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Council signs agreement after Metrobus and workers deadlock

By unknown | Apr 05, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Pumza Fihlani

Pumza Fihlani

The Johannesburg city council yesterday jumped in at the 11th hour to end the Metrobus strike.

The council intervened after Metrobus managing director Bheki Shongwe refused to sign the agreement to end the strike. The strikers' representatives then made an urgent appeal to the council to intervene.

Moatlhodi Mongale, chairman of the Johannesburg branch of the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu), said council officials arrived at the talks, but still failed to convince Shongwe to sign the agreement.

The officials then signed the agreement on behalf of Metrobus to end the three months strike. Since the beginning of the strike three Metrobus' drivers have been killed.

The drivers went on strike after a dispute over "accrued sick leave" and "unprocedural dismissals of 19 employees".

The dispute emanated from an old collective agreement allowing employees to accumulate sick leave that could be converted to yearly leave or money. But Metrobus did away with the agreement.

Mongale said: "We have reached agreement on all the issues. We are pleased the matter has been resolved."

It was agreed that the dismissed 19 workers and three shop stewards fired between 2005 and early this year be "reinstated".

"We also agreed that employees who had accumulated sick leave after the 1999 agreement be given until later this year to claim it. We also agreed that unclaimed sick leave not be forfeited but carried over to the next year," he said.

Mongale said it was unfortunate they had to resort to a strike and that lives were lost in the process. He said that he hoped that members would "never again" have to resort to a strike for them to be heard.

"The City of Johannesburg has assured us that their doors will be open from now on and that if we are unhappy about something to communicate it with them."

Metrobus suspended its bus service on March 20 following attacks on its drivers. The company suspended the service to protect its commuters and staff from the violence.

Attempts to get comment from the City of Johannesburg were unsuccessful.


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