In what is probably the first for the city, a municipal entity and organised labour have successfully co-operated on a common goal to end the two months long strike at the city’s transport entity, Metrobus.
The end of the strike comes after the City, Metrobus, the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) agreed that all workers who were not on strike but had been prevented by threats of violence against them if they reported for duty, to return to their posts effective Friday, 02, July 2021.
A minority union, which is not recognised in terms of the provisions of the Main Collective Agreement, bargaining council because it does not meet the minimum threshold of members to enjoy recognition, has filed notice that its members would end the strike and return to work. Metrobus strikes have previously been marred by violence and even the murders of non-striking employees.
“As organised labour, we felt that the strike by the minority union was not in the best interests of our workers. Our view was that this was a populist act by a fringe group seeking relevance at the expense of our members. We must emphasise though that this does not mean that we are now in bed with the employer. We continue to have very critical points to discuss in relation to working conditions at Metrobus and elsewhere in the city,” said Samwu’s Deputy Regional Secretary Mr Thobani Nkosi.
Imatu concurred with the sentiments and added: “With the strike over, we expect to see more routes that were not operational now get into full gear so that our members can be able to return to work and provide for their families without any fear. We expect the employer to ensure that to work harder towards allowing for the free flow of buses on routes specifically allocated to buses and ensure that taxis do not encroach on these routes,” said Imatu’s, Ms Petty Ndawo.
Member of the Mayoral Committee for Transport (and currently Acting Executive Mayor of the City of Joburg), Cllr Makhuba added: “We wish to thank the labour unions for placing the interests of the workers and the people of Johannesburg ahead of everything else to help us come to this agreement. While conflict between labour and employers is inherent, we believe that the manner in which all of us have worked together to resolve this strike bodes well for our abilities to work together to solve our other differences in the future.
We also extend our apologies to the commuters and the ticket holders of Metrobus who over the period of the strict, have been tremendously been inconvenienced due to the absence of buses. This outcome could only be achieved by ensuring that we follow the legal processes accordingly in order to guarantee a lasting solution.”
All parties agreed that the already fruitful discussions between the unions, Metrobus and the city would continue to create a workplace conducive to meeting the objectives of the entity while allowing staff the opportunity to advance their careers and serve the people of Johannesburg, particularly bus commuters.