The South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council has confirmed that an agreement that will end the nationwide bus strike has been reached.
The bus strike, which is now well into its fourth week, has left commuters all over the country without transport.
Five different unions participated 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.
Despite interventions from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and the labour and transport ministers, the negotiations between unions, drivers and bus bosses have, until now, consistently ended in a stalemate.
Throughout the negotiations, the employers’ caucus stuck to their guns, insisting that the ever-present operational difficulties faced by the bus sector would make relenting to demands too financially taxing.
John Dammert from the employers’ caucus explained that the bus sector — in addition to operational difficulties — is dealing with dwindling support in the form of subsidies from the department of transport as another reason why employers could not meet the demands made by unions.
Last week, all five unions agreed to a 9% wage increase in the first year and 8% in the second. Workers, however, demanded back pay for the month of April, causing the strike action to continue into the weekend.
It is understood that this issue has now been resolved.
Bargaining Council General Secretary Gary Wilson said to EWN: “Over the weekend, we’d put the proposal to the employers and unions to consider in order to settle the strike. All parties came back to us and confirmed that they are happy to concede to that proposal that was put on the table.”
Wilson would not give any further detail, saying unions would make the announcement. It is expected that unions will announce the end of the strike at a press conference this evening.