Johannesburg – Autopax has responded to claims made by National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa’s (Numsa) Norman Malume that the company made an offer to its employees to end the bus strike.
Autopax’s Ranti Mahlabana said although the purpose of the meeting was to start engagements to end the strike, no offer was made to employees.
“The meeting was the beginning of a process of talking to each other and to start opening lines of communication to bring the strike to a halt. It was very, very far from being an offer to our employees,” said Mahlabana.
Mahlabana said Autopax, which according to him is not a member of employer associations involved in the bargaining council negotiations, had only been notified of the strike on Tuesday.
“We were only notified yesterday about the strike and that is when we began this process of consultation. According to the Labour Relations Act, you cannot go to strike without giving your employer notice, and by yesterday we had not received any notice about a strike. We said in the meeting that we are very concerned that we cannot provide a service to our customers,” said Mahlabana.
Mahlabana said Autopax is a non-party in the matter as it is not a member of any employer associations involved.
“We are unjustly involved in the strike. But we also don’t want to break ranks. We will allow striking employees to go to the bargaining council to deliberate on the matter today [Wednesday]. However, regardless of the outcome, we are meeting tomorrow morning with Numsa and Satawu [South African Transport and Allied Workers Union],” said Mahlabana.
Malume had earlier told News24 that Autopax had told the union that if workers went back to work on Wednesday afternoon, the company would be willing to make a better offer.
Workers in the passenger bus sector on Wednesday went on a strike demanding a 15% wage increase and better working conditions. Numsa said the intervention of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration has not addressed the union’s grievances and it has resolved to call a strike.