South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) members at Putco will picket outside the Labour Court in Johannesburg on Friday.
SATAWU’s lawyers will go up against bus company Putco for not paying workers’ annual wage increase and bonuses in line with the agreement signed last May after workers downed tools for 28 days. The matter is set-down for 10am today.
Labour unions SATAWU, NUMSA, TAWUSA, TOWU and TASWU signed a 9% for Year 1 and 8% for Year 2 wage increase agreement with employer associations SABEA and COBEA at the South African Road Passengers Bargaining Council (SARPBAC), to end the near month-long strike that saw the industry ground to a halt. To date Putco has not paid its workers the annual increase or end of year bonuses despite having signed the agreement.
Established in 1945, Putco is South Africa’s oldest and largest bus company and claims to transport more than 350 000 passengers daily. Despite this, last June the company applied to SARPBAC to be exempt from complying with the wage settlement. SARPBAC’s Exemption Authority turned down Putco’s application for a zero percent increase.
The bus company appealed the decision. In response, the authority ruled that the employer pay workers a 6% increase for the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. In addition, Putco was ordered to pay an extra 3% on 1 April 2019 prior to paying the 8% increase for Year 2 as per the agreement. The company was also ordered to pay annual bonuses in December 2018. Until now the company has not complied, opting to refer the matter to the Labour Court.
SATAWU rejects Putco’s assertion that it cannot afford to comply with the wage settlement because it is financially stressed. The bus company retrenched 220 employees and abolished 380 positions last year arguing the move would improve its finances. It also increased fares by between 8% and 14% across the various regions it services. Government also raised its subsidy to the company by 3.24% in 2018.
SATAWU’s legal representatives will argue that Putco can in fact afford to pay the wage hike and bonuses, and will appeal to court to compel it to do right by its workers who have had the value of their earnings eroded by this year-long delay.
For more details and media interviews contact:
Zanele Sabela, SATAWU Media Officer, 011 403 2077