The Star Late Edition
‘Small unruly element’ preventing drivers working
METROBUS has accused the Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Union of SA (Demawusa) of being greedy and destructive.
Metrobus spokesperson Goodwill Shiburi said the municipal entity had been losing R250 000 to R300 000 a day since the strike began. The losses came from the failure of buses to go out on the road.
The Star understands that most bus drivers are willing to work and have been reporting for duty at the depot.
The City of Joburg does not recognise Demawusa, which has around 100 members at Metrobus, as a union.
However, Metrobus has suspended bus services because it says it is unable to ensure the drivers’ safety.
There had been plans to have Joburg metro police escort the buses, but it seems that was not enough, with some bus drivers having been threatened with explosives and violence.
“Over 20 000 workers have been inconvenienced,” Shiburi said. ”It is out of greed … 98.6% of the staff are on duty and are ready to work, but we have an unruly element where our drivers are being threatened. We have 1.4% of people holding the city (to) ransom.”
He said the city was cautious about putting the buses back on the road despite the loss in revenue over the past two weeks.
“We have a past history where bus drivers have been victimised on buses, some have been shot, some have been burnt and killed. The employer is not willing to risk the lives of the employers and those of the commuters and its assets,” Shiburi said.
Meanwhile, the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) will begin its wage negotiations with the SA Local Government Association (Salga) today.
The union’s Gauteng provincial secretary general, Bafana Zungu, said Samwu would be tabling its demands.
The demands would cover increases for municipal entities like Metrobus.
“They (Demawusa) are supposed to be submitting their application to that chamber, so they can be part of the negotiations. That’s all that they are supposed to do. They are fooling workers,” Zungu said.
A spokesperson for the striking union, Dion Makhura, said workers would not relent on their demands, despite the no-work-no-pay policy.
Demawusa members have been on strike for the past two weeks.
“They can’t treat us like (we are) useless. They are saying we are holding people (to) ransom. We are not holding anyone (to) ransom. They are not progressive,” Makhura said.
Demawusa is demanding an 18% salary increase, a R150 transport allowance, a R300 cellphone allowance and 60 leave days a year. It has also taken issue with the salary differences of drivers at the same level.
The SA Federation of Trade Unions has declared its support for the Demawusa strike.