Tshwane bus services not yet affected by strike

Monday, August 15, 2011
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria - Bus services in the City of Tshwane have not yet been adversely affected by the nationwide municipal workers' strike, which started today.

City spokesperson Pieter de Necker said bus drivers and workers in the Transport Department, who belong to the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), reported for their morning shift.

"So far, we've not received [reports of] any incident of intimidation or violence. While we thought the bus drivers would stay away as was planned, they reported for their morning shift. We will have a meeting at midday to assess the situation," he said.

On Saturday, the City told residents who use municipal buses that from Monday, there will be no buses running at all. Residents were advised to arrange alternative transport during the period of the strike.

De Necker further said while other essential services will be compromised due to the industrial action, there is a contingency plan in place to ensure that the strike's impact on service is as moderate as possible.

With regards to waste management, residents are advised to leave their bins outside until they are serviced in accordance with the City's contingency plan.

"In order to ensure the safety of residents, all emergency services will continue as usual. Metro Police and SAPS will be on high alert for any incidents of violence and intimidation," said De Necker.

Residents can report any general essential service interruption, such as power failures and water interruptions, through the normal assigned contact numbers, or contact the City's call centre on (012) 358-9999.

Striking municipal workers are demanding 18% pay rise, a demand which the SA Local Government (Salga) says is not affordable for municipalities.

According to Samwu, Salga has done everything in their power to stop wage negotiations proceeding this year.

"They challenged our right to re-open negotiations in terms of the 2009 agreement, which states that any party can commence wage negotiations, if the average inflation drops below 5%.

"Inflation for the last year was 4.1%. We managed to win two arbitration awards that confirmed this understanding," said the trade union in a statement.

Samwu said inflation has risen consistently over the past six months. Food inflation is at 8%, transport costs continue to soar and electricity has increased by another 30%.

"Our demand of an 18% increase across the board or R2 000, whichever is greater, is very necessary to meet the economic hardships that municipal workers suffer," said the union.

On the other hand, Salga said together with Samwu and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union, they concluded a collective agreement on salaries and wages in 2009.

This provides for a multi-year agreement that commenced with the implementation of a 13% salary increase in 2009, 8.48% in 2010 and 6.08% for the current year.

On average, the salary increase for the sector is 9% per annum for the duration of the multi-year agreement.

Salga is of the opinion that the demand for 18% is not only unreasonable but will impact the budgets of member municipalities' adversely.

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