MyCiti workers to “intensify the strike”

The situation became tense between NUMSA leaders and the EFF on Wednesday as the strike by MyCiti workers entered its third day. Photo by Okuhle Jafta

The City of Cape Town says it will seek a court interdict against the “violent, EFF-led” striking workers.

The striking MyCiti project workers have vowed to intensify the strike after their attempts to meet with the City of Cape Town failed. The strike for insourcing by bus drivers, ambassadors, cleaners, cashiers and security guards working for companies under the City’s rapid bus transport system entered its third day on Wednesday. “We also engaged with those that were still operating and we convinced them to join the strike. So, there were no MyCiti buses running today including the N2 Express and the Atlantis route, so there was a total shutdown,” said Sibongisile Mabindisa, spokesperson for the striking workers.

“I have been informed [about] but not seen the ultimatum letter from Transpeninsula Investments, Table Bay Area Rapid Transit (TBRT) that says if we are not back at work today at 10:00, they will get a court order so that when we go back to work we will be served with suspension letters that can lead to dismissals,” said Mabindisa. The workers, he is certain, are prepared to fight back with whatever that will come their way, including job losses.

The workers are demanding equal pay for those who are doing the same job even though they work for different outsourced companies and to be insourced. Mabindisa cited the “arrogance” of the City Council as one of the obstacles to the resolution of the dispute. “Brett Herron is arrogant and we have made it clear that we don’t want to meet with the outsourced companies at this stage but we want to meet with him. Yesterday he sent an employee to meet with even though we said we wanted to speak to him. The City is the one that gave tenders to the companies and it has the power to insource us,” he said.

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On Tuesday the workers were told that the City is prepared to facilitate a meeting between the worker leaders but is not prepared to meet with the Economic Freedom Fighters. The EFF said that it was invited by the workers to join the strike and theirs is to offer solidarity to the workers.

Elitsha understands that on Wednesday morning, leaders of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa in the province addressed the workers after being absent for two days while tensions between the union and EFF rose. GroundUp reported that Numsa’s regional secretary, Vuyo Lufele, told the workers that Numsa doesn’t work with political parties. The workers on the other hand, did not hold back as they told Numsa that the union had failed them as the issues have been long-standing.

The striking workers say that they have managed to cause a total shutdown of the rapid transit services. The City stated that the majority of routes were not operational on Wednesday. Photo by Mzi Velapi

In a midday interview with Elitsha, Lufele said that they are aware of the issues and have been engaging with the City.” He would not be drawn on why the workers feel that they have been failed by the union and advised that if the workers are not happy with the service that they get from the organisers they should contact him directly. “We cannot abandon the workers and our priority right now is to have a meeting with the City and the employer companies to see what can be done,” said Lufele.

The City of Cape Town meanwhile has released a statement that it will be seeking an urgent interdict to protect “MyCiti personnel, passengers and assets against [an] EFF-led violent strike.” According to Councillor Brett Herron, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, they will apply for a court interdict “against those participating in an unprotected strike that has turned violent.” He informed commuters that the majority of the MyCiTi routes are still not operational.

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Mabindisa denied that they are controlled by the EFF as portrayed by the City. The party, he insists, is offering solidarity to the workers.  He added that they will be joined tomorrow by workers under the Expanded Public Workers Programme who, like them, work under labour brokers.



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