Metrorail strike to end following interdict

A Metrorail strike by members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) is set to end — at least temporarily — following a court interdict, the union said on Wednesday.

“The interdict gave us 48 hours to talk to workers. We’ll meet them today at 11am to discuss the way forward. Under normal circumstances the court interdict would force us back to work,” said Satawu spokesperson Zenzo Mhlangu.

Metrorail spokesperson Sibusiso Ngomane expressed hope the strike would soon end.

“I think the fact that the court interdict was received late yesterday [Tuesday] … means some of them [Satawu members] are not aware there is an interdict against their illegal labour action,” he said.

However, Mhlangu said the court interdict requires Satawu and Metrorail to return to negotiations at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration on February 4. If a resolution is not found, Satawu members might go back on strike.

“There is a possibility that there would be another strike should the parties fail to find an amicable solution,” said Mhlangu. “The interdict is not cut in stone, it is interim.”

Metrorail services were operating at 70% capacity across Gauteng on Wednesday, Ngomane said.

While Mhlangu expected Satawu members to report for duty, they would do so reluctantly.

“The mood is not a nice one, they will be dragging themselves back to work because nothing has changed for the worker.”

The fate of 196 Satawu members who refused to work on Sunday under the new labour conditions — which sparked the current strike — was unknown.

Metrorail has offered their positions back on a “case-by-case basis”.

“As it is now, I doubt that very much but I hope they will consider that,” said Mhlangu.

A meeting between Metrorail and Satawu, scheduled for Tuesday, did not take place because Metrorail instead sought the court interdict. Ngomane said the company would seek another meeting on Wednesday.

Mhlangu also said he hoped a meeting would take place with Metrorail but they had not received any response to their “overtures”.

“They haven’t confirmed whether we will be meeting today [Wednesday]. We have made an overture but not had a response, probably they will still be celebrating their interdict,” he said. — Sapa

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