Buses hit the road after increase

2018-05-17 06:00

Unions and employers in the bus industry have reached a compromise, bringing to an end the long bus strike.

“A compromise agreement was reached between unions and employers today,” said Gary Wilson, general secretary of the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council, on Monday night.

“This strike has been one of the longest ever experienced in the bus industry and the cost will be counted for years to come,” said Wilson. “There will be a need for introspection after this strike as to the cost and the lessons learned in order for it not to be repeated in future.”

“Workers start going back tomorrow [Tuesday], but the official return date is Wednesday,” said Zanele Sabela, spokesperson for the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU).

“The employers agreed to backdate the 9% salary increase to 1 April 2018,” said Mduduzi Nkosi, national coordinator at the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA).

The City of Cape Town announced that the MyCiTi bus service will start operating again from Tuesday morning.

“Please note that it will take several hours for the service to settle in and commuters should expect some initial delays on their routes,” said the City in a statement released on Monday evening.

It stated that most of the buses would be expected to run to normal time schedules on the majority of the routes in the latter part of the day. After agreeing on a 9% salary increase on Friday, bus drivers and employers could not at first agree on the backdating of the increase.

“We say it should be effective from 1 April 2018, but the employers say the increase is effective on the day of the signing [of the agreement on 11 May],” said Sabela earlier today.

“The industry norm is that the implementation starts on 1 April every year, and it has always been backdated [in previous years],” said Nkosi.

Sabela said unions had also accepted an 8% increase for the second year, effective 1 April 2019.

According to Sabela, the minimum salary for bus drivers in South Africa is R6,900. A 9% increase would mean R621 a month more on this salary.

The strike started on 18 April. According to the Golden Arrow Bus Services’ website, the company provides 220,000 passenger trips per weekday. According to the City of Cape Town, MyCiTi - which shut down its services for the duration of the strike citing safety reasons - provides 72,000 passenger trips per weekday. Monday was the nineteenth weekday of the bus strike.

Announcing the end of the strike, secretary general of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa Irvin Jim confirmed that bus drivers will be returning to their posts as from Tuesday.

“We are announcing that this strike is over, and workers will resume work tomorrow, but they have until Wednesday to return to work,” said Jim.

He said issues like overtime pay and compensation for dual drivers on long distance trips have not been finalised and have been referred to a task team for further negotiations.

“We have secured a mandate from our workers to bring an end to the strike; however, those sticky issues still remain,” said Jim.

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