Bus strike set to intensify as negotiations hit a snag

04 May 2018 - 10:49 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
Bus. File photo.
Bus. File photo.

The national bus strike is set to intensify as unions accuse employers of not being willing to come to the negotiation table to resolve the impasse.

The unions have vowed to not back down on their demands.

“This is because employers in the bus sector have declared war on commuters. They did not attend the mediation with the goal of resolving the strike. They wasted our time. The only offer they are willing to engage in is the same mediator’s offer which was presented to us in the last round of mediation!” the unions said in a joint statement.

“They have shown workers and the commuters at large the middle finger. Their refusal to engage meaningfully in wage talks demonstrates that they are dishonest and disingenuous and have displayed nothing but contempt for workers and the community at large.”

The unions claim the employers have refused to meet them halfway during the mediation process.

“We have made different proposals and have offered compromises on our position‚ but the employers have steadfastly refused to budge‚” said the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu)‚ the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa)‚ the Transport and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (Tawusa)‚ the Transport and Omnibus Workers Union (Towu) and Tirisano.

They have shown workers and the commuters at large the middle finger.

The unions have also accused employers of lying about their role in mediation talks.

“They claim they never engaged on an offer of 9% for the first year and 9‚5% for the second year which is blatantly false. They made that offer last week at the mediation‚ but by the end of the talks they withdrew the offer‚” the unions said.

“The only offer on the table now is an offer which was proposed by mediators of 8% for the first year and 8.5% for the second year. And this includes that all other demands must fall away. We reject this offer with the contempt it deserves.”

Issues that have‚ according to the unions‚ contributed to the impasse include:

  • The employers want to continue to abuse workers by denying the alternative driver his full wages. The second driver on long distance trips only gets paid for the time that he is actively driving the bus. He is not paid for all the hours he spends on the bus waiting to relieve the first driver.
  • The employers want to continue to subvert the law by refusing to pay the night shift allowance in accordance with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
  • The offer is not back dated‚ and implementable only upon signing.

“We cannot compromise on these core demands because they are flagrant abuse of workers’ rights. Furthermore our members have made it clear that this year‚ they will not return to work until this kind of abuse and exploitation has been decisively dealt with.”

The unions said they would be meeting on Friday to finalise details of mass action and protests in various parts of the country.