Bus companies warned of possible nationwide wage strike

Bus companies warned of possible nationwide wage strike. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Bus companies warned of possible nationwide wage strike. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Published Feb 13, 2024


Numsa warns of strike if employers fail to improve their offer.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has warned of a possible bus strike if companies fail to improve their offer in response to the 10% wage increase demanded by employees in the sector.

This follows protracted negotiations which have deadlocked at the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC).

The union took part in the first round of wage talks from February 5 to Friday February 9 under the auspices of (SARPBC) but negotiations have since then stalled.

Rea Vaya bus service drivers sing struggle songs as they embarked on a strike at the company premises in Meadowlands Soweto. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

According to NUMSA spokesperson, Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, they were asking bus companies including Putco, Algoa, and Great North Transport, for improved primary health care allowances as well as 10% salary increases.

Numsa general secretary, Irvin Jim, said the trade union was shocked at the lack of commitment from the employers during the week of negotiations.

“We were taken aback by the employers response in that despite us having submitted our demands early in December 2023, and the unions motivating for their demands, in January 2024, the bosses came unprepared to respond to our core demands. For example, they are only offering a conditional 4% increase, and they demanded that the unions drop all other demands. They tried to persuade us to extend the first round of wage talks, but we have rejected this proposal,” Jim said.

He said in spite of efforts to negotiate with employers, the talks did not go far as negotiations fell through. Numsa has convened a meeting of shop stewards this week to map a way forward.

“Our members gave us a mandate to make significant progress in the five days which were allocated to the talks. However, we are still far from each other. We also do not want to prolong negotiations unnecessarily. The current agreement is going to expire on the 31st of March therefore we have no choice, but to act with speed to try and resolve this round of wage talks,” he said.

Jim said Numsa decided to declare a dispute due to the manner in which the negotiations had gone, “It became clear that we are not finding each other on the demands outlined above and employers are not prepared to even respond to our core demands.

“We have convened a meeting of shop stewards in the bus passenger sector for Wednesday 14 February to map the way forward. We are waiting for the Bargaining Council to confirm a date for conciliation which should happen in about 30 days times,“ he said.

Jim urged employers to come back with a solid offer, saying: “If they fail, a national strike in the bus passenger sector is unavoidable. We are aware that a strike will inconvenience passengers but we may be compelled to resort to such action if employers do not return with a decent offer on the table.”