MyCiTi bus drivers promise to 'escalate' strike if grievances aren't addressed

2018-10-15 18:31


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Striking MyCiti bus drivers have promised to extend their wildcat strike into Tuesday if their grievances are not addressed by the City of Cape Town.

About 200 MyCiTi employees in Cape Town protested in front of the Cape Town Civic Centre on Monday to demand better working conditions.

"We are here because we are subjected to unfair labour practices in this structure of the MyCiTi project," Patrick Mabindisa, a bus driver and one of the leaders of the protest, said.

"The City is not checking under what conditions we are working. The pressure is enormous," he added.

The peaceful protest was described as an "illegal or wildcat strike" by City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for transport and urban development councillor Brett Herron.

"I am concerned about the illegal strike and the impact it has on commuters who are already taking strain due to the ailing rail service," Herron said.

Transport MMC yet to meet with protesters

"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.

According to Mabindisa, efforts to use the proper channels have been exhausted. MyCiTi drivers had a meeting with Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille on April 7, but nothing came of it, he said.

"We need Brett Herron to come down here and he must answer to these problems today. He must take this very seriously," Mabindisa said.

If their concerns are not addressed by the City of Cape Town, he said the workers would "have to escalate this illegal strike", and encouraged taxi industry workers to join them.

Herron, who has demanded that the MyCiTi service resumes operations "as soon as possible, and without any disruptions", has yet to meet with the disgruntled MyCiTi employees.

The peaceful protest was met with heavy police force in the early afternoon. At least 10 stun grenades were detonated just after 13:00 at the circle near Adderley Street and Hans Strijdom Avenue.

"We were just singing. We did not do anything. This is a peaceful protest and the police threw tear gas at us," said one of the protesters.

Unsafe working conditions

Protesters claimed poor working conditions were a major reason for the strike action.

"We are subjected to unsafe buses," Mabindisa said.

"We're sitting in the toilet and eating lunch. Only the Civic Centre has a restroom and all the other stations have no restrooms," he added.

Buses leaked when it rained and became uncomfortably hot on warm days.

Personnel safety was a serious issue, said Siziwe Dase. The bus driver, who has been working for MyCiTi since 2016, almost lost her right eye while on duty, she said.

"They (MyCiTi) don't care about the safety of the drivers as long as you are doing your job," Dase claimed.

It was not uncommon for customers to physically assault bus drivers and other platform personnel, Dase continued.

Even if incidents with customers were reported to upper management, there was rarely any investigation, said Thembisa Figlann, who claimed she almost got raped on duty.

The protesters said they hoped that their pleas for safer working conditions, a less stressful work environment, and better pay were heard by the authorities.

The strike is set to continue on Tuesday.

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

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