Unions reject bus bosses' ‘insulting’ offer, call for intensified strike action

“Our backs are against the wall. We are left with absolutely no option but to intensify the strike,” said Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim. (Madelene Cronje/M&G)

“Our backs are against the wall. We are left with absolutely no option but to intensify the strike,” said Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim. (Madelene Cronje/M&G)

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has condemned employers in the bus sector for causing a breakdown in negotiations.

Unions and employer associations met at the bargaining table at on Thursday as the nationwide bus strike entered its second day. The talks were set down for two days, according to a letter the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) sent to unions, which was seen by News24.

In a statement issued by Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim, the union said that the sector “insulted workers and commuters” by refusing to engage meaningfully during the conciliation, causing talks to break down.

READ MORE: Cosatu slams Golden Arrow for letting down working-class commuters

According to the statement, the sector offered a multi-year agreement of two years with an 8% salary increase for the first year, and then an 8.5% in the second year. The condition for accepting this proposal was that unions drop all other core demands.

Unions are demanding a one-year 12% across the board wage increase, which includes a minimum wage of R8 000.
They also want 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.

Citing the sector’s refusal to meaningfully engage with the demands of the five participating unions, encompassing 67 different bus companies, Numsa has called for strike action to escalate.

“Our backs are against the wall. We are left with absolutely no option but to intensify the strike,” said Jim.

Sarah Smit

Sarah Smit

Sarah Smit both subs and writes for the Mail & Guardian. She joined the M&G after completing her master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Cape Town. She is interested in the literature of the contemporary black diaspora and its intersection with queer aesthetics of solidarity. Her recent work considers the connections between South African literary history and literature from the rest of the Continent. Read more from Sarah Smit

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