The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa on Friday said it would table an ambitious set of demands before the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council, including a 54% wage hike for the lowest-paid bus drivers.
The union - which is representing bus drivers at the negotiations - is demanding a one-year agreement that will see workers getting industry medical aid with a company contribution of 80%, a housing allowance, fewer overtime shifts and increases to wages at all lower levels.
The current main agreement expires on 31 March and the sector will need a new wage agreement as of 1 April. That agreement granted a minimum hourly wage of R40.43 and a R9.71 hourly night shift allowance.
At SARPBAC, workers are represented by Numsa, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) and the Transport and Allied Workers Union, while employers are represented by the South African Bus Employers Association and the Consumer Bus Employers Organisation.
In its statement released on Friday, Numsa said it would table a demand that would add R4 200 to the wages of the lowest level bus drivers represented at the bargaining council negotiations.
"We demand that the lowest paid must be moved up to R12 000 per month. Currently, the lowest earner gets approximately R7 800. For two years our members have not been getting across the board increases because of Covid-19," the statement said.
Numsa said the union would demand an industry medical aid which will cover all workers, wherein the companies must contribute 80% and workers must contribute 20%.
"Currently some companies offer medical aid, but the rates are so unaffordable for members that they have been forced by circumstances to go without medical aid cover," the statement said.
The statement said while employers were "cushioned from the full negative impact of the pandemic", workers have had to bear the brunt of the effects of Covid-19.
"They went through the hard lockdown without pay, and because they cannot afford medical aid, they pay a fortune for basic healthcare treatment. This is why the issue of an industry medical aid is a burning one," it said.
Fin24 reached out to the employer associations for comment. Should it be received, this article will be updated.
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