The premier link between Gauteng’s main centres and OR Tambo International Airport for ferrying business and tourism passengers, the Gautrain, is threatened with strike action after wage negotiation talks deadlocked between the main representative union and the facility’s owners, Bombela Operating Company (Bombela).
The high-speed express commuter rail system links the country’s premier airport with major business nodes of Kempton Park, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Midrand.
A spokesperson for the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said the main sticking point in negotiations during the weekend was the issue of staff cards for employees. These allow employees to travel on the train free of charge, mainly to get to work and back home. However, Bombela wants them to pay full fare for use of the aerial and subterranean transport solution.
“This will simply mean that its workers will not be able to get to work as they cannot afford the charges for daily trips that are charged to the public,” the spokesperson said.
Numsa has until June 28 to ballot its members on whether to adopt strike action, and then a decision can be made about industrial action. The necessary strike certificate for possible action has already been secured, Numsa said. It added that this put the ball in Bombela’s court.
An 8% salary increase across the board was agreed to, but there are also issues surrounding the housing allowances.
Gautrain spokesperson Kesagee Nayager said Numsa had walked out during engagements.
“The company and Numsa agreed upfront to have three wage negotiation engagements, but Numsa abandoned the negotiations after the second sitting,” Nayager said.