Rea Vaya bus drivers leave commuters stranded

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pretoria -Thousands of Rea Vaya bus commuters in Soweto and Johannesburg have been stranded since Monday as a result of the strike by bus drivers.

PioTrans corporate affairs manager, Eric Motswane, said 220 bus drivers are on an illegal strike in protest of the new working shifts.

PioTrans is the bus operating company contracted to operate the Rea Vaya bus services.

"During our meeting about the restructuring of the working shifts, we both agreed on these new shifts. But on Monday, the bus drivers caught us by surprise when they embarked on an illegal strike, voicing their anger on these new shifts.

"Previously, drivers used to work longer shifts. Under the proposed new shift system, they will now work 45 hours per week and they will no longer change their shifts at the bus stops, but at the stations," said Motswane.

Motswane, who empathised with stranded commuters, said their urgent interdict to force the striking bus workers to work was granted by the Labour Court.

"Yes, that interdict was granted to us, but the bus drivers seem to be undermining it because they are still continuing with their illegal strike. We've just heard that they have also produced a new list of demands.

"As management, we feel sorry for our commuters. We transport over 35 000 passengers between Johannesburg and Soweto daily and these include school children.

"Since under this current situation, we cannot even hire temporary drivers. We are appealing to our commuters to use alternative transportation. Rea Vaya wishes to apologise to all Rea Vaya passengers for the inconvenience caused," said Motswane.

He said the PioTrans management will meet the striking bus drivers today with the view of finding a solution to end the bus drivers' strike.