Reuters Africa

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South African truck drivers have signed a wage deal to end a three-week strike, the freight employers group said on Friday, putting an end to a walk-out that has hit deliveries of fuel, cash and consumer goods in Africa’s top economy.

Workers in the freight sector belonging to the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) march through the Durban central business district, demanding an increase in salary September 26, 2012. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

More than 20,000 truck drivers have taken to the streets in often violent protests since late September, demanding higher wages. At least one person was killed and dozens of trucks were torched by demonstrators.

“The agreement has been signed by everyone. The strike is off immediately,” Penwell Lunga, chairman of the Road Freight Employers Association told Reuters.

He said workers have agreed to accept wage increases of 10 percent from March 2013, 8 percent the following year and 9 percent for 2015.

All four transport unions were part of the agreement, RFEA spokeswoman Magretia Brown-Engelbrecht said, although she did not reveal details of the deal.

News of the wage deal helped relieve some of the pressure on the rand. The currency, which tumbled to a 3-1/2 year low on Monday on concerns about weeks of crippling strikes, hit its highest in a week immediately following the news.

Since August almost 100,000 workers across South Africa – including 75,000 in the mining sector – have downed tools in often illegal and violent strikes that have undermined investor confidence and already shaky economic growth.

Moody’s also cut South Africa’s credit rating last month, citing the government’s failure to tackle the industrial unrest that has swept from the platinum and gold sectors into other parts of the economy. Read more…