Nationwide bus strike to start on Wednesday

A nationwide bus strike is set to start on Wednesday, the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBC) said on Monday.

The strike will put at least 80% of the country's passenger buses on lock-down over a pay dispute.

"The impact is going to be felt right across the republic," Gary Wilson, secretary general of SARPBC told News24.

A last resort will be to approach the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for help after there was no change of heart by unions and employers in the 30 days' cooling off period which started on March 16 after a deadlock was declared, he said.

The strike will affect short and long-distance journeys, with a few exceptions such as Intercape.

The SARPBC will apply for the CCMA's help in terms of section 150 of the Labour Relations Act, which could give the minister of transport permission to step in and help resolve the impasse, Wilson explained.

In the meantime, bus companies are urging passengers to make other arrangements and for companies to be flexible for their employees who will battle to travel to work.

Golden Arrow, MyCiti services suspended

"If the strike action goes ahead, Golden Arrow will institute a company-wide lockout in order to ensure the safety of our passengers and staff for the duration of the strike," a statement from JH Dammert, the Cape Town-based company's human resources and corporate affairs executive said.

"Services could, therefore, be suspended from 18 April 2018.

"In the event of a strike, weekly and monthly clip cards that are valid when the strike commences will be extended when service resumes.

"We will endeavour to keep our passengers informed of any new developments via all communication channels available to us," Golden Arrow's Dammert said. 

The City of Cape Town will also suspend MyCiTi services from Wednesday, until further notice.

"No MyCiTi buses will be operating and commuters are requested in advance to please make alternative arrangements," member of the mayoral committee for transport Brett Herron said.

Increase in traffic anticipated

This is because the vehicle-operating companies will institute a "lockout" at their properties on Wednesday.

Capetonians are already struggling with the alternative, Metrorail, which is trying to get its central line going again after severe vandalism and cable theft, and crime along that route.

The strike means that there will be a significant increase in cars on the road countrywide because bus travellers will use minibus taxis or their own vehicles to get to work and back.

South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) spokesperson Zanele Sabela said Satawu, the Transport and Omnibus Workers' Union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the Tirisano Transport Workers' Union had been negotiating since January.

The negotiations have been facilitated by the SARPBC with the employer associations, the Commuter Bus Employers' Organisation and South African Bus Employers' Association.

This is what is at stake:

  • Unions want a 12% across the board wage increase;
  • They want the minimum basic wage to be R8 000 per month;
  • They want full pay for dual drivers on long distance;
  • Unions want night shift to be between 16:00 and 06:00, instead of the current 20:00 to 03:00.
  • Employees are offering a three-year across-the-board increase – 7% for year one, 7.25% for year two, and 7.5% for year three.

Satawu said employers want to keep the current basic minimum wage at R6 070.

Employers also want industry first-timers to earn R6 070 regardless of whether the company's minimum wage is higher or not.

Workers also want to be compensated for "sleeping out", and want "decent" accommodation.