Transnet says it will suspend the lockout on all striking employees at its Ngqura Container Terminal after striking staff made a plea to come back to work.
"Transnet today announced that it would suspend the lockout on all striking employees at its Ngqura Container Terminal, just outside Port Elizabeth. This follows pleas from a significant number of the just over 100 colleagues on strike for the company to allow them to abandon the industrial action which is now entering its seventh week," Transnet said on Tuesday.
However, the suspension of the lockout is only for 24 hours and starts at 6am on Wednesday until Thursday at 6am.
"The grace period applies to Transnet employees only. Transnet will reinstate the lockout on those who fail to return to work within the specified period," added Transnet spokesperson Mboniso Sigonyela.
The company is aware of the impact financially especially that the strike has had on workers and their families.
"In line with our commitment to being a caring employer and responsible citizen, management considered and agreed to the request from a group of our colleagues who wished to abandon the Numsa [National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa] strike and return to work."
With the implementation of the lockout, striking Numsa members and other employees, who have associated themselves with the strike can only return to work once Numsa withdraws its demands and accepts Transnet's lockout demands.
In addition, Transnet exercised its right to apply the no-work, no-pay principle since the strike began. In addition, in order to facilitate the reintegration of the strikers into the teams, Transnet has organised counselling sessions for both those wishing to return, as well as those who are not on strike. None of the striking employees will return without going through a counselling session.
Last week, the Labour Court granted an interdict against the union. The interdict granted, on Friday, restraints the union from violence against workers who are not on strike and are working.
Regarding safety, Transnet has heightened security measures around its employees, their families and property. Workers, who are members of Numsa at the terminal, have been on a no-work, no-pay strike since 25 April 2014.
Numsa is not one of Transnet's recognised trade unions, as it does not have sufficient members to qualify for organisational rights.
According to Transnet, the union called on its members to down tools over a number of grievances - all of which were already being addressed with the recognised unions - SATAWU and UTATU SARHWU. The two represent over 80% of colleagues in the bargaining unit.
Last week, the ports and rail operator announced that as of 1 June 2014, all employees at its terminals in the Eastern Cape are now employed directly by the company. This follows a Transnet-wide decision more than six months ago to take the bold step of doing away with labour brokers in our core operations across the company.
The Port of Ngqura, which is located in the Eastern Cape, is capable of handling container, dry and liquid bulk vessels.