The department of transport was on Wednesday forced to seek an urgent meeting with all parties involved in the nationwide bus strike.
On Wednesday, department spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said the strike was worrying as it had started at a time when many commuters who were reliant on buses were planning to go on various pilgrimages for the Easter weekend.
“Although the department doesn’t usually interfere in labour disputes, in this case, we have no option but to try and get the parties to talk so that they can find a solution as a matter of urgency.
“While we have been speaking to the taxi industry to assist while the strike is on, the fact of the matter is that taxis will not be able to ferry everyone, hence our intervention because we do not want to see prolonged inconvenience,” Mnisi said.
Another problem caused by the bus strike was that there would be extra vehicles on the roads during the Easter period, which would mean even higher traffic
National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi said its members had no option but to embark on the strike.
“We still have drivers who earn less than R5 000 a month and half of their starvation salaries go on transport costs.
“Some drivers can’t even pay for their children’s tuition fees, while others still work more than 16 hours a day.
“This can’t be correct.”
Other unions, including the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union, are demanding a 12% wage increase over one year and improved working conditions, while Numsa wants a 15% increase.
Employers are offering 7.5% over a three-year period.
Just before midday on Wednesday, Numsa said all parties concerned had been called into negotiations by the bargaining council.
The outcome of the talks were not known by the time of going to press on Wednesday.