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Cosatu to challenge govt’s 100% taxi load capacity concession at Nedlac

The Section 77 process would allow Cosatu to consult with the Department of Transport and all involved parties to find a solution to the labour union federation’s concerns about workers and other passengers’ risks of contracting COVID-19 from travelling in full taxis.

FILE: Commuters wait to enter their taxi at Bree taxi rank in Johannesburg. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The Congress of the South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Thursday said that it planned to submit a Section 77 application at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), hinting at a possible protest over the decision to operate taxis at full capacity.

The Section 77 process would allow Cosatu to consult with the Department of Transport and all involved parties to find a solution to the labour union federation’s concerns about workers and other passengers’ risks of contracting COVID-19 from travelling in full taxis, giving Cosatu the right to strike if these fail.

When some conditions of lockdown level 3 were eased, the Department of Transport allowed local taxis to operate at full capacity after public spats between taxi operators and government over lost revenue when the regulations enforced a 70% passenger capacity limit.

This was not the first time that Cosatu submitted a Section 77 application to Nedlac over the country’s transport system, with its past efforts to pressure government about fixing Metrorail and other related issues falling on deaf ears.

Now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cosatu said that it could not sit back, describing the government’s decision as a "deadly appeasement and capitulation".

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said: “Workers' lives are being compromised here. It does not make sense for all of us to work hard with employers forcing them to comply if workers are going to be exposed to the virus on their way to work.”

Should the outcome of the talks at Nedlac not satisfy Cosatu, the labour federation said that it might mobilise protest action.

Cosatu stressed that workers wanted a comprehensive overhaul of the transport system, adding that the intervention should be guided by the need to build an industry focused on commuters and not securing the interests of bus and taxi operators.

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