140403. Cape Town.A man is seen closing the main gate of the MyCiti depot in Greenpoint. The bus drivers are striking for a second day now for better working conditions. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Cape Town - MyCiTi drivers who went on an unprotected strike on Wednesday agreed to go back to work on Thursday afternoon, after reaching an interim agreement with their employer.

This followed a meeting between Transpeninsula Investments (TPI), which manages the Hout Bay, CBD, Dunoon and airport services, and the Transport and Omnibus Workers Union (Towu).

The company and union have agreed to negotiate further regarding the workers’ grievances, which include poor pay and inadequate rest periods between shifts.

Tony Franks, Towu’s general secretary, said the union would approach mayor Patricia de Lille’s office to report what it deemed “illegal” labour practices at TPI.

The drivers have agreed to sign a statement stating that they would not engage in any “illegal activity” and would resume their normal duties.

The drivers toyi-toyied outside the TPI offices in Green Point before the meeting on Thursday. In the interim, replacement drivers had been recruited and the affected routes were running at reduced capacity.

At the picket, the drivers spoke out about other grievances, including being paid an hourly rate as opposed to the salary prescribed by the collective agreement between employers and unions; not being paid during the 45-day training period; and being forced to sign on as an employee via a contract with a labour broker.

A driver, who has been working for five weeks, complained that TPI kept changing the information about payment. He asked not to be named for fear of being victimised.

“They butter you up with promises, but the reality got more and more disappointing,” he said.

“First they told us that there is a R7 500 salary, regardless of how many hours you work. This then dropped to R6 000. Then, when we finished our training, they told us you have to sign a contract with a labour broker and you will be paid an hourly rate for the hours you work. When they tallied my hours for the first month, it came to R4 000. I can’t live off that. I know of a lot of people who just left when they saw what was really going on.”

The SA Road Passenger Bargaining Council received a complaint about this payment method and sent Nazeem Davids to investigate. He found that the grievances were legitimate and that the payment regimen was not in line with the main collective agreement, which prescribes working conditions in the sector.

The bargaining council ordered TPI to make the necessary adjustments and to comply with the agreement within 14 days. The deadline was on March 24, Davids said.

Bargaining council general secretary Gary Wilson said TPI would be issued with a second “warning” and a 21-day deadline, after which it would have to report to a hearing at the bargaining council. This second notice has not yet been issued.

Mayoral committee member for transport Brett Herron said the contract between the city and TPI prescribed compliance with the collective agreement brokered by the bargaining council. “The gathering and verification of the relevant facts will determine the city’s actions. The city can also confirm that the CCMA is addressing the strike with the TPI. In the interim, the city’s law enforcement teams have increased their presence as of Thursday to ensure opera- tions can continue where possible.”

The Cape Argus made a number of attempts to get comment from TPI.

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Cape Argus