CCMA steps in to resolve Gautrain strike as train service cancelled for weekend

Commuters are fuming over Gautrain delays. (Photo: File, Netwerk24)
Commuters are fuming over Gautrain delays. (Photo: File, Netwerk24)

After a week of limited rail routes and frustrated commuters, the Gautrain and the United National Transport Union (UNTU) have agreed to head to the Commission Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to try resolve the strike.

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, while the Bombela Operating Company (BOC) which runs the Gautrain is offering 8.6% across the board raises.

The union welcomed the CCMA’s intervention, in terms of Section 150 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA), saying their members and families are suffering during the no-work, no pay principle.

The strike entered its fifth day on Friday and the Gautrain which has been running limited operation during peak periods only this week, has suspended the service for the weekend.

“The situation is bound to continue like this indefinitely if BOC is left to its own devises (sic),” said Steve Harris, general secretary of UNTU.

Spokesperson for the Gautrain Kesagee Nayager confirmed to Fin24 that the company has accepted the offer to assist by the CCMA and they remain available to meet.

The CCMA was unavailable to comment on when the mediation proceedings will begin.

Weekend trains unavailable

The BOC said trains are cancelled this weekend as daytime maintenance had already been scheduled for the later part of the year but has been brought forward so as not to inconvenience passengers again.

A substitute bus service will be available over the weekend and commuters have been directed to check the Gautrain website for details.

The BOC said it is concerned by the potential loss of income by their employees and called on union members to consider the offer, which remains open.

“We further call on our workers not to be intimidated or influenced by external agendas that may be at play and not in their best interest,” the BOC statement added.

Calls for Nzimande intervention

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) on Friday called on Transport Minister Blade Nzimande to “urgently intervene” in the current wage impasse between its affiliate UNTU and the Gautrain.

The company accused UNTU of intimidating bus drivers and causing delays on Monday, while the union claimed the BOC has refused to release its financial results and is being unfair to employees who work early or late shifts.

Fedusa’s general secretary Dennis George warned the Gautrain not to make allegations which could result in a standoff.

“The deliberate public misrepresentation of UNTU’s demands and position by the Bombela Concessionaire – such as claiming that the union is demanding a wage increase of 19%, when in fact they are demanding 10; and falsely accusing them of intimidating other employees and preventing Gautrain buses - cannot be accepted as it is only leading to the hardening of attitudes and delaying the resolution of the dispute,” said George.

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