Cape Town - The crippling industrial bus strike that left hundreds of thousands of commuters stranded has been called off.
On Monday Transport Omnibus Workers Union (TOWU) spokesperson, Tony Franks confirmed that an agreement has been signed by two of the employers associations; the South African Bus Employers Association and Commuter Bus Employers Organisation (Cobeo), as well as the five unions; South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu), TOWU, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Tirisano Transport Workers Union.
Franks said: “The strike has been called off and now we are communicating it to all members.”
Cobeo spokesperson Meshack Ramela said employers expected all workers to report to duty on Tuesday.
“They should be reporting to duty as per their shifts,” he said.
The industrial strike which started on April,18 was nearing its fourth week in action.
It followed a deadlock in three-months of negotiations where unions called for a 12% across the board increase while employers offered only 8%.
Through a series of negotiations and interventions by both Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, and Minister of Transport, Blade Nzimande, unions lowered their demand to 9% which was later put on the table by employers for this year.
Earlier this week, unions indicated that they were ready to reach an agreement after employers had offered 9% increase for this year and an 8% increase for 2019.
However, the issue of when the increases would be put in effect became a matter of contention .
The unions wanted the increment to be effective from April 1, but employers said the increase would be put in effect from the date in which the agreement is signed.
Transport Omnibus Workers Union spokesperson, Chris Fredericks said: “The employers are reluctant to backdate payment. The agreement has always been for April and not May. This is nothing new to employers,” he said.
Ramela said the issue regarding the back pay had been sorted.
“The unions came back and modified their demand. It was signed on the basis that there would be back pay but not on wage benefits.
“We will back pay from April 1 to April,17 only. Then the increment goes in effect from the date of signing.
Labour law expert, Michael Bagraim said unions have not put money aside in order to allow a disbursement to be paid to striking workers.
“The law is clear in that everyone on strike receives no pay. Furthermore, there is no right to demand back pay for the time whilst the workers were not working.
“This is a challenge to all trade unions to at least start putting aside some monies as to ensure that their members are at least partially protected during strike action,” he said.