Easter ‘holy’ days will be felt as bus strikes looms

Striking bus. Putco and other bus drivers will embark on as strike on Wednesday.

The impact of the strike could be widely felt in different provinces‚ and across operators such as Rea Vaya‚ Putco‚ Golden Arrow‚ Megabus‚ Mega Express‚ Bojanala‚ Gauteng Coaches‚ Itireleng‚ Ipelegeng‚ Atamelang‚ Autopax‚ Great North Transport‚ ReaVaya‚ Phola Coaches‚ PAL Bus‚ Greyhound and MyCiTi.

Up to 71‚000 commuters who rely on the MyCiTi bus service daily will be affected in Cape Town.

City mayoral committee member for Transport and Urban Development‚ Councillor Brett Herron‚ said on Monday that the “strike will have a serious knock-on effect on all public transport and road-based traffic”.

Wage negotiations have deadlocked. Acting National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) spokesman Phakamile Hlubi said members had been “forced to down tools” in support of a living wage and improved working conditions.

NUMSA accused employers of being willing to plunge the industry into a crisis‚ just days before the Easter long weekend. The union wants an end to dangerously long working hours‚ overtime pay for public holidays and Sundays and a 15% salary increase. The union gave bus companies an ultimatum until Tuesday night to avert the strike.

Bus operators plan to institute a lock-out from midnight on Wednesday.

“The lock-out is necessary to ensure the safety of our passengers and personnel‚ as well as to protect our assets. Unfortunately‚ the lock-out affects all employees … who are members of the bargaining units‚ even the workers who may not be union members. Thus‚ no MyCiTi buses will be allowed to operate‚” said Herron.

Cape Town authorities have urged companies to allow some staff to work from home or flexible hours. Commuters were advised to consider “car-pooling” or sharing lifts to ease congestion on the roads.

Meanwhile, should the strike continue this means pilgrimages to various holy places will be in jeopardy, reports Sydney Morweng-news editor.

This weeks’ Good Friday (expected to draw thousands of church-goers throughout the country) will be different in that busses will be scarce or not visible at all.

As  a result, alternative means of transport will have to be made, particularly those headed for Moria in Limpopo.

My call, we need those prayers so that both unions and employer reach settlement sooner.



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