Media briefing by Minister Nxesi on blockade of roads by trucks in the Eastern Cape
27 October 2021

We have noted the Truck Drivers road blocks with concern, as we know the effect this has on the economy, the delay of essential goods and services across the country and throughout our SADC Borders. We are equally aware of the plight of unemployment and the effects of Covid-19 to jobs and livelihoods.


We have had an open line with the Bargaining Council of Road Freight and Logistics, as well as with the leadership of Truck Drivers Associations which are outside of the Bargaining Council. We had acted with speed in developing policy frameworks that are responsive to the outcry of prioritising South African citizens in jobs that do not require scarce skills, the Labour Migration Policy and Employment Policies have been developed and they will be consulted across government, NEDLAC Social Partners and to the Public in due course.


Just to add some perspective to this: The Road Freight industry employs a total of 103,000 employees, 8,500 of which are foreign nationals which is 8% of the total Road Freight Industry employees.


We however note that there are employers within this sector, who continue to employ undocumented foreign nationals – and the existence of rogue employers who seek to exploit vulnerable foreign workers. We urge those employers to refrain from these practices as we view this as economic sabotage and their undermining of our labour migration laws.


From the side of the Department we have taken the following measures:


Inspection and Enforcement

  • Our Labour Inspectors continue to participate and coordinate Blitz inspections and they will intensify these inspections across the country.


  • The inspections, road blocks and patrols have resulted in arrests, fines and confiscations where non-compliance has been detected.


  • A decision was taken that coordinated interventions should be located in provincial governments by MECs of Transport and Security. In recent times, Mpumalanga and E Cape have been active in undertaking inspections.

  • It also should be noted that the Bargaining Council for the Road, Freight and Logistics sector also plays a role in ensuring compliance with standards of employment in this sector.


Engaging the parties in the Road Freight and Logistics sector 

Government has been engaging all stakeholders within the industry to identify and agree on key concerns, root causes and to establish appropriate interventions and find long lasting solutions:

  • We established a National Forum that included the four government departments (DEL, SAPS, DHA, DOT), the Association of Truck Drivers Forum, The National Truck Drivers Association, the Owner Truck Drivers, the African Diaspora Truck Driver's Association, and the Road Freight Bargaining Council. Given the nature of issues that were emerging from this forum, the President extended the composition to 12 Departments to address a range of cross-cutting issues. The President also extended the establishment of Provincial Transportation Forums.
  • These Forums have enabled government to coordinate its migration interventions, keeping stakeholders within the Industry informed on our interventions and keeping all of us abreast on the developments across our provinces.
  • We will continue to convene these Forums and ensure that legitimate representatives attend these meetings and are also accountable in implementing all the decision that are taken in the forums.
  • The Department has also, this year, engaged with the African Diaspora Truck Drivers and Allied Workers Union as to the requirements for registration as a trade union. It must be noted that the Labour Relations Act does not discriminate against foreign nationals, but just like any other organisation, they must meet the requirements of the law for registration.
  • It is also important to mention that The Road Freight Bargaining Council main collective agreement extended to non-parties, as gazetted by the Minister, does not discriminate against foreign nationals.


Regulation of Labour Migration

In the longer-term, DEL together with DHA, have been leading a team to review current policy and legislation on labour migration and employment of foreign nationals. This seeks to strike a balance between: 

  • The SA population's expectations regarding accessibility to work for South Africans, given worsening unemployment and a perception that (undocumented) foreigners are distorting labour market access;
  • South Africa's labour market needs, in particular the need for critical skills not locally available;
  • The protection of migrant workers and their families, in accordance with international standards and guidelines;
  • Regional integration and cooperation imperatives.


Currently, the only provision in the employment laws regulating employment of foreign national is that which prohibits any employer to employ any foreign national without the necessary work visas as outlined in the Immigration Act 2002 [found in Section 8 and 9 of the Employment Services Act, No 04 of 2014.] All other existing Labour laws apply equally to citizens and all foreign nationals. These provisions were identified as inadequate.


The Department of Employment and Labour has been working to conclude a National Labour Migration Policy that will introduce quotas on the number of foreign nationals with correct work visas that can be employed in the various sectors of our economy.


The Policy and proposed Employment Services Amendment Bill to give effect to the policy, are currently in their last stages of approval at Cabinet level - before being released for public consultation and Nedlac processes.  This is necessary and prescribed for us to arrive at a proper legal instrument that is aligned to our constitution and other international treaties on migration.