Thousands of Cosatu workers to protest in Cape Town

Commuters walk along the tracks to get to Cape Town station. (Adiel Ismail, Fin24)
Commuters walk along the tracks to get to Cape Town station. (Adiel Ismail, Fin24)

Cape Town – Thousands of Cosatu strikers will protest in Cape Town on Wednesday in protest against poor bus and rail services.

Western Cape Secretary Tony Ehrenreich told media on Monday that the legal strike will last an hour and a half from 14:00 and will only affect Metrorail’s offices on the Foreshore.

"Business has been deducting wages and disciplining our members for arriving late at work due to trains arriving later," Ehrenreich said when he first launched a Section 77 Application to the National Economic and Labour Council (Nedlac).

This comes as President Jacob Zuma meets with the labour caucus at a Nedlac meeting in Pretoria on Tuesday. Not much is expected to stem from this meeting. “We will talk, we will listen, but, in the end, there can be no resolution,” a labour participant told Fin24 labour columnist Terry Bell. “At least we will spell out our different opinions to one another.”

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.

"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,” said 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," Cosatu explained.

“We will assist workers so they are not prejudiced because of the bad transport from MyCiti or Metrorail so any worker whether they are Cosatu or not may join the strike and we will defend them against any action taken against them linked to the public transport disaster," Ehrenreich told eNCA on Monday, demanding that Metrorail refund the money workers have lost due to late trains.

Regarding bus services, Cosatus said last year that the Western Cape 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," it said.

"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.”

Metrorail said Cosatu’s issues were part of its engagements with Nedlac. “As the infrastructure is repaired we are able to improve punctuality, and as we receive refurbished train-sets from the contractors, we can add capacity to meet demand,” Metrorail’s provincial spokesperson Riana Scott told the Cape Times on Monday.

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