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Bus strike enters 7th day

With the country seven days into the crippling nationwide bus strike, government was expected to intervene on Tuesday hoping to break the wage negotiation deadlock.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) confirmed that parties would re-enter negotiations, this time facilitated by the Department of Labour. Negotiations were expected to resume at 15:00.

Bus employers and unions 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%.

Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabelo said she was 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.”

Sabelo added that, while unions were optimistic, reaching an agreement would be a difficult task.

‘We call on all of you to intensify the strike’

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim on Tuesday said that leadership was taking its mandate from its members.

“We are pleased that all unions to date stand together with Satawu to advance the interest of workers.”

Commuters have been hard hit, with thousands flocking to jam-packed taxi ranks. Some have been reported to be waiting from as early as 04:00 at the Khayelitsha taxi rank in Cape Town.

Numsa sent a message of solidarity to bus drivers, amid hopes that intervention by the Department of Labour might finally tip the scales towards a settlement.

“We call on all of you to intensify the strike,” said Numsa. On Wednesday, the union will also participate in a national strike over minimum wages and possible changes to labour law, arranged by its mother body, the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu).

Golden Arrow Bus Services spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer said that the company sympathised with its workers.

“It’s difficult to quantify financial loss. We’re more concerned about our passengers and our colleagues. The policy is no work, no pay, so we are worried about them,” she said.

Metrorail back on track

Meanwhile, technical issues with Metrorail’s northern train services in Cape Town were resolved following their suspension, the rail company said on Tuesday morning.

Services were halted “due to signal equipment failure”.

“Technical teams continue with detection and repairs of faults. Section managers are assisting in the field to implement alternative contingency measures until full restoration of services,” Metrorail said in a statement.

Last week, Metrorail suffered a near breakdown of train services, after it announced massive delays across its network on Friday morning.

It advised commuters to make alternative travel arrangements.

Commuters were already having to contend with the national bus strike that has left thousands stranded, with minibus taxis straining to cater for the increased travel load. DM

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