The South African Federation of Trade Unions pledges its total support for the bus workers who went on strike today, 18 April 2018.
The unions are standing firm against companies who, like so many employers these days, have been intransigent and have consistently frustrated attempts to negotiate a settlement.
The unions’ demand are extremely reasonable and fully justified.
Bus workers endure long and unsocial hours of work, with a high danger of accidents, yet employers want to worsen their working conditions even further, including paying less than the full wage to alternative drivers who have to be on the bus for just as long as the actual driver.
Wages are already low, and now workers are having to pay more for goods and services following increases in VAT, fuel levy and the road accident levy and Eskom are applying for another electricity tariff rise.
None of these hikes have yet been reflected in the consumer price index which measures inflation, and workers are right therefore to demand above inflation increases to protect their living standards in the year ahead.
Employers also want to impose a permanent slavery-level entry minimum rate of R5500 per month against current wage rates that are higher in the majority of bus companies.
As our affiliate NUMSA says: “It is clear that this opportunism is driven by and encouraged by the current desperation of our government to introduce a slavery national minimum wage. This will have the impact of creating a two-tier labour system where some workers earn higher than others. It violates the principle of equal pay for work of equal value, and over time, those who earn more will be retrenched.”
SAFTU urges all bus passengers to understand that a strike is always a last resort, and that workers always regret the inconvenience this causes the public. But the blame lies at the door of the employers who are not prepared to respond positively to the workers’ modest demands for better wages and conditions.
The federation also calls on all its affiliates and other workers to show their solidarity with the bus workers, with statements of support and mobilising their members if requested to embark on any solidarity action.