Back to drawing board for employers, unions involved in bus strike

Algoa Bus drivers protesting at the Algoa Bus Company depot in Perl Road, Port Elizabeth, as part of the nationwide bus strike regarding wage disputes.
Algoa Bus drivers protesting at the Algoa Bus Company depot in Perl Road, Port Elizabeth, as part of the nationwide bus strike regarding wage disputes.
Image: Deneesha Pillay

It’s back to the drawing board for both employers and unions involved in the protracted national bus strike which has left thousands of commuters countrywide stranded.

Talks between representatives of both parties collapsed yesterday after employers refused to give in to the unions’ wage demands.  

Unions are demanding a 9.5% wage hike  for the first year followed by  a 9% increase the second year, while employers stood firm on their offers of 8% the first year and 8.5% the next year.

Spokesperson for the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), Phakamile Hlubi, confirmed yesterday that the talks have broken down.

Numsa regional secretary Mziyanda Twani said: “We will not back down on our demands, so if an agreement is not reached, we will continue with the strike [today].”

It was not immediately clear how long the unions intended on staying away from work. Bus drivers have in the meantime received support from the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), which has urged its members to join the protesters “in a demonstration of support”.

Saftu spokesperson Patrick Craven had also called on the taxi industry to strike in this cause “a national public transport shutdown”.

Interventions by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant and Transport Minister Blade Nzimande failed to get resolve the impasse.

Negotiations by the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) also fell flat.

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