Buscor in Mpumalanga is still servicing the province even though most of their drivers belonging to unions are on strike. Certain Buscor routes are still operational where non-unionised drivers are.
So far, the dispute over salaries and working conditions has not seen any agreement and for now, it is considered deadlocked with thousands of people stranded countrywide.
The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) and bus companies represented by the Commuter Bus Employers Organisation (Cobeo) and the South African Bus Employers Association (Sabea) failed to agree on several issues since January and employers have pulled out of talks.
“The employers have pulled out of the talks. They are unhappy that unions served them with a 48-hour notice of strike. What that effectively means is the strike will go ahead,” Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela said.
Unions and employer associations been unable to reach agreement on several areas. These include:
- Salary increase: Unions are demanding a 12% increase while employers are offering a three-year agreement (7% across the board for the first year, 7.25% for the second and 7.5% for the third).
- Minimum Wage: Unions want this to be set at R8,000 while employee associations have dug in their heels and insisted on a R6,070 minimum wage. Sabela said unions were also concerned that employers want any worker entering the industry for the first time after 1 April to be paid the R6,070 minimum wage regardless of whether the hiring company has a higher minimum wage. “There are companies with a higher minimum wage,” he said.
- Standby pay: Currently a driver is only paid for their hours behind the wheel despite being on stand-by should the other driver get tired. “That’s ridiculous,” Sabela said, adding that “this thinking is obviously flawed because the driver cannot be elsewhere or do anything else but be on the bus from the time the trip commences”.
- Night shift allowances: Drivers are currently paid R595 but insist that this is too little to cover overnight accommodation at even the cheapest places. “It’s just too little. Where have you slept for that amount? Often drivers are forced to sleep on the buses because they cannot afford accommodation.”