Putco fires 105 bus drivers for instigating an unprotected strike

A strike by Putco workers disrupted the commuter transport company’s services. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso

A strike by Putco workers disrupted the commuter transport company’s services. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso

Published Sep 8, 2022


Pretoria - The Public Utility Transport Corporation (Putco) has kept its word and dismissed 105 workers on Thursday for engaging in an unprotected strike for almost a week.

The dismissal comes after the commuter transport company handed the striking workers dismissal letters on Tuesday and gave them until Wednesday at 5pm to make written submission as to why they should not be fired.

Putco spokesperson Lindokuhle Xulu said they received about 900 written representations: 400 were made by individuals and the other 500 came through unions representing their members.

“We considered all the representations, but there are company processes. There were people who were already on final warning, and in the last couple of days there were people who were identified as instigators, as people who were blocking others from going to work and hailing threats,” said Xulu, speaking to Newzroom Afrika.

Workers are demanding a 6% salary increase and bonuses for 2020.

The company has offered to increase the salaries by 3% and said the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown affected its financial sustainability, making it hard to pay the bonuses.

The strike has inconvenienced more than 22 000 commuters since this week.

Earlier, the National Union of Metalworkers in South Africa (Numsa) called on the government to stop subsidising the bus company, saying it has deliberately frustrated the workers.

According to Numsa, the storm clouds first started gathering in 2020, when the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBC) signed a collective agreement for a 6% increase and the payment of the annual bonus.

The union said Putco is a party to the bargaining council and the increase applied to them as well but they resisted implementing the increase and applied for a partial exemption, offering a 3% increase instead.

The company has applied to the exemptions committee of the SARPBC since 2020 and it has been rejected twice, with the latest appeal rejected in April this year.