Metrobus appeals strike ruling

2011-02-22 12:51

Metrobus has appealed against a Labour Court ruling that a strike by SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) bus operators is legal, it said today.

“We are now appealing the ruling and are awaiting the results which should be out on Wednesday (tomorrow),” Metrobus spokesperson Esther Dreyer said.

If the appeal was unsuccessful, Metrobus hoped negotiations between the two parties would resume.

The strike, involving 70 Metrobus drivers, started on February 9 amid dissatisfaction about new shifts implemented on December 6.

The bus operators continued their strike today with a picket outside the Metrobus offices in Braamfontein.

“At this stage it is quiet, but if it gets rowdy, we will call on the police to come and help,” said Dreyer.

She said Metrobus usually called on police to help staff leave the offices from 3pm onwards.

Metrobus suspended the public bus service yesterday because of incidents of intimidation, with five non-striking drivers assaulted last week.
Its negotiations with Samwu had deadlocked by Wednesday.

On Thursday, it went to the Labour Court for a ruling to end the strike.

However, the Labour Court ruled on Friday that the strike was legal.

“The court’s decision implies that the strike action, which has left thousands of commuters stranded and out of pocket for having to resort to other modes of transport, will continue,” Dreyer said in a statement.

“Metrobus will continue to investigate other measures to resolve the problem as speedily as possible.”

In a recent managerial tour of bus depots, most bus drivers had indicated that they were willing to work, but did not want to expose their passengers and themselves to any danger, Dreyer said.

“Metrobus management have an obligation to restore the situation back to normality as soon as possible and are working around the clock to achieve just that.”

Samwu branch executives were attending a meeting on Tuesday to discuss a secondary strike, union spokesperson Dion Makhura said.

The meeting was taking place at the Samwu office in Johannesburg.

He said other city employees would have joined the strike yesterday, but the appeal had made it difficult to mobilise members.

These members included the Johannesburg Metro Police and administrative staff.

“We are having a meeting to plan the way forward in terms of the secondary strike. A solidarity strike is being discussed in the meeting.”

The Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality said it had put contingency measures were in place to ensure service delivery was not compromised in anticipation of the strike.

“Essential services such as crime prevention, emergency services, health care, water, call centres, disaster management and electricity supply, and maintenance will not be affected as employees in these fields may not take part in industrial actions,” said municipal spokesperson Zweli Dlamini.

In a statement, he said employees had been warned that they faced disciplinary action if they participated in an illegal march.

“The municipality has already informed its staff that the ‘no work, no pay’ principle will be effected against those participating in the strike.”

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