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Meetings to break bus strike deadlock continue

Apr 26 2018 18:11
Ntaoleng Lechela and Khulekani Magubane

Johannesburg - Talks around ending the nationwide bus strike were ongoing by late afternoon on Thursday.

The talks between the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), bus operators, Minister of Labour Mildred Olifant and the Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande started at around 11:30 at the Garden Court hotel in Kempton Park.

As Fin24 previously reported, union and employer negotiators agreed to call for intervention from Oliphant on Monday to help break the deadlock in the pay and benefit talks. Nzimande had then been invited by Olifant to mediate after negotiations reached another deadlock with Olifant on Wednesday.

Bus drivers are demanding a 9.5% salary increase in the first year and 9% in the second year. They initially demanded 12%, while employers initially offered 7%.

“The meeting is still going on. The ministers have entered. Nzimande emphasised the importance of a settlement because the strike is affecting the community and everyone would like to get to a point where the strike can end with a common agreement,” said Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela at around 17:30.  She confirmed that employers and unions met the two ministers separately to discuss their issues. 

“Minister Oliphant managed to bring us together. It’s just that the working conditions are a challenging point. We can’t say she did nothing for us. There was no agreement signed though,” she said.

A representative of the employers, John Dammert, said the revenue the industry is receiving is below increments employees are getting. Bus companies are finding it difficult to pay for salaries and keep operations going, he noted.

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