Thousands of commuters affected as bus driver strike continues indefinitely

UPDATE [12:05 on 14 April 2017] Three of the five workers unions involved in the bus driver industrial action have accepted a 9% wage increase offered to them by the National Employers’ Association.

National Employers Association spokesperson, Meko Magida, told eNCA that the constitution of the Bargaining Council dictates that a majority agreement amongst the parties involved effectively ends the dispute.

It is worth noting that NUMSA has not agreed to the offer and is insisting that the strike is not over from their side. National Coordinator, Mduduzi Nkosi, said they will be calling a meeting with their members to discuss a mandate.

The national bus driver strike that began on Wednesday has affected over 300 000 people in the Western Cape.

Bronwen Dyke-Beyer, spokesperson for Golden Arrow Bus Services, said 220 000 of their passengers have been affected by the strike.

MyCiTi bus services are also not operational due to the strike. According to Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, MyCiTi buses transport 71 000 passengers per weekday. This translates to roughly 140 000 MyCiTi passengers being affected since Wednesday.

With so many people unable to use buses to get to work, there has been an increase in passenger volume on train lines.

Riana Scott, Head of Marketing and Communication at Metrorail, said that although there have been significantly more people using trains, especially in the Mitchells Plain area, they have been able to cope without incident.

“However, I think the big challenge will be Tuesday the 18th, when the schools open again,” said Scott.

Golden Arrow bus. PHOTO: Facebook.

At this stage it does not look as if the strike will be over before the end of the Easter weekend. Mduduzi Nkosi, National Coordinator at the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), said the strike would continue indefinitely and only be resolved once an agreement is reached.

The bus drivers, with the aid of NUMSA, are demanding a 12% salary increase, but have been met with an offer of 7.5% from employers.

“The employers are not playing ball,” said Nkosi. “We have reduced our initial demand from 20% to 12%, but the employer organisations are sticking firmly to their 7.5% offer.”

“They have also ignored the additional issues and demands we’ve raised,” said Nkosi.

These additional demands include a R3000 housing allowance for each employee, improved subsistence and travel allowances for long-distance drivers, overtime pay of 1.5% of payment rate and 12-hour night shifts.

Dyke-Beyer and Herron both expressed concern over the continued deadlock. Dyke-Beyer, however, remained hopeful: “Many people are working tirelessly, and we are hoping for a speedy resolution”.


– Aidan Jones