SA Numsa rejects offer in bus strike

SA Numsa rejects offer in bus strike
2017-04-12 15:23
Sisa Canca, News24


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Johannesburg - Numsa rejected an offer by long-distance bus company Autopax on Wednesday afternoon, partly to avoid parallel negotiations outside the bargaining council.

"Autopax was telling us that, so far, they have sourced some funds somewhere else. We didn't even want to entertain the issue of the money that they say they have. We rejected everything they were telling us. We believe that this discussion should take place at the right structures, not here," said Norman Malume, Numsa's regional infrastructure co-ordinator.

Earlier on Wednesday, bus drivers and mechanics gathered at various bus depots, waiting to be addressed on the way forward after unions announced a nationwide strike.

LIVE: Nationwide bus strike leaves commuters stranded

At Putco's Main Reef depot, about 40 employees protested peacefully outside the depot. Malume came to address them about the scheduled meetings and asked them to protest peacefully.

The group dispersed around 11:00, promising to return on Thursday morning.

Malume said: "Being in a parallel negotiation is selling the country. Employers know the structures where they need to go and settle to. If they are willing to settle, then they should influence other employers of their feeling," said Malume.

He said the employers were trying to convince the union that if workers went back to work this afternoon, they would be willing to offer something better

"That something better is not needed by only Autopax workers, it is for every bus driver who is on strike now," Malume.

Malume said Autopax management had requested a meeting with them earlier on Wednesday in Coronation, west of Johannesburg.

An urgent meeting at the bargaining council was scheduled for 14:30.

SA Numsa to continue bus strike
SOUTH AFRICAFriday 14 April 2017 - 3:58pm
Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, 14 April 2017 - Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant addresses the media on the bus deal and union Numsa on Friday morning. Video: eNCA

JOHANNESBURG - Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim says he sympathises with holiday travellers who've been inconvenienced by the bus strike.

But he says workers have rights too.

The union has rejected a 9 percent increase wage deal signed by three organisationsrepresenting 75 percent of bus transport workers.

READ: Bus strike 'effectively over' as three major unions accept offer

In a media briefing on Friday, Jim said, "Whilst we sympathize with the public which has been a victim of the strike we take a view that employers must take full responsibility for having inconvenienced our people."

"And we stand by our people but at the same time we know that our people know that workers’ rights are human rights."

Numsa, which is leading the strike action, had issued a statement on Friday morning saying no deal had been struck with any of the affected employers.

The message was different on the ground near Rustenburg in the North West, where Thari buses were seen on the road in Lethabong. Also, at Park Station in Johannesburg, Autopax company buses were selling tickets and loading long-distance travellers eager to reach their destination for the Easter holiday.

READ: Bus strike to hurt ZCC Moria pilgrimage

The industrial action, which affected commuter bus services, especially long distance services, began on Wednesday. There were long queues at bus stations as commuters, in possession of paid bus tickets, were left stranded.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the Transport and Services Workers Union (Taswu) have rejected the 9 percent wage deal.

The union is expected to inform the public Saturday if it will stop the mass action.

NUMSA Statement on the SA bus strike
14 April, 2016
NUMSA Statement on the bus strike

NUMSA wants to confirm that we met with the Labour minister this morning, her intention was to end the current strike. We learnt this morning that three trade unions, SATAWU, TAWUSA and TOWU went and unilaterally signed the agreement with the employer, without consulting NUMSA.
NUMSA is dismayed by such tactics and rejects the behavior of the bargaining council secretary, who issued a memo informing employers that the strike is over because three unions have signed. NUMSA wants to be on record that the secretary of the bargaining council is mischievous as he has no right to speak on behalf of NUMSA and its members.
We want to put the record straight that NUMSA is a worker controlled union. This strike was sanctioned by workers as a result of conservative stubborn employers, who refused the following demands:
1. The Employers refuse to pay workers double on public holidays, and time and half on Sunday. In the meeting with the Minister of labour, Ms Mildred Oliphant this morning we called on her department to move swiftly and force all these bus companies to comply with the provision of the basic condition of employment, for workers to be paid double on public holidays, and time and the half on Sunday. This is straight forward issue of compliance.
2. This employers subject workers to 18 hour shifts on long distance journeys from Johannesburg to Cape Town and only pay them for 8 hours. The bus is driven by two drivers, and yet they don’t get paid for all those hours. If they get injured in a bus they don’t regard that as an injury on duty

3. Numsa members demanded a double digit increase which this conservative employers have rejected. These are the reasons why workers went on strike as the last resort. Employers were given notice for a strike action for a period of 30 days and another 48 hours before resuming the strike.
These employers remain arrogant. They did nothing and they refused to find solutions, that’s why NUMSA rejects any cheap blackmail that we are not sensitive to this very important period of the Easter holiday. Employers should take full responsibility for their irresponsible conduct which inconvenienced our people.
Our people deserve to have safe public transport to take them home, driven by bus drivers who are paid a living wage under safe conditions for the wellbeing of the South African public. On this, the government too should take full responsibility. It should and must ensure that there is a safe public transport and it has failed to do so that’s why workers are forced to fight for themselves.
According to NUMSA the strike continues. We reject the cheap propaganda of the secretary of the bargaining council who because Satawu, Tawusa, and Towu signed this agreement, decided that the strike was over. For our members, as NUMSA, the strike continues.
However in light of these unions having signed, as NUMSA we are worker controlled. We will be addressing general meetings all over the country tomorrow where workers will be allowed to gather, to reflect on this development. Workers must give NUMSA a mandate on whether to continue with the strike or to suspend the strike. Tomorrow after we have consulted our members we shall inform the public and the media
AS NUMSA, we extremely feel for our people, and we have also who been extremely inconvenience by this grossly anarchical behavior of the employers in this sector. We doing our best to find the quickest resolution of this strike and in the best interest of our members.
As we all know workers’ rights are human rights too we were left to take this strike in pain because we know that the victims will be our people. As the NUMSA leadership and as the union we are in solidarity with our people and we share their suffering but we were placed between a rock and hard place by the greed of the bosses.
We salute the courage of our members who gave up so much in order to do the right thing. Who amongst us would willingly give up their salary, give up on paying daily expenses, and sacrifice their family’s security so that others may have a better life? This is what workers do every single day, when they go on strike. They make major sacrifices for the benefit of others. They are the true heroes of the struggle.

Compiled by Irvin Jim
Numsa General Secretary