Bus strike stalls 55 companies

24 April 2013 - 02:56 By ELYSSA CHERNEY
The empty Rea Vaya bus stop in downtown Johannesburg shows but one of the many transport services affected by the latest strike
The empty Rea Vaya bus stop in downtown Johannesburg shows but one of the many transport services affected by the latest strike

The nationwide bus strike is now affecting about 55 companies and 22000 employees, after drivers of luxury coaches joined the strike.

"We're not even at the height of it," said chief strategist at Executive Global Network, Chris Hart about "strike season", which also includes nurses at the moment.

"The big negotiations haven't started."

The South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) strike for an 18% wage increase has spread to other unions, including the Transport & Omnibus Workers Union, the United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utata) and the South African Railways and Harbours Union.

The strike is affecting Johannesburg's Rea Vaya buses, Gautrain buses, Springbok Atlas Luxury Charters and the Unitrans Group, including Greyhound, Mega Coach and Citiliner.

"Mega Express drivers currently earn R6023 per month, and they are demanding an 18% pay increase, which will add about R1100 to their basic rate of pay," Utatu general secretary Pieter Greyling said.

Satawu spokesman Vincent Masoga said: "This year has been the most difficult year. The petrol price has increased so much and this has increased the cost of food. Our members cannot afford housing and schools."

The Commuter Bus Employers' Organisation is offering a 6.5% increase. Its spokesman Barry Gie said escalating fuel prices were one of the factors which made the union's demands unfeasible.

Employers and unions will meet at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration today in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

South Africa has the worst labour-employer relations in the world, ranking last out of 144 countries, according to the World Economic Forum's 2012-2013 World Competitiveness Report. - Additional reporting by Sapa

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