you have to admit this is sad


South African Wildcat Truck Strike Worries Business Leaders

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Published: August 25, 1994

A wildcat trucking strike that turned many miles of Africa's most modern highway system into a fuming gridlock ended tonight, but not before creating new fears of anarchy to bedevil President Nelson Mandela in his courtship of foreign investors.

The protest began on Monday when hundreds of truckers demanding better pay parked across a tollgate on the country's busiest freight highway, near the Indian Ocean port of Durban. It spread quickly to three other major routes, as the truckers rallied one another to choke points on citizens' band radios.

Mr. Mandela's Minister of Labor, Tito Mboweni, mediated a deal in which the truckers agreed to open the roadblocks in exchange for a promise that the employers would meet them in a nationwide bargaining council and that wages would be "changed radically."

The episode, the latest in a wave of South African labor unrest, sent unsettling signals about the angry expectations of the work force, the vulnerability of the new Government, and the prospect that the successful strikers may have set a militant new fashion in protest tactics.

The drivers said their campaign, which began without warning or union approval, was a spontaneous explosion of frustration sparked by a feeling that they deserved some reward for helping elect Mr. Mandela. Truck drivers are mostly black and less than half belong to unions.

The strike was quickly embraced by surprised leaders at the main trucking union, the Transport and General Workers, which admitted alarm that drivers had so quickly bypassed the labor establishment.

Julius Matroose, a spokesman for the union, said many workers were disappointed that the election of Mr. Mandela's African National Congress had not produced quick dividends for workers, and that Mr. Mandela was counseling patience.

"Since we have voted for a new Government, there have been those high expectations for sure," he said. "We understand that the A.N.C. has to try by all means to build the economy that is ruined, but our members, who have voted the A.N.C. into power, don't understand when they say, look, we have to wait."

Mr. Matroose said full-time truckers now get a minimum wage of about $400 a month, plus large amounts of overtime, but they work exhausting hours in trucks that are often badly maintained.

The protest ensnared furious commuters, blood plasma deliveries, postal trucks, wilting vegetables and flammable chemicals. One driver was killed under the wheels of a truck in the first day of the protest, in disputed circumstances.

But what seemed to horrify white South Africans most, judging from the storm of calls to radio talk shows and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, was the plight of thirsty cattle, sheep, goats and chickens trapped in transport trucks.

The blockades were the latest in a series of strikes by auto workers, grocery clerks and others. The strikes have generally been small in scale and quickly settled, but they come when the country is under close scrutiny by potential investors.

"I am very, very depressed that this is making the impression that it does," said Ian Moss, chief executive of the Road Freight Association, which represents truck owners. "It is a very problematic message to send to the rest of the world."

Both union officials and employers applauded Mr. Mandela for sending top ministers to resolve the dispute.

Mr. Moss, however, said many in the industry blamed the Government for being too lenient toward disruptive protests, and worried that the strikers' victory would encourage more of the same.

Mr. Matroose of the union also sensed a gentler hand on the Government side, but one he said the workers welcomed.

"If it was the olden era, believe me, this strike would have been smashed a long time ago," he said.
Don't forget the Mexicans organizing as we speak to keep us Gringos from invading their country and driving their rates down.
I am starting to think the better educated the trucking community is the less common sense they have.
or the less willingness to stand up for what is right and to fight for what should be theirs

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