Metrobus strike remains in gear

A Metrobus strike looks set to continue today amid threats by the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) to expand the industrial action into a secondary strike.

A Metrobus strike looks set to continue today amid threats by the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) to expand the industrial action into a secondary strike.

But the Johannesburg public bus company said that the first day of the strike yesterday did not affect commuters to a marked degree.

Samwu spokesman Dumisani Langa, whose members are in a dispute with Metrobus over sick leave, said the union was awaiting a proposal from the company before it would make an informed decision about future action. No further clarity had been reached by 4pm, he said.

Metrobus spokesman Charles Hlebele could not be reached for comment.

Langa said workers were told in 2005 that they stood to lose sick leave accumulated over 15 years if that leave was not taken within 30 days.

Hlebele disputed this.

He said the company and the union had reached an agreement in 2003, stipulating that accumulated sick leave should be taken within the next two years. He said all affected workers who qualified and decided to exercise their right were paid their full benefits in December 2005.

"Our position is that the issue was discussed and negotiated, there is an agreement . We do not really understand what the problem is. They [the union] were part of the negotiations."

Langa rejected this statement, saying Samwu had gone through the correct forums and was on a protected strike.

Meanwhile, about 80percent of Metrobus buses were on the road yesterday morning, said Hlebele. - Sapa

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