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Train strike looms

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Union says it has reached deadlock with Prasa

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The United National Transport Union has declared a dispute with Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa over its 2018 wage negotiations. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks
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On Wednesday, the United National Transport Union (UNTU) declared a dispute with Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) as it has reached a deadlock in its 2018 wage negotiations.

In a statement, UNTU said a dispute has been declared to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) after the employer refused to increase its wage offer of 7.3% and refused to include a no retrenchment clause for the next financial year in the wage agreement.

The union is demanding a 13% salary increase.

“A date for the CCMA conciliation has not been set. But if the CCMA is unable to resolve the dispute, the union will be issued with a certificate that will allow the union to embark on a protected strike in Prasa within 48 hours,” UNTU said.

Spokesperson for Prasa, Nana Zenani, said it was not aware of a formal communication with regards to the deadlock raised by UNTU in the media release. She said it would be premature to comment on a CCMA issue.

On 11 January, GroundUp reported that Prasa’s management had failed to show up to a meeting intended to settle the wage dispute despite the CCMA notifying all parties of the date and time last year.

Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU, said Prasa cannot plead poverty after the leaked documents revealed billions in allegedly corrupt transactions. “The employer wants its employees to pay the brunt for certain individuals who robbed Prasa of its money. That is not our problem,” said Harris.

According to him the cost of living is taking its toll on UNTU members, who its says makes up the majority of employees working for Prasa.

Harris said prices will increase from 1 April 2018 due to the 1% VAT increase. “Our members need to earn a decent wage,” said Harris.

In another development, UNTU stated that Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande failed to attend a briefing he called for Tuesday to announce the ministerial interventions at Prasa. “After the media waited more than 30 minutes, they were informed that the media briefing had been postponed indefinitely,” said the UNTU statement.

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TOPICS:  Metrorail Transport Unions