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Cosatu strike decision will be made in 2 weeks - as it happened

2015-09-03 12:41

Cosatu has given Prasa, the Western Cape, the City of Cape Town and businesses two weeks to agree to its terms or else 220 000 workers will go on strike.


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Last Updated at 19:45
03 Sep 14:01

Listen to the full briefing by Tony Ehrenreich, Cosatu’s Western Cape regional secretary:

03 Sep 13:59
Tony Ehrenreich, Cosatu’s Western Cape regional secretary, brief media in Cape Town.

03 Sep 13:56
Ehrenreich: We want ticket prices reduced to what it was last year, until the service is reliable, adequate and efficient.

03 Sep 13:54
Ehrenreich: What they have announced today, what has happened over the past two months, there has been a huge improvement over security.

03 Sep 13:54
Ehrenreich: A court ruled a few years ago that Prasa has a legal duty to ensure the trains are safe and ensure no criminals get on the trains.

03 Sep 13:53
Ehrenreich: They say they have 1 000 security in house. They said there should be an improvement. Another 900 on contract. Those security deal with infrastructure, I think.

03 Sep 13:52
Ehrenreich: We want more coaches on the trains.

03 Sep 13:52
Ehrenreich: We made a lot of progress and a lot of concessions were made. But there are still many issues. We will meet in two weeks to decided if we will go on a legal strike in the Western Cape. They will respond to all the issues in two weeks. If we don't reach an agreement in the next meeting, we will announce the strike.

03 Sep 13:51
Ehrenreich: Prasa are improving the signalling system. The trains grind to a halt due to that. They are in a programme to fix that. We are at the mercy of the signalling system for the next three years. We want it speeded up.

03 Sep 13:50
Ehrenreich: Prasa is getting train sets from Brazil in a month. The first will be operational in Pretoria first. We want the trains currently working there to come to Cape Town.

03 Sep 13:50
Ehrenreich: The main issue was with Prasa over price tickets and poor quality of trains.

03 Sep 13:49
Ehrenreich: There is no transport from the rural areas to the city and that was our issue with the Western Cape government. They will give their response in the next two days.

03 Sep 13:48
Ehrenreich: We told The City of Cape Town buses need to be moved from the rich areas to the areas to the black areas that are not serviced.

03 Sep 13:47
Ehrenreich: The chamber wants to engage with business to ensure workers are not deducted wages for being late due to late trains.

03 Sep 13:47
Ehrenreich says we engaged on the matters. We agreed there is a problem in the rail sector that needs to be addressed.

03 Sep 13:46
Tony Ehrenreich, Cosatu’s Western Cape regional secretary is briefing the media.

03 Sep 13:43
The Nedlac meeting with Cosatu is over and the media should get some answers very soon. Stay tuned.

03 Sep 13:43

Brett Herron, the City’s of Cape Town's Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, says the City has no authority over Metrorail.

“However, we do engage with Metrorail, regionally and nationally, on a regular basis to ensure that they are working on these issues so that our residents are not stranded.”

Commenting on how the City plans to help train commuters, Herron says “we are introducing the MyCiTi BRT [bus rapid transit] as a service that complements the rail service and provides an alternative. In situations of crisis – like last year when sabotage of the central line from Khayelitsha left thousands of commuters stranded – the City was able to support Metrorail by providing extra MyCiTi bus capacity.”

03 Sep 13:39

The February GroundUp story continues:

Prasa has established an Operational Efficiency Plan, which focuses on “immediate, short and longer term accelerated infrastructure improvements” which aim to “sustain and stabilise service while the twenty-year replacement programme is underway”.

Riana Scott, head of communications for Prasa and Metrorail Western Cape, said the Operational Efficiency Plan will introduce more express train routes, as well as shuttle services between specific stations during peak hours.

Clock-face time tables will be used to ensure “predictable travel behaviour” with trains leaving every “10, 20 and 30 minutes depending on the route and travel period.”

Speed restrictions will become less of an issue as a result of a R1 billion investment into infrastructure over the next three years.

“Criminal and vandalism hot spots have been identified in each region” as part of a safety and security strategy. This strategy includes the deployment of security personnel and the use of fencing, alarms, and CCTV cameras in key areas. Adding to this, reaction units and a Cable

Theft Intervention Unit will be put in place. The last aspect of the Operational Efficiency Plan focuses on “operational safety” which will see changes being made to the train-driver training programme. These changes include the use of train driving simulators which can simulate all operating conditions.

03 Sep 13:37

Riana Scott, head of communications for Prasa and Metrorail Western Cape, told GroundUp in February 2015: “The old and obsolete technology currently used is not responsive to the modern demands of an efficient rail service.”

Scott said “continuous theft and vandalism of assets, mainly cables and other metal bearing components” has left Metrorail services unreliable.

Prasa’s long-term answer to these problems is a “modernisation programme” which will see R137 billion “allocated to resuscitate an ailing rail industry over the next two decades,” says Scott.

The project will introduce 600 new commuter trains for Metrorail, over 70 new locomotives, a vehicle manufacturing plant in Ekurhuleni, and it will see investment into rail infrastructure and maintenance facilities.

03 Sep 13:34

Here's an anecdote from GroundUp, highlighting why Cosatu wants to strike:

Commuters departing from Nonkqubela train station in Khayelitsha told GroundUp that despite the train being the “cheapest way to travel”, Metrorail problems have caused them to be late for work on many occasions.

Two commuters said that their bosses don’t believe them when they say the trains caused them to be late for work.

One commuter said that it is only because he has a good working relationship with his employer that the train delays have not lost him his job. He is concerned for his colleagues, who are temporary workers, as they are not trusted to the same degree.

03 Sep 13:26
Journalists are waiting outside the Nedlac meeting room, which is on the left. The Cosatu press briefing was set for 12:30, but its meeting with Nedlac has not ended on time.

03 Sep 13:25
Cosatu: "The Provincial Government has done nothing to provide public transport service between the rural towns for the poor communities that reside on farms and small towns. We demand an effective, regular bus service between the towns as a matter of urgency."

03 Sep 13:25
Cosatu:  "The areas that are the best serviced by the MyCiti buses include those areas where every mainly white household has a private car for their transport needs - it is for this reason why the City of Cape Town is also cited in the application.”

03 Sep 13:23
The letter Cosatu sent Nedlac, the contents of which are quoted in these live updates.

03 Sep 13:19
Cosatu: "The MyCiti buses are not being allocated in a manner that can ameliorate a life threatening situation for commuters from the Cape Flats. The buses need to be deployed in a manner that prioritises the Cape Flats and compliments the trains in the short term due to the problems.”

03 Sep 13:19
Cosatu: "The prioritising of the trains dealing with freight ahead of trains dealing with people's lives is an area of concern that demonstrates a lack of concern for commuters.”

03 Sep 13:13
Cosatu: "The derailment of trains is directly related to the servicing of the infrastructure and here the compacting machine that has been outsourced is an area of concern.”

03 Sep 13:13
Cosatu:  "This is not only leading to the loss of money from those robbed, but a life threatening situation where people have already been injured.”

03 Sep 13:10
Cosatu: "The latest situation is a whole carriage of people being robbed on the train because of insufficient security.”

03 Sep 13:10
Cosatu: "The unreliable service is leading to a situation where commuters have to make alternative transport arrangements, due to the cancellation of trains for which they have purchased a weekly or monthly ticket.”

03 Sep 13:09
In its application, Cosatu said the trains are more than 100% overcrowded, which is leading to dangerous situations where commuters have to hang out of train doors and stand between carriages.

03 Sep 13:09
Ehrenreich: "We know where the buses are, we know where the trains are - our members have told us how to solve the problems."

03 Sep 13:05
Ehrenreich: "We want Nedlac to bring all stakeholders together at a meeting next week, where we will show them how to solve the issues at hand."

03 Sep 13:05
Ehrenreich said on July 30 that the government is prepared to spend millions of rands on planes - "the transport for the rich" - but is not spending money on basic transport that is safe and reliable for its members.

03 Sep 13:05
Ehrenreich: "We don't want to go on strike to be reckless, but because our members are unsafe."

03 Sep 13:02

03 Sep 13:00
A Prasa representative told Fin24 now that there is one more topic to be discussed before the meeting ends. Then Cosatu will brief the media about its outcome and the decision regarding it provincial strike in the Western Cape.

03 Sep 12:57
Ehrenreich: "It is a short time to resolve the situation, we concede that, but we have been discussing these issues for the past five years."

03 Sep 12:57
On July 30, Tony Ehrenreich, Cosatu’s Western Cape regional secretary, said: "Business has been deducting wages and disciplining our members for arriving late at work due to trains arriving later."

03 Sep 12:56
They said they wanted the committee to set the application down with urgency and, if the matter is not dealt with by the third week of August, all Cosatu members will embark on strike action to force the government to take action. The meeting taking place today on September 3 is a result of that application.

03 Sep 12:56
On July 30, Cosatu said it had handed in its Section 77 Application to Nedlac against national government, Metrorail, Prasa, the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape government, the Cape Town Chamber of Business and Industry and businesses "for the dismal state of the rail services in Cape Town" and the impact this has on its members.

03 Sep 12:54
At Nedlac, government comes together with organised business, organised labour and organised community groupings on a national level to discuss and try to reach consensus on issues of social and economic policy. This is called "social dialogue". Nedlac's aim is to make economic decision-making more inclusive, to promote the goals of economic growth and social equity.

03 Sep 12:45
Media in Cape Town are currently waiting outside a meeting room where Cosatu, Nedlac and all the key stakeholders are discussing the issues at hand. The press conference by Cosatu was planned for 12:30, but it seems the heated discussion is running over.

03 Sep 12:44
About 220 000 members will strike in the Western Cape should the matter not be resolved, Cosatu said on July 30.

03 Sep 12:43
On July 30, The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) told media that it would embark on strike action in the Western Cape in August if its Section 77 Application against various stakeholders is not dealt with urgently.

03 Sep 12:41
Cosatu’s transport strike meeting was held on Thursday with Nedlac, Prasa, Metrorail, the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town.  The meeting could give Cosatu the authority to have a provincial wide strike around public transport. Fin24's Matthew le Cordeur is at the briefing.

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