JOHANNESBURG Oct 7 South African rail freight
operator Transnet is bracing for a one-day strike by
port and rail workers in support of a walkout by 20,000 truckers
that has hit fuel supplies round the economic hub of
Johannesburg and at least one car plant.
Large parts of South Africa's gold and platinum mining
sectors have been brought to a standstill in the last two months
by a wave of wildcat labour unrest in which almost 50 people
have been killed -- 34 of them by police.
State-owned Transnet said on Sunday it had been served with
a notice of a walkout "in a week's time" by the SATAWU transport
union behind the two-week trucker stoppage, but did not say when
it might occur.
"We are considering the notice and will activate our
contingency measures to ensure minimal disruptions should the
action materialise," Transnet said in a statement.
SATAWU spokesman Vincent Masoga said wage talks between
freight bosses and unions were scheduled to restart on Tuesday
after breaking down acrimoniously at the end of last week, but
the union was still gearing up for action.
"We've issued notices. It is going ahead. We are
mobilising," Masoga said.
Top producer Anglo American Platinum fired 12,000
illegal strikers on Friday, raising fears of even more violence
around the "platinum belt" city of Rustenburg although the
weekend passed off largely without incident.
The mine strikes look set to knock already shaky economic
growth in Africa's biggest economy and have already triggered a
sharp sell-off in the rand. The trucker strike, if it
persists, could have a far harsher and wider effect.
Oil giant Shell said on Friday it could not honour
fuel delivery contracts around Johannesburg, declaring "force
majeure" to free itself and customers from existing obligations,
and other petrol suppliers are holding their breath.
General Motors reported disrupted production at its
plant in the southern city of Port Elizabeth.
President Jacob Zuma and his African National Congress have
been criticised as slow to respond to the strikes, although the
ANC's long-standing ties to the unions and a looming internal
leadership election mean decisive action is unlikely.
Zuma is favoured to win re-election at the December
conference, teeing him up for a second five-year term as head of
state in 2014, although domestic media are alive with rumours he
could face a challenge from Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
The speculation moved up a gear on Sunday with newspapers
publishing excerpts of a new Motlanthe political biography, even
though in the book Motlanthe refused to be drawn on whether he
would accept a nomination to run against Zuma.
(Reporting by Ed Cropley; editing by Ron Askew)