South African court bans Johannesburg bus strike

Rea Vaya bus strikers – banned from picketing by the court

SOUTH Africa bus service Rea Vaya operator, PioTrans, last Thursday secured an interdict banning 179 employees from embarking on an unprotected strike and continuing to picket at its premises.

Workers embarked on the strike on Wednesday, following a dispute about an annual bonus payment being split into two tranches and it being taxed.
PioTrans workers downed tools, resulting in the Rea Vaya bus service being suspended.
PioTrans subsequently approached the Labour Court in Johannesburg with an urgent application for an interdict, which was heard last Thursday.
Business rescue practitioner Mahier Tayob Tayfinook took over as business rescue practitioner after PioTrans was placed in business rescue in December in the wake of a court application by its creditors who alleged maladministration due to outstanding debts.
The Labour Court also interdicted the employees and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union from blocking access to the premises, public roads or any access points allowing access to Rea Vaya premises in Dobsonville, Soweto.
The court said the interim order it made, interdicting the employees from embarking on an unlawful strike and interrupting Rea Vaya’s business and operations, will operate with immediate effect pending the application by the business rescue practitioner.
Tayfinook said he’d already engaged with lawyers: ‘And I’ve given them a notice to say this is an unlawful strike and I’ve placed them on terms.’

  • A Gold Fields employee at its South Deep mine in Gauteng died in an underground incident last Tuesday, involving what the gold producer says was trackless equipment.

Activities at the mine near Westonaria have been temporarily suspended, pending an investigation by the department of mineral resources & energy, as well as mine management and labour union representatives, the company said last Thursday.

  • Eskom has filed an application for leave to appeal the decision of the high court in Pretoria which declared load shedding to be in breach of constitutional rights.

The UDM and 18 other organisations took the power utility to court demanding an end to load shedding and power cuts exemption for critical infrastructures including schools, police stations, hospitals, and clinics.
The December court ruling ordered Electricity Minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, to take all reasonable steps to ensure critical state services aren’t affected by load shedding.
It comes on the heels of a case brought by various groups from the organised labour and civil society sector, as well as a number of political parties, with NUMSA as one of the applicants.
Eskom says it is of the view that a different court may arrive at a different conclusion.
The company said: ‘The order is vague it does not identify the “respondent organs of state” to which it relates; and it does not correlate the listed conduct with any particular organ of the state.
‘It does not prescribe what constitutes reasonable steps; and it is unclear as it does not state whether the “reasonable steps” are to be taken with or without Eskom.’
Eskom says the court erred by making a blanket approach order.
It added in a` statement: ‘Erroneous inclusion of Eskom in the order, the Court declared that the “respondent organs of state” breached obligations to protect and promote the rights contained in the Bill of Rights.
‘It did not identify who the respondent organs of state were, Eskom is an organ of state and was cited as the respondent in both the DA Application and the UDM Application. To the extent that Eskom is included in the declaration by the Court against the “respondent organs of state”, then the Court erred…
‘The Court erred in justifying its “blanket order” on the basis that “there appears to be much merit in the DA’s argument that organs of state are involved in a proverbial “blame game” as far as load shedding is concerned.’

  • The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) wants to see ‘heads rolling’ for the fire at Parliament.

Two years ago, on 2 January 2022, a fire ripped through a large section of Parliament, causing major damage to the National Assembly.
NEHAWU branch chairperson, Sthembiso Tembe, said that government seemed to be on course to repair Parliament by the end of 2025.
However, Tembe said Parliament was dragging its heels to hold those allegedly responsible for the fire accountable.
In November last year, Parliament suspended nine staff members amid allegations of maladministration.
Tembe said: ‘Those responsible for the burning of Parliament – those that are part of Parliament management – who took a decision to remove the protection services on the day of the fire – we want to see them being taken through the process; being punished.’
He added that NEHAWU would like to see those officials completely removed from Parliament.

  • The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) has made a statement on the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement delivered by Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, on November 1, 2023.

It stated: ‘SAMWU believes that the Minister missed an opportunity to ensure adequate and equitable funding for the country’s municipalities, which are grappling with severe financial pressures that have weakened many municipalities and compromised service delivery.
‘We are also concerned about the cost containment measures announced, as they may have adverse repercussions for both workers and residents.
‘On municipal funding
‘While the Union appreciates the decision by the National Treasury to review the municipal funding model, we are concerned that, despite the financial pressures faced by municipalities, the Minister has once again missed an opportunity to ensure that municipalities receive funding that enables them to fulfil their Constitutional mandate towards residents.
‘From SAMWU’s perspective, the National Treasury, as the custodian of the country’s finances, has once again let municipalities down. We have consistently argued that the equitable share allocated to municipalities exacerbates the financial challenges they face. In this budget adjustment, the country’s municipalities will only receive 9.9% of government expenditure.
‘As recently disclosed by Maropene Ramokgopa, the Minister in the Presidency responsible for monitoring and evaluation, out of the country’s 257 municipalities, 229 are either dysfunctional or in distress. We believe that these challenges are predominantly financial, and one crucial way to salvage the country’s municipalities is through adequate funding.
On Eskom Municipal Debt Relief Grant
‘We welcome the National Treasury’s commitment to implement the Eskom Municipal Debt Relief Grant, a R59 billion package aimed at assisting municipalities with their Eskom debt. Many of the country’s municipalities are burdened with debt owed to Eskom, which they are unable to service due to their precarious financial positions.
‘We are particularly concerned about the uptake of this grant, especially by municipalities in dire need. As per the Minister’s announcement, only 67 municipalities have applied for the grant, with 28 of those applications approved. Of significant concern, 138 municipalities collectively owe Eskom nearly R60 billion and struggle to service their debt.
‘SAMWU calls on all municipalities indebted to Eskom to seize this opportunity to settle their Eskom debt. The situation on the ground is so critical that many municipalities frequently fail to pay workers because Eskom attaches their bank accounts. The Union further urges Provincial Governments to ensure that all financially distressed municipalities apply for this grant. Additionally, we call for Municipal Managers who have neglected to apply for this grant to be held personally responsible for their failure to ensure the financial viability of their municipalities.
On SRD extension
‘The Union acknowledges and appreciates the National Treasury’s decision to extend the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant for an additional year. We believe that the SRD has been instrumental in offering crucial assistance to many disadvantaged South Africans, particularly during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘While we welcome the extension of the SRD grant, SAMWU calls for a permanent solution that can address the enduring needs of our population.
On spending reduction and cost containment measures
‘The fiscal consolidation project initiated by the National Treasury will have significant implications for the country, its workers, and residents. Minister Godongwana has already directed government departments to cut their budgets by 15% and impose a freeze on hiring.
‘This decision, which seems illogical, will likely prevent many government departments from fulfilling their constitutional obligations to residents. Such a neoliberal approach will result in delayed or diminished service delivery, leaving residents waiting longer for the quality services they deserve from the government.
‘Moreover, by not filling vacancies, the government not only risks constraining the country’s economic growth but also pushes many South Africans further into poverty, hunger, and starvation. South Africa is home to some of the world’s most significant inequalities, with high youth unemployment. This decision could lead to further disenfranchisement for many unemployed individuals struggling to put food on their tables, potentially fostering social unrest.
‘Issued by SAMWU
Dumisane Magagula
General Secretary’