Long queues of frustrated commuters in Nyanga Cape Town. Taxi owners said they were overwhelmed by the number of passengers. PHOTO: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA

CAPE TOWN - The bus strike has created problems and disruptions for everyone, from schools to factories, the Cape Chamber of Commerce said on Thursday.

Although the national strike was having a crippling effect, chamber president Janine Myburgh said it was still too early to quantify the damage.

“It is still a bit early to judge the economic impact of the strike. Many businesses have been affected, some in small ways like increased absenteeism, but the costs will all add up,” Myburgh said.

However, Myburgh added that the Chamber was also concerned about “above-inflation wage increases”. In this case, both the offer by the employers and the worker's demands which were above the consumer price index (CPI) rate.

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Drivers in the bus sector affiliated to the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) embarked on a national strike on Wednesday after wage negotiations with employer bodies, Commuter Bus Employers Organisation and South African Bus Employers Association (Sabea), reached a deadlock. The workers are demanding a 12 percent wage increase across the board while employers are offering only seven percent.

“We believe that what we need to see is an increase in productivity because that is the best way to justify high wage increases. My other concern is that conditions vary greatly from one region to another and national bargaining does not take this into account.”

“In addition, many employers are more generous than others and provide excellent benefits to staff. I don't believe this ‘one size fits all’ approach is the best way to go."

A bigger increase may be justified in some areas but not in others. The cost of housing and transport varies and these differences should be taken into account, Myburgh added.

Thousands of commuters were left frustrated on Wednesday and Thursday as long queues formed at taxi ranks across the country as the nationwide bus industry strike took hold.

African News Agency/ANA