30 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Campaign to Help Exploited Drivers

The South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union has joined hands with its Zimbabwean counterparts in addressing victimisation of their members by employers.

Satawu committed itself to the plight of haulage truck drivers after an appeal by the Zimbabwe Transport and Allied Workers Union, especially on the issue of overtime payment.

Secretary-general of Satawu in Gauteng Province Mr Charles John Gusinyu said that the joint campaign was crucial in the spirit of regionalism.

"Our campaign should be seen from the context of establishing basic civilised employment standards and the decent work agenda in the region," said Mr Gusinyu.

He said that the Satawu and ZTAWU co-operation should campaign for structured hours of work and compulsory rest days for truck drivers.

"We should also campaign for annual leave, non-discriminatory wage policies, mandatory basic wages, accident insurance cover and medical aid scheme among others," said Mr Gusinyu.

He said that the current myth was that only governments had the obligation to give effect to ILO Conventions, especially regarding some issues bedevilling the transport sector.

Mr Gusinyu proposed that the alliance should require that all multi-national organisations like the United Nations should award contracts to transporters who complied with ILO Conventions.

ZTAWU secretary-general Mr Noah Gwande said besides equal pay for equal work discrepancies, the sector was also dogged by unstructured working hours.

"A truck driver is supposed to work for nine hours a day, but we have drivers who are working for up to 24 hours," said Mr Gwande.

"The majority of employers are refusing to pay them overtime, but instead pay the drivers incentive bonuses based on kilometres travelled."

Mr Gwande emphasised on the importance of rest for the drivers, while any overtime work should be by consent.

He said that normal hours of work for truck drivers used to be a Road Traffic Regulation and drivers could be prosecuted working outside normal hours.

Mr Gwande said that Satawu and ZATWU were putting pressure on regional governments to enact regulations that prohibit continuous driving without rest.

He said that log books and electronic devices should be mandatory so as to monitor driving hours.

"Satawu has now turned to us as we developed the argument to protect truck drivers," said Mr Gwande.

"In fact, we prepare some documents for them here like opposing exemptions by employers from paying gazetted wages and payment of per-km-bonus versus normal remuneration."

An average of three cases is filed with the Labour Court in Zimbabwe every month, while more than 10 cases are referred for arbitration.

Most of the disputes arise out of substitution of overtime with incentive bonus, refusal to pay overtime and and casualities of labour.

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