There will be a nationwide bus strike in major metro cities starting on Wednesday, according to the South African Road Bargaining Council.
The strike comes after a “stalemate in wage talks” between unions and employer associations including Commuter Bus Employers Organisation and SA Bus Employers Association. The wage negotiations have been ongoing since January.
Tirisano Transport and Services Workers Union general secretary, Stephen Motingoa said in a statement that strikers will take action tomorrow because the “process of mediation failed to resolve on the outstanding demands”.
In a statement issued on April 9, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) detailed the demands of the strike and assured that trade unions participating in the strike will embark on one “unless employers put an offer on the table that ensures workers are able to withstand the economic challenges brought on by the increase in personal tax rates and VAT.”
Five different unions, encompassing 67 different bus companies, will participate in the strike including the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), Transport and Allied Workers Union of South Africa, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, and Satawu.
The unions are demanding “a one-year 12% across the board wage increase”, which includes a minimum wage of R8 000 according to a press release from Satawu.
The unions are also demanding full-pay for dual drivers, compensation for sleeping-out, and for any work between the hours of 8pm and 3am to be deemed the night shift.
Zanele Sabela, a spokesperson for Satawu, said that employees will gather at their respective bus depots starting at 5:30 am, which will affect the morning commute. Some employers have already issued lockouts.
The strike will certainly affect commuters on Wednesday.
Sabela stated that commuters should try to find alternative transportation. Motingoa said that taxi associations have been “alerted of the challenges” and have been “urged to prepare for the bigger volumes of commuters”.
Some companies, including Metrobus, will not be striking and will be operating.
Motingoa said that bus companies are ready to make negotiations if employers propose them, “the unions remain committed to a speedy resolutions of this impasse through negotiations should the employers be ready for that”.