South Africa’s port authority obtains interdict to halt illegal industrial action

Cargo loading and unloading at Ngqura Port. Credit: Transnet

South Africa’s state-owned freight and logistics, Transnet, has obtained a court order to end two weeks of illegal industrial action, which was impacting operations at the country’s major container terminals.

Transnet said in a statement that the labour court in the city of Port Elizabeth had ordered workers to increase performance levels at the nearby Port of Ngqura. Workers at the port’s container terminal had been on a protracted go-slow over promotions and bonuses. The Durban Container Terminal was also affected by equipment failure and a high-level of absenteeism, and there was also decline in performance levels at the Cape Town Container Terminal.

“Operations [at Ngqura] have been disrupted by malicious radio interference. Since the suspension of 11 employees last week, radio interference has stopped and operational performance has improved,” said Transnet spokesperson, Molatwane Likhethe.

Performance levels at the Cape Town and Durban container terminals have also improved. Transnet acting group CEO Mohammed Mahomedy said that the port authority was working around the clock to find solutions, including prioritising urgent cargo.

“We are also continuing to refine our contingency plans in order to minimise the impact to the economy,” he said. During the go-slow, truck drivers were forced to wait up to 18 hours to load or unload cargo, leaving products from the automotive, citrus, meat, textiles, and electronic sectors stuck in transit.