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Bus strike leaves city commuters fuming

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Employers wanted to keep the current basic minimum wage of R6 070 and only increase it by the agreed ATB

REFUND: Due to the nationwide bus strike, Greyhound passengers will be able to get a refund on their purchased tickets. Picture: Soraya Crowie

FUMING bus commuters in Kimberley were left stranded yesterday as several bus services and transport unions embarked on a nationwide strike.

Transport unions earlier this week issued a notice of strike action, that would “affect the entire South African bus industry”.

Bus operators participating in the strike include Interstate, Golden Arrow, Greyhound and Putco.

“As a result of dead-locked wage negotiations, the unions’ party to the South African Road Passengers Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) has given notice of their intention to embark upon strike action on April 18, 2018. Negotiations are still taking place and Golden Arrow remains hopeful that an agreement can still be reached. If the strike action goes ahead, Golden Arrow will institute a company-wide lock-out in order to ensure the safety of our passengers and staff for the duration of the strike. Services could therefore be suspended from April 18, 2018,” Golden Arrow said in a statement earlier this week.

The strike follows a deadlock in annual wage negotiations between the employers association and five transport unions: SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) , Transport and Allied Workers Union of SA (Tawusa), Transport and Omnibus Workers’ Union (Towu), National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Tirisano Transport Workers Union (Taswu).

The negotiations started at the SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) National Bargaining Forum in January. The unions proposed a one-year 12% across the board (ATB) wage increase agreement with a minimum basic wage of R8 000, while employers offered a three-year agreement with 7% ATB for the first year, 7.25% for 2019 and 7.5% for 2020.

According to Satawu, employers wanted to keep the current basic minimum wage of R6 070 and only increase it by the agreed ATB. Those entering the industry for the first time this year would be paid the basic minimum wage of R6 070, regardless of whether the hiring company has a higher minimum wage.

The two parties were issued a certificate to strike by the CCMA. The two parties were also given a 30-day cooling-off period, which expired on April 16.

In Kimberley, bus commuters were yesterday left fuming, after being stranded as a result of the strike.

Greyhound customers were yesterday given the option of refunds or postponements on tickets purchased, but this did not make up for the fact that many had missed important appointments. Operators could also not give commuters a date when the strike would be over.

“We had to be in Johannesburg for a funeral on Thursday (today) but now we are stranded and will have to make urgent alternative arrangements,” one commuter, Zanele Koko, yesterday said.

“We were given no warning about the strike and they also can’t tell us when services will resume. This is a massive inconvenience for us as we are now stranded, even after buying our bus tickets weeks ago,” another commuter, Geoffrey Lang stated.