Buses operating as normal in Mbombela despite national strike

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First Union announced tonight that the two organisations had reached an agreement after strikes were called on Thursday for fairer pay and work conditions for bus drivers.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) confirmed plans to abandon their posts on Tuesday night following a deadlock in wage talks.

Negotiations on wage increases have dragged since January, with unions seeking a 12-percent across-the-board increase while employers only offering seven percent.

The terms allow for modest wage increases over the next two years and include improvements to working conditions.

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Bus drivers from at least 67 bus companies around the country were due to strike.

Unions had obtained a certificate to strike on 16 March, but said they could not immediately embark on a strike action because of a mandatory 30-day cooling off period.

Companies are struggling to get bus drivers and as a outcome of supply and demand need to pay employees significantly more to attract and retain drivers, it said. We're looking for a minimum wage of R8,000.

The original strike was planned for between April 17 and 27 and was largely brought on by a council tendering process (the Public Transport Operating Model, or PTOM) instigated by the previous government.

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"They left for school very late because the bus didn't come on time".

Commuters had to rely on taxis or other means of transport to get to their destinations.

"The value of the tickets will not be lost", a spokesperson said on radio.

Meanwhile, the taxi industry took full advantage of the situation, and even went to the extent of bending their association's rules in an effort to make full benefit of the financial opportunity. Many commuters were drenched.

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He said the bad working conditions of the bus drivers have contributed to road accidents in South Africa, which is among the countries that have the highest road fatality rates.

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