Commuters in trouble as Metrobus drivers strike

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

There will be no Metrobuses on the roads today.

Drivers belonging to the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) embark on an indefinite strike pending negotiations due to start this morning.

Metrobus employs just more than 500 drivers. Among them are Samwu members who have warned of chaos if the City of Johannesburg does not agree to their demands.

They have also warned members of the minority Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) against breaking the strike. They did not say what action they would take.

Members of Imatu have told management that they were willing to work only if their safety were guaranteed.

"Unfortunately, the guaranteeing of safety is something that is beyond us. The drivers work in the streets. We would beef up security if they were office-bound employees," said Metrobus marketing and communications manager Kenneth Kutu.

He said the non-striking employees were told to come to work.

He appealed to commuters to arrange alternative transport.

Samwu spokesperson Dumisani Langa said at least 800 Samwu-aligned Metrobus employees, including support staff, would be on "an indefinite" strike.

The union is against the present structure of salary progression, and has complaints against a senior manager they accuse of using the council's funds to entertain law enforcement agencies during the previous strike.

Kutu said an investigation into this allegation was conducted and that there was no evidence to support this.

The labour court ruled in favour of Samwu about the salary progression issue be negotiated at company level.

Kutu said in terms of this ruling a new employee earns the same salary as the one who has been there for, say, 10 years.

"The union agreed to this and it was approved by the bargaining council. We don't know why they made a turnabout against this," Kutu said.

Langa said Metrobus was "shifting the goal posts", adding that this was never presented in court.