’ Union SA (PTAWUSA), the Transport and Allied Workers’ Union of SA (TAWU) and the Motor Transport Workers’ Union (MTWU).

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PTAWUSA road freight co-ordinator Puncho Ndevu confirmed that the situation remained unchanged on Thursday, with unions in discussions among themselves regarding the next step forward.

About 20,000 workers in the road freight transport sector have been on strike over wages since Monday.

Unions have reverted to a 12 percent pay demand after rejecting a lower offer tabled by employers on Tuesday.

The RFEA had proposed a staggered increase of 8.5 percent effective from March, and a further 0.5 percent from September next year. – Sapa