Employers in the bus sector have declared war on commuters!

The five trade unions in the bus sector SATAWU, NUMSA, TIRISANO, TAWUSA, and TOWU have decided to embark on mass action to intensify the strike in the bus sector. We are calling on the community and all progressive organisations to join us in mass action against the bus companies.

This is because employers in the bus sector have declared war on commuters. They did not attend the mediation with the goal of resolving the strike. They wasted our time. The only offer they are willing to engage in is the same mediator’s offer which was presented to us in the last round of mediation! They have shown workers and the commuters at large the middle finger. Their refusal to engage meaningfully in wage talks demonstrates that they are dishonest and disingenuous and have displayed nothing but contempt for workers and the community at large.

In comparison, as trade unions we attended every mediation with the intention of resolving the strike. We have moved several times in the course of the negotiations to try and meet the bosses halfway. We have made different proposals and have offered compromises on our position, but the employers have steadfastly refused to budge.


Employers have lied to the media and the public at large about their role in the mediation talks. They claim they never engaged on an offer of 9% for the first year and 9,5% for the second year which is blatantly false! They made that offer last week at the mediation, but by the end of the talks they withdrew the offer. The only offer on the table now is an offer which was proposed by mediators of 8% for the first year and 8.5% for the second year. And this includes that all other demands must fall away. We reject this offer with the contempt it deserves!

The following issues have added to the impasse:

  • The bosses want to continue to abuse workers by denying the alternative driver his full wages. The second driver on long distance trips only gets paid for the time that he is actively driving the bus. He is not paid for all the hours he spends on the bus waiting to relieve the first driver for the journey to the destination.
  • The bosses want to continue to subvert the law by refusing to pay the night shift allowance in accordance with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
  • The offer is not back dated, and implementable only upon signing

 We cannot compromise on these core demands because they are flagrant abuse of workers’ rights. Furthermore our members have made it clear that this year, they will not return to work until this kind of abuse and exploitation has been decisively dealt with.

The presence of shareholders like Yunis Shaik to the mediations is partly to blame for the breakdown in wage talks. Yunis is a major shareholder at Golden Arrows and is politically connected. He is the brother to Schabir Shaik who was found guilty and sentenced to jail for his corrupt relationship with former president Jacob Zuma. The goal of these greedy shareholders is to protect their own selfish interests at the expense of workers and their families. They have demonstrated their ruthlessness and do not care about their employees, or the public at large. As unions we have consistently negotiated in good faith but these racist, arrogant abusive exploiters keep wasting our time and precious resources by playing games.


The bosses don’t care about the inconvenience to ordinary commuters. They demonstrated this when they treated the representatives from the Mpumalanga Commuters Organisation (MCO) with disdain. They misled them about our demands and their role in the process, and then insulted them by leaving abruptly, without bothering to engage with them further. They are shameless.

We think the employers extreme arrogance is informed by the fact that the state is helping them by subsidizing them while this strike is underway. It is outrageous that whilst our members are being denied wages during this strike, the same taxes which are deducted from them are being used to reward the greedy selfish bosses of the bus companies! The employers will only take this process seriously if the Department of Transport withdraws the transport subsidy to the bus sector to force them to conduct these talks in good faith. We demand that the transport minister must withdraw the subsidy because if he does not, these employers will continue to abuse workers and insult commuters.


We are grateful for the support given to us by the Mpumalanga Commuters Organization (MCO) who are committed to supporting us and helping us mobilize the community in this course of action. We also welcome the support from progressive pro-working class organisations who have expressed support for the strike. Trade union federation SAFTU has called for a secondary strike in the sector and pickets at all depots across the country, we welcome their support. We hope all other trade unions will join in the call. This is an issue which cuts across union affiliation and membership. Our members are not asking for much. They are simply demanding a living wage and decent working conditions. We salute them for their courage and for their discipline during this prolonged strike. They have chosen to make the ultimate sacrifice to force the bosses in the sector to do the right thing. And as unions we will do everything legally possible to mobilize the community against these ruthless employers.

We are meeting on Friday to finalize details of mass action and protests in various parts of the country. We will then inform media and the public at large about details of our plans soon.

Aluta continua!

The struggle continues!

Issued on behalf of


For more information contact:

Zanele Sabela

SATAWU National Spokesperson


Phakamile Hlubi-Majola

NUMSA National Spokesperson