The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) on Monday said it felt “insulted” by the four percent wage offer made by the employers in the bus passenger sector and called on them to take wage talks seriously.
This comes as transport unions and employers in the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBC) sat down for the first round of wage negotiations last week, with other talks set to resume in February, and the last round to be held in March.
The employer associations engaging with Numsa in the negotiations are Commuter Bus Employers Organisation (COBEO) which represents Putco, Mgqibelo, Mayibuye, Buscor and Golden Arrow buses.
The South African Bus Employers’ Association (SABEA) represents Megabus, Mega Express, Bojanala, Gauteng Coaches, Itereleng, Atamelang, Autopax, Great North Transport, ReaVaya, Phola Coaches and Greyhound.
Workers in the passenger bus sector are demanding a 30 percent wage increase across the board and a basic salary of R15,000 per month.
They are also demanding a R1,500 housing allowance, R1,200 sleeping out allowance, and also want to be paid 1.5 time their normal rate when working overtime and double if forced to work on their day off.
In a statement issued by Numsa general secretary, Irvin Jim, the union said employers were yet to respond to any of the other demands.
“Employees in this sector continue to be victims of super exploitation and most of them are paid R6,000 per month before statutory deductions,” Jim said.
“Benefits for workers have steadily eroded and their working conditions are deteriorating in the South African Road and Passenger bargaining council sector.”
Jim said Numsa was calling on employers to take these talks seriously and that the industry could collapse if workers were to flex their muscle and go on strike.
“So far their conduct has demonstrated a blatant disrespect for the wellbeing of their employees and their recklessness is jeopardising the future of the industry,” Jim said.
“Numsa would prefer to avoid a strike. We want to avoid hostile negotiations because it will be very costly both for workers and employers if we were to down tools. Employers have until the 9th of February to agree to our demands; otherwise we reserve our right to declare a dispute.”