JOHANNESBURG- As the national bus strike enters its second day on Thursday, wage negotiations between the unions and the employers to end the industrial action began this morning in Johannesburg.
About 17 000 bus drivers affiliated to South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu), National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and other three unions downed tools on Wednesday this week after wage talks with employer organizations, Commuter Bus Employers Organisation and South African Bus Employers Association (SABEA) collapsed.
The industrial action left thousands of commuters on Wednesday stranded countrywide and forced to seek alternative transport. Unions are demanding a 12% increase while the employers are offering seven %.
Satawu spokesperson, Zanele Sabela said that they were satisfied with the impact that the strike has had so far.
“The negotiations have just started and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) is intervening for public interest and to make sure that we reach an agreement. The talks are set for Thursday and Friday. We are hopeful that we will be able to reach an agreement,” Sabela said.
Sabela said that members are also demanding that no driver should be paid less than R6000 each month.
“Workers are seeking a one-year 12% across the board wage increase with a minimum basic wage of R8 000, while employers are offering a three-year agreement with 7% ATB for the first year, 7.25% for the second year and 7.5% for the final year with a minimum wage of R6 070. Employers also want anyone entering the industry for the first time after 1 April 2018 to be paid a minimum basic wage of R6 070 regardless of whether the company hiring has a higher minimum wage. Trade unions want to do away with the dual driver system, through which employers are enjoying free labour, in that the second driver who is not at the wheel when the trip commences is deemed to not be on duty and only paid a R400 allowance per month. Workers demand full payment for both drivers,” she said.
Transport minister Blade Nzimande has appealed to all parties to reach an agreement in the wage negotiations.