Unions embark on nationwide bus strike – SATAWU

Strike comes after meeting planned to break deadlock on wage negotiations collapsed

SATAWU embarks on nationwide bus strike 

18 April 2018

Workers affiliated to South African 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) will embark on strike tomorrow, Wednesday 18 April at 5.30am as planned.

This after a meeting planned for Tuesday in an effort to break the deadlock in wage negotiations collapsed after employer associations Commuter Bus Employers Organisation (COBEO) and SA Bus Employers Association (SABEA) withdrew - unhappy unions had served them with a notice to strike on Monday, 16 April.

Wage negotiations in the SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) started in January this year but parties were unable to find each other, despite intervention by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in March. A strike certificate was issued on 16 March, after which parties were compelled to observe a 30-day cooling-off period before embarking on industrial action. The cooling-off period lapsed on Sunday 15 April and unions gave employers 48-hours’ notice of their intention to strike.

The strike is set to continue despite unions agreeing to a public interest intervention by the CCMA as per Section 150 of the Labour Relations Act. Parties will therefore meet on Thursday 19 April and Friday 20 April to try and resolve outstanding issues.

Workers are seeking a one-year 12% across the board (ATB) 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.

Unions also want night shift to be any work done between 6pm and 6am as per the Basic Conditions of Employment. Currently, night shift in the industry is work done between 8pm and 3am. COBEA and SABEA insist on maintaining the status quo.

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 pay for both drivers.

Labour is also demanding workers be compensated for sleeping-out and that employers pay for decent accommodation to enable drivers to rest adequately when they are away from home. In addition, unions want the current travel and subsistence allowance of R595 per day to be converted to an inconvenience allowance to compensate workers for being away from home. This allowance should increase by the agreed ATB each year.

Unions are adamant that the strike will continue indefinitely until an agreement benefiting workers is reached.

Issued by Zanele Sabela, SATAWU Media Officer, 18 April 2018