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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Putco to fire 1000 employees for embarking on illegal strike

Putco says fired employees will be given an opportunity to appeal their dismissal and state why they should be reinstated.

Putco has confirmed that it will be firing about a 1000 employees after what the bus company called an “illegal strike” by striking workers.

The bus company said it has taken disciplinary action against the employees after they continued with their strike for better wages on Tuesday morning.

The employees parked their buses last week, demanding a 6% wage increase and their back pay.

They claim the bus company has not paid them bonuses since 2020.

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Bus drivers picketed outside various Putco offices, including in Soweto, Pretoria and Mpumalanga province.

Putco spokesperson Lindokuhle Xulu put it bluntly saying that employees will be fired for embarking on the illegal strike.

“I can confirm, now that disciplinary action has been instituted and, in fact – just to put it bluntly, about a thousand of these employees will be losing their jobs. That is according to the letters that will be coming from the employer.”

“We are dismissing some of the employees that have not been able to go back to work. But we should say we are encouraged by the fact that some of the employees are inside the building [at the Putco depot in Soweto].

“They want an escalation that was supposed to take place in 2020, they want bonuses from 2020, but that’s been subject to processes. The process was that we applied for an exemption, the unions appealed that particular exemption and now it is before the labour court,” Xulu said.

Xulu said after the employees have been dismissed, they will be given an opportunity to appeal and provide a written account about why they should not be permanently dismissed.

“I’m sure this will be from today, when they are given these dismissal letters until tomorrow. But tomorrow if they have not [filed an appeal], then they will be given formal termination letters.”

Xulu said processes have been underway since after the Labour Court granted the company an interim interdict that ordered the workers back to their work stations on Monday.

“Putco was granted an interim court interdict on Friday, which declared the strike unprotected. The order was effective immediately and has been communicated to employees.”

However, the workers have not heeded the call.

“On Thursday, we issued about three notices to workers that this is an illegal undertaking, it’s an illegal strike. So, we can confirm that all of those notices, the processes have been followed,” Xulu said.

Meanwhile, Putco bus driver Veli Maphosa told The Citizen he has been a driver for nine years, but the bus company does whatever it wants.

“Putco receives a subsidy from government but do not pay their drivers properly. I don’t understand what the problem is because we work overtime, but we still only earn a basic salary.”

“As you see us protesting here today, we are fighting for our money from 2020, we were promised backpay and bonuses. We are still fighting, although the matter was taken to court. Our employer is not taking us seriously and is beating around the bush – they owe us money.”

He said Putco has not only refused payment to employees, but threatened to fire them.

The bus drivers have called on Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to “stand up for us and fight our battles”.

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