Train commuters across the country have been warned to find alternative transport on Friday, 26 July, as there will be a national railway shutdown.
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) and the United National Transport Union (Untu) has come together to voice their disgruntlement with the government over the “extremely poor and dangerous Metrorail passenger trains services”.
What prompted the nationwide railway shutdown?
Fedusa’s media and research officer, Frank Nxumalo noted in a statement that the unions will embark on this downing of tools to send a stern message to the Presidency.
“Metrorail continues to violate all health and safety provisions as seen by perpetually late trains, deliberate acts of arson and endless fatal accidents that have left many families traumatised and burdened with disciplinary action; as a result of failed and stoic services that leave commuters helpless and frustrated daily,” he exclaimed.
What are the unions’ demands?
According to Fedusa, the situation has gotten so bad with our railway services, that it needs the urgent deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
“Ultimately the National Day of Protest is intended to force the Presidency to declare the passenger rail service crisis a National Disaster, in order to facilitate the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) “army” to safeguard rail assets and help combat rampant railway crime,” Nxumalo added.
The unions also want the following demands met immediately:
- the Department of Transport, the Passenger Rail Service of South Africa (Prasa) – the operators of Metrorail – the Railway Safety Regulator and the South African Police Services (SAPS) to take immediate remedial action;
- replacing old, broken or stolen infrastructure and equipment such as railway tracks, signalling equipment and unsafe and outdated train sets; and
- bring back a well resourced Railway Police.
Workers encouraged to obtain Section 77 certificate
The unions have encouraged workers from all industries to obtain a copy of the Section 77 Socio-Economic Strike Certificate (which was awarded by the National Economic Development and Labour Council) and join the planned nationwide railway shutdown.
“Whilst FEDUSA and UNTU want to believe in the Ramaphosa dream as eloquently articulated during the second SONA address on 20 June 2019, the nightmare our members have to endure daily on bullet-ridden trains forces us to abandon the hope of bullet trains right now,” the statement read.