As passengers trying to make their way home for the Easter break faced chaos and delays Saftu acknowledged the great inconvenience caused to bus passengers, most of them poor and working class and therefore dependent on public transport.
However, the union added, it was “in their interests as much as those of the workers” because the issue was not just wages but improved safety.
The union said the labour action was a fight “to end the exploitation which these workers have endured for years and which employers want to make even worse”.
The strike – which involves a number of unions, including the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), South African Transport and Allied Workers Union and the Transport and Allied Workers Union – began on Wednesday and affects long and short distance buses.
Numsa, which is leading the strike, has rejected the latest offer from employers of a nine percent increase across the board. The strikers have various other demands including better working conditions and that overtime pay rates kick in before 16 hours on duty.
Saftu added on Friday that the unions were justified in their demands, noting that commuters were put at risk when drivers were tired and stressed. The union said Numsa had summed it up well when it said: “Like typical slave owners, employers treat workers like animals, driving them to work dangerously long hours with no regard for family time or rest and relaxation time.
“This is thus a strike on behalf of all workers, employed and unemployed, and all road-users,” Saftu said.
“It is a fight for working class people to be respected and appreciated for the responsible and at times dangerous work they do to provide a vital service to their communities.”