Bus strike to leave thousands stranded in Cape Town
The City of Cape Town has warned that up to 72‚000 commuters using its MyCiTi service will be affected by a national bus strike from Wednesday.
For many commuters there will be few public transport options left once the strike – called due to failed wage negotiations – gets under way.
The Golden Arrow bus service‚ which has already had to carry commuters who can no longer make use of the failing Metrorail central passenger train service‚ will also be suspended.
In a media statement the city said that a MyCiti bus lock-out was necessary to ensure the safety of personnel and commuters.
"The strike action is as a result of deadlocked wage negotiations. The unions who are party to the South African Road Passengers Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) have subsequently given notice of their intention to embark on strike action‚" said the statement.
Cape Town mayoral committee member for transport and urban development Brett Herron recommended that companies consider remote working arrangements for staff if possible "for as long as the strike continues".
"We regret the inconvenience caused and the pressure it adds on commuters to make alternative travel arrangements. The strike will have a serious knock-on effect on all public transport and road-based traffic as more than 72‚000 commuters make use of the MyCiTi service on any given weekday. Furthermore‚ we anticipate that the strike action will have a severe impact on Cape Town’s commuters who are already taking strain due to the challenges that Metrorail is experiencing with the Central line‚" said Herron.
Bus drivers went on strike over the Easter Weekend last year when negotiations over similar demands were deadlocked.
The bus driver unions are demanding a "one-year 12% across the board (ATB)" wage increase and a minimum basic wage of R8‚000.
In a media statement last week the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) said that they rejected the employers' offers of a three year agreement with a 7% increase in year one‚ and 7.25% increase the next year‚ and a 7.3% increase in 2020 with a basic minimum wage set at R6‚070.
"Unions are also demanding full pay for dual drivers as employers are currently enjoying free labour‚ where the second driver who is not at the wheel at the beginning of a journey is only entitled to a R400 allowance per month‚" read the statement.
"Employers argue the dual driver is not on duty until he takes the wheel. This thinking is obviously flawed because the driver cannot be elsewhere or do anything else but be on the bus from the time the trip commences‚" it read.
Herron said that it was unclear for how long the strike would continue and he also asked that commuters resort to car pooling as they expected many more private vehicles on the roads which would lead to massive traffic problems.
“I am requesting the parties to return to the bargaining table and to start working on an agreement that will be to the benefit of all – not only for the sake of the employees and employers‚ but more so for the commuters who rely on buses to get to work and school‚” said Herron.