Metrorail Western Cape has confirmed they are aware of an impending nationwide strike by the United National Transport Union which is expected to take place this month.
As trains throughout the Cape continue to be associated with high levels of danger and a lack of reliable service, this industrial action is being considered in order to force the government to make the necessary changes to turn Metrorail around.
The protected strike is reportedly on the cards for July 26 2019 not only to address the rail service’s most commonly-known failures, but also to address other failures by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) that have been simply swept under the rug.
In 2015, the Constitutional Court ordered Prasa to correct the issue regarding Metrorail train doors being open while the train is in motion, but to date Prasa has simply ignored this ruling.
“To date Prasa has also been allowed to ignore a judgement of the Constitutional Court made in2015 according to which trains are not allowed to have open doors while in motion. The Court ruled that any operator who allows this to happen is guilty of criminal negligence and must beprosecuted,” says Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU.
A Section 77 protest action certificate according to the terms of the Labour Relations Act has been granted to the Federation of Trade Unions of South Africa by Nedlac.
“All workers, whether or not they are commuters or employees of Prasa, should feel safe whenthey are travelling on trains. Even if only one person dies it is one too many,” says Thembinkosi Mkhaliphi, Chief Director at the Department of Labour, and member of the Steering Committee of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).
Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott confirmed that the transport service is indeed aware of the incoming strike.
“It will evidently be a national strike so coordination will be done from there once notice is received,” said Scott.
Locals are hoping this strike will bring about real change as many residents of South Africa are affected in one way or another by the failing rail service. A number of people have fallen victim to heinous crimes while taking the trains and all who take the service know well the experience of waiting for hours for a Metrorail train to arrive.
Traffic in the Mother City is the worst in South Africa, and a well-oiled train service would be one of the best ways to address the congestion on roads and ease the daily commute of residents. For now, all locals can do is cross their fingers and hope something comes of this much-needed movement.
“TOGETHER we can get Government to improve the poor service provided by Metrorail, its agedinfrastructure, manual signalling and many other aspects that have led to deaths, constant attacks, health and safety hazards and so many arson attacks, that leave both UNTU members, FEDUSA members and the general public reliant on the train services and all other commuters in despair daily basis,” says Harris.