Public sector wage strike in Western Cape postponed over taxi chaos

  • Western Cape public sector unions have decided to postpone their participation in the national day of action until Tuesday.
  • The decision was taken in response to the South African National Taxi Council’s ongoing strike in the province.
  • While other demonstrations on the national day of action will go ahead as planned, Western Cape structures have postponed over concerns for the safety of members.
  • For more financial stories, see News24 Business front page.

An ongoing taxi strike in the Western Cape has forced the province’s public sector unions to postpone their demonstrations as part of a day-long strike over deadlocked public wage negotiations.

Public sector unions affiliated with Cosatu, the South African Trade Union Confederation (Saftu) and the South African Trade Union Confederation (Fedusa), representing an estimated 800,000 members, were set to start a day-long strike that also included demonstrations in all nine provinces.

However, the three associations said in the joint statement that members in the Western Cape have had to postpone their demonstrations due to a taxi strike by the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco). Seven unions affiliated with the federations are locked in wage negotiations with the government after rejecting an offer of a 3% increase in basic wages.

READ | Unions reject government’s ‘misleading’ final salary offer

Santaco began its strike in response to the Western Cape provincial government’s decision to halt its Blue Dot project, an initiative aimed at introducing rewards and incentives for taxi companies that improve their service and road safety practices. On Monday there were reports of buses being set on fire in the province as the Santaco strike began.

The three associations said in a statement that leadership met on Monday to consider their options and decided to postpone a planned march in Cape Town for members’ safety.

“The leadership of Cosatu, Fedusa and Saftu met this morning to reflect on the violent status of the Santaco action in the province and the safety of our members and workers. Following the province’s engagement with Santaco, we concluded that the safety of our members will not be guaranteed as we proceed with the action,” the statement said.

The statement called on Santaco, the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town to “find an amicable solution to the impasse”.

Officials from various unions affiliated to the three federations confirmed that the taxi strike would only affect the national day of action in the Western Cape and that demonstrations in all other provinces would continue as planned.

READ | The government clarifies that the “final offer” to public sector unions is effectively 7.5%

The associations announced the national day of action last week after the Public Servants’ Association (PSA) held a one-day strike earlier in the month. The government said the impact of this strike on the state of public services was minimal.

The PSA said it plans to intensify its demonstrations and is considering a council tax boycott and marches to ministers’ homes.

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