CONCILIATION PROCESS TO AVERT BUS STRIKE UNDERWAY
South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) along with four other unions is taking part in a conciliation process at the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) after the first round of negotiations failed to produce an agreement.
Bus sector wage negotiations between SATAWU, NUMSA, TAWUSA, TOWU, TASWU and two employer organisations, SABEA and COBEA started on 21 January and ended 24 January. Parties did not find each other, necessitating the conciliation process that is underway until 20 February.
Labour is demanding a one-year agreement from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, while employers insist on a three-year agreement. Unions initially demanded a 20% across the board (ATB) wage increase with a minimum wage of R12 000 but revised the demand down to 14% ATB with a R10 000 minimum. Employers rejected the revised demand, opting rather to increase the minimum wage for each job category by an average 2.5% – which is laughable as it is way below inflation.
There is also a strange dynamic in this industry in that it is the only one we know of where employers demand from workers during negotiations by attempting to claw back workers’ hard-won benefits. This time around employers want to pay subsistence and travel allowance after 9 hours on the road instead of the current 7 hours 20 minutes.
Plus currently the industry status quo is such that new entrants are entitled to the benefits enjoyed by other workers in the sector. Now employers want to take that away and create a two-tier labour market. We will not allow them to do this.
To add insult to injury issues that were referred to the task team during the previous bus strike have not been resolved. Employers have refused to consider work done between 6pm and 6am night shift, stubbornly sticking to their definition of work done between 8pm and 3am. The companies have also refused to pay double-drivers for the trips they undertake, insisting a driver is not on duty until s/he takes the wheel. They have also said no to insourcing.
Unions are calling on SABEA and COBEA to use this week to come to the table in a meaningful way if they wish to avert a protracted strike such as the one in 2018.