Minister Grant meets taxi operators and reaches agreement to end strike
Statement by Donald Grant, Ministers Of Transport and Public Works
This morning, senior officials and I, in my capacity as Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works, met with members of SANTACO and a group identifying themselves as an industry “Task Team”. I called this meeting late last week following an unsuccessful industry meeting held on Wednesday (13 September 2017) when both parties failed to come to a resolution of their dispute.
My department and I are committed to ensuring that a united minibus taxi industry is maintained in the Western Cape, with a democratically elected leadership. It is therefore concerning to me that internal divisions are threatening the stability of the minibus-taxi industry and with it, the means of transport of many citizens in our province. I called the meeting to resolve the impasse between the disputing groups and to chart a way forward that would result in an inclusive and democratic election of new industry leadership. At the centre of the disagreement is a dispute over internal constitutional processes that must be followed in the election of a new leadership.
While many of the concerns are yet to be resolved, there was agreement that both parties would willingly and freely enter inter a departmentally facilitated mediation process, as well as inform all of their members to cease strike action with immediate effect, while we embark on this mediation process.
I have instructed my Department to procure the services of an independent mediator, with a legal background, to engage both parties on their identified issues. The mediation process will seek to explore, in relation to the upcoming regional and provincial elections, the key areas of concern, while identifying the root causes of disagreements and finding long term solutions. The process will also be guided by the rule of law, and I am confident that the mediator, who has yet to be appointed, will conduct his or her work in a manner that is fair to both parties, while remaining completely impartial.
My office, and the Department of Transport and Public Works, continue to engage regularly with the minibus taxi industry and to provide assistance where possible without interfering in their autonomy as an independent body. We will continue to support the industry through a structured agreement with the democratically elected provincial council.
I am satisfied with the outcome of this morning’s meeting, and hope that both parties will continue to act in good faith and continue to support the mediation process that is to follow. I also emphasised to both parties, at this morning’s meeting, that violent conflict and criminal acts will not be tolerated. The Western Cape Government condemns in the strongest possible terms the violence and destruction of property which so often accompanies strike action of this nature. I further appealed to industry leaders to call for calm and level heads from their members, and reassert their commitment to providing safe and reliable public transport to the many commuters who rely on minibus taxis as their primary mode of transport.