Tens of thousands of commuters are stranded this morning, as bus drivers have embarked on an indefinite national strike. Commuters have been warned to make alternative transport arrangements. About 20% of South Africans use bus services as their main mode of transport.

Earlier this week, five unions including NUMSA, SATAWU, and TOWU, representing 16 bus companies, served employers with a 60-hour notice to strike. Around 25 000 bus drivers are downing tools.

Workers are demanding among other things, payment of a second driver for long distance travel, specifics around night shifts, and a 12% wage increase in a one-year deal. Employers are offering 7.5% over a three-year period.

“Essentially what these bus companies are doing is creating a crisis days before the Easter weekend and forcing us to go on strike. This is a situation that as NUMSA we find ourselves in. Our workers cannot carry on with the poor wages and the poor working conditions and we have to take to the streets,” said the union’s spokesperson, Phakamile Hlubi.

The following employer associations will be affected: COBEA – which represents Putco, Mgqibelo, Mayibuye, Buscor and Golden Arrow – as well as SABEA – which represents Megabus, Mega Express, Bojanala, Gauteng Coaches, Itereleng, Ipelegeng, Atamelang, Autopax, Great North Transport, ReaVaya, Phola Coaches, PAL Bus and Greyhound.