At least five striking MyCiti employees were arrested on Tuesday despite the City of Cape Town obtaining an interdict to protect non-striking personnel, passengers and MyCiti assets from those on strike.
The strike, which is unprotected, began last Monday (October 15), and the City obtained the urgent court order on Thursday, October 18.
“Despite this court order, strikers continued their attacks on the service, its personnel, passengers, and assets. Those employees who are working to ensure our residents can get to work or school and are being intimidated, assaulted, attacked and prevented from operating the MyCiTi service,” said Brett Herron, Mayco member for Transport and Urban Development, on Tuesday.“At around 11:50 this morning, 23 October 2018, the South African Police Service used stun grenades to disperse a group of strikers who were gathering in the red bus lane at the Civic Centre station and preventing buses from operating. Five people were arrested.”
The strikers thus violated the interdict by intimidating, harassing, or assaulting MyCiTi personnel and passengers, as well as damaging MyCity depots, busses and stations. There have also been cases where striking employees have gathered less than 100 metres away from stations, depots and busses – this is in contravention of the court order.
“In addition, the companies who are contracted by the City and employ the workers have taken steps to dismiss the workers who have been participating in the unprotected strike,” Herron added. “Since the court order was granted, the strikers have intensified their attacks on the service. Yesterday afternoon, 22 October 2018, a MyCiTi bus was petrol bombed in Kuyasa in Khayelitsha, and another bus was targeted later in the evening close to Mew Way.”
At least four busses were also stoned in Khayelitsha at approximately 5am on Tuesday morning, and this has affected the service schedule of the route.
“The intimidation of bus drivers was also rife in Atlantis over the weekend, with bus drivers operating the feeder routes being threatened with firearms on Saturday morning,” Herron said.
He also noted that MyCiti passengers have been fearful when approaching the Civic Centre station since the strike has commenced.
“Apart from barricading some of the red bus lanes, the strikers have also managed to enter several MyCiTi stations, removing those workers who have reported for duty while at the same time threatening and intimidating passengers. This has been the strikers’ modus operandi since they have embarked on this unprotected strike,” he said.
As the strike is in contravention of the Labour Relations Act, participating employees will not be paid for the days that they are absent from work. They will face disciplinary action as well.
“The MyCiTi bus drivers are represented by trade unions and their conditions of employment are the subject of a collective bargaining agreement. The annual national wage negotiations take place at the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) National Bargaining Forum,” Herron said.
A four-week long strike occurred in April, with MyCiti employees signing an agreement which stipulates that no strike action pertaining to wages would be embarked upon until March 2020.
“About 60 000 passengers rely on the MyCiTi bus service each weekday to get to and from work. They have been robbed of this much-needed public transport service; and worse, over the past eight days, they have had to fork out money for other modes of transport after they had already bought Mover points,” Herron said. “We have been trying over the past eight days to operate the MyCiTi service as best we can despite the continuous attacks. On this note, I want to thank those employees, the South African Police Service and the City’s Metro Police Service who continue to assist us in delivering this essential service in the face of intimidation.”
Commuters can contact the Transport Information Centre 24/7 on 0800 65 64 63 for the latest information regarding the service, or follow @MyCiTibus on Twitter.
Commuters are also encouraged to visit the facebook page ‘MyCiTi Integrated Rapid Transit System’ as changes to the operating schedule can happen at any time, given the unpredictability of the current situation.