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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


Putco strike: ‘Pay us what we’re due’

The striking employees parked their buses last week, demanding a six percent wage increase and back pay for bonuses since 2020.


The wheels of the Putco buses did not go round and round this week after drivers parked their vehicles and started an illegal strike due to wage and bonus disputes. Yesterday, striking workers continued to picket outside the entrances of Putco in Pretoria West, Soweto and Mpumalanga, in spite of the company confirming it would be firing more than 1 000 employees due to the strike, which left thousands of commuters stranded. The striking employees parked their buses last week, demanding a six percent wage increase and back pay for bonuses since 2020. One of the workers, who did not…

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The wheels of the Putco buses did not go round and round this week after drivers parked their vehicles and started an illegal strike due to wage and bonus disputes.

Yesterday, striking workers continued to picket outside the entrances of Putco in Pretoria West, Soweto and Mpumalanga, in spite of the company confirming it would be firing more than 1 000 employees due to the strike, which left thousands of commuters stranded.

The striking employees parked their buses last week, demanding a six percent wage increase and back pay for bonuses since 2020.

One of the workers, who did not want to be named, said they would continue to strike. “We cannot work like this when they don’t want to pay us what we have earned,” the employee said.

Putco obtained a court interdict to ban workers from the depots at the company’s head offices. Putco spokesperson Lindokuhle Xulu said the interdict was a step closer to the resumption of bus services.

“Putco has been granted an order to say that workers or anyone blocking our entrances to our business units must move away from that point. “We take this as a victory, to say that we are getting a step closer to returning operations to the 150 000 commuters that have been stranded,” Xulu said.

Democratic Alliance Gauteng provincial chair Fred Nel has called on Putco bus drivers to adhere to the interdict and return to work.

“We cannot allow commuters and the economy to suffer because of an illegal strike,” he said. “We encourage the drivers to use their labour channels to continue engaging the company about their concerns, while continuing to provide a crucial public transport service.”

National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim said the union was shocked that Putco management had threatened to dismiss more than 1 000 workers over a situation which they had created because of their greed and selfishness.

“The management of Putco has been refusing to pay workers their deserved bonuses and the wage increase of six percent, which was secured in the last wage agreement in the bus passenger sector,” he said.

Numsa represented 1 400 employees at Putco. “We are dismayed by the arrogant stance taken by management. We reject the intention of Putco to dismiss workers after they deliberately frustrated them.

“The union is left with no choice but to call on Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to intervene in the current impasse,” he added.

Jim said the department of transport could not continue to pay and subsidise an anti-worker union-bashing bus company which was selfish to the extreme.

Its senior management was prepared to pocket the money without sharing with workers. “If Putco, had their way, they would turn workers into slaves and make them work without receiving anything,” Jim said.

ALSO READ: Putco dismisses 105 workers after illegal protest action

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