Commuters stranded by the nationwide bus strike will be forced again to make alternate plans on Friday, as talks at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) are not expected to get drivers back behind the wheel by Friday, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) says.
"Until we actually come out to say this is over, the strike continues," Numsa spokesperson Phakhamile Hlubi told News24 early on Thursday afternoon.
Hlubi said Numsa, and the four other unions who deadlocked over pay and working conditions, were all present at the CCMA talks in Johannesburg, as required.
They are the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union, the Transport and Omnibus Workers' Union, the Tirisano Transport Workers' Union and the Transport and Allied Workers Union of SA.
The CCMA talks were convened when the SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council asked for urgent intervention to help stop the strike, which began on Wednesday.
"But the strike is continuing nevertheless," said Hlubi. "If we find each other, that will signal the end of the strike."
"But we are not there yet, we are still in discussions."
The unions are demanding a pay rise of 12% and employers offered 7%, a minimum wage of R8 000 instead of R6 070, among other issues.
Legacy companies such as Putco and Golden Arrow were among those which confirmed that their buses were still off the road.
Cape Town's MyCiti buses are among those that will remain suspended on Friday, said Brett Herron, Member of the Mayoral Committee on Transport.
"I am urging the parties to work on an agreement that will be to the benefit of all – not only for the sake of the employees and employers, but more so for the commuters who rely on buses to get to work," he said.
In the meantime, taxi operators and rail services are picking up the slack - which includes the at least 220 000 passengers a day that Golden Arrow Bus Services alone ferries per day in the Cape Town area.
Central Unity Taxi Association (Cuta) chairperson Ernest Stofile said their drivers had been working from 04:00 to midnight since the strike started on Wednesday, to get people to work and back.
Their drivers are being compelled to take a rest period during off-peak time to avoid accidents caused by exhaustion.
Stofile appealed to employers who are in a business where it is possible to institute flexi-time, to let their staffers go to work in off-peak times, to free up space for the taxi drivers moving people who do not have this option.