There is no sign that the national bus strike planned for Wednesday will be called off, the bus drivers’ bargaining council said on Tuesday.
“It is definitely going ahead tomorrow,” said Gary Wilson, secretary general of the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBC).
The council, which represents at least 80% of South Africa’s passenger buses, has approached the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for help, and was waiting for the five unions to give the go-ahead for the intervention.
Wilson said the employer associations, the Commuter Bus Employers Organisation and South African Bus Employers Association (Sabea) have already committed to the CCMA process, and he was waiting for the go-ahead from the unions for the process to start.
They are the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), the Transport and Omnibus Workers Union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the Tirisano Transport Workers Union.
“Unless the unions withdraw their intention of a notice to strike, the strike will go ahead,” Wilson said.
Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela said the only thing that would make them (as the majority union in the bargaining council) call off the strike, was if the companies return to the negotiation table “with something we can work with”.
The main issues behind the strike are the following:
-Unions want a 12% across-the-board wage increase.
-They want the minimum basic wage to be R8 000 a month.
-They want full pay for dual drivers on long distances.
-Unions want night shift to be between 16:00 and 06:00, instead of the current 20:00 to 03:00 period.
-Employees are offering a three-year across-the-board increase – 7% for year one, 7.25% for year two, and 7.5% for year three.
-Satawu said employers want to keep the current basic minimum wage at R6 070.
-Employers also want industry first-timers to earn R6 070 regardless of whether the company’s minimum wage is higher or not.
-Workers also want to be compensated for “sleeping out” and want “decent” accommodation.
Urgent talks are also under way at the Department of Transport over the impact of the strike.
Department spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said further details on how the department will respond to the strike are expected to be released later on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Cape Town’s MyCiTi and Golden Arrow Bus Services (Gabs) have urged commuters to find alternative means of transport.
Golden Arrow alone says it transports approximately 220 000 passengers every week day.
Weekly and monthly clipcards that are valid when the strike commences, will be extended when the service resumes, said Gabs.
Member of the Mayoral Committee for Transport in Cape Town Brett Herron, encouraged Capetonians to look for alternatives and to carpool during peak hour, if possible.
Putco, which serves large parts of Gauteng, is also expected to issue a statement later on Tuesday to advise commuters of their options.
About 500 drivers at Port Elizabeth’s Algoa Bus Company, which serves about 70 000 commuters a day in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, as far afield as Uitenhage, will also be on strike, the company’s CEO Sicelo Duze told News24.
Duze said the company fully supported the proposed CCMA assistance.
“The strike, at the end of the day, is in nobody’s interests,” he said.
“It will have a huge impact on the economy,” he said, adding that schools will also be affected.
Klaus Heimes, president of Sabea, said negotiations had been under way since January, until they reached a deadlock in March.
At Metrorail in Cape Town, which has its own delays caused by vandalism and crime, all lines are expected to be open.
“No additional trains are available but if required, peak hours will be extended and trains will continue to operate until volumes dissipate,” said spokesperson Riana Scott.
“We request commuters to be patient and courteous to fellow users while we deal with the additional demand,” she said.
Taxis are expected to run as normal.[Source: News24]