MAROONED in jozi

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

Scores of passengers were stranded at Johannesburg's Park Station because of a strike by City to City and Translux employees.

Even an employers' urgent court interdict did not succeed in driving workers back to work by yesterday.

"We received the interdict late on Friday," said South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) spokesperson Assaria Mataboge.

"We informed workers about this but some refused to go back to work. They said they wanted management to feel the pinch,"

But Mataboge said the union had honoured the interdict.

He said Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban were the areas most affected in the strike that brought the company's fleet of 240 buses to a halt.

The buses make 52 long-distance trips a day, including cross-border trips to neighbouring countries.

The two bus operations are run by Autopax, which falls under Transnet. Autopax will soon be transferred to the newly formed Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

Satawu has had long-standing disagreements with Autopax over workers' salaries, conditions of service and lack of transformation.

The Park Station Translux front desk workers had to turn away passengers who wanted to buy tickets. "They are very angry," said Lesego, a front- desk attendant.

He said the only option left for passengers was to reclaim their money and make other plans.

Autopax spokesperson Chris Brand said yesterday that the company was notified about an intention to strike on Wednesday. "On Thursday there was a mediation process but no resolution was reached.

"We got the interdict on Friday. We will try to speak to the union today to see what happens," he said.

Lufhuno Sehlare said her friend had bought tickets on Friday, but they were not informed about the imminent strike.

"The company's customer service is the worst," she said.

A group of farm workers were also stranded en route from Cape Town to Polokwane.

"We arrived here at six this morning with a City to City bus, and had to catch another one back home to Polokwane.

"We have been waiting ever since," said Victor Dzimiri.

Meanwhile, in Durban the ticket desk at the depot was empty by lunch time yesterday. The single attendant on duty said that the company had had no buses in operation since Friday because drivers were on strike.

A handful of passengers who were waiting to board buses outside the City to City offices said they had tickets for other bus operators.