'Metrobus ready to deal'

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Johannesburg Metrobus is to present a fresh offer to the striking bus drivers' union today - signalling a possible end to the nine-day long strike which has crippled transport in the city.

The bus company made the undertaking last night at the end of their meeting with leaders of the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu), a source within the union told Sowetan.

"We adjourned after they promised us an offer. But we wanted it in black and white. We are going see what it contains.

He said although an agreement had not been reached there were "positive prospects" that the strike might end.

"We can't be sure if the strike will end soon, it will all depend on what they put on the table."

Metrobus spokesman Kenneth Kutu could not be reached for comment last night.

At least 500 drivers and about 300 support staff in Johannesburg downed tools last week on Tuesday, demanding an 11percent salary increase.

The union is also against the present structure of salary increases and accuse a senior manager of using council funds to entertain law enforcement agencies during the previous strike.

Metrobus has suspended all operations due to threats of violence or intimidation.

Samwu's 2007 strike left three drivers dead and several buses burnt.

Thousands of commuters have been left stranded and forced to find alternative transport.

"Workers will continue protesting while the talks go on," the source said.

Before the meeting, Samwu Gauteng branch secretary Dumisani Langa had threatened to call on all union members - waste collectors, emergency staff, Metro police, clerks, cashiers and plumbers to embark on a secondary strike action in solidarity with drivers.

"We are left with no other alternative but to continue intensify the strike action by bringing the whole province to it's knees," he said.

Drivers reportedly earn a monthly wage of R7021, regardless of how many years they have served the company.