MyCiTi users suffer

2018-10-23 06:02
Photo: Stock Image

Photo: Stock Image

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MyCiTi bus commuters were left stranded and some say they had to go over their budgets to seek alternative transport following an “illegal” strike by the services’ workers.

The strike started on Monday 15 October and workers, including cleaners and bus drivers, have since reportedly gathered outside the Civic Centre in the CBD.

The strike by more than 100 MyCiTi workers is a second one this year following a month-long strike in April and May.

These workers are reportedly demanding in-sourcing to cut costs between the said “middle men” which are the vehicle operating companies (VOCs).

Passengers from Hout Bay and neighbouring communities were among those most affected. Most passengers reportedly buy long-term bus tickets and have been forced to spend more money on other public transport­.

Dan Potwane (41) travels from Hout Bay to Cape Town every day and says he has been severely inconvenienced. “I bought a R300 ticket which normally lasts me two weeks. I was frustrated on Monday to find that there were no buses. I had not budgeted for transport and I had to make a plan. As a result I was late at work and even now it is a struggle to get to work. My shift starts at 06:00 and queues are now very long at the taxi rank. I wish the City could find solutions to this soon and/or provide us with alternative plans such as making deals with other public transport providers to transport us. Some people cannot afford the extra costs for a long time. We invest in these tickets.”

On behalf of the community, Roscoe Jacobs, the secretary of the Hout Bay Civic Association, called on the City to consider in-sourcing MyCiTi staff.

He said the protest should be considered as a matter of urgency.

“If the City of Cape Town fails to do so the working class in communities such as Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay will be affected. We have no other modes of transport operating the Hout Bay to Cape Town route because of the monopoly MyCiTi has. The working class people suffer, not Brett (Herron) who does not use the MyCiTi services­.”

Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, said the current “unprotected strike is inexplicable”.

This is because he says a wage agreement was reached as recently as May this year, following a protracted four-week strike in April.

He advised commuters to seek alternative modes of transport and promised that those with monthly tickets would be reimbursed with the number of days they had missed once the buses were operating again.

“I urge those who have embarked on this strike to use the structures and processes in place to address any grievances or concerns they may have with their employment,” he added.

On Thursday Herron announced that the City had received a court interdict against the workers who were allegedly intimidating those reporting to work and wanting to continue rendering services to the public.

According to the City, the VOCs are contracted by the City to operate the MyCiTi service and up to 80% of the operations of Phase 1 of the MyCiTi service, which includes the inner-city routes, routes to Hout Bay and Hangberg, Atlantis, Table View and beyond.

At the moment it is not clear what the solution to the in-sourcing pleas would be as Herron says the City has committed itself to the long-term operational empowerment of the minibus taxi industry by signing 12-year contracts with VOCs. 

Meanwhile Herron says the annual national wage negotiations are taking place at the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council’s (SARPBAC) National Bargaining Forum.

Gary Wilson of SARPBAC says they are aware of the “illegal” strike but they have not been formally approached by the workers.

He says: “As far as I understand no proper procedures were followed, so there is not much we can do. It is worrisome that these workers could find themselves facing dire consequences if they proceed with their actions. We do not know if the unions are condoning this but I can guarantee they understand the extent of such actions and would like to advise their members otherwise.”

Vuyo Lufele, the secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), confirmed that they tried to intervene but failed. He says they managed to secure a meeting with Herron for Thursday 18 October, which could not proceed because the workers failed to obey the conditions of the City.

“It was made clear that no political parties should be involved but the workers insisted that we go with EFF. We could not afford to ridicule ourselves by pitching in a meeting that would not even sit.”

He says there is no solution at this stage [and the] strike continues. 

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