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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Locals retrenched to pave way for foreign drivers

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Durban – Some truck drivers protesting against the employment of foreign nationals in the road freight industry have complained that they were retrenched by their companies to pave way for foreign nationals.

Mandla Zikhali, 48, from Empangeni near Richards Bay, on the northern KwaZulu-Natal coast, said he had been working for a transport company for more than six years, reports The Mercury.

Reluctant to name it, he said the problem started when the company started employing more foreign drivers.

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“The way the local drivers were being treated, it was horrible. We were paid a very small amount of money and yet we travel all over the country,” Zikhali said.

He said he once travelled from Durban to Gauteng, and from there to Mpumalanga and back to Durban, without any rest.

“As a driver, you need to rest when you are on the road for long hours. Otherwise you’re putting your life at risk and might cause accidents on the road.

“When we complained, we were told we were lazy and didn’t want to work.”

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Zikhali said as a result of complaints, the company embarked on a huge retrenchment drive.

“When I was retrenched in 2017 with some other guys, the employers immediately hired some foreign drivers. I was very hurt and it really affected my family financially as well.

“It’s been more than a year now and I still haven’t been able to find another job. I was able to support my family and provide for them, but now it’s very hard,” he said.

Zikhali said that drivers in the industry now feared that they might be fired at any time.

“The thing is, the foreigners accept whatever bad treatment the management gives them and they also don’t mind being paid peanuts.

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“Whenever we stand up for our working conditions, we’re described as lazy and always complaining,” said Zikhali.

Asked about the burning of trucks on provincial highways, Zikhali labelled the act as “foolish”.

He said he supported whatever the All Truck Drivers Foundation was demanding.

“They’re fighting for us unemployed drivers. Our jobs are being taken in front of our eyes and we can’t just sit back and watch. The burning of trucks is uncalled for. The department must deal with the mater of foreign employment to eradicate this toxic environment.”

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