Commuters queuing at the Philippi Taxi Rank on the first day of a nationwide bus strike. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency/ANA

Johannesburg - Many commuters were left stranded and seeking alternative transport as South African bus operations came to a halt on Wednesday morning across the country after drivers went on strike over a wage dispute with the employers.

Drivers in the bus sector affiliated to the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) embarked on a national strike at 6 am after wage negotiations with employer bodies, Commuter Bus Employers Organisation and South African Bus Employers Association (Sabea), reached a deadlock.

Satawu said as many as 17 000 workers were expected to join the strike.

The workers are demanding a 12 percent wage increase across the board while employers are offering only seven percent. The union said it was demanding a living wage and decent working conditions so that workers can deliver quality bus transportation services. 

As a result, various bus companies have halted their operations, including Megabus; Gautrain Busses; Greyhound; Golden Arrow; MyCiti Bus in Cape Town; Rea Vaya in Johannesburg; Buscor in Mpumalanga; Bojanala in the North West; Algoa Bus in Port Elizabeth; Mayibuye in East London; Go George in George; Areyeng in Tshwane; Mgqibelo in Sedibeng; Lowveld Bus Company in Limpopo; PAL Bus in Mpumalanga; and Mphakathi in Mpumalanga among others.

Commuters across the country have been left with no option but to use taxis and trains.

Commuters queue at Nyanga terminus. Picture Ayanda Ndamane/ANA

On Tuesday the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said it would also be embarking on an indefinite nationwide bus strike from April 18, 2018

The union said that the strike would begin at 6am and would continue until "employers meet workers’ demands". 

Read: Numsa joins nationwide bus strike 'until workers' demands are met'

Some of Numsa's demands include: 

* A 12% wage increase across the board

* That bus drivers are paid in full for all the hours which they spend on a bus as an alternative driver

* Subsistence allowance for drivers who are doing long distance travel, and are forced to sleep out

* Compliance with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act when it comes to night shift payment allowance and a special allowance for workers who qualify to drive the ‘train bus’ (two coaches) or the bi-articulated bus (three coaches), because it is a specialised skill and requires special training. 

African News Agency and IOL