No end in sight as bus strike enters third week

Trade unions representing the drivers in the ongoing nationwide bus strike are meeting on Monday to discuss a way forward after negotiations reached a deadlock last week.

The strike has impacted tens of thousands of commuters.

With the strike entering its third week there are no firm indications about when bus services will resume, Ishmael Mnisi, spokesperson for the department of transport, told Fin24 by phone on Monday.

Transport Minister Blade Nzimande and Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant were briefed by parties on their bargaining positions last week Thursday, but their contributions failed to resolve the strike.

The ministers were not party to negotiations but issued a joint-statement appealing for bus services to resume.

“… the only reasonable outcome that [the ministers] expect from the negotiations is the immediate resumption of bus operations, whilst labour and employers are finding a permanent solution to the impasse,” the statement read.

Mnisi said on Monday that government will only be able to provide feedback based on the actions unions decide to take. 

Spokesperson for the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) Zanele Sebela, said on Monday that employers had issued an ultimatum for unions to either accept a 9% increase or settle for a lower figure.

Unions had initially demanded a 12% increase. Other issues which need to be addressed in negotiations include driver over-time and night shift allowances.

The five unions whose members are on strike issued a joint statement last week vowing to “keep fighting” until employers would listen. “Striking is the only way to force bosses to give in. We will extend the strike into the long weekend and beyond because the bosses in the sector only care about profits, and not people.  They certainly don’t care about commuters or their employees,” the statement read.

Bus operators, meanwhile, have said they cannot afford the increases being demanded by unions. — News 24

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