Metrobus drivers leave passengers stranded as they embark on strike
Johannesburg - Joburg Metrobus service operated at 70% on Monday as some drivers affiliated to the Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Union of SA (Demawusa) initiated their indefinite strike.
Despite fears of intimidation of working drivers there were no reports of violence.
However, there was some confusion with some passengers missing their buses while some were simply left stranded. The Star understands that around 200 routes were affected.
Metrobus spokesperson Goodwill Shiburi said the strike did not create a big impact as most of the drivers turned up for work. One bus depot did not send out its buses. Some buses had to be rerouted to make up for the bus shortage,
“There are people who waited and could not get their buses but we were able to deal with Gandhi Square. We had to readjust the schedule to ensure at least we cover for the shortfall for non-operational buses. The fact schools opened meant that we had added pressure,” Shiburi said.
He said there were recognition concerns with Demawusa as the union was still an infant union within organised labour in the city.
“The Metrobus is wholly owned by the city of Johannesburg and if the city does not recognise Demawusa, that makes it not recognised,” said Shiburi.
Despite this, Shiburi said, the strike was protected, but a no work, no pay principle would apply. Demawusa was locked in talks with Metro bus management yesterday afternoon.
Shiburi said the city wanted uniformity with regards to the salaries of all city drivers.
He also denied that the city paid its drivers R6 000.
“Not even a cleaner in the city eats at that level,” Shiburi said.
Demawusa is demanding an 18% wage increase, 14th cheque and R150 transport allowance among a list of 28 demands.
The Star understands that Demawusa has around 100 members.
“The second demand is that there are serious salary disparity challenges. You find some new employees entering the system, they are paid more that the employees that have been working there for 20 years,” Demawusa spokesperson Dion Makhura said.
The SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) distanced itself from the strike, saying it would be meeting Metro bus for wage talks next week.
Samwu is currently the majority shareholder with 700 members.