So. Africa: Unions say application by 5 bus companies for exemption from wage agreement undermines collective bargaining

Author: Theto Mahlakoana, Business Live (So. Africa), Published on: 9 July 2018

"Bus companies threaten collective bargaining"

In an unprecedented move, some of the five companies that have applied to be exempted from complying with the recent bus sector wage agreement want the agreement declared unlawful, unfair and unconstitutional. The country’s biggest passenger bus companies — Algoa, Golden Arrow and Putco — have along with Amogelang and Phumatra Transport Enterprise requested the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (Sarpbac) to exclude them from some of the agreement’s terms.

In May, the companies engaged in wage negotiations with unions and following a 26-day strike agreed that workers would receive a 9% wage hike in the first year and 8% in 2019. The strike has, according to the Sarpbac, set workers back, after they lost portions of their wages due to the no-work, no-pay rule. Now the likelihood was that some would never see a cent from the increases they sacrificed their wages for. However, it is the effect of seeking to declare the deal unlawful and unconstitutional that has unions and some in the council spooked.Should the applications succeed after presentations are made to the Sarpbac’s exemption council, this would mean that the months spent negotiating the deal would have been a waste. It would also set a precedent that could see the erosion of collective bargaining...

Unions and council members have been bewildered and angered by the claims, describing them as "attacks" on not only the agreement but the entire collective bargaining process. This was because the companies were party to the wage talks and signatories to the wage deal.

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