Strike chaos looms for rail commuters

Train commuters will be left stranded on Monday due to a nation-wide strike by two major transport unions, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) said on Friday.

“Prasa has taken steps to secure the safety of commuters during the planned strike action. To this end, Prasa will suspend all rail operations [Metrorail and Shosholoza Meyl] from Monday,” said Prasa acting CEO Tumisang Kgaboesele.

The shut down of operations followed a notice served on Prasa by the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) and the United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu) on Thursday.

This was after the two unions rejected the 8% wage increase offer from Prasa. The two unions were demanding 16% across the board.

No alternative transport would be offered to commuters, Kgaboesele said in a statement.

“Prasa submits a sincere apology for the disruption and inconvenience commuters will suffer as a result of the strike. Commuters are urged to make alternative transport arrangements,” he said.

In addition to the 8% wage offer to the two unions, Prasa had also offered to implement a four months’ maternity leave provision with full pay, he said.

“Prasa hopes that an amicable solution will soon be found, one that protects the long-term business imperatives of this public company and secures its future,” he said.

Satawu and Utatu were already engaged in a wage dispute with Transnet.

Transnet operates in five divisions: freight rail, rail engineering, ports, port terminals and pipelines. — Sapa

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