South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) and four other unions in the SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) are warning of a possible national bus strike next week.
Trade unions SATAWU, Transport and Allied Workers Union of SA (TAWUSA), Transport and Omnibus Workers’ Union (TOWU), National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA), Tirisano Transport Workers Union (TASWU) are likely to down tools in the middle of next week after a stalemate in the wage talks.
The five unions have been in wage negotiations with employer associations Commuter Bus Employers Organisation (COBEO) and SA Bus Employers Association (SABEA) since January this year. The agreed settlement was meant to have been implemented on 1 April, 2018 but instead SARPBAC issued unions with a certificate to strike on 16 March. However, due to a mandatory 30-day cooling off period unions could not embark on strike immediately. The cooling off period ends on Sunday 15 April, after which unions will give employers 48 hours’ notice before starting the on strike on Wednesday 18 April.
Parties are allowed to engage during the cooling off period and unions have communicated they are open to talks to avert the strike. Employers are still to respond.
On behalf of workers, unions are seeking a one-year 12% across the board (ATB) wage increase agreement with a minimum basic wage of R8 000. Employers, on the other hand, are offering a three-year agreement with 7% ATB for Year 1, 7.25% for Year 2 and 7.5% for Year 3 and want to keep the current basic minimum wage of R6 070 and only increase it by the agreed ATB. In addition, employers want any worker entering the industry for the first time after 1 April 2018 to be paid R6 070 (SARPBAC minimum basic wage ) regardless of whether the hiring company has a higher minimum wage.
Unions are also demanding full-pay for dual drivers as employers are currently enjoying free labour, where the second driver who is not at the wheel at the beginning of a journey is only entitled to a R400 allowance per month. Employers argue the dual driver is not on duty until he takes the wheel. This thinking is obviously flawed because the driver cannot be elsewhere or do anything else but be on the bus from the time the trip commences.
Another demand involves night shift. Unions want any work done between 6pm and 6am to be deemed night shift as stipulated in the Basic Conditions of Employment. Currently the industry deems night shift to be between 8pm and 3am and employers want to maintain the status quo.
Labour also wants workers to be compensated for sleeping-out and has demanded employers arrange and pay for decent accommodation so drivers can rest adequately when they are away from home. Labour has further demanded that the R595, R632 and R673 per day that employers have offered to pay as subsistence and travel allowance for the respective years of the three-year agreement be paid to workers as compensation for being away from home.
SATAWU, TAWUSA, TOWU, NUMSA and TASWU are adamant they will embark on a strike unless employers put an offer on the table that ensures workers are able to withstand the economic challenges brought on by the increase in personal tax rates and VAT.
For queries or to arrange an interview contact:
Zanele Sabela, SATAWU Media Officer
079 287 5788 / 011 403 2077 / firstname.lastname@example.org