Unions and employer associations are expected to meet at the bargaining table at 10:00 on Thursday as the nationwide bus strike enters its second day.
The talks have been set down for two days, according to a letter the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) sent to unions, and which News24 has seen.
The CCMA was acting in terms of a section of the Labour Relations Act, which allowed it to offer its help in resolving a public interest dispute through conciliation.
“We have managed to get all parties to meet in Johannesburg tomorrow (Thursday) at the bargaining table. Hopefully we can persuade the parties to reach an agreement,” confirmed Gary Wilson, secretary general of the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council.
The council, which represents at least 80% of South Africa’s passenger buses, approached the CCMA for help, and had been waiting for the unions – the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union, the Transport and Omnibus Workers Union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the Tirisano Transport Workers Union – to give the go-ahead for the intervention.
Wilson previously said the employer associations, the Commuter Bus Employers Organisation and South African Bus Employers Association, had already committed to the CCMA process.
Thousands of commuters had to make alternative plans on Wednesday, including standing in long queues for taxis.
At least 50 bus companies are not operating across the country as the strike intensifies.
The strike, over a wage dispute, put around 80% of the country’s passenger buses on lockdown.
Numsa said it was satisfied with the participation of its bus sector members in the strike.
“We must say our members certainly heeded the call to stay away from work,’ Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi said on Wednesday night.
The union was hoping for a resolution soon.
“This type of strike is very hurtful on the community we are part of, so really for us, we are hoping that these talks will generate an agreement that will allow us to move forward.”