JOHANNESBURG – The Golden Arrow Bus Services company has spoken out against what it says are unions’ attempt to force pay increases beyond the point of stability of the company.

CEO Francois Meyer said in a statement on Saturday that Golden Arrow could not continue its practice of paying up to 59 percent more than the minimum rates agreed to with unions.

Although bus companies had absorbed the rapidly rising costs of these increases for 10 years, it had “now reached the point where we are facing the very real spectre of the potential ruin of the public bus transport industry if things continue along the current trajectory,” Meyer said.

“As the strike continues into its third week one bus company has gone into business rescue and a second major company has agreed not to vote in the bargaining process as its only chance of remaining viable is dependent on being exempt from whatever increases are ultimately agreed to, no matter what they are.”

Meyer said while Golden Arrow’s “generous’ wage increases had been given voluntarily in the past, “the endless escalation at unacceptably fast rates imposed by the unions forces us to restrict this additional pay”.

Unions were trying to force the company to continue to pay higher-than-average wages by imposing “across the board percentage” obligations on Golden Arrow.

“It is short-sighted to jeopardise the future of 2 800 GABS employees and the more than 14 000 people that depend on them by demanding salary increases of more than twice the rate of inflation,” he said.

The strike was forcing millions of working people to find other means of travelling to work, at increased expense and inconvenience, he said.

He apologised to commuters.

Source: eNCA