Cape Town – Today’s strike by trade unions in the Western Cape was abandoned after they became concerned that their members might be caught up in the violence of the second day of a twoday province-wide taxi shutdown.
Day one of the shutdown saw chaos breaking out in Khayelitsha on Pama Road, Mongezi Road, Steve Biko Road, and Japhta K Masemola Road.
Two buses, a MyCiTi and a Golden Arrow bus, were set alight in the early morning, while another one was hijacked with passengers inside but was later recovered. Two women were injured after jumping off a bus that was being shot at in Oscar Mpetha Road in Kuyasa.
There were also reports of intimidation in Nyanga and Delft, including stone-throwing incidents reported on Potsdam Road in Dunoon.
Police arrested three men with 13 petrol bombs in a Toyota Quantum van in Delft. Spokesperson Novela Potelwa said: “The suspects, between the ages of 28 and 32, are alleged to have strong links to the taxi industry and are expected to appear in court as soon as they are charged in terms of the Explosives Act.”
The City said its uncover Law Enforcement officers arrested a suspect in connection with the Golden Arrow bus jijacking.
Cosatu provincial secretary Malvern De Bruyn said the union’s postponement was due to the SA National Taxi Council’s (Santaco) two-day shutdown. He said after a meeting with Santaco, they came to the conclusion that the safety of workers would not be guaranteed should they proceed with their shutdown.
De Bruyn called on employers to refrain from taking any action against workers if they can’t travel to work due to safety concerns, and implored Santaco, the City and the Province to go back to the negotiation table.
Cosatu affiliate, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union spokesperson Lwazi Nkolonzi confirmed the that their strike continues in other parts of the country,
However, the Public Service and Administration Department said it expects all essential government workers to report for duty today and will clamp down on leave applications, unless workers provide “extreme and compelling” reasons.
Mobility MEC Daylin Mitchell said Santaco made commitments that there would be no violence and that this was going to be a pure stayaway. Mitchell said he had tried to reach out to the taxi industry since early morning yesterday, but to no avail.
“We ultimately need to make sure that the communities are safe. If the industry is willing to sit around the table to see how best we can resolve whatever issue it is we are willing to engage, but ultimately we cannot take to the streets.
“I am a firm believer that the right to protest is protected and you’re able to protest, but when it comes to criminality and thuggery, unfortunately we are not going to stand by at the expense of the citizens that we were elected to serve.”
However, Santaco deputy chairperson Nceba Enge denied that the taxi association was responsible for “what happens out there”. Enge reiterated that in informing the commuters about the shutdown, the association also encouraged its taxi operators and drivers not to involve themselves in criminal activities.
Workers belonging to the three major federations, Trade Unions (Saftu), Federation of Union South Africa (Fedusa), and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), resorted to downing tools after a 7- month wage increase impasse with the government.
Acting Public Service and Administration Minister Thulas Nxesi implemented a unilateral offer of 3%, with the continuation of a R1 000 monthly gratuity until March 2023.
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana pencilled in the 3% increase as the markets kept a hawkish eye on his medium-term budget policy statement in October for possible risks to the fiscus, such as the ballooning wage bill.
Taxis are on strike after the suspension of the Province’s Blue Dot programme, which rewards taxi owners for improved driving behaviour.
Public Service and Administration spokesperson Moses Mushi said employees in the essential services were barred from participating in the shutdown during working hours.
The government has provided guidelines to apply the principle of no work, no pay, he said.
On salary increase demands, he said the salary increase of public servants on salary levels 1-12 had been implemented on March 17 and the R1 000 cash gratuity continues to be paid in salaries of public servants.
SOYISO MALITI and MTHUTHUZELI NTSEKU