Ricochet News

National bus strike was a last resort – NUMSA

By Afikile Lugunya - Apr 18, 2018
National bus strike was a last resort – NUMSA

While bus drivers embarked on a strike on Wednesday after wage negotiations deadlocked with their employers, taxi drivers scored big time nationally.

In the morning, at taxi ranks in Port Elizabeth’s Motherwell Township, there were long queues as commuters desperately waited to be ferried to their workplaces and schools, with those, who often rely on taxis accusing those left stranded by the buses of “suffocating them”.

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) spokesperson, Irvin Jim, said that the bus strike was a last resort for workers and their unions.

NUMSA was joined by three other unions, South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), Transport and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (TAWUSA) and South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (TIRISANO) in the strike. 

Jim said that the employers were given 30days to come up with solution to their living wage demands, however, they chose “not to engage in talks with a genuine desire to resolve the strike”.

“As NUMSA, we are dismayed by the intransigent and narrow minded attitude adopted by employers represented by their associations SABEA and COBEA during the negotiations where they consistently frustrated wage talks.

“As a result, the Union is left with no option but to call on all its members in the bus sector to down tools. Both union members and non-union members will embark on an indefinite strike until employers meet workers’ demands,” he described.

“They have demonstrated a completely uncaring attitude and have no desire to resolve the current impasse in this round of talks.

“We are a responsible union and we know that this strike is going to negatively affect our communities the most because they do not have safe reliable public transport because government has failed them.

“However, vulnerable workers who are bus drivers and all support staff are left with no option but to embark on a strike in order to fight against attempts to impose an Apartheid colonial wage on them. In essence they are fighting for their own survival and that of their families.”

THE FOLLOWING BUS COMPANIES ARE AFFECTED:

Megabus; Gautrain Busses; Greyhound; Golden Arrow; My Citi in Cape Town; Rea Vaya in Johannesburg; Buscor in Mpumalanga; Bojanala in the North West; Algoa Bus in Port Elizabeth; Mayibuye in East London; Go George in George; Areyeng in Tshwane; Mgqibelo in Sedibeng; Lowveld Bus Company in Limpopo; PAL Bus in Mpumalanga; and Mphakathi in Mpumalanga amongst others.

Their demands:

  1. We demand a 12% wage increase across the board, bosses are offering 7%.
  2. We reject attempts by the bosses to down vary conditions. They want to impose a permanent slavery entry minimum rate of R5500 per month against current wage rates that are higher in the majority of bus companies. It is clear that this opportunism is driven by and encouraged by the current desperation of our government to introduce a slavery national minimum wage. This will have the impact of creating a two tier labour system where some workers earn higher than others. It violates the principle of equal pay for work of equal value, and over time, those who earn more will be retrenched.
  3. We demand that bus drivers are paid in full for all the hours which they spend on a bus as an alternative driver. The employer wants to continue to abuse workers by not paying them their full wages. They want to pay the alternative driver only when he is behind the steering wheel, and this is unacceptable!
  4. We demand subsistence allowance (S&T) for drivers who are doing long distance travel, and are forced to sleep out.
  5. We demand compliance with the (Basic Conditions of Employment Act) BCEA when it comes to night shift payment allowance. Workers who work from 6pm to 6am must be paid the full night shift allowance as determined by the basic conditions of employment act. Currently the industry uses a different definition for night shift which robs workers of their full allowance.
  6. We demand a special allowance for workers who qualify to drive the ‘train bus’ (two coaches) or the bi-articulated bus (three coaches), because it is a specialised skill and requires special training. Currently the employer wants to pay them as regular drivers and we reject this.