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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Gautrain strike up in the air as talks stall

Bombela spokesperson Kesagee Nayager said the company would only be in a position to comment on the wage stand-off today.

The United National Transport Union (Untu), which has declared a wage dispute with the Bombela Operating Company, which runs the Gautrain, is hopeful about breaking the deadlock with management, despite a last-minute cancellation of a meeting scheduled for tomorrow.

At the centre of the dispute is a demand by Untu for a 10% wage increase across the board. Bombela is offering 8%.

According to Untu general secretary Steve Harris, the union planned to give Bombela 48 hours’ notice before its members embark on a protected strike on Monday – an action which will see Gauteng commuters stranded.

He said Bombela chief executive Arnaud Legrand “decided to cancel a crucial meeting with us. But we are not worried because we have been here before.

“He said he did not want to talk any further but we maintain there is a lot at stake and he cannot just walk away. For the past five years, this is how management has dealt with us. We are coming from a two-year stability at Gautrain following an earlier agreement,” said Harris.

It was decided at a recent meeting attended by Untu members to obtain a mandate to go on strike after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration last week issued the union with a strike certificate.

Harris said employees, who included train drivers, security personnel, access controllers, train guards and ticket sales staff, “are adamant their demands should be met”.

The demands include:

  • R1 600 housing, R800 transport and a 10% increase in night- shift allowance;
  • 45% medical aid contribution by the company;
  • R20 000 incentive bonus for all workers.

Harris said entry-level train drivers earned an all-inclusive package of R17 000 per month, with seniors on R22 000, and they contributed 7% of their earnings towards pension.

“Conductors earn R6 800 and a R750 housing allowance – very low for people with families to survive,” he said.

Bombela spokesperson Kesagee Nayager said the company would only be in a position to comment on the wage stand-off today.

ALSO READ: Gautrain workers going on strike over wages

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