An A Re Yeng bus at a bus stop. Picture: ANA/African News Agency

Pretoria - The A Re Yeng bus service was disrupted in Mamelodi as a result of the unavailability of drivers to take up the morning shifts due to a contractual dispute.

However, operator Tshwane Rapid Transit (TRT) said normal service was expected to resume on Saturday.

TRT runs the Mamelodi commuter bus service on a contract basis; the current contract commenced on April 1 and will run until March 31, 2020. 

The operations started in October 2017, and as a result of the contract nature of the operations, the entity employed drivers who were retrenched by the previous company which held the contract until September 2017.

CEO Sam Matebane said employees were issued contracts in accordance with the agreement that the entity held with the City of Tshwane and Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport. 

“We would like to employ all the drivers on a permanent basis, but the contractual nature of the operation does not favour an arrangement of this sort in the interim,” said Matebane.

He said the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa had been demanding permanent employment of its members employed in the Mamelodi operations and declared a dispute at the CCMA. The matter was heard yesterday.

“We and Numsa held discussions on Wednesday after it became apparent that the union wanted to take all employees to the CCMA and therefore disrupt operations. 

“We made offers to the employees that included them being assisted with transport to the CCMA after they operated buses on the morning shift.

"However, only two of the 64 drivers reported for duty at 4am and thus operations could not take place,” Matebane explained.

“While employees are well within their rights to attend the arbitration as it relates to them, ordinarily, this is not an unreasonable request as it would result in a total shutdown of the Mamelodi operations.

Matebane said TRT decided not to grant the request in its entirety, but only in part. 

“This meant that employees could attend the arbitration after the completion of their first shifts in the morning, and return to the depot for their second shifts in the afternoon, as we wanted to ensure that operations run smoothly.”

In addition, he said both the union and the applicants were made aware of the set down date in May 2019. 

At no stage did TRT receive any special request from the union to have their members released for this purpose neither has the company received any application for leave to attend the hearing, according to the CEO.

“We respect the rights of our employees, but it should also be noted that TRT has a right to ensure that its services are available at all times. Therefore, necessary steps will be taken as a result of today’s no show of drivers. 

"It is understood that the applicants were informed by the union official not to report for work today. TRT views this as acting in bad
faith from the side of the union.

“TRT would like to apologise to all commuters affected by this unfortunate and unexpected incident.”

Pretoria News