Numsa urges bus companies to negotiate to avert strike

If the strike goes ahead on Wednesday it will affect Putco, Golden Arrow, Mega Bus, Autopax and Rea Vaya buses among others.

FILE: A Rea Vaya bus. Picture: reavaya.org.za

JOHANNESBURG – The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has given bus companies until the end of Tuesday to return to the negotiation table and heed the demands of drivers to avoid a national strike on Wednesday.

Bus commuters across the country could be left stranded after three months of negotiations reached a deadlock with 16 companies.

The drivers are demanding a 12% increase, while the employer is offering 7.5%.

If the strike goes ahead Wednesday it will affect Putco, Golden Arrow, Mega Bus, Autopax and Rea Vaya buses among others.

Numsa’s Phakamile Hlubi says: “The majority of them are earning less than R5,000 a month and they use majority of their income on transportation. They can barely support their families and they can barely support themselves.”

Putco’s Andrew Sefala says the employers are trying their best to avert a strike on Wednesday.

“The bargaining council, with ourselves, we’re trying everything to resolve this particular strike. But if we’re unable to resolve the strike, unfortunately, we’re going to experience this particular situation where commuters are going to be inconvenienced.”

COMMUTERS COULD BE STRANDED

Millions of bus commuters across the country could be left stranded should the strike go ahead on Wednesday.

Government data shows that nearly 20% of the country’s population use buses as a mode of transport and most of them will be affected on Wednesday.

In Cape Town, Golden Arrow buses transport about 220,000 passengers on weekdays.

At least 71,000 MyCiTi commuters will be affected when the City of Cape Town suspends operation after midnight.

The City’s Priya Reddy says the lockout is necessary for the safety of commuters and staff.

“The City will engage with Metrorail and the South African National Taxi Council to see how they can assist in providing additional resources to accommodate commuters who usually make use of the bus services to get to their destinations.”

Wednesday’s strike action could still be averted as the unions say they are still open to talks with the bus companies about a settlement before the end of the day.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)