SATAWU warns of bus strike

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THE South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) has issued a warning about a possible national bus strike this 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) and Tirisano Transport Workers Union (TASWU) are likely to down tools in the middle of this week after a stalemate in wage talks.

The five unions have been locked 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.

ALSO READ: Ongoing bus strike angers iNkosi Biyela

However, owing to a mandatory 30-day cooling off period, unions could not embark on a strike immediately.

The cooling off period ended on Sunday, after which unions will give employers 48 hours’ notice before starting the strike on Wednesday.

Parties are allowed to engage during the cooling off period and unions said they were open to talks to avert the strike.

The employers have yet to respond.

On behalf of workers, unions are seeking a one-year 12% across the board wage increase agreement with a minimum basic wage of R8 000.

Employers, on the other hand, are offering a three-year agreement with a 7% increase for year one 7.25% for year 2 and 7.5% for year 3. They also want to keep the current basic minimum wage of R6 070.

In addition, employers want any worker entering the industry for the first time after 1 April 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 is not at the wheel at the beginning of a journey and is only entitled to a R400 allowance per month.

Employers argue that the dual driver is not on duty until he takes the wheel.

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.

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  AUTHOR
Orrin Singh

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