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South African Port Workers End Pay Strike, Union Says (Update1)
May 28,2010 14:14CST
industry news

JOHANNESBURG, May 28 -- South African port and rail workers ended a strike that began May 10, after accepting a pay offer.

Port and rail operator Transnet Ltd. proposed an 11 percent pay increase and a one-time payment equivalent to 1 percent of annual salary, Zenzo Mahlangu, general secretary of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, said today in a telephone interview. "The strike is over," he said.

Members of Satawu, as the union is known, had stuck to their walkout after members of the United Transport and Allied Trade Union returned to work on May 22 after accepting a wage settlement. Satawu, whose members will return to work tomorrow, represents 39 percent of Transnet's 54,000 employees and Utatu 45 percent.

Richards Bay Coal Terminal, on South Africa's eastern coast, had been "running short of coal," RBCT Chief Executive Officer Raymond Chirwa said yesterday. Stockpiles of delayed goods such as metals, fruit and wine will be cleared within a month, Transnet said May 24.

Shippers including A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, the world's largest container-shipping line, are charging customers extra to handle the backlog.

Farmers Hurt

The strike has cost South Africa's fruit industry about 1 billion rand ($130 million), while losses sustained by other farmers are being calculated, according to Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. South Africa is the world's second- largest citrus-fruit exporter, after Spain. Of those exports, 55 percent go to Europe and 20 percent to the Middle East.

Companies such as Exxaro Resources Ltd., ArcelorMittal South Africa Ltd., Xstrata Plc, Samancor Ltd. and Ruukki Group had declared force majeure during the strike, enabling them to miss contracted metal and coal deliveries because of circumstances beyond their control.

Kumba Iron Ore Ltd., which is majority-owned by Anglo American Plc, said it stockpiled ore before the strike and made alternative transport arrangements, allowing it to meet at least 70 percent of delivery obligations.



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