HUNDREDS of passengers were left stranded on MyCiTi routes yesterday morning in peak hour as about 70 drivers embarked on an unprotected strike over long shifts and no rest periods.
Drivers arrived at the Green Point depot and announced their strike at 5am, which affected nine routes, mainly in the inner city.
Stranded airport passengers were transported by city vehicles and the city also enlisted drivers from other companies to assist.
Earlier, drivers from Transpeninsula Investments arrived at the depot and announced they would not work, claiming management refused to meet them to deal with their grievances.
None of the buses on the inner city routes were operational during yesterday morning’s peak hour.
The worst affected routes were Vredehoek, Gardens, Civic Centre, Salt River, Oranjezicht, Sea Point, Waterfront Silo, Camps Bay, Hout Bay, Imizamo Yethu and the airport.
The mayoral committee member for transport, Brett Herron, said the city arranged for drivers from other companies to assist, but striking drivers barricaded the gates of the depot, preventing buses from leaving.
A limited MyCiTi service ran on the affected routes throughout the day, but services on most of the affected routes were suspended last night.
Chris Fredericks from the Transport and Omnibus Workers’ Union (Tawu) said most of the 70 bus drivers were their members, but that it was not an unprotected strike because the union was not aware of it.
“It was a work stoppage, not a strike because the union wasn’t aware of it until we received a call at 4am that drivers were not going to work.
“They decided on a work stoppage because of the problems that management was not listening. They have been trying since forever to speak to management,” Fredericks said.
He said the union had also been trying to set up a meeting with Transpeninsula management, since January.
Drivers’ grievances are that they work 19-hour shifts and are paid R5 000 monthly, they have no rest
periods and are also not paid during the 45-day training programme.
Fredericks said this was not the case with MyCiTi’s other two vehicle operating companies. He said drivers from Transpeninsula started their shifts between 5am and 6am and worked until 10am or noon.
They then had to stay at the depot, where there are no proper rest facilities until the next part of their shifts, which start between 3pm and 5pm and end between 10pm and midnight.
Fredericks said that management had agreed to meet them today, and that drivers had agreed to return to work today.
Transpeninsula’s director, Ghaalid Behardien, said the drivers had never communicated their grievances.
He also denied that drivers worked up to 19-hour shifts.
“We don’t know who is striking and why. These people are unionised and there are processes to follow.”
Behardien said the bargaining council did not recognise Tawu as a union.
“It is strange that they are saying we did not want to meet with them when we met two unions on Friday and everyone was happy.”
Asked about the claims of 19-hour shifts with no rest periods, he said: “That is illegal. We are compliant with the SA Road Transport Bargaining Council who sets the regulations for shifts. We would not have a certificate from them if our operations were non-compliant.”