Cape Town - 180418 - Commuters queing at Dunoon Taxi rank during the Natiowide bus strike. The Unions that represents 16.000 workers in the bus sector are demanding a one - year 12% across- the board. Picture Cindy Waxa/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY/ANA

Johannesburg - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa  (Numsa) has "apologised profusely" to stranded commuters for the inconvenience caused by the nationwide bus strike currently underway.

Numsa, along with other unions, on Wednesday downed tools at 6am and embarked on a strike after wage negotiations with employer bodies, Commuter Bus Employers Organisation and South African Bus Employers Association (Sabea), reached a deadlock.

Many commuters were left stranded and had to seek alternative transport as a result of the strike. 

Speaking on the strike was acting Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, who called for understanding and forgiveness from stranded commuters.

"We want to say to our commuters that we apologise profusely for the major inconvenience. We know it's ordinary community members who are most affected by this strike. 

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"We would like for them to please understand that we're not doing this out of choice... a strike for us is no picnic. As long as we're not working, we're not getting paid."

Hlubi-Majola also dug in her heels regarding the union's demands, mentioning the proposed introduction of a minimum rate for entry level drivers as a sticking point for the union.

"For us the major sticking point, and it's one we cannot negotiate on, it's the fact that employers want to introduce a poverty minimum rate of R5 500 on all new workers. This is in spite of the fact that there are many bus companies, wherein they have company agreements and the salaries are higher. 

"If they can afford to pay more, why does the industry want to make the minimum rate a poverty rate. That's what we reject outright. 

Hlubi-Majola however, added that they're willing to negotiate, but that concessions had to be made on both sides of the fence.