Home » Uncategorized » On the Recent Jammie Strikes and Coercion

On the Recent Jammie Strikes and Coercion

From 19 April thousands of commuters had to make other plans for getting around, as bus drivers nationwide went on strike. They demanded a double digit annual wage increase of 18% (which was not viable) therefore the strike went on longer than expected and caused a deadlock.  Services provided by Golden Arrow, Translux and MyCiTi had come to a standstill during this time. The outsourcing of the transport system of UCT, Sibanye, had also exposed students and staff to the ill effect of the nationwide bus strike. SRC Services and Labour Coordinator Lwazi Somya highlighted the importance of the participation of the Jammie Bus drivers, “Our Jammie drivers also form part of that national picture and we need to be careful before we isolate our drivers from the national phenomenon.”http://www.varsitynewspaper.co.za/news/1572-bus-strikes-cause-chaos-on-campus.

Of course I agree, Jammie drivers also need to fight for better wages,  even though this inconveniences students for a while (strikes always inconvenience people). But what I do not agree with is the fact that often people are coerced into joining strikes or else they are threatened. In 2011 I remember practising piano in one of the practice rooms at UCT when all of a sudden a cleaner burst in asking if she could hide behind the piano. I asked her what was wrong, as she seemed very upset, and was shaking badly, and she explained that there was a staff strike, but she did not want to join as she was scared she would lose her job. If members of the strike saw her, she would be grabbed and made to join in, forced. She was so incredibly stressed out about this, it was terrible to see.

Apparently many bus drivers were happy to not take part and to keep driving the students about, but “were threatened by outsiders” says SRC Services and Labour Coordinator Lwazi Somya. It is a difficult and tense situation, as I suppose the only way that drivers can get what they want is by showing that the majority of them stand for an increase, that the strike represents bus drivers everywhere.  But the way in which people are threatened and forced is not the right way of approaching such unity, they need to want to do it.

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