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Monday, May 10, 2021

Concern mounts as MyCiTi strike may impact matrics

Bulelwa Payi

With no immediate end in sight to the wildcat strike by MyCiTi bus drivers, fears have been raised about its impact on commuters using public transport.

Despite a court interdict preventing striking workers from intimidating those not taking part in the strike or preventing them from working, acts of intimidation were reported on Saturday.

The City of Cape Town voiced concerns over the reports of intimidation. Mayoral committee member for transport Brett Herron said he had advised that charges be laid against those involved.

Provincial education authorities said they feared the strike could result in matric pupils not reaching exam venues in time.

While around 8000 matric pupils began writing exams last week, there have been no reports of major transport disruptions affecting them so far.

“More than 50000 learners will be on the roads next week as the majority of our National Senior Certificate (NSC) candidates begin writing their exams. Tuesday marks the start of the 2018 NSC examination period for the majority of our learners,” said education department spokesperson Jessica Shelver.

“Our concern is that the strike action, as well as the knock-on effect that this has on other modes of public transport, will mean that learners may not reach their venues on time, which may result in them having to write the supplementary exam in June next year – which could have a major impact on their study plans and their futures.”

Although efforts are being made by political parties represented in the council to help find a resolution to the strike, there’s no indication yet as to when the negotiations between the striking workers’ union, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the vehicle operating companies contracted to the City will resume. At the time of going to print, Numsa had not responded to questions sent to it.

But ANC councillor Khaya Yozi said initial discussions with workers’ representatives had revealed the workers were unhappy over conditions of employment including long shifts and being expected to do duties not related to their work without compensation.

The strike, which has entered its second week, has put a strain on the declining public transport service, and transport experts have called for urgent intervention, including by the national government. For every hour lost in productivity due to delays in the public transport system, the City’s economy suffered an estimated loss of R450 million, said Professor Marianne Vanderschuren, of UCT’s Africa Centre for Studies in Public and Non-motorised Transport.

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