Dead-end for MyCiTi strikers

2019-02-13 14:42
Attempts to insource workers employed by the MyCiTi operating companies have failed. (Tariro Washinyira, GroundUp, file)

Attempts to insource workers employed by the MyCiTi operating companies have failed. (Tariro Washinyira, GroundUp, file)

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A failed motion to insource MyCiTi workers, put forward by the EFF at the City of Cape Town's latest council meeting, spells a dead-end for hundreds of striking workers who have been dismissed from their jobs, reports GroundUp.

After more than three months of protest action over what they say is poor treatment by the MyCiTi vehicle operating companies (VOCs), the only thing left for the strikers is to ask their former employers to give them back their jobs, said striking workers' spokesperson Patrick Mabindisa.

About 260 MyCiTi workers went on an unprotected strike on October 15 last year. The strikers, including drivers, cashiers and station cleaners, frequently clashed with police on the Civic Centre station deck. In mid-November they managed to gain access to the Civic Centre and shut down the City's nerve centre from about 09:00 until after lunchtime.

The workers claimed the VOCs contracted by the City to run the MyCiTi service were failing to uphold their contractual obligations and they wanted to be employed directly by the City.

Initially, says Mabindisa, they intended to only down tools for a day and protest outside the Civic Centre so they could air their grievances to City officials. "We only wanted to be there for one day but no one came out to listen to our concerns," he said.

Their quest to be insourced received political support from the EFF, which put a motion to council in January, but was not successful.

Council speaker Dirk Smit would not release the vote count, or even confirm that a vote had taken place. Smit said the information would be contained in the minutes at the next council meeting.

But the motion was published on the council agenda and EFF councillor and provincial secretary Andrew Arnolds said the majority DA voted against insourcing.

Insourcing could have been done in stages - EFF 

Arnolds said he believed the motion was valid, as workers on Johannesburg's Rea Vaya bus rapid transit system worked directly for the City, which was also led by the DA. He said the EFF had working relationships with the DA in other metros and the insourcing could have been done in stages.

The City has consistently said 12-year contracts, which involve the VOCs employing workers directly, have been signed with the VOCs and these could not be altered.

Transport and urban development mayoral committee member Felicity Purchase last week repeated that the City could not insource the MyCiTi workers, as it is committed to "long-term operational empowerment of the minibus-taxi industry by signing 12-year contracts with [VOCs] in November 2013".

She said if workers were unhappy with the outcome of disciplinary hearings, they could approach the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

However, Arnolds said he believed the VOCs had not complied with a number of obligations and the contracts could be considered invalid and renegotiated. However, he said the City had not provided him with the VOC contracts.

Repeated requests to the City for copies of the VOC contracts have been ignored.

The strike threw the public transport service into disarray for three-and-a-half months, with one Hout Bay commuter telling GroundUp it was only now beginning to settle down, although the evening buses were still unreliable.

At least five buses were set alight during the strike last year, seriously injuring a driver and costing up to R22m in damages.

Read the full story on GroundUp.

This article was written for GroundUp by West Cape News.

Read more on:    myciti  |  eff  |  cape town  |  protests  |  public transport

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