Gautrain bus driver dispute still unresolved
The offer was allegedly made by the chairperson of the Gauteng legislature’s petitions portfolio committee, Jacob Khawe, in the presence of several parties during a meeting to resolve the standoff.
The case was referred to the petitions standing committee after the transport portfolio committee failed to make any progress on the matter.
The fired workers, initially numbering about 300, approached the Gauteng legislature petitions officer in February after they were dismissed over a work stoppage relating to transport and overtime issues.
The workers, represented by lawyer Kevin van Huyssteen, had been without union representation since August last year when they parted ways with South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union.
Van Huyssteen said the workers contacted the legislature on the grounds that the employment of the bus drivers was funded by Gauteng province.
The drivers went on strike because of continuing dissatisfaction over their working conditions. The drivers work 11-hour shifts with no option of overtime. At the depot, the drivers have to move buses in a queue every few minutes, which the company regards as standing time. They have to find their own way of getting to work, although the morning shift starts at 3.30am and the afternoon shift ends at 10.30pm.
“According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, you can’t make people work before 6am and after 6pm if there is no transport available,” Van Huyssteen said. “The workers had refused to work on this basis.”
After the workers went on strike, Mega Express applied to the labour court on January 13 for an interdict to force the workers to go back to work, which was granted.
“We had an arbitration pending for February 21, where we were going to discuss these issues,” Van Huyssteen said. “[But] the company started punishing people internally, holding disciplinary commissions and firing people.
“We applied for an interdict at the labour court to stop the dismissals, but the labour court refused us.”
Following that, the workers were given an ultimatum to return to work by February 3 or give reasons for why they should not be dismissed. But the workers’ committee members instructed them not to return to work before their demands were met. The demands, in addition to reinstatement, were overtime pay and transport to and from work outside of normal hours. The drivers remain unemployed.
Attempts to get comment from Mega Express and Khawe before going to print were unsuccessful.