Buses used to block Pretoria roads during strike recovered, says City of Tshwane

Workers affiliated to Samwu blocked some routes in central Pretoria with buses and trucks. City authorities said the strike was illegal and had since obtained a court order to stop it.

City of Tshwane municipal workers protest in the city centre on 29 July 2019, demanding an 18% salary increase. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The City of Tshwane said on Wednesday morning that it had managed to recover municipal buses that were taken by drivers without authorisation as part of their protest this week.

The strike, which began on Monday, was sparked by demands for an 18% salary increase by workers affiliated to South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu).

They blocked some routes in central Pretoria with buses and trucks. The city said the strike was illegal and had since obtained a court order to stop it.

According to a statement from the city, at least 40 buses were returned to the municipal bus depot east of Tshwane just before midnight.

“With the assistance of law enforcement officials, including the SAPS, Tshwane Metropolitan Police and their counterparts in Johannesburg, the JMPD and the taxi industry in the Greater Tshwane region, we were able to get buses off the streets back to the depot,” said the MMC for Roads and Transport Sheila Senkubuge.

“This is state property that was never supposed to have been removed from the depot without permission. We have since registered a case with the police because the buses were taken without authorisation on Monday morning,” she added.

The city said it wanted those who took part in the municipal strike to face criminal charges.

“In response to this, the city has decided it will lay criminal charges against instigators and participants of this strike,” said mayoral spokesperson Omogolo Taunyane. “This is also an opportunity for the city to apologise for the inconvenience that has resulted because of this disruption.”

WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

At the same time, negotiations with labour unions over wage increases were expected to resume on Wednesday at the National Bargaining Council.

“We’re confident that we will reach a solution with the unions. This would be in the best interest of the City, the employees and residents who have become the biggest victims of the illegal protests. We call for calm and restraint, and for all parties to give the negotiations a chance to proceed,” Senkubuge said.

The city said bus operations and service to the public would remain suspended until the impasse is resolved.

Additional reporting by Robinson Nqola.