Metrorail, union lock horns

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Johannesburg - Metrorail has disputed claims made by the striking workers that management had made "unilateral change of employment terms and conditions" leading to the crippling strike.

Metrorail spokesperson, Sibusiso Ngomane on Thursday said: "The facts are that Management and labour have been engaged in negotiations on the restructuring and modernisation of the conditions of service since October 2009."

On 7 January, Ngomane said, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) refused to continue with negotiations and demanded that cost containment measures be halted.

The strike, which started on Monday, stems from SATAWU's rejection of a shift regime being implemented in Metrorail, and the rejection of that management has a prerogative to manage issues such as over-time and its cost implications, in accordance with the needs of the business.

Ngomane said on 25 January the services of 196 employees (118 Metro Guards and 78 train Drivers) were terminated for participating in the unprotected strike, Ngomane said.

Re-employment of the dismissed staff members on would be on condition that they accept the Final Written Warning (valid for 12 months) for participating in the unprotected strike - an offer the union rejected.

SATAWU then informed Metrorail management that they would lodge a new dispute with the CCMA on 26 January.

Metrorail management then obtained a Labour Court interdict preventing SATAWU from proceeding with the illegal strike on Wednesday. However, this was in vain as the strike is still underway.

"Under these circumstances, Metrorail is left with no position but to take appropriate action against employees who continue with the unprotected strike.

"Any employee who fails to report for their next scheduled shift because they are on strike, will be dismissed," Ngomane said.