Five bus drivers arrested as MyCiTi strike heats up

Five striking MyCiTi bus drivers were arrested on Tuesday after police used stun grenades to disperse strikers at the Civic Centre station, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport Brett Herron said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Herron said the City of Cape Town had obtained an urgent court order from the Western Cape High Court on Thursday 18 October 2018 “to protect MyCiTi passengers, personnel and assets”, but strikers had continued “their attacks”.

“Those employees who are working to ensure our residents can get to work or school and are being intimidated, assaulted, attacked and prevented from operating the MyCiTi service,” Herron said.

He said just before noon police had used stun grenades to disperse strikers who were preventing busses from operating and were in defiance of the court order which forbade them coming closer than 100 metres from MyCiTi stations, depots, or buses.

He said a bus had been petrol bombed in Khayelitsha on Monday and on Tuesday buses on the N2 had been stoned. Bus drivers in Atlantis had been threatened with firearms, Herron said.

Patrick Mabindisa, the spokesperson for the striking workers, said about 50 TBRT drivers had been dismissed. TBRT had sent letters to workers threatening dismissal on the grounds of “participating in an illegal strike”, “bringing the company’s name into disrepute” and causing loss of revenue.

Mabindisa has also been charged with “unauthorized conversing with the media”.

The strike is not “illegal” but an unprotected strike, meaning that it does not comply with the provisions of the Labour Relations Act and as a result strikers are not protected from dismissal.

The drivers work for vehicle operating companies Table Bay Rapid Transit (TBRT), Kidrogen and Transpeninsula Investments.

The City has urged the vehicle operating companies, to “take all reasonable steps to resolve this problem with your drivers”.

Cashiers, marshals and cleaners for the MyCiTi network from Metro Cleaning Services, Excellerate and Afroteq Academy are also on strike.

Mabindisa said that employers had called workers to go back to work but they had refused.

Mabindisa said striking employees earned less than those employed directly by the City. Cashiers employed by the City earned five times as much as the striking cashiers, he said.

“We will be here till MyCiTi insources all of us, till the City provides basic services to its citizens, not just to people of a certain colour. We will shut down the City of Cape Town. There will be no transport moving,” he said.

Thami Makeleni of Metro Cleaning Services denied that the cleaners were badly paid and working under difficult conditions. “You cannot have better working conditions for a cleaning job that requires wiping desks, cleaning windows and floors at bus stations. The contract cleaning industry in South Africa pays R20 per hour and we have staff being paid well above that.”

Afroteq Academy and Kidrogen declined to comment.

This story first appeared on GroundUp

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