COSATU Western Cape welcomes the end of the taxi strike in the Western Cape

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the end of the taxi strike in the Western Cape. 

The Federation appreciates the constructive but difficult engagements with all parties, including the Ministers of Police and Transport, the Premier and the MEC for Mobility in the Western Cape, the Mayor of Cape Town, the Leadership of the South African National Taxi Council, and COSATU and the Alliance’s Provincial Leadership. 

These were not easy negotiations, but they brought peace to the people of Cape Town and the Province.  Workers can now go back to work without fearing for their lives.

The latest taxi standoff had a massive impact on all parties.  The Federation condemns the horrific levels of violence where workers have been injured and tragically 5 lives were lost.  Millions of workers struggled to get to work and earn a salary and take care of their families.  Bus drivers have been shot at and were living in fear of their lives.  Traffic officers were assaulted.  Businesses lost property and will struggle to pay staff. 

Taxi drivers are also workers and need to work to earn their daily wages.  Taxi owners were now left with no source of income as the City impounded 6 000 taxis and imposed heavy fines for what are seen as minor traffic offences.  The headlines did not bode well when we sought to attract tourists to our shores.  All of these had a devastating impact on workers, society, the economy and the State. 

The Taxi Industry is the backbone of our public transport system.  Working-class communities depend upon it to travel to Work, School, Universities, Churches, Mosques etc.  We appreciate it as one of the few African and Coloured led Industries and one that has received little support from the State when compared to the huge subsidies that other modes of public transportation receive from the state.

The Federation appreciates the agreement provides for a fourteen (14) day process to resolve the matters of taxis that have been impounded by the City of Cape Town for various traffic violations.

COSATU supports the need for the City of Cape Town and other spheres of government to enforce compliance with legislation by all parties and to protect the lives and property of commuters and the public.  The heavy-handed approach by the City to impound 6 000 taxis and to impose exorbitant fines for relatively minor offences sparked this latest crisis.  In future, negotiations must be the first port of call.  The City needs to refrain from reckless statements and actions that provoke unnecessary conflict that no party can afford. The City and Provincial Government should also take responsibility for the crisis in the Taxi Industry.

Beyond this current crisis, we need to have an urgent and frank National discussion on formalising the taxi industry.  The status quo cannot continue.  This must include providing the taxi industry with the same level of support that other forms of transportation receive from the State, and that the sector complies with all legal requirements, e.g., traffic, taxation and Labour laws. 

Taxi drivers are subjected to unacceptable working conditions in violation of our labour laws from limits on working hours, overtime pay, paid leave, occupational health and safety, minimum wage, unemployment and injury on duty insurance and collective bargaining. 

At the heart of the long-standing crisis in the industry is that taxi owners expect drivers to deliver set fees to them daily and only once they have paid these are the drivers and other taxi workers then paid.  This is why drivers feel the need to drive as fast as possible to ensure they are able to collect enough fares to take care of their families.  If we continue to treat this crisis as business as usual, then we should not be surprised why we have these violent flare ups time and again.

Its time Government dealt with this ticking time bomb.  No more lives must be lost to a crisis older than our democracy.

Issued by COSATU.

For further comment please contact:

COSATU Western Cape Provincial Secretary Malvern De Bruyn at 060 977 9027

COSATU Western Cape Provincial Chairperson Motlatsi Tsubane at   074 482 6180