The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has accused Golden Arrow Bus Services (Gabs) of lying lied to the provincial government by declaring itself an “essential service” to force workers to return to work.
The general manager of Gabs, Derick Meyer, disputed this, saying they were “false and outrageous claims”.
Union provincial secretary Vuyo Lufele alleged Golden Arrow contravened and disregarded the directive given by President Cyril Ramaphosa declaring a national lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“Gabs is trying to force workers to defy the lockdown and go to work,” Lufele said.
He said Gabs had demanded some workers avail themselves to do shifts, while it had placed others on lay-offs and was forcing them to take paid leave during the 21-day lockdown.
The union doesn’t believe the company is an essential service.
“As a result of this misinformation by Golden Arrow’s management, two bus drivers were arrested on Friday for carrying passengers,” he said.
Lufele said these incidents happened at Vangate Mall in Athlone and AZ Berman in Mitchells Plain. Both of the drivers were following the instructions of management and driving buses filled to capacity - in direct contravention of the call to implement social distancing.
Meyer said bus services had been authorized by the Trade, Industry and Competition department to provide essential services during the period of the lockdown, in terms of regulations published by the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister.
“To this extent, the provincial Transport and Public Works department has instructed Golden Arrow Bus Services to schedule services during the lockdown period in line with the ministerial declaration,” he said.
He said no bus drivers had been arrested and a video doing the rounds did not show a Golden Arrow bus.
“Beyond contractual responsibilities, Gabs has an ethical responsibility to continue to provide services to our nurses and other essential services staff and social grant recipients who would be stranded if we simply stopped providing our services.”
Transport and Public Works MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela has also asked Gabs to increase its services to provide an immediate alternative for those left stranded by the lockdown.
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Source: Cape Argus