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Court rules against Rea Vaya strike

Rea Vaya bus drivers will be back at work on Tuesday after the Labour Court ruled that Monday’s strike action was illegal.

The company that operates Rea Vaya for Johannesburg’s bus-rapid transit (BRT) system applied for an urgent court interdict against the striking bus drivers on Monday afternoon. The court found the strike was illegal.

“The strike is officially over and the workers have agreed to return to work as per court order,” Rea Vaya said in a statement.

It apologised to commuters who had arrived at BRT stations on Monday morning to find no tickets were being sold. Services would resume on Tuesday and those who took part in the strike would be punished.

“Disciplinary action will be instituted against drivers who participated in the illegal and unprotected industrial action. Rea Vaya apologises to all passengers for the inconvenience experienced today [Monday].”

Monday’s protest followed another one earlier this month when drivers called for union recognition. The drivers had wanted the city to recognise their union, the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu).

However, Samwu distanced itself from Monday’s strike, calling on drivers to go back to work.

“The union did not organise the strike action by BRT workers. Workers took it on themselves to go on this strike action,” Samwu spokesperson Tahir Sema said.

“It is illegal and it is not protected. They would stand the risk of losing their jobs.”

Democratic Alliance transport spokesperson Nico de Jager condemned the strike as having “no legal standing” and criticised Samwu’s involvement in the privately owned BRT system.

“The problem comes in where you have a municipal workers’ union that operates and mobilises on behalf of a private company.

“Samwu should never have been mandated to act on behalf of the BRT drivers in Johannesburg. This could lead to the downfall of the BRT.” — Sapa

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