UPDATE: Satawu members end wildcat bus strike...for now

The SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) have called off their wildcat strike - for now.

Earlier about 3 900 passengers who were set to travel during the festive season were left stranded after workers at bus company Autopax downed tools. Some 105 bus trips were affected.

Autopax, a subsidiary of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), operates the bus services City to City and Translux.

Zanele Sabela, SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) spokesperson, told Fin24 on Thursday that about 700 of its members decided to embark on the wildcat strike on Wednesday. This was initially in relation to certain payments for Sunday work that would only be made in January instead of in December, she said.

"Autopax had suddenly unilaterally decided not to pay the Sunday work in December ...

"With Christmas coming up, workers suddenly found themselves out of pocket. They work long hours and drive long distances," she said.

However, although both group chief strategy officer at Prasa Dr Sipho Sithole and Sabela earlier confirmed that the matter had since been resolved, workers were still unwilling to return to work until the Autopax CEO and his executive were removed.

According to Dr Sithole, the issue with Sunday pay had been resolved when Prasa CEO Sibusiso Sithole attended a meeting with the striking workers on Thursday morning.

In terms of the workers' second demand, however, he said Prasa informed the workers that such a demand was not something it could resolve as it needed to be addressed by the Autopax board.

He said the board had since requested the Autopax CEO to submit a report setting out what had led to the strike.

He said Prasa was "extremely concerned" about the inconvenience caused to passengers, "especially now in the middle of the festive season".

"This is a result of a misunderstanding of deductions made by management on salaries regarding overtime rates for Sundays. We have resolved it and the group CEO of Prasa has issued an instruction for Autopax to correct it. We are working hard to ensure salaries will be reflected correctly tomorrow."

He said Prasa appealed to the drivers to return to work.

UPDATE: Sabela told Fin24 late on Thursday afternoon that the Prasa group CEO was set to meet with the Autopax board at 16:00 on Thursday to provide a report on why workers want the executive to be removed.

"Feedback of this meeting will be given to workers on Friday, but workers have indicated nothing stops them from downing tools if they do not like what they hear," she stated.

"The Prasa group CEO has scheduled a meeting with workers for 17 January to explore all issues they are unhappy about. Workers are back to work - for now."

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