Having been destabilized by vandalism in Cape Town which many linked to “illegal strike action”‚ Metrorail is now faced with threat from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) for a formal industrial action.
The federation’s regional secretary‚ Tony Ehrenreich‚ on Tuesday, denounced the attacks on both the rail service in the provincial capital and that of Metrorail for the systemic problems that have been underserviced over the last few years.
Speaking further on the damage that has rocked the metro rail, Ehrenreich said whilst the arsonist and cable thieves are being dealt with according to the law‚ more effort needs to be made towards upgrading and repair of the system.
“To blame everything on the cable thieves is to remove the responsibility of fixing the systemic problems that have been underserviced over the last few years.” He added that Cosatu will be reinstating its negotiations at the National Economic Development and Labour Council to ensure urgent action in addressing the weaknesses across the system.
“Should Metrorail and government at all levels fail to put in place measures that mitigate the disaster in the transport sector for workers and their families, then Cosatu will take strike action against them.”
On Tuesday‚ the Western Cape’s Minister of Transport and Public Works‚ Donald Grant‚ noted suspicions that the the recent vandalism linked to illegal strike action originated from a wage and conditions of service dispute with Metrorail.
Grant described the attacks on Metrotrail as “acts of economic sabotage” and an “attack on the state and its agents” which attracts huge consequences. To him, perpetrators must be brought to book in order to deter would-be perpetrators.
This was echoed by Ehrenreich‚ who said: “Cosatu is calling for the harshest sentence to be imposed on the arsonist who had burnt down the trains.
However, the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union dismissed allegations that is behind the incidents. The Union has been in dispute with the Passenger Rail Agency of SA‚ under which Metrorail falls‚ after its planned strike was banned earlier this month