The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) ended its last round of consultation with workers in the Bus Passenger sector on Monday. The union’s Treasurer General Mphumzi Maqungo met with Workers from Algoa and Ezethu Bus Companies in Port Elizabeth.
Members were afforded an opportunity to discuss the new wage agreement which is broken down as follows:
• 9% across the board wage increase
• 10% increase on all allowances – night shift, cross border allowance, and S&T (Subsistence and Travel)
• R400 per month allowance for the co-driver
After extensive consultation, which is true to our values as a worker led union, our members in all provinces have accepted the agreement.
Although, initially we rejected this agreement as we did not believe it went far enough in addressing critical issues faced by our members, namely, a double digit percentage wage increase, as well as ensuring that they are paid in full for all the hours they work.
However, based on the response from members in this sector, NUMSA can indeed claim this agreement as a small victory for our members in their fight for a living wage and a dignified life for themselves and their families.
Through our members’ militancy and our disciplined action, we achieved a few significant milestones:
1. We brought into the public spotlight the shocking working conditions, such as the brutally long hours; the lack of decent allowances and the lack of remuneration for the second driver, to mention just a few issues affecting our members.
2. We forced an intervention from the Department of Labour. In a meeting with our members, Minister Olifant heard first hand of the bad working conditions and slave wages that persist through the sector. As NUMSA, we intend to hold her accountable to ensure that all matters raised are attended to speedily, so that there can be a meaningful improvement in the lived experiences of our members.
3. Furthermore we demonstrated to the public the link between our members’ concerns and social justice. When our members fight for a living wage, they are fighting for a dignified life for themselves and their families. And, in a country, such as South Africa, with a history of exploitative slave wages, this fight IS for social justice.
Nobody can claim to fight for the good of our society and not support our members’ struggle for a living wage. Not only does a radical overhaul of South Africa’s low wages model make economic sense, but also surely, such a high level of income inequality is not sustainable for the entire society.
4. NUMSA, the biggest metalworkers union in Africa, continues to grow into various sectors of the economy, as per the resolution of the 2013 conference. We will continue to bring a militant worker driven and controlled agenda to transform South African workspaces into places where all workers can thrive and not have their hard-won rights infringed upon in any manner whatsoever.
We call on all workers in the sector to unite behind NUMSA as we fight to transform the industry and restore dignity and equality to all our members.
The struggle continues!
Acting NUMSA National Spokesperson
083 376 7725