The unions representing workers in the bus sector are looking into a new offer put on the bargaining table in an attempt to end the national strike.

The crippling strike that has been going on for nearly a month has left more than 220 000 Golden Arrow Bus Services (Gabs) commuters and 72 000 MyCiTi commuters seeking alternative transportation daily.

South African Transport and Allied Workers Union spokesperson Zanele Sabela said the Bargaining Council and the CCMA have proposed an offer of 8.75% for the first year and 8.25% for the second year, to be backdated to April 1.

“The five unions are still deliberating whether to accept the offer from the Bargaining Council and the CCMA. We will update the public on the decision in due course.

“The other issues of the dual drivers, night shift and insourcing of workers will be referred to the task team under the auspices of the CCMA,” said Sabela.

At the start of negotiations, workers affiliated to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, the Transport and Omnibus Workers Union, the Transport and Allied Workers Union of South Africa and the Tirisano Transport and Services Workers Union demanded a 12% wage increase among other demands.

They dropped to 9.5% in the first year and 9% in the second year.

Last Thursday negotiations between employers and unions deadlocked.

The Gabs company said the unions were asking for pay increases beyond the point of company stability.

The City said the lockout instituted by the vehicle operating companies operating the MyCiTi service will remain suspended until further notice as the bus strike enters its third week.

Commuters were requested to make alternative travelling arrangements as there will also be no feeder services along the bus route.

Gabs chief executive Francois Meyer said Golden Arrow could not continue paying up to 59% 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 spectre of the potential ruin of the public bus transport industry if things continue along the current trajectory,” he said.

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


Source: IOL – Cape Times – Okuhle Hlati