Transnet Strike:12 000 jobs on the line in the Western Cape berry industry
Over 12 000 jobs in the berry industry in the Western Cape, which include 4 000 permanent jobs and 8 000 seasonal jobs, are on the line should the ongoing Transnet strike not be urgently resolved.
The citrus export season has ended, and the stone fruit season is due to start in earnest in November, making this a key time for berry exports, specifically blueberries.
It is also estimated that between 80% and 90% of those employed in the berry industry are women.
This is according to Berries ZA, a body representing businesses in the berry industry in South Africa.
Functioning and efficient ports are of critical importance to the provincial economy, through enabling our region’s impressive growth in exports, with an estimated total economic impact close to R66 billion or 8.6% of the provincial GDP.
Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger said: “This is why the current situation at the ports is deeply concerning.”
She added “As of today, 17 October, the same three container vessels have been at berth since the strike commenced on 6 October, or for 11 days, compared to turnaround time, including waiting time to berth, normally being four days. A further four container vessels are waiting to berth. Even more worrying is the fact that at least 4 vessels have omitted the Port of Cape Town completely since the beginning of the strike.”
Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer said: “The current labour dispute is a significant risk for the berry industry as it undermines the considerable growth it has experienced over the last few years, which has seen 33% growth in the area used to produce berries in the Western Cape. Given the labour-intensive nature of the berry industry, it is an essential contributor to job creation in the agriculture sector.”
“The berry sector is export focused. Blackberries from Western Cape, for example, are primarily destined for the European markets, with roughly 55% of the Western Cape blackberry exports going to the United Kingdom, followed by Saudi Arabia at 13% and Kuwait (11%) amongst the top 10 importing countries. Given the above, the current labour dispute must be resolved as rapidly as possible. Failure to do so could impact other products dominating Quarter 4 export activity,” said Dr Meyer.
“Our economy, hard hit by COVID-19, cannot afford such a disruptive strike, on top of the country’s energy crisis. Key port services are essential for the future of our country and should be treated as such by all concerned. We must put South Africa first and I reiterate our call for all parties to negotiate in good faith, keeping in mind our common goal to grow the economy, create jobs, and to re-ignite hope and confidence in our province and country” concluded Minister Wenger
Spokesperson for the Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities
(Responsible for the Provincial Treasury and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism)
Cell: 076 423 7541