Metrobus ‘strike’ over while employees’ issues are addressed

02 February 2024 - 13:06
By Phathu Luvhengo
Metrobus drivers are back on the roads after service disruptions on Wednesday and Thursday.  File photo.
Image: Supplied Metrobus drivers are back on the roads after service disruptions on Wednesday and Thursday. File photo.

Johannesburg Metrobus services resumed on Friday after disruptions left hundreds of commuters stranded on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Several Metrobus employees embarked on an “illegal strike” on Wednesday which disrupted services. 

City of Johannesburg transport MMC Kenny Kunene previously said he viewed the actions of workers as a clear indication of their disrespect towards citizens in the city.

The city said one of the reasonable demands made by the striking employees was for Metrobus to reinstate some former employees who were dismissed after being accused of stealing from the entity, and this without a labour court or bargaining council ruling.

“The mandate I have been given by the citizens of the city through their votes is to perform and implement service delivery and to do oversight on officials who are responsible for executing this. Should these officials fail, I am obligated to act and will do so without fear or favour,” said Kunene.

On Friday, city roads and transport spokesperson Geralda Winkler confirmed the drivers are back at work after an engagement with management until late on Thursday. 

“I can confirm the bus drivers are back on the roads. They have minimised their demands,” she said.

Metrobus employees have also reduced their demands to seven from 19. 

“The demands are seven and they concluded with the executive to go back on the roads while the demands are being looked at,” Winkler said, adding some demands needed to be looked at from a human resources perspective. 

“It was an unreasonable illegal strike but management has concluded with labour that drivers will go back on the roads while the labour issues are looked at,” she said.

South African Municipal Workers' Union deputy regional chairperson Lebogang Ndawo said the disruptions were not a strike but members demanding to meet management as their grievances were not attended to. 

“Unfortunately it overlapped into Wednesday and Thursday. We had a meeting on Thursday evening with the employer. The condition of the workers was that if the employer didn't want to talk to them, we would speak to them ourselves,” he said. 

After the marathon meeting on Thursday, management was expected to give employees feedback on their list of demands, he said.

Workers were complaining about issues with shifts and not being paid allowances when buses are hired for private trips, he said. “There are packages they must get and they were not being paid for the packages.”

Workers wanted management to address them directly about their grievances and not through the union, added Ndawo.

“They felt they needed to hear what was the problem.”