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Once again, sticking could impact hardworking Newcastillians looking at going on holiday this Easter Weekend. This follows The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) warning that it will hold a nationwide bus strike over Easter if its members’ wage demands are not met.
NUMSA National Spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola explains that NUMSA has been engaging in wage talks with employers under the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBC).
“We reached a deadlock with employers in our last engagement which was on the 14th to the 18th of February and we have lodged a dispute since then,” she says.
According to Hlubi-Majola, in the bus passenger sector, no meaningful increases have been implemented in the past two years, 2020 and 2021.
“The excuse that was used at that time, was the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Parties agreed to minimal increases between 2020/21 as a result of this.”
The demands for 2022 in the sector include the following:
- That the lowest-paid must be moved up to R12 000 per month. Currently, the lowest earner gets approximately R7800.
- An industry medical aid which will cover all workers, and the company must contribute 80%, and workers contribute 20%.
- Housing allowance, because currently there is none.
- Less overtime. Currently, workers are working 14-hour shifts which sometimes start as early as 3 am. This is known as ‘spread-over’, and it is done to accommodate the return trip. NUMSA wants employers to reduce this to 10 hours.
- The payment of night shift allowance in terms of the BCEA (from 18H00 – 06H00).
With the mediations between NUMSA and its members’ employers failing, NUMSA has now insisted on a certificate to strike, which was issued on 14 March 2022.
“We are currently observing the mandatory 30-day cooling-off period, after which we can serve the 48-hours notice to strike. We have also concluded picketing rules,” Hlubi-Majola says.
The cooling-off period will end on 13 April 2022, two days before the Easter Weekend.
“We have done everything we can to avoid a strike, but it seems very likely a nationwide bus passenger strike is unavoidable at this stage.”
Therefore, NUMSA says employers must return to the negotiation table and make a meaningful offer to avert the strike.
With the possibility of a nationwide strike set to take place, local law enforcement will be keeping a watchful eye on the strike’s proceedings. Newcastle Police Station Commander Brigadier Leon Matthysen says, “We will be monitoring the situation closely.”
This is to ensure that the Newcastle community and the protestors remain safe and abide by the necessary rule of law during the time.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Will this affect your holiday plans?
Share your views in the comment section below.