Stranded commuters faced long queues at Nyanda taxi rank on Thursday as the national bus strike entered its second day. PHOTO: ANA

Lead South Africa

Bus companies slowly rolling out service after crippling strike

CAPE TOWN, May 15 (ANA) – Though the crippling nationwide bus strike in South Africa was called off on Monday after workers and employers reached an agreement, some bus companies such as the Gautrain said on Tuesday that their operations would not resume immediately.

In a statement issued shortly before 6am, the Gautrain said that the early morning bus service was not be available due to a bus driver meeting taking place. Buses were dispatched after the meeting.

Long-distance coach Greyhound and Citiliner also said that its services resumed on Monday, but all routes would only be fully operational from Wednesday.

Reya Vaya, MyCiTi and A Re Yeng – the bus rapid transit systems in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Tshwane respectively – were back in operation on Tuesday.

Thousands of bus drivers downed tools a month ago, demanding wage increases and better working conditions. On Monday, five unions agreed and signed a new offer including a nine percent across-the-board wage increase for the first year and eight percent for the second year.

The crippling national bus strike in South Africa, has been called off after workers and employers reached an agreement on Monday.

In a joint statement, the Transport Omnibus Workers Union (TOWU); the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu); the Transport and Allied Workers Union of SA (Tawusa); the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa); and Tirisano Transport Workers Union confirmed that the employers have agreed to back pay the new wage offer of nine percent to April 1.

“We have consulted our members from all the regions in different parts of the country. Our members have overwhelmingly accepted this offer,” the joint statement read.

“Employers finally agreed to back date the offer for it to be implemented on the 01 April 2018. This was a sticking point which initially prevented us from ending the strike on Friday. After much lobbying we finally convinced the employers to backdate the implementation of the offer.”

The new offer signed included a nine percent across-the-board wage increase for the first year effective from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019; an eight percent across-the-board wage increase for the second year, effective from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020; a minimum basic wage to increase by nine percent as of date of signature and eight percent from April 1, 2019; and allowances including for nightshift, subsistence, cross border and tool to increase by the respective ATB for both years.

In the statement, the unions said that insourcing, dual drivers and nightshift hours were referred to a task team which will be overseen by the Commission of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) with clear terms of reference and time frames.

Thousands of bus drivers downed tools over four weeks ago, demanding wage increases and better working conditions. The unions had initially demanded a 12 percent increase. The demand was revised to 9.5 percent and negotiation talks deadlocked.

In the statement on Monday,  the unions said that workers are officially expected to return to work on Wednesday,  adding that they expect most workers to return to work on Tuesday.

“We want to thank our members for their militant discipline throughout the strike. They were resolute and determined throughout and we honour them for their huge sacrifice. The strike began on the 18th of April and since then they have given up their wages in order to secure better conditions. We salute them,” the statement read.

“We also thank the leadership of all the trade unions for being united throughout the duration of the strike. We worked well together and we have demonstrated the power of working class unity.”

The City of Cape Town informed commuters that the MyCiTi service would operate from Tuesday.

“Please note that it will take several hours for the service to settle in and commuters should expect some initial delays on their routes. However, we do expect that most of the buses will be complying with the normal time schedules on the majority of the routes in the latter part of the day,” the City said in a statement.

“The City will be monitoring the situation, and will provide commuters with updates as far as possible.”

 

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