Johannesburg – The trade union federations in the Western Cape have called off Tuesday’s march to Parliament due to the ongoing and violent protest action by minibus taxi operators in Cape Town.
On Monday morning, three buses were torched, allegedly by members embarking on the taxi strike.
The City of Cape Town also reported a MyCiTi staff car was stopped at 4.43am and the staff were held hostage.
The City said Gugulethu was declared a ‘no-go area’ after 5am.
The taxi strike is expected to continue on Tuesday.
In a joint statement on Monday afternoon, trade union federations Cosatu, Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) and the SA Fedration of Trade Unions (Saftu) in the Western Cape, said they were postponing the march due to the ongoing action of the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) in the Western Cape.
Last week, union federations gave notice of a nationwide shutdown on Tuesday, on the second day of the two-day taxi strike.
The unions and the government are in a 7-month deadlock over workers’ demands of a 10% salary increase, while Pretoria has stuck to its guns with a 3% unilateral offer.
The unions described Tuesday’s national shutdown as the day of reckoning.
“The Leadership of Cosatu, Fedusa and Saftu met this morning to reflect on the violent status of the Santaco action in the province and the safety of our members and workers.
“After the engagement with Santaco we came to the conclusion that the safety of our members will not be guaranteed should we proceed with the action,” they said.
The unions have called on Santaco, the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town to negotiate.
“We are also calling on the employers to refrain from taking any action against workers if they can't go to work in fear of their safety,” said the unions.
Meanwhile, in a statement on Monday morning,
Councillor Rob Quintas, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for urban mobility, condemned the violence and called on Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to prioritise the minibus taxi industry
“Once again, stay-away action by the minibus-taxi industry is being marked by violence, intimidation, thuggery, and attacks on other public transport services, leaving thousands of commuters stranded and deprived from earning an income,” said Quintas.
He said they fully agreed with Santaco that formalising the industry was key to its long-term sustainability.
“A modernised and efficient minibus-taxi industry is in the interest of operators, those employed by the industry, and more importantly, commuters.
“As such, I am calling on the national minister of transport to urgently address the call for assistance.
“The City is of the view that the National Department of Transport should take the lead in devising a strategy for formalising and modernising the minibus-taxi industry; and secondly, that the national department should provide the funding for these efforts where they are implemented – be it on local or provincial level,” said Quintas.