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Countrywide bus strike set to continue after talks stall again

Numsa says it has rejected the offer made by employers because the 9% wage hike was not one it could confidently take back to its members.

Bus drivers picketing at the bus depot in Salvokop, Pretoria. Mia Lindeque/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – The countrywide bus strike is set to continue after talks between the National Union Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and bus companies reached a deadlock again on Wednesday.

The two parties met at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) offices on Wednesday in an effort to reach an agreement.

But Numsa says it has rejected the offer made by the employer because the 9% hike was not one it could confidently take back to its members.

Numsa’s Phakamile Hlubi says the countrywide bus driver strike continues on Thursday because the employers refused to even reach a double digit offer.

“For too long workers have been forced to accept increases that are sometimes less than inflation but always single digit increases under the justification that the economy is bad.”

The talks between the two parties broke down in February this year as they could not reach common ground.

Hlubi says the employers have again refused to prove workers with decent working conditions.

“And in fact, the reason that the talks broke down is the fact that the employers are refusing to remunerate the co-driver on the bus.”

At the same time, South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu)’s Zanele Sabela says while the unions want to resolve the strike before Friday, employers are not playing their part.

“Negotiations yesterday were very disappointing because employers showed up but then their attitude was like you either take it or you leave it. So because of that, the negotiations were fruitless, and so, unfortunately, the strike continues.”

The taxi industry has taken up the responsibility of carrying commuters, with taxi drivers saying they are willing to service bus users until the issues are resolved.

Meanwhile, the Cape Chamber of Commerce and industry has urged employers to be understanding and accommodating towards employees who are affected by the bus driver strike.

The Chamber’s Janine Myburgh says, “We appeal to employers to be understanding due to the consequence of this bus strike. We also urged motorists to possibly go into lift clubs and help one another.”

STRANDED COMMUTERS

Taxi operators in Johannesburg say although they welcome the huge numbers of bus commuters using their services on Wednesday, they are taking strain.

Thousands of bus commuters across the country have been forced to find other means of getting to their respective destinations.

A taxi driver in Bree taxi rank in Johannesburg said he’s seen a lot of these commuters change to taxis on Wednesday.

“It’s too much… there are a lot of people. This strike is causing problems for us.”

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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