If the bus strike continues it could have disastrous consequences for the thousands of travelers who take to SA's roads over the Easter weekend. File picture: Itumeleng English
Johannesburg – The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said on Wednesday that its members have rejected the latest wage offer of nine percent across the board tabled by employers in the bus passenger sector.

This comes as bus drivers affiliated to several unions on Wednesday embarked on a national strike over salaries and working conditions. If it continues, the strike could have dire consequences for those undertaking long distance trips home this Easter weekend.

The bus drivers are affiliated to several unions, including Numsa, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), and the Transport and Allied Workers Union (Tawu).

Numsa in the bus passenger sector are seeking a 15 percent wage increase across the board. Numsa said in a statement that employers responded by requesting to meet and negotiate in the bargaining council, which is being chaired by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). "Those talks have broken down, leaving us with no choice but to continue our strike action," Numsa said.

"We were hoping that the Employer would engage meaningfully with our demands and put a fair offer on the table, but that wasn’t the case."

Numsa also demands that all employees must be paid for time spent on a bus in the case of double drivers. But the employer offered to pay overtime for drivers only after they have worked a 16-hour shift The employer also offered an increase of the night shift allowance by 10 percent and another 10 percent increase cross-border allowance.

"As Numsa, we reject this offer with the contempt it deserves. The fact that employers are not willing to offer a double digit increase, and are unwilling to pay the co-driver for his or her services when they are not driving is simply a disgrace," Numsa said.

"Furthermore, employers have the nerve to propose that our members should only be paid overtime after they have worked a 16-hour shift. This proves that they intend to continue abusing our members, and putting their lives, as well that of passengers and motorists at risk by forcing drivers to work long hours."

Numsa also said it would not entertain offers which are negotiated outside of the bargaining council, and said any claims that it had rejected an offer from Autopax were untrue.

"No formal offer was made to us by Autopax. We are not entertaining any offers which do not come through the bargaining council," Numsa said.

Meanwhile, the union said it would intensify the strike , saying that it was clear that the employers were negotiating in bad faith.

African News Agency