From the news desk

Commuters feel the pinch as strike continues

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By Loushe Jordaan

The situation at Mitchell’s Plain bus station remained the same if not worse than Wednesday, as workers affiliated to bus unions embarked on a second day of strike action. Some 1500 commuters were queuing since the early hours of this morning in hopes of getting to work on time. Frustrated commuters say that employers don’t believe that it’s due to the bus strike that they are late and were not sympathetic to employees standing in queues since as early as 5am.

The nationwide strike by bus drivers continued today while the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, CCMA, intervened in the impasse between employees of about sixty companies and their employers. Drivers are demanding an increase of twelve per cent while employers offer seven per cent. Unions and employer associations were expected to meet at the bargaining table at ten o’clock this morning. The CCMA set down the talks for two days.

Speaking to VOC News, one commuter spoke about having an urgent doctor’s appointment at 8am and not being able to be there on time.

“There’s a possibility that I may not get an appointment as there are people on a waiting list already,” she said.

Learners fear that they will be late for school once again and say that some schools punish late comers with detention. Another commuter felt that people with a physical impairment should get preferential treatment and should be shifted to the front of the queue.

But most commuters vented anger about the impact the bus strike would have on their finances. One male commuter said he had to borrow money yesterday and today to get to work.

“I fear for this afternoon when I have to get a taxi in Cape Town because I only got home at 10 last night after I was in a queue since 3pm yesterday,” he added.

Others are just generally frustrated for being exposed to cold and wet weather with no shelter at all.
Other travellers have raised safety concerns as they get home late and queue early in the morning. Town Centre is notorious for its crime and since yesterday, no police has patrolled the area around the bus station and taxi rank.

Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said they support workers on strike because they earn a below average wage while Golden Arrow and other bus companies make a huge profit. However. he said the strike is affecting commuters more than the bus companies who does not seem to bear the brunt of the strike.

“The only people affected by the strike is the commuters with no alternative transport especially in a big city like Cape Town, while the bosses are carrying on as per normal and not bearing any consequences of the strike,” said Ehrenreich.

Ehrenreich claimed Golden Arrow shows little to no regard for commuters as they have not put any measures in place to accommodate those in possession of weekly and monthly tickets, who are unable to afford utilising the taxi services.

“When trains are not running in the Western Cape, Metrorail and Golden Arrow have an agreement that train tickets can be accepted on Golden Arrow buses. So why has Golden Arrow not made the same agreement? Golden Arrow has no regard for commuters at all,” Ehrenreich added.

Meanwhile, Cape Chamber of Commerce President, Janine Myburgh, has called on employers to be patient and accommodate  workers who arrive late to work.

“People are suffering. People can’t get to work and when your workers don’t arrive, you don’t get your products out, you don’t get your services done, so detrimentally it does affect our economy.”

Myburgh added that the bus strike impacts the business sector negatively but also schools and society as a whole. VOC

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