Labour department to weigh in as bus strike continues

Rea Vaya station in Braamfontein. (Madelene Cronje)

Rea Vaya station in Braamfontein. (Madelene Cronje)

The nationwide bus strike is expected to continue on Tuesday, with Western Cape commuters facing additional travel delays due to long-awaited rain and possible localised flooding.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) sent a message of solidarity to bus drivers, amid hopes that intervention by the Department of Labour might finally tip the scales for a settlement.

“We call on all of you to intensify the strike,” said Numsa, which will also participate in a national strike over minimum pay and possible changes to labour law, arranged by its mother body the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) for Wednesday.

“We wish to once again express our apologies to the commuters for the inconvenience caused by the [bus] strike,” stated Numsa.

“We were forced into striking because it is the best weapon we have to force these cold-blooded bosses to treat workers like human beings. We hope the sacrifices we are all making will not be in vain.”

The Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) started facilitating talks last Thursday as minibus taxis and the country’s struggling commuter rail system ferried commuters.

Deadlock

The parties deadlocked, and the department of labour is expected to weigh in on Tuesday in an attempt to bring the parties closer to a settlement.

Bus drivers are demanding a 9.5% salary increase in the first year and 9% in the second year. They initially demanded 12%, with their employers offering 7%.

Other issues include back-up drivers being unhappy over their pay, and a push to redefine night shift hours.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), Numsa, Tirisano and the Transport and Omnibus Workers Union (Towu) said that the intensified strike action was in response to the employers’ “provocative attitudes” during negotiations.

In the meantime, a media briefing by Saftu is expected on Tuesday, for further details on the fledgling federation’s call for a one-day general strike on Wednesday as Saftu rejects the proposed minimum wage of R20 an hour and possible changes to labour laws.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Wednesday’s general strike

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), which many Saftu members originally belonged to, said it will not participate in Wednesday’s strike. — News24

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