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Battle for the soul of Greyhound as resumption angers former employees

THE winding down of Greyhound by its parent company, Unitrans Passenger, left around 800 workers without jobs in spite of their pleas for a business rescue process to be given a chance. | Motshwari Mofokeng /African News Agency (ANA)

THE winding down of Greyhound by its parent company, Unitrans Passenger, left around 800 workers without jobs in spite of their pleas for a business rescue process to be given a chance. | Motshwari Mofokeng /African News Agency (ANA)

Published Apr 8, 2022

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GREYHOUND Coach Lines’ sudden resumption of operations has left the company’s former employees hot under the collar as they continue challenging their retrenchment in court.

The Democratised Transport Logistics and Allied Workers Union (Detawu) said yesterday that its members had been left out in the cold in the process to revive Greyhound.

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Detawu general-secretary Vusi Ntshangase said the manner in which the owners of Greyhound had gone about selling the company was ”very suspicious”.Ntshangase said this had reinforced their belief that the luxury bus company could have been saved without going through the process of being sold.

He said the union had two pending matters in the Labour Court in relation to the procedure and substance of retrenchments and eventual closure of Greyhound.

“We were aggrieved with how winding down was handled. We are going to fight this issue until the last point,” Ntshangase said.

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“If we are going to allow this to continue; many other companies will follow suit and just sell businesses only to come back under new ownership without paying the workers their dues.

“The court must look at this issue and make a judgment that will be a strong deterrent to other scrupulous employers. Whatever the workers were offered as retrenchment packages was a unilateral decision and was not ventilated through proper structures.”

Greyhound on Wednesday announced its official resumption of operations under new management after it ceased operations in February 2021.

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Greyhound’s operating company, Unitrans Passenger, had been experiencing financial constraints over the past couple of years.

The situation was exacerbated by the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, which halted travel across the country.

The winding down of Greyhound by its parent company, Unitrans Passenger, left around 800 workers without jobs in spite of their pleas for a business rescue process to be given a chance.

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Greyhound’s new owners have preferred to remain anonymous, except to say that the company was purchased by an investment entity that is owned by a private trust.

Ntshangase said the union had never been contacted by either the old or new owners of Greyhound to make arrangements for placing the previous employees.

“What we know is that the company has been outrightly sold to a new buyer with absolutely no plans to absorb previously employed workers,” he said.

“This is why we were protesting because we could have saved these jobs. We have absolutely no communication with new employees.”

Greyhound spokesperson Leslie Matthews dismissed unconfirmed reports that a previous chief executive of Greyhound was linked to the company that bought the luxury coaches.

“I can categorically state that not a single individual from previous management is involved in this new company,” Matthews said.

“The owners have asked for that information to remain confidential. What I can say is that they are affiliated to SANI Car Rental, they are a family owned entity with Level 1 BEE Contributor. The current owners are not egotistical at all.”

Matthews further said Greyhound was busy with a recruitment process, and the previous employees were welcome to apply as positions were available.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said they always suspected that there was no justification for closing down Greyhound, and now they have been proven right.

“The owners of Greyhound bus are doing what all greedy capitalists do. They deliberately shut down operations, only to reopen a couple of months later so that they can restart on a fresh slate,” Numsa said.

“Clearly workers and trade unions were deliberately misled about the true state of finances of the company, if Greyhound can simply re-open and start trading as if nothing happened.”

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