Metrobus drivers to return to the roads

Metrobus drivers will be back on the road on Thursday after a five-week strike, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane announced on Wednesday.

This came after the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) and Johannesburg Metrobus struck a deal after 24 hours of negotiations, Mokonyane told a media briefing at her office in Johannesburg.

“We have committed ourselves to forging a closer working relationship with municipalities ... and we were concerned about the impact that the strike was having on commuters,” Mokonyane said.

She said commuters were suffering after having to shell out more money for their transport during the strike, therefore an agreement had to be reached.

The deal was not reached because Metrobus had been given a bail-out, but from the balancing of the bus company’s books.

The settlement amounted to R5,5-million and would eventually go up to R8,9-million. It will be implemented from June 1, but exact salary figures were not yet available.

When Mokonyane was asked what changed in negotiations, her response was: “What changed is people were able to talk and appreciate one another.

“Everybody was able to put all the facts on the table, and before negotiations resumed, it was agreed that we should be able to find a lasting solution through dialogue.”

Samwu spokesperson Dumisani Langa said Metrobus drivers and union members were happy with the deal and would now be in a position to move up within the ranks.

“Parties [involved in negotiations] were able to negotiate honestly,” Langa said.

City manager Mavela Dlamini said the settlement reached was a long term one for Metrobus.

“We had to recheck realities.”

According to Dlamini, about R9-million of revenue was lost during the strikes.

“But we must remember that we didn’t have to operate buses, and we followed the no work, no pay policy. It is a policy that makes up a sustainable environment.”

Meanwhile, a planned secondary strike on Thursday in support of Metrobus workers was called off as was a planned Labour Court application to stop the strike.

Mokonyane also thanked Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo for his involvement in the negotiations.—Sapa

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