Labour unions are contesting Transnet Port Terminal's (TPT) privatisation process of their Durban Container Terminal (DCT) Pier 2 and the Ngqura Container Terminal (NCT), as they feel it’s a disguise for mass retrenchment.
The African Transport Workers Union (Satawu) said it has many unanswered questions regarding workers’ job security.
This includes not knowing how the private sector plans to participate.
Consequently, Satawu threatens to take the matter further.
"As things stand now, there was no consensus reached by the two parties.
“As a result, Satawu and management agreed that the legal transition team must be brought back to address these challenges as management has failed," the union said.
In a statement by TPT, it was confirmed that the organisations had come to a stalemate, saying they would continue discussing the treatment of labour.
Satawu believes the process is not a "transition" but rather a privatisation that will negatively impact workers and only benefit minorities.
"Transnet has continued to assure organised labour that there will be no retrenchments due to the planned transactions and that all employees will be retained as Transnet employees.
“Consultations with organised labour will continue as planned in the next few weeks," it said.
Under the government's Operation Vulindlela initiative for raising port efficiencies, two Transnet terminals were identified to benefit from a private-sector-participation-driven strategy which will improve the terminals' capacity, as they are currently underperforming.
Transnet seeks to create a 25-year agreement between the winning bidders and TPT, preventing them from selling assets and re-assuming control over the terminals once the concession is over.
Companies which were shortlisted last year for the transactions include APM Terminals AMI Management DMCEST, China Harbour Engineering Company and Guangzhou Port Company, COSCO Shipping Ports Limited, DP World Limited, Global Ports Services, Grindrod Freight Services and Hamburger Hafen Und Logistik Aktiengesellschaft, International Container Terminal Services, Red Sea Gateway Terminal, MMC Port Holdings, and Star Classic Investments Limited among others.
Sawatu said their meeting with TPT and Transnet's management team was long and difficult. However, they did raise concerns about the “unprofessionalism” by which management in TPT has dealt with the "transition" and related labour issues.
"The union wishes to state that it refused to agree and will take critical decisions as the management failed to answer questions tabled by the union," said Sawatu.