North West Investment workers march to Department of Transport over non-payment of salaries

A file picture of Satawu members during a march. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

A file picture of Satawu members during a march. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 10, 2023


Pretoria - Scores of government-subsidised North West Transport Investment workers marched to the Department of Transport in Pretoria in protest following four months without salaries.

The march which was led by the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) to seek an intervention from Transport Minister Sindi Chikunga to find solutions and rescue North West Transport Investment.

The entity is alleged to be collapsing as a result of corruption and maladministration, said union spokesperson Amanda Tshemese.

The union demanded Chikunga address the non-payment of salaries.

“Our members and workers have not been paid their salaries for the past four months at North West Transport Investment” she said.

The union had had numerous meetings with the North West MEC of Transport,Sello Lehari, the provincial treasury and the Office of Premier Bushy Maape to find ways to resolve these issues, she added.

But despite the provincial government committing to pay the outstanding salaries no payment was made.

“Our members and workers have been struggling to make ends meet for the past four months … This is abuse, and it is against the law,” she said.

Some employees have lost their houses, cars; some policies have lapsed as have medical aid while others have had to change their children’s schools.

A memorandum of demands was handed to a representative only known as Mathabatha. Chikunga was away with President Cyril Ramaphosa on national duty in the Congo.

The memorandum said in part: “This is an embarrassment to the government, and can’t be tolerated. Where is freedom if the poor and working class are still oppressed after 29 years of democracy?

“Satawu presents this memorandum of grievances that articulates the inhumane conditions employees of North West Transport Investment are subjected to in a democratic South Africa. Central to our dismay and discontent, is the part played by the state to transfer risk, insecurity and fears of the unknown on to workers.

“Never did we imagine that in the history of democratic South Africa, a state-owned bus company would be a driving force of human and labour rights violations.

“These deliberately created immoral conditions have resulted in workers (and by extension their families and communities) being rendered precarious. This has exposed workers to vicious market conditions orchestrated and safeguarded by the state.

Some of the demands included the appointment of a board at the entity with labour representatives; the need to recapitalise buses, out of 600 buses, 400 were older than 15 years and the rest had depleted their lifespan; corruption being uprooted in all layers of the entity; the payment of staff salaries and benefits; a cash injection of capital expenditure to be used for asset purchases and operations; the revision of North West Transport Investment’s contract in line with market-related rates, ensuring job security as opposed to creating enabling market conditions for the private sector; the alignment of the entity with a human-centred developmental state model and the prevention of privatisation.

The union gave the department 14 days to respond to its demands.

Other demands included the immediate termination of the service level agreement; the protection of all employees’ basic conditions of employment in the form of payments of outstanding staff salaries for four months, of long service awards to employees, of monthly salaries in line with the 7% wage agreement concluded at the Bargaining Council, of medical aids and provident funds and that no employee should be retrenched during the business rescue process, instead job security must be guaranteed.

Department of Transport spokesperson Lwaphesheya Khoza could not be reached for comment.

Pretoria News