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Durban – In a hasty announcement to shut down operations, Unitrans Passenger, which operates Greyhound and Citiliner Buses, was accused by labor unions of breaking labour laws, leaving hundreds of their members unemployed. The unions have undertaken to refer the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) where, before the shutdown announcement, they would make their case that they have been kept in the dark.

Unitrans reportedly unanimously took the decision and also declined the offer by the unions to help it find a compromise that would keep the buses on the route. In South Africa, Greyhound coaches have been in service for 37 years and Citiliner began operating in 2005. The closure of the two bus companies, which was carried out on 15 February, left 693 people unemployed. Unitrans Passenger, which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, is a subsidiary of KAP Industrial. Jasen Smallbone, executive of Unitrans Passenger Operations, had refused to answer finance-related questions, saying KAP was in a closed phase.

“Close period implies that the results were compiled and would be announced for the group on February 20, and therefore I can not disclose financial information that could have an impact and that could give people share information,” said Smallbone. Smallbone said there was a legal process with the unions when pressed to respond to the union’s allegations. “We have submitted to the CCMA all relevant documentation for the process of consultation.”

Mdu Nkosi, Numsa’s sectoral coordinator, said the meeting was too late because his final decision had already been taken by the organization. He said Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim called the human resources director of Unitrans shortly before the conference, indicating that the organization and unions should jointly seek government intervention instead of a ‘arbitrary decision.’ The unions required the company to use the Credit Guarantee System, which was made available by the government to rescue financially troubled companies, Nkosi said. “He (Director of Human Resources) said ‘look, the decision has been taken.’

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