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Numsa bus drivers to return to work

South Africa
Johannesburg – The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has accepted the "sell-out" wage settlement and bus drivers who are members of the union will return to work, Numsa general-secretary Irvin Jim said on Saturday.

Following extensive consultation with regions in all nine provinces Numsa had decided to end the strike in the passenger bus sector, he said.

"Despite being the second biggest trade union in the sector we had to accept this sell-out deal for the sake of industrial peace and stability in the sector and we therefore urge all our members to return to work.

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Numsa general-secretary Irvin Jim File picture: Dumisani Sibeko/Independent Media

"We want to inform employers that it will take time for all our members to return to work. We expect that by Tuesday all our members should be back at work. We also want to remind the employer that we will not tolerate any victimisation of our members for their participation in the strike," Jim said.

Numsa would continue to pressure the labour department "to do proper oversight" in the passenger bus sector.

The fact that Numsa members, even under the new wage agreement, would continue to be exposed to dangerously long hours without compensation was shameful.

"We are inspired by our members who demonstrated great courage and determination during the course of the strike. They were also extremely disciplined. We salute you for fighting for a dignified life for yourself and your families. We call on all workers in the sector to unite behind Numsa as we fight to transform the industry and restore dignity and equality to our members," Jim said.

Earlier, Gautrain spokeswoman Kesagee Nayager said Gautrain bus service drivers returned to work on Saturday.

“We are pleased to advise that following an agreement being reached the Gautrain bus service has resumed operations from today, 15 April. We thank our drivers for the responsible and professional manner in which they have conducted themselves over the strike. We also thank our passengers for their understanding and support,” Nayager said.

Cape Town’s Golden Arrow and MyCiTi services also resumed on Saturday. Golden Arrow buses would be back on the roads on Saturday, the commuter bus company announced on Friday after it had been notified by the SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) that a nationwide strike had been settled.

“The general secretary of the bargaining council Gary Wilson stated that the majority of the parties accepted the offer that was tabled and that in terms of the SARPBAC constitution this will be binding on all the parties that are represented in the council,” Golden Arrow said in a statement.

“As a result of the settlement Golden Arrow will resume services tomorrow, Saturday 15th April. However, due to the Easter break and the unexpected speedy resolution of the strike a skeleton staff will be on duty.”

The announcement came after the City of Cape Town also announced its MyCiTi bus service would resume operating from Saturday following the strike being settled.

“Passengers should please note that it may take a few hours for the service to settle in, meaning there may be some initial delays on some of the routes. We expect that the service will normalise and that most buses will adhere to the weekend time schedule as the day continues,” mayoral committee member for transport and urban development Brett Herron said.

“I want to thank commuters for their patience during the strike and ask them to please bear with us as we get the service up to full speed again [on Saturday].”

Buses stopped operating on Wednesday when drivers from five unions went on strike following a deadlock in wage negotiations.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant on Friday announced the strike was over as the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu), the Transport and Allied Workers’ Union of SA (Tawusa), and the Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Tawu) accepted the nine percent wage deal, signing an agreement binding all unions in the sector. Numsa and the Transport and Services Workers’ Union (Taswu) rejected the offer, with Numsa defiantly announcing the strike would continue.

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