Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rea Vaya - not so much!

Gosh - another sudden, unannounced bus strike.
For the third time in four months the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system failed to operate this morning.
Nobody from the transport department knew why. Nor did anyone from the City of Joburg, or the Rea Vaya Communications office. Not even the Metro Trading Company - the business set up to manage the Rea Vaya stations knew what was going on.
I called them all back just before my late morning deadline and was told the strike action was all to do with a dispute relating to station staff employment contracts set to expire at the end of October.
I dunno, but it doesn't seem to me that going on a sudden strike is the best path to job security. But then again, these BRT workers have gone on illegal, unprotected strikes twice before and got their own way, so maybe it is the thing to do. I have been spectacularly unsuccessful in reaching anyone with authority who can tell me what they plan to do about this situation.
I heard that the Rea Vaya workers were toyi-toying and causing problems at the Thokoza Park station in Soweto and headed out there to speak to them. Dozens were gathered there, most of them lounging on the grass under trees and unwilling to speak - sure that they were not going to work, not so sure about why. The few groups of emotional people talking agitatedly about what other actions to take would also not speak.
A group of us stood in the sun and watched them. A photographer translated the shouts of one of the security workers who was complaining that his salary of R2000 was not enough for him to afford a life policy and that if he got killed on duty his family would be left with nothing.
So - none of the bosses knew what was being demanded of them. None of the workers was saying what exactly they wanted.
I have had to hand this one over to the late shift reporter in the hopes that maybe by sundown or later there will be a voice of reason or some kind of explanation of what happened.
Today was day two of this illegal strike. Still the buses were not running. And still nobody was fired. I called around and discovered that the reason for the strike was now clear. Apparently all the workers' contracts expire at the end of October and they all want to be immediately given permanent employment.
The glitch in the matrix, however, is that the Joburg City Council has apparently promised 40% of these jobs to the taxi industry.
Eish. Caught between a disgruntled worker and the taxi mafia!
So we wait to see if the city's shiny new buses will run tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Hoo boy... why on earth were they given temporary employment in the first place!?!