NEWS & ANALYSIS

City to approach courts to protect MyCiTi personnel – Cape Town

Brett Herron says EFF is using unprotected strike to drive their political agenda

City to approach courts to protect MyCiTi personnel, passengers, assets against EFF-led violent strike

17 October 2018

The City of Cape Town will, within the next few hours, apply for an urgent court interdict to protect MyCiTi personnel, passengers, and assets against those participating in an unprotected strike that has turned violent. We also regret to inform commuters that the majority of the MyCiTi routes are still not operational. Read more below:

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is the mastermind of the unprotected strike that has turned violent this morning. Two female bus drivers were held hostage, passengers were chased out of the MyCiTi stations, MyCiTi buses were stoned, along with further acts of intimidation, assault, and the blocking of roads.

Some of the drivers who reported for duty this morning were forced out of the MyCiTi buses which were already servicing their routes. The strikers even went as far as to steal the buses’ keys.

The EFF is using the unprotected strike to drive their political agenda – this is a deplorable agenda centred around chaos, violence, disruption, sabotage, and self-interest. They have no respect for the residents of this city, neither the thousands of commuters who rely on the MyCiTi service, nor do they care about those whom they have enticed into participating in this strike.

We have been informed that those participating in the wildcat strike include employees from the Vehicle Operating Companies (VOCs) operating the MyCiTi service, and the contractor who is operating the MyCiTi stations. Thus, the protestors consist of a random group of employees from various companies that are acting recklessly and opportunistically under the guidance of the EFF.

Worst of all is that the EFF is using the striking employees as their puppets and, once the show is over, they will vanish into thin air.

Those participating in the unprotected strike are not getting paid while absent from work, and they will face disciplinary action once they return to work. One wonders whether the EFF will contribute to their salaries to make up for the shortfall by the end of the month, and whether the EFF will pay for their legal representation, given that the unions have urged their members to refrain from participating in this wildcat strike.

The so-called ‘outsourcing’ of labour that is being referred to by the EFF is a myth. Given that they are not in government, they do not understand, nor grasp, how the MyCiTi service – or bus rapid transit (BRT) system – came about almost a decade ago under the leadership of the National Government.

The MyCiTi service was rolled out in Cape Town in May 2010 after the City entered into long-term operational contracts with Vehicle Operating Companies (VOCs) to run the MyCiTi routes.

The VOCs were set up by the minibus-taxi associations who were affected by the roll-out of the MyCiTi service to the inner-city, Hout Bay and Hangberg, Table View, Atlantis, and parts of Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha. The minibus-taxi drivers received extensive training to become bus drivers and have since been employed by the VOCs.

Thus, the VOCs were formed to empower the minibus-taxi industry and most of those who are employed by the VOCs have come directly from the industry itself. Empowerment is the main reason for the VOCs being established, and what the EFF is propagating will undermine this very principle.

Importantly, the bus drivers are represented by trade unions and their conditions of employment are the subject of a collective bargaining agreement. The annual national wage negotiations take place at the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) National Bargaining Forum.

A wage agreement was reached as recently as May this year, following a protracted four-week strike in April. Thus, the current unprotected strike is inexplicable.

I am, once again, urging those who have embarked on this strike to use the structures and processes in place to address any grievances or concerns they may have with their employment.

The EFF does not have the mandate to represent, or to speak on behalf of, any of these employees in so far as the conditions of employment are concerned. Their involvement in this violent strike must be questioned and condemned.

I also condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the violence and attacks that took place this morning. I received numerous reports from our operational team about bus drivers that are stressed and traumatised after having been assaulted by their striking colleagues.

The illegal strikers targeted the Civic Centre and Adderley Street stations in particular, as these stations were operational for those commuters travelling on the N2 Express routes from the Cape Flats to the central business district.

The protestors entered the Civic Centre station at around 08:00 and held two female bus drivers hostage. They also forced passengers out of the building, and blocked the red bus lane that runs along Hertzog Boulevard. As a result, the MyCiTi service was suspended for several hours in the interest of the safety of our commuters, personnel, and assets.

We will soon approach the Western Cape High Court for an urgent interdict against those who are preventing the service from operating by resorting to violence and using intimidation tactics.

Commuters are advised to please make alternative travelling arrangements as the MyCiTi service has been severely interrupted due to the wildcat strike. The City is monitoring the situation and will inform commuters accordingly.

Monthly ticketholders will be reimbursed with the number of days that they could not make use of the service due to the strike action and which resulted in the buses being grounded.

Commuters can contact the Transport Information Centre 24/7 on 0800 65 64 63 for the latest information regarding the service, or follow @MyCiTibus on Twitter, or visit the facebook page ‘MyCiTi Integrated Rapid Transit System’.

Issued by Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, City of Cape Town, 18 October 2018