A local truck drivers’ movement will down tools in a nationwide shutdown on Sunday over the employment of foreign nationals in the industry.
All Truck Drivers Forum and Allied South African said they are tired of the empty promises made by the government regarding the employment of foreign national drivers.
A video currently making rounds on social media, which The Witness has seen, called for a nationwide shutdown and also raised several demands. The movement demands that all foreign national truck drivers be removed from the freight industry with immediate effect.
It also wants a 15% salary increase for all local truck drivers; for workers without permits to be removed from trucks, and for all trucks registered in South Africa to be driven by South Africans.
Speaking to The Witness on Tuesday, the forum’s secretary-general Sifiso Nyathi confirmed that all their members will down tools on Sunday.
Nyathi said there will be no trucks on the road on the day as they will be marching to the bargaining councils in different areas. He said drivers have been briefed by their regional leaders about the programme, and they are on board.
Nyathi said: “We want the whole freight industry to have zero percent of foreign nationals, and it is a common fact that we have hundreds of local truck drivers who are unemployed just because the foreign nationals have occupied those positions.”
“The government is not working for us and the only thing that they keep on making are empty promises. On Sunday, drivers will park their trucks either at the depot or at the truck stop for the rest of the day,” said Nyathi.
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He said they are tired of engaging the government because nothing is happening, as the foreign nationals are still driving trucks.
Nyathi said should some drivers be on the road on the day, they will not disturb or fight with them. Over four years, many trucks have been torched across the country, as local truck drivers demand the government and truck owners to employ local drivers only. They argue that truck driving is not a scarce skill in the country as there are a lot of unemployed truck drivers.
KZN’s Mooi River Toll Plaza on the N3 has been a major hotspot in the county, with many trucks set alight in the area.
Representing the truck owners, Road Freight Association chief executive officer, Gavin Kelly, said they are aware of the shutdown expected on Sunday.
A task team consisting of different ministers and departments was established to resolve the matter which, according to different bodies, has a major negative impact on the country’s economy and image.
Kelly said members within the have also raised concern about the safety of drivers and trucks which might be exposed to violence during the day.
Kelly said law enforcement agencies have also been alerted about the shutdown and areas they need to focus on.
“We have made a call to the police to ensure that the truck operators and the trucks are kept safe, and the ATDF members should not be allowed to perpetrate any scene of violence.
“Whenever there is such a shutdown, trucks end up being damaged and torched. Members are very concerned and we are tired of this thing dragging on for so long as the government seems to be failing to resolve this,” he said.
He said continued violence in the industry could lead to investors, importers and exporters opting to use routes in neighbouring countries.
The KwaZulu-Natal provincial police were also contacted for a comment, but no response was received before publication.