JOHANNESBURG, July 30 – Commuters using the Gautrain were left stranded on Monday as a wage strike by the company’s workers forced it to scale down its train services while buses were blocked from leaving depots.
“Striking workers have been preventing buses from exiting the depot and as such buses scheduled to service the airport service as well as Centurion, Sandton and Park stations have been delayed,” Gautrain said in a notice to commuters.
Gautrain said at the weekend wage negotiations between its operator Bombela Operating Company and the United National Transport Union (UNTU) had deadlocked and as such workers affiliated with the union would embark on a no work, no pay strike from Monday.
UNTU has rejected Bombela’s offer of an 8.5 percent increase in salaries and all benefits and to raise the minimum wage for operational staff R8,500 per month.
The union is demanding a 10 percent increase on the basic salary plus R1,600 for a housing allowance, an increase from R31,84 to R64 per shift on night work, a transport subsidy, a 55/45 percent medical aid contribution split between employer and workers and a R20,000 incentive bonus per employee each year.
Gautrain said it was running trains only at peak hours between Park Station and Centurion, with one stop in between at Sandton. There was no train service between Sandton and Johannesburg’s OR Tambo international airport, but the company said it was running an emergency shuttle bus service instead for the route.
It said passengers with affected monthly or weekly train travel products would be refunded for lost trips and also warned against intimidation of workers who had opted not to strike.
“Whilst we respect our worker’s right to strike, striking workers must equally respect that their colleagues also have a right to work without intimidation,” Gautrain said.
– African News Agency (ANA)