003 27.06.2012 A taxi drive, Kabelo Masilela. Shares his views at the Bree Taxi Rank government has increased monthly income to R2 495.80 per month. Masilela drives from the rank to Fourways on a daily base. Johannesburg. (Kabelo Masilela, not a true name, did not wish to be identified) Picture: Itumeleng English

The new minimum wage for the taxi sector came into effect from Sunday. The minimum wages range from R2 449,90 a month for drivers and administrators to R1 713,70 for the lowest paid.

The Star Africa went to Bree Street taxi rank to find out what taxi drivers, owners and the associations think about the latest wage adjustment.

A Faraday Taxi Association taxi rank supervisor, who did not want to be identified, felt that it was wrong for the government to want to regulate the industry when the government had done nothing but cause confusion and division within the taxi industry. “They don’t subsidise us; they subsidise buses and even give them special lanes on the road. They should not regulate us because they do nothing for us,” he said.

Taxi drivers who were willing to talk to us revealed that they earned more than the minimum wage at about R800 a week – depending on how much they had earned that week. Their earnings are dependent on how many trips they make. On a good day a driver can make up to eight trips.

One driver said a driver earning R4 000 a month was being “robbed”, and also that the relationship between the driver and taxi owner was important in determining pay.

One driver mentioned that at the end of a shift he usually has R700 on him. He hands over R500 to his employer and keeps R200 for petrol. His employer has four to five taxis.

On average, drivers work a 14-hour shift starting from 5am. Exhaustion is another issue that drivers face, although some nap while they wait in the queue for their turn.

There is also no contract between drivers and taxi owners. Should a driver take time off because of a death in the family, for example, the number of days taken as “leave” will be deducted from their salaries.

Johannesburg Southern Suburbs Taxi Association secretary Wallace van der Haal said that drivers worked seven days a week, of which six were for the taxi owner. On Saturday drivers work for their own salaries. “This means they don’t cash in the money they make with the owner, but must return the vehicle with a full tank.”

According to Van der Haal, this is what the drivers wanted as the association was offering them R500 to R600 in weekly wages, which the drivers felt was too little. – Additional reporting by Olwethu Boso.

New minimum rates give drivers same pay as waiters

The new minimum wages for the taxi sector came into effect from yesterday, July 1.

The minimum wages range from R2 449,90 a month for drivers and administration workers, to R1 713,70 for the lowest paid.

In addition, employers must pay boarding allowances of R279,93 a night for those sent out of town.

This is similar to a waiter’s minimum pay in a medium-sized business, but well above farmworkers and domestic workers.

In the hospitality sector – which would include waiters – minimum wages from July 1 are R11,49 an hour (R2 240,60 a month) for businesses with up to 10 employees, or R12,80 an hour (R2 495,80 a month) for businesses with more than 10.

The farmworkers’ minimum wage from March 1 is R1 503,90 a month or R7,71 an hour.

The minimum wages since December 1 for domestic workers who work more than 27 ordinary hours a week in Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni are R8,34 an hour (R1 625,70 a month). Those who work fewer hours must be paid at least R9,85 an hour (R1 152,32 a month).

17-hour shifts

Kabelo Masilela* works as a taxi driver for Faraday Taxi Association. He has been working as a driver for eight years.

His day starts at 2am and ends at 7pm. He stays in Diepsloot with his wife and their four children. He has big dreams for his children; the youngest is four years old and he hopes she will be the first doctor in the family.

Masilela’s route is between Bree taxi rank and Cresta. His passengers pay R11 a trip in the 15-seater. He makes seven trips a day from Bree to Cresta. “It is like clockwork,” he says.

On a good week he makes about R5 000 for his boss and earns just more than R4 000 a month.

His salary varies according to the number of trips he makes. His boss has four taxis

He works seven days a week. He can’t afford to take a day off. He doesn’t complain, he says, because “it is a job”. And like any job it has its ups and downs.

Masilela fights off exhaustion during his 17-hour shift with a nap here and there. But he’s wide awake when driving along Barry Hertzog Avenue, the route he takes to Cresta. He wants to be fully alert when he drives through the curve just before the Judith Road turn-off. “She is like a frisky snake, that curve,” he says.

* Not his real name

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The Star