Union to strike in solidarity with Metrobus drivers

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) has served notice of a strike among all its members in Gauteng after the collapse of wage talks for bus drivers, an official said on Wednesday.

Samwu Gauteng spokesperson Dumisani Langa said all 54 000 of its members in the province would down tools on May 28.

“We have served the city with notice,” said Langa.

This will be in solidarity with Johannesburg Metrobus drivers who have been on strike since April 28.

The drivers are demanding an entry-level basic salary of R7 021, a salary of R8 800 for drivers with five years’ experience and a salary of R10 650 for drivers with more than 10 years’ experience, said Langa.

He said all drivers were currently earning R7 021 a month.

Metrobus has said it could not accede to Samwu’s demands, warning it would place the company in liquidation.

Talks collapsed last week, leaving bus commuters stranded for a fourth week.

Metrobus board chairperson, Zweli Mntambo, told reporters on Tuesday that Samwu’s demands would cost the company about R12-million a year.

“Agreeing would mean that we’d have to raise bus fares quite substantially, like doubling what commuters pay now, or petition the City of Johannesburg for a larger portion of ratepayers’ money to subsidise the additional costs,” said Mntambo.

But Langa said the union would not back down, although he acknowledged the strike was becoming a lose-lose situation, since bus drivers on strike are not receiving any pay.

“All parties are losing, it’s a fact. It’s in both party’s interest to solve the issue but we are not changing our demands,” said Langa.—Sapa

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