Bus strike negotiations breakdown again

The strike, which started on Wednesday last week, has left commuters all over the country without transport. (David Harrison/M&G)

The strike, which started on Wednesday last week, has left commuters all over the country without transport. (David Harrison/M&G)

As the national bus strike enters its second week, bus sector negotiations remain at an impasse. Despite interventions from Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant and Transport Minister Blade Nzimande, unions, drivers and bus bosses are deadlocked.

The strike, which started on Wednesday last week, has left commuters all over the country without transport.

Five different unions are participating in the strike, including the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu), the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, the Tirisano Transport and Service Workers Union, the Transport and Omnibus Workers Union and the Transport and Allied Workers Union.

On Thursday last week, a meeting with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration was called in an effort to end the deadlock, but again the offers tabled by both sides were rejected — resulting in a call from unions to intensify the strike.

On Tuesday this week, the labour department was called in to intervene. Negotiations continued late into the night but Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant was unable to end the stalemate. While bus companies yielded slightly on the question of wages, they didn’t accede on other key demands.

On Wednesday Mershack Ramela, spokesperson for the employers associations, told the Mail & Guardian that the bus bosses cannot afford the basket of demands from the unions

Satawu said in a recent statement that the labour minister managed to get the unions to lower their wage demands from 9.5% across the board for the first year and 8.5% for the second to 9% and 8.5% respectively.

But Satawu said in a press statement that employers failed “to rise to the occasion”.

The minister of transport began talks at 11am on Thursday morning. But Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela said on Thursday evening that no deal was struck.

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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