Union orders legal action against Prasa

2010-05-17 11:21

The United Transport and Allied Union (Utatu) has directed its

lawyers to apply for a court interdict against the Passenger Rail Agency of SA

(Prasa).

Utatu general secretary Chris de Vos accused Prasa of unfair labour

practice.

“We have directed our legal team to get an urgent interdict against

the allowances they want to take away,” De Vos told Sapa.

Both Utatu and the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu)

embarked on a national strike against Prasa today which shut down Metrorail,

Shosholoza Meyl and Autopax bus services.

De Vos said Prasa’s eight percent wage increase offer was based on

taking three percent in allowances away from a group of 2 500 workers.

These workers were earning a R1 600 monthly allowance for having to

work night shifts, being away from home and being on stand-by.

“The labour law says those type of workers must get these

allowances... It is as unfair as it gets.

The court will put a stop to it,” said

De Vos.

Prasa said in a statement at the weekend that it had upped its five

percent offer to eight percent in an attempt to halt the countrywide strike that

would leave at least two million commuters stranded.

But De Vos said Prasa was “stealing three percent from workers” in

order to increase its offer to eight percent.

Prasa acting CEO Tumisang Kgaboesele said this morning the new

offer was to make up for overtime and allowances that workers would lose if

planned new working conditions were put in place.

“We accept that there is hardship and that people have been relying

on bonuses... the allowances and overtime; if we were to withdraw that, it is

going to hit their members hard,” said Kgaboesele.

He said Prasa held talks with Satawu on Saturday evening that were

facilitated by Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele, Deputy Transport Minister Jeremy

Cronin and Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Enoch Godongwana.

“We are not really that far apart on issues of wages and the new

conditions of service,” said Kgaboesele.

“We have started working on a proposal.”

‘Bring a sweetener’
Another meeting was scheduled to take

place at 2pm today at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration

(CCMA).

“They [the unions] have asked us to bring a sweetener to the

table.”

The unions, who have about 11 750 Prasa workers on strike, are

demanding a 16 percent across-the-board increase.

But Kgaboesele said Prasa spent more than R500 million per year on

allowances and overtime.

“My budget is R4.6 billion of which R2.4 billion is for salaries...

it’s just not sustainable,” said Kgaboesele.

Satawu deputy president Robert Mashego said the Prasa offer was not

eight percent, but five percent, agreeing with Utatu that the additional three

percent went against the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

He said the union would be more than happy to settle by

Wednesday.

“As long as our members are not compromised.”

Mashego said Satawu was “very, very happy” with the support for the

strike.

“There is a total shutdown on all Metrorail services,” he

said.

Utatu’s De Vos said he was “saddened” by the fact that Prasa

decided to shut down all operations.

“They could have run a skeleton service but they chose to shut down

all services,” said De Vos.


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