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Bargaining council orders Putco to pay bus wage increases

Jul 17 2018 21:00
Khulekani Magubane

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) is confident of a favourable decision in its dispute with Golden Arrow, following the Bus Sector Bargaining Council’s decision on Monday which was in their favour and against Putco.

This is according to the union’s spokesperson Zanele Sabela who spoke to Fin24 after the council ordered that Putco pay 7% of the 9% wage increase outlined this year - and pay the remainder in January of 2019.

The two bus operators sought exemptions from the wage agreement which brought an end to the national bus strike earlier this year.

The disputes related to the agreed wage increases for 9% in the 2018 period and 8% in 2019. Both Putco and Golden Arrow contested these increases at the bargaining council, with Putco claiming they could not afford to pay in line with the two-year wage agreement.

The agreement put a stop to a national strike by bus drivers in May. The strike left thousands of commuters stranded nationally and saw bus operators go through a rigorous spell of negotiations with unions.

Sabela told Fin24 that the decision of the bargaining council in the union’s favour gave Satawu’s bid to make Golden Arrow comply a shot in the arm, especially because Golden Arrow did not plead poverty in its submission to the bargaining council.

“We are very hopeful because of this finding. Putco was pleading poverty. Golden Arrow is not pleading poverty. For them it is not about money. They have paid the first year’s increase but are applying for an exemption from the 8% increase in the second year,” said Sabela.

Sabela said there was little room for Golden Arrow to plead poverty in its bargaining council submissions, as the operator’s profits jumped up 11% to R300m this year.

“Golden Arrow has even had a system, for a long time, where they can pay an increase into later years that they suddenly want to take away. We are baffled as to why they have decided to do this,” Sabela said.

Sabela said the union and Golden Arrow would make submissions to the bargaining council in Cape Town on Tuesday and that after taking submissions the bargaining council would take two weeks to make a finding.

“They are at the bus sector bargaining council. They will continue and possibly conclude today. We have made submissions and will make oral representations. After that we will have questions as to why this is happening. The commissioners will consider the submissions and make a finding in about 14 days,” she said.

golden arrow  |  bus strike  |  wage agreement  |  satawu  |  putco
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