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Union, Motlanthe to meet over rail fleet

Aug 16 2013 12:28
Railway tracks

(File) (Shutterstock)

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Cape Town - Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe will hear concerns over a multi-billion rand train fleet renewal programme on Friday, the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) said.

Fedusa general secretary Dennis George said Motlanthe had agreed to meet at his residence in Pretoria.

"We have great trust in him and he has proven to us in the past how he can apply his leadership skills to navigate out of these difficult situations," he said.

Fedusa and its affiliate union, the United Transport and Allied Trade Union and the SA Railways and Harbours Union (Utata Sarwhu), would be present at the meeting.

Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) chief executive Lucky Montana recently announced that Gibela Rail Transportation (GRT) would partner with a black economic empowerment company to manufacture South Africa's next generation of modern commuter trains.

Fedusa expressed its shock that Prasa was not using Transnet Engineering to build new train coaches for the agency's R51bn renewal programme.

It said Transnet Engineering could find itself with at least 800 redundant employees as a result of the decisions taken by Prasa.

George said Utata Sarwhu had questioned the "logic" of the deal, as it believed there were enough staff and technical capacity at its plants in Koedoespoort, Durban, and Salt River.

The GRT consortium is led by French multi-national company Alstom.

The federation claimed an initial investigation revealed that Alstom had a "fairly chequered past when it comes to corruption".

Utata Sarwhu general secretary Steve Harris claimed Montana had refused to meet with the union and federation, a claim dismissed by Prasa.

"Fedusa's assertion that Prasa is unwilling to engage Transnet Rail Engineering on our rolling stock fleet renewal programme is totally misguided," said Prasa spokesperson Moffet Mofokeng in an e-mail two weeks ago.

"Fedusa and its affiliate unions within Prasa are wrong to exaggerate the capacity of Transnet Rail Engineering or any of the industry players to meet our requirements."

Mofokeng said that although Transnet Engineering had an important role to play in the revitalisation of the rail industry, it had been struggling to meet targets with the refurbishment of Prasa's existing fleet.

George said Fedusa would reserve further talks with Prasa pending the meeting with Motlanthe.

"We have seen too many examples of valuable state-owned capacity being sold off for the short-term economic gains of a lucky few," he said.

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fedusa  |  kgalema motlanthe  |  transport
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