Pretoria - Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) vow to strike and shutdown bus services until the City of Tshwane intervenes in the collapsed wage negotiations between its contractor and the workers.
The aggrieved workers of Extremetec, an agency responsible for fare collection for the City's bus service, demonstrated at bus stations on Church Square and in Hatfield.
They want the City to "stop folding its hands" and come on board to assist or compel their employer to give them a transport allowance or make one available because they work shifts between 4am and 9pm.
They also want the City to make their employer agree to offer the workers a night shift allowance of R60 per hour, arguing that work done after 6pm is considered night shift according to the laws of the country.
Frederick Mabaso said these workers also demand that the employer offers them medical aid cover and subsidises 80% of the policy. He said they have already found companies willing to offer the workers cover between R300 and R900.
He said currently the workers only receive a transport allowance of R600 which is not enough to assist the workers to purchase cars but the employer was not willing to increase it to R2 500, nor make transport available.
"We said to the employer, in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, you are expected to make transport available to our members, but of course in the event that you cannot avail that transport you can give them an allowance.
"We negotiated the R600 last year and agreed that it would be negotiated again this year but they could not reach a consensus because the employer is not in a position to increase the current R600.
"Meanwhile our members struggle to find transport before 4am and after 9pm. They get robbed and assaulted. Many of them here are women and they have endured serious crimes like robbery and even rape," said Mabaso.
With regard to the medical aid, he said the employer had agreed with them to go all out and look for companies that would offer them affordable cover, but now the company was saying it could not afford to pay for that.
"We will carry on with the strike but we have also organised a march for Friday to the City of Tshwane where we have invited the employer and two other companies operating the City's Bus Rapid Transport (Tshwane Rapid Transit and for workers at Tshwane Affected Operation Investment) whose workers are also affected by this transportation problem.
"We want all of them to present themselves with the City because when we raise this transport issue with them, they all tell us that they cannot afford it because the money that they get from the City of Tshwane is not enough.
"If these companies are pointing a finger at the City of Tshwane in saying that the money the City gives them is not enough, the City will respond to that. The City must then intervene by increasing the money they give them or compel them to pay if they can afford it," said Mabaso.
MMC for Roads and Transport Dikeledi Selowa said the City was addressing the matter, and it took the decision to cease A Re Yeng Bus Rapid Transit and Tshwane Bus Services operations in order to protect and prioritise the safety of commuters and residents.
"The suspension of operations also serves as a precautionary measure to safeguard City assets from any possible vandalism. The City would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused by the disruption to our public transport operations," said Selowa.