MyCiTi bus drivers returning to work

ct MyCiti depo 6085 done Courtney Africa UNHAPPY: Transpeninsula drivers meet at the Green Point depot yesterday to discuss their grievances about 19- hours shifts, low salaries and insufficient rest periods. MyCiTi operations are expected to return to normal today. Photo: Courtney Africa

Zara Nicholson

Metro Writer

MyCiTi bus drivers are returning to work today, after two days on an unprotected strike over wages and working conditions.

About 70 drivers from Transpeninsula Investments complained about working up to 19 hours a day, having no proper rest periods and not being paid the minimum salary of about R6 600 for 195 hours of work each month.

Seven inner city routes were affected on Wednesday and yesterday and the city called on other vehicle companies to help with transporting passengers.

Passengers were stranded or had long waits for buses on Wednesday morning as the wildcat strike began.

Transpeninsula management and unions were locked in meetings all day yesterday to resolve the issue. Drivers said they had tried to raise their concerns with management for a long time, saying their hours led to fatigue which could be fatal. There had already been a few accidents.

The Transport and Omnibus Workers’ Union (Towu) lodged complaints with the SA Road Passenger bargaining council which investigated and found substance in the drivers’ grievances.

Transpeninsula was issued with a compliance notice on March 10 to rectify the issues.

On Wednesday the company denied that the complaints were true, or that it did not comply with the shift and rest regulations set by the bargaining council.

Yesterday however, Transpeninsula director Ghaalid Behardien confirmed the company had received a compliance notice and said the issues had been addressed.

Nezaam Davids from the bargaining council said Transpeninsula had been given 21 days to rectify the issues.

Davids said he would continue with his investigation today to see whether the company had taken steps to become compliant.

If the company had not, it would be called to an arbitration hearing.

Davids said he had found that drivers were being paid on an ad hoc basis and not for the minimum 195 hours.

They had to get a rest period of between 10 and 12 hours, but this was not happening, he said.

One of the drivers on strike, and who did not want to give his name, said: “The fatigue really gets to you, your co-ordination is off. If someone doesn’t get enough time to sleep then it’s like a corpse driving and it affects people’s safety. I often have passengers asking if I am okay.”

He said drivers were also not satisfied as they were paid R6 600 a month whereas some of them had made that amount as taxi drivers in one week.

“It’s gone from bad to worse and changing over to MyCiTi was not worth it.

“We work 19 hours and get rest periods of between two and five hours. It’s ridiculous,” he said.

Behardien said the unions had successfully notified the drivers yesterday that the strike was over and that they had to return to work so that the issues could be addressed.

“The service was disrupted minimally yesterday (Thursday) … it is disappointing that drivers opted to go this route because had the proper channels been followed then the issues could have been resolved,” Behardien said.

Mayco member for Transport for Cape Town, Brett Herron said: “An agreement to end the two-day long unprotected strike was signed late this afternoon between Transpeninsula and the striking drivers after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration assisted with the negotiations.”

Herron said services on the inner city routes including Salt River, Walmer Estate, Sea Point and Hout Bay should be running according to schedule today.

The city will also investigate the circumstances that led to the strike.

“The outcome of this process (gathering and verification of the facts) will determine the city’s actions going forward,” Herron said.

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