Slightly avoids major strike
The state transport giant, Anbessa City Bus Service Enterprises, has entered a renewed round of negotiation with employees after the Enterprise failed to serve a Cassation Bench order to pay two years of salary increment, house rent expense coverage, and benefit packages for the employees.
Some of the company’s over 4,000 employees called for strike on January 3, 2023. The Enterprise managed to convince the employees to cancel the planned strike and is currently engaged in serious meetings to solve the problem through negotiations.
Normally, the Enterprise makes the annual increases in salary, house rent expense coverage, and benefit packages. However, the Enterprise skipped the trend during 2020/21 and 2021/22.
As a result, the employees’ association took the case to court in December 2021.
The verdicts of the lower courts were appealed to higher courts, and eventually they were heard by the cassation bench. The Federal Supreme Court Cassation Bench ruled that Anbessa Bus must reimburse the two-year increments that had been skipped.
However, Anbessa failed to implement the bench’s verdict, which nearly led to a major strike over the weekend.
“The Enterprise is not in a position to make the increments currently,” an official of the Enterprise who spoke to The Reporter anonymously said. “The Enterprise is facing a huge debt burden as well as a budget shortage.”
Lemlem Gebre-Egziabher, chairperson of the Anbessa City Bus Employees’ Association, stated that the employees need the salary and other benefit increments. “We won the court case, but the Enterprise did not give us anything yet. If the salary had been increased at the time, it would have greatly benefited the employees. It could also avert the current crisis.”
The Enterprise has more than 4,000 employees, including 25 percent of staff workers. The employees are generally paid a minimum monthly net salary ranging between 2,516 birr and 20,000 birr at managerial levels. This does not include the benefit packages and the house rent expenses.
Bus drivers, who have been strongly demanding the increments, get between 5,663 birr and around 8,000 birr, depending on their experience.
Currently, the management of Anbessa is compromising to bypass the court verdict, according to the association. The management agreed to pay the back payments only for the 2021–22 fiscal year, while the employees want the increments skipped for both the 2020–21 and 2021–22 fiscal years. The Addis Ababa city administration allots the enterprise’s budget.
The company has close to 700 buses, but only a small number of them are actually in use. On average, over 600,000 people use the service daily.