Rail staff, truckers set to join strike

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trasnport strike 2 Cape Argus Striking bus drivers protest in Athlone. Photo: Cindy Waxa

Cape Town - Railway workers, truck drivers and dock workers could join striking bus drivers if “significant progress” is not made between workers and employers at a meeting at the CCMA on Wednesday.

This was the warning from Vincent Masoga, spokesman for the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), on Tuesday morning.

And some long distance bus drivers have also joined the strike.

Translux confirmed that their services “have been suspended until further notice” due to the strike.

However, Intercape and Greyhound said tthat they were running at full capacity.

Leon Engelbrecht, director of Greyhound, said that the carrier’s employees last week decided not to join the strike and that this situation remained unchanged.

transport strike Golden Arrow buses are locked in at the Woodstock Depot as the national bus drivers wage strike continues. Picture: Henk Kruger CAPE ARGUS

Masoga accused Greyhound of interfering with its members and undermining collective bargaining but Engelbrecht denied this, saying that the decision not to strike came from drivers and not management.

Scores of Golden Arrow bus drivers and staff picketed terminals in several centres in Cape Town on Tuesday morning.

The national wage strike by bus drivers is expected to last until at least the end of the week.

Leaders from the Transport and Omnibus Workers Union (Towu) and Satawu announced a schedule for the week to members at a rally in Gatesville on Monday.

MyCiTi will run at a “reduced capacity” until the end of the strike.

Amid fears of vandalism, Golden Arrow has locked its buses away until further notice.

Spokeswoman Bronwen Dyke said the company’s buses were subjected to “serious vandalism” as a result of strikes in the past.

When the question of “stopping buses from operating” came up at Monday’s meeting, Wayne Louw, Satawu provincial chairman, asked the media to leave so that “sensitive issues” could be discussed.

In October, dozens of trucks were stoned and torched in Cape Town and nationally when Satawu’s truck drivers striked.

“The potential of this type of violence is of massive concern,” said Tony Franks, Towu’s general secretary.

“That is why we as a strike committee have met to discuss issues of discipline. We can act as marshals and have encouraged our members to remain peaceful.”

The strike will include pickets at bus terminals and a march on Wednesday to the Athlone offices of the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (Sarpbac), which represent employers, where a memorandum is to be delivered.

Another meeting with union members is scheduled for Thursday.

The strike follows three rounds of failed wage negotiations which started in January. Unions have demanded an 18 percent raise and employers have offered 6.5 percent.

Two weeks ago the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) recommended a wage settlement of 9 percent.

Last week, Towu was mandated by its members to accept the offer, but there has been no similar decision from Sarpbac or Satawu. This meant Towu had reverted to an 18 percent raise demand, said Franks.

 

Sarpbac spokesman Barry Gie said the “optimistic outcome” of a settlement before the end of the week still existed.

Meanwhile the IFP have called on employers and labour to work together to resolve the bus strike.

The strike could endanger commuters, Inkatha Freedom Party spokesman Petros Sithole said in a statement.

“Merely directing commuters to trains is not a safe alternative, as it causes greater over-crowding on a transport system that is already overtaxed.

“This unnecessarily places people's lives at risk,” he said.

The IFP did not oppose the workers' right to strike, but encouraged the employers' organisation and unions to find common ground towards ending the strike.

Cape Argusand Sapa



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