14 May 2018

South Africa: Employers and Unions Agree On 9 Percent but Bus Strike Continues

After agreeing on a 9% salary increase on Friday, bus drivers and employers cannot agree on the backdating of the increase.

"We say it should be effective from 1 April 2018, but the employers say the increase is effective on the day of the signing [of the agreement on 11 May]," said Zanele Sabela, spokesperson for the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), the majority union in the ongoing bus strike.

"The industry norm is that the implementation starts on 1 April every year, and it has always been backdated [in previous years]," said Mduduzi Nkosi, national coordinator at the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA). "If it does not start on that date, then we are not on the 9%, because it is not 12 months."

Sabela said the unions would be meeting on Monday to consider their options. They have also accepted an 8% increase for the second year, effective 1 April 2019.

"We are pushing them," said Nkosi. "We are hopeful that something will come in the course of this week."

John Dammert, human resources and corporate affairs executive at Golden Arrow Bus Services, said the company would "be working through the bargaining council, which will convene a meeting if necessary. So for now, it is in the hands of the bargaining council. We will agree to meet if required to do so".

According to Sabela, the minimum salary for bus drivers in South Africa is R6,900. A 9% increase would mean R621 a month more on this salary.

The strike, now entering its fourth week, started on 18 April. According to the Golden Arrow Bus Services' website, the company provides 220,000 passenger trips per weekday. According to the City of Cape Town, MyCiTi - which shut down its services for the duration of the strike citing safety reasons - provides 72,000 passenger trips per weekday. Monday was the nineteenth weekday of the bus strike.

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