DURBAN – Trucking companies and unions representing local truck drivers have committed to tackling unemployment in the freight transport industry.
The Positive Freight Solution Forum, which represents about 3000 vehicles and 250 owners, met the All Truck Drivers Foundation on Friday.
This meeting followed two meetings that the forum and other companies held with Police Minister Bheki Cele, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele and Transport Minister Blade Nzimande last week.
The employment of foreigners in preference to local drivers in the trucking industry is said to be behind the numerous attacks and burning of trucks on the N3. Since 2016, about 40 trucks have allegedly been burned.
Aven Naidu, spokesperson for the forum, said: “We (unions and the forum) have both agreed that there is a need to curb the unemployment in our sector and we have given a commitment to create employment.
“We will be petitioning the Department of Labour to assist in setting up portals to allow easier access to the workforce pool.
“The greatest challenge is the matching of qualified drivers to the needs of the company and the portal will assist companies in ensuring they have a database of South African candidates they can choose from.”
Sipho Zungu, of the All Truck Drivers Foundation, said companies had explained that most of the employed foreign drivers had contracts.
He said the companies had discussed reducing the number of foreign drivers, but this was not an official proposal from the forum.
“They brought up that most of their drivers were employed under the Zimbabwean Employment Permit. They said they were tied to contracts with most of their drivers until 2021 and had asked for patience while the number was reduced.
“They said they could not afford mass retrenchments of foreigners because they could be forced to pay large sums of money and that could bankrupt some of their businesses.”
Naidu said he could not comment on the issue of reducing the number of foreigners employed, but said massive retrenchments of foreign truck drivers would not be possible.