Metrorail workers embark on strike

Metrorail workers embarked on a strike on Monday, following the summary dismissal of eight train drivers, the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) said.

The strike would continue on Tuesday, said Satawu spokesperson Zenzo Mhlangu.

“It looks like services will be disrupted again tomorrow [Tuesday]. We are still trying to find common ground with management. Talks are continuing,”

He said the dismissal of the drivers was not the only grievance held by workers.

“The drivers were not happy with unilateral changes in the terms and conditions of their employment. When the eight drivers approached management about their issues, and refused to work under these conditions, they were fired on the spot. This is when the rest of the workers said they had enough.”

There are currently about 50 drivers on strike, and the matter had gone to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration to find a resolution, Mhlangu said.

Earlier on Monday, Metrorail said its train services across Gauteng would be delayed and some cancelled due to the strike.

“The strike action will have an adverse effect on our operations and train scheduling, resulting in significantly fewer trains available,” said Metrorail spokesperson Sibusiso Ngomane.

The unprotected strike was “understood to have been triggered by interventions” Metrorail management had rolled out to improve its services.

“We have a strong contingency plan in place designed to minimise disruption to the operations. However, we urge our commuters and those who depend on our services to make use of alternative transport at this time,” Ngomane said.

The majority of employees did not heed the call for the strike, thus helping Metrorail avoid a complete shutdown.

“While management respects employees’ rights to protest, it remains our view that the current action is unwarranted.” — Sapa

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