Labour union confederation Cosatu has threatened mass action against Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and taxis over his decision to let them operate at full capacity.
Cosatu’s National spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the unions were set to submit a Section 77 application at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) following the decision to allow the taxi operators to fill their taxis to full capacity.
Pamla said that after a meeting held on July 14 with Mbalula to discuss the challenges in the transport sector at Nedlac, the federation had resolved to go the route of mass protests and also elevate the matter to the Presidency.
He said the federation was pursuing the Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act, which covers a viable protest action to promote or defend socio-economic interests of workers.
“We are invoking this section to engage on this transport matter with the hope of finding a resolution, but we reserve the right to mobilise for a protest action if we are not happy with the outcomes of negotiations,” he said. “This deadly appeasement and capitulation by the government is happening at a time when more workers are getting infected by the deadly Covid-19 virus.”
He said the federation was disappointed that despite social partners submitting detailed proposals to deal with challenges in the public transport sector, “the minister was proceeding to develop regulations and funding without involving the social partners”.
Pamla said this was despite the fact those regulations would affect workers and commuters.
Mbalula last week reiterated President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that taxis undertaking local trips would be permitted to increase their capacity to 100%, while long-distance taxis would not be allowed to exceed 70% occupancy, on condition that new risk mitigation protocols were followed.
“Bus, taxi and e-hailing, meter taxis, shuttle services, chauffeur-driven vehicles and scholar transport vehicles are permitted to carry 100% of licensed carry capacity for any trip not regarded as long-distance travel,” he said.
South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) president Phillip Taaibosch said the threats made by Cosatu were “unfortunate and disingenuous”.
He said Santaco’s battle with the government had been for the survival of not only “taxi associations as alleged by Cosatu, but also the preservation of jobs of the many semi-skilled workers in the industry, whom Cosatu has dismally failed to fight for”.
National Taxi Alliance spokesperson Theo Malele said the alliance appreciated the conundrum the government found itself in and would ensure safety regulations were enforced.