Putco is third bus company to reach wage deal with striking drivers

Putco has joined two other bus companies in reaching a wage deal with striking bus drivers.

It was announced earlier on Friday that Translux and City-to-City had reached a wage agreement.

Confirming the agreement‚ Putco said its bus service had resumed at resumed at 10am on Friday.

“We can confirm that a wage agreement has been reached between the members involved in the bus strike. We are busy operating services to commuters going to Moria and other faith centres‚” said Danie Malherbe‚ senior executive for corporations and services at Putco.

He urged drivers to return to work‚ saying it was uncertain whether the message had reached all of the company’s drivers.

“We are aware that not all of our drivers know about the settlement made this morning‚ They should all know about this soon. Though some were eager to get back to work as they were seen at the depot this morning and were happy to resume services‚” Malherbe said.

He added that Putco buses would be available to transport ZCC members attending Easter services in Moria‚ Limpopo‚ and expected services to be fully functional from next week.

According to union sources‚ the agreement is for an 8.5 percent salary increase for all drivers.

This is below the 9% offer made by employers on Wednesday‚ and which agitated unions who called the offer a “disgrace”.

The wage agreements come as labour minister Mildred Oliphant is scheduled to meet unions to try to broker an end to the impasse in negotiations between unions and bus companies.

Oliphant was brought in as an “independent party” to mediate talks on Friday at OR Tambo international airport‚ after they “broke down” on Wednesday when negotiations became “hostile”.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (numsa)‚ the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union(Satawu)‚ and the Transport and Allied Workers Union had originally called for a 12% increase across the board.

Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela said that it was “unfortunate” that the Prasa-owned bus companies had undercut the wage negotiations by reaching an agreement with bosses.

“The agreement was made at shop level‚ and it still needs to be ratified by union leadership‚” she said.

Translux buses filled with passengers had already started leaving Johannesburg’s Park Station barely an hour after the agreement was made.

Numsa released a statement shortly after the agreement reiterating that only their secretary general could sign an agreement on behalf of the union.

“The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa wishes to place it on the record that we have not signed agreements with any employers in the bus passenger sector. We only negotiate through the Bargaining Council‚” said Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi.

“However‚ we look forward to our engagement with the Minister of Labour and the employers today. We hope for a speedy resolution to the dispute‚” she said.

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