Durban bus strike hits commuters very hard

Sne Masuku and SAPA

Sne Masuku and SAPA

Hundreds of Durban Transport bus drivers yesterday downed tools, demanding salary increases, and in the process leaving commuters stranded.

Thousands of bus commuters trying to get to work had to seek alternative transport, but most of those who managed to get to work arrived late.

They were also worried about how they would get home in the afternoon.

Zola Ndlovu said the strike had forced her to pay taxi fare while she had a bus ticket.

"I cannot afford to travel by taxi," Ndlovu said. "I use the bus because it is cheaper and has weekly tickets.

"I am now forced to use what little money I have put aside for bread and milk to travel to work.

"What is worse is that we were not even warned that there would be no buses today."

Drivers at Durban's largest bus company, formerly owned by the eThekwini municipality and now by private company Remant Alton, are refusing to go back to work until their employer increases their salaries by R800, backdated to November last year.

The current company took ownership of the fleet of buses from the eThekwini municipality in 2004.

It is the main transport system around Durban's CBD, suburbs and surrounding townships. The company transports more than 200000 people every day.

Remant Alton human resource executive Kisa Dlamini said the company's entire service had been affected by the strike.

South African Transport and Allied Workers Union spokesman Justice Xaba said negotiations between Satawu and Durban Transport to try and end the strike yesterday had failed.

An urgent court interdict was obtained by the company to force workers to go back to work, but by late afternoon drivers had not done so, forcing hundreds of commuters to seek alternative transport home.

Dlamini said the company had not received any reports of intimidation or violence stemming from the strike.

The Durban Chamber of Commerce said there had been no immediate reports of businesses in the city being affected.