Bus strike set to intensify ― unions

The nationwide bus strike will enter its sixth day on Monday after parties failed to reach a wage agreement during a two-day meeting with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). 

Workers initially demanded a 12% increase and employers offered 7%. The workers have since rejected an offer of 8% for the first year, and 8.5% in the second year, instead proposing a 9.5% increase in the first year and 9% for the second.

Representatives from the National Union of Metalworkers SA (NUMSA) and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) on Sunday confirmed the strike will stretch into the new week.

“The bus strike is continuing, we are intensifying the action,” Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela said.

“We are calling on non-unionised members to down tools in order to put more pressure on employers to give us what we want.”

The strike, which started on Wednesday, has left thousands of commuters stranded and a significant strain has been placed on other forms of public transport.

According to a joint statement from all of the relevant trade unions, parties engaged in wage negotiations as far back as January 2018.

“Throughout the employers have maintained a consistent intransigent position, which can only be defined as anti-worker and indeed they are union bashers,” the statement read.

The statement said that employers have adopted a “provocative attitude” and have “rejected all our movements and attempts to find a settlement”.

In response, unions have now called on all members in the bus passenger sector to intensify the strike action.

“We are calling on all our progressive communities that we understand their plight but, request them to be patient and to fully support this just strike and the struggle for workers for a living wage,” the statement said.

A call for government intervention is being supported by the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco).

“Though the inconvenience affects hundreds of thousands of commuters that are bearing the brunt of the standoff, it is the poor working class commuting daily to and from work due to apartheid spatial planning that are the hardest hit as they cannot afford any alternative to the public transport system,” said Sanco spokesperson Jabu Mahlangu on Saturday.

A statement on Sunday from the City of Cape Town informed commuters that the MyCiTi service remains suspended until further notice.

“It is still unclear when the nationwide strike action will come to an end, and as such the MyCiTi buses are not operating,” it read. ― News24

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