MyCiti workers go on a wildcat strike

MyCiti workers gathered outside the Civic Centre, Tuesday 16 October. Photo by Okuhle Jafta

The wildcat strike by workers under the MyCiti project in Cape Town is not resolved and will continue into a third day.

Workers under the My Citi bus project are on a strike demanding to be insourced by the City of Cape Town. Bus drivers, cleaners, security and ambassadors suspended work without the support and knowledge of their union the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa. According to Sibongisile Mabindisa, the striking workers’ spokesperson, their main grievance are low salaries. He is a shopsteward at one of the companies that employs the bus drivers, Transpeninsula Investments, Table Bay Area Rapid Transit (TBRT). “Our hourly rate as bus drivers under TBRT is R52 but for those who are under the N2 express get paid up to R83 and they get a notch increase of R2 every year,” he said. The N2 express runs between the City and Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain and, Mabindisa said, is owned by Codeta, Route 6 and Golden Arrow Bus Company.

Mzukisi Moshotana, a security guard at Accelerator, one of the companies under the My Citi project told Elitsha that they do not get site allowance. “Some of us work 12-hour shifts and some work 10-hour shifts and we earn R4,100 basic salary and we don’t have site allowance. Some of us chase after overtime to try to earn better,” he said. Moshotana said that most of the sites do not have kiosks for them to use when they are on lunch: “Most of us eat our lunches standing as there is no space that is made for us to have lunch at.”

The issue of lack of space for eating was echoed by Brenda Kewuti, an ambassador from Afrotech. The ambassadors usher commuters and help those who do not know their destinations. “We eat standing as there are few kiosks with canteen areas. As marshals we do not have relievers like security guards or cashiers; you are expected to do your job even though you are on lunch,” she said. “The transport picks us up at our homes at one in the morning and the Civic Centre kiosk only opens at five so when we get to town we rest inside the kiosk and we are told that we are not allowed to go inside.”

Also read:  MyCiti strikers meet with the City and political parties

The bus industry workers went on strike earlier this year and they agreed with the companies to increase salaries by 9% across the board. This, according to Mabindisa, has not been implemented for cleaners and cashiers who work for companies under the MyCiti project. “At SARPBAC (the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council) it was agreed that they will get 9% but they have only received 4,5 %,” he said. A cashier, Phaphama Pikini,  confirmed to Elitsha that they got a 4,5% increase and were told that the company does not know when it will give them the full 9% that was agreed upon.

The striking workers were joined by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) that claimed that they were invited by the workers and were there to offer their solidarity.  “We support the workers’ demand of insourcing and as the EFF we are against the tendering process,” said EFF regional secretary for the Cape Metro, Banzi Dambuza.

The City of Cape Town has meanwhile issued a statement advising commuters to use alternative transport. The statement further says that the striking workers are not directly employed by the City but by the “Vehicle Operating Companies”.

Mabindisa told Elitsha that they informed their organisers from NUMSA about their intention to strike but did not get support from the union. “It was the same thing in Marikana where workers went on strike after the unions failed to listen to them and we feel that we are in the same situation,” he concluded.

 

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