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Striking workers call for Gautrain boycott

Aug 02 2018 08:27
Tehillah Niselow

The United National Transport Union (UNTU) has appealed to commuters to boycott the Gautrain and support its "friendly employees" as the strike enters the fourth day and the Bombela Operating Company (BOC) extend its limited operations.

The union accused the BOC of placing employees in a “bad light” with allegations that members are demanding a 19% increase and are intimidating employees and preventing Gautrain buses from leaving the Midrand depot.

“The company has not attempted to resolve the deadlock in wage negotiations since Saturday, 28 July 2018,” said Steve Harris, general secretary of UNTU in a statement on Wednesday night.

UNTU said it had given the green light for a draft consent agreement to comply with picketing rules to be made an order of court.

According to the draft order, the union and the company agree that employees will not blockade access to and from the Midrand train and bus depots, do not prevent non-striking employee from reporting for work and do not commit any act of intimidation or violence against any staff member.

According to UNTU figures, 90% of the 350 Gautrain workers are its members.

“The past three days has been tough on the striking members who resorted to sleeping in their cars outside the gates of Mega Express, operator of the Gautrain buses, as they are not allowed to be more less than 100 m from the BOC Midrand Depot,” Harris added.

Gautrain extends contingency operations

The Gautrain is moving to normalise operations during peak periods amidst commuter frustration over reduced services during the industrial action.

Pretoria station opened on Thursday morning with both the train and regular Pretoria bus services operational.

A bus shuttle service was made available to ferry passengers between Hatfield and Pretoria Stations.

The Hatfield station will remain closed while the parking facility is open.

 Rosebank station was opened on Wednesday.

Both the bus and train services remain limited and are being operated during peak periods only.

UNTU is demanding a 10%  basic salary increase, a transport allowance of R800, a housing allowance of R1 600 and incentive bonuses of R20 000 for all employees.

The BOC said it had offered an 8.6% across-the-board increase, and called on UNTU to reconsider the offer, calling it “generous” and above inflation.

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