JOHANNESBURG: The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) has confirmed that parties will re-enter into wage negotiations on Tuesday, this time facilitated by the Department of Labour.
The decision comes after negotiations reached a deadlock last week during a two-day meeting with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). Bus workers have been engaged in a nationwide strike since last Wednesday.
Workers are demanding a 9.5% salary increase in the first year and 9% in the second year. They initially demanded 12%, while employers offered 7%.
“We are looking forward to the meeting. Hopefully, we will be able to relieve the stress that commuters face and bus workers can go back to work,” Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabelo said.
Sabelo added that, while unions were optimistic, reaching an agreement would be a difficult task.
A joint statement from Satawu, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), Tirisano, the Transport and Allied Workers Union of South Africa and the Transport and Omnibus Workers Union said on Sunday that the intensified strike action was in response to the employers’ “provocative attitudes” during negotiations.
The unions also called on non-unionised workers to help intensify the strike.
“If the [bus company owners’] behaviour is anything to go by, this is not going to be easy,” Sabelo said.
“We have made enough concessions – we dropped from a 12% increase to a 9.5% increase. I think they need to come to the table.”
At least 50 bus companies across the country are not operating.