Numsa wage strike set to disrupt Gautrain services, Newsline

Gautrain services are expected to come to a halt from Monday morning as the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) embarks on a wage strike.

This is despite a call by Bombela Operating Company, which manages the Gautrain, to urge the union and workers to abandon their plans, and respect the outcome of a vote.

Gautrain spokesperson, Kesagee Nayager, made the call yesterday. She said since early August, when wage negotiations began, Bombela had been committed to reaching an agreement in this regard.

“The initial demand by Numsa tallied to an increase of approximately 30% and their subsequent, revised demand equates to an increase of approximately 26%.”

The offer tabled by the company is 4.1%.

“When wage negotiations deadlocked, the matter was referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for conciliation in terms of the Labour Relations Act but Numsa unfortunately failed to attend the meeting, according to Nayager.

“In Numsa’s absence, the CCMA issued the company with a certificate of non-resolution on August 27. Numsa subsequently presented the offer to workers and a ballot was held on Friday (September 25), where only 124 of the 260 Numsa members voted in favour of a strike.”

However, Numsa has a different version. Spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the employer had not been keen to return to the table to negotiate, and this left the union with no choice but to strike as planned, once a date could be confirmed.

“Despite the certificate to strike (for August 27) Numsa once again proposed a meeting to attempt to resolve the deadlock, however, true to their arrogance, the Bombela management turned this opportunity down.

Bombela made it clear it was only offering 4% non-negotiable and, to “make matters worse this management arbitrarily suspended our shop stewards on frivolous and unfounded grounds”, Hlubi-Majola said.

“As Numsa, we have compromised on our demands and even gone as far as proposing that last year’s agreement should be extended to this year, where workers secured an 8% increase, but it was rejected without consideration.

Gautrain workers, including train drivers, customer service consultants, conductors and security guards, went on strike in 2018 and it resulted in reduced train and bus services and hundreds of commuters being left stranded.

Meanwhile Gautrain schedules have changed due to “system constraints”, with trains running every 24 minutes.

Tariffs increased from October 1 and the cost of an off-peak trip from Hatfield to Sandton is R60.