The nightmare their members endured daily on trains plagued by violence blurred the vision of bullet trains and world class cities, they said.
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) and the United National Transport Union (Untu) on Tuesday said they planned to shut down commuter train services across the country.
The planned shutdown comes after Fedusa was awarded a Section 77 socio-economic strike certificate in terms of the Labour Relations Act (Act 66 of 1995) by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) after efforts to reach an amicable solution to a dispute foundered.
“In terms of this award and the specific economic impact therefore, all workers and society at large across provinces can take part in the protest march,” Fedusa president Masale Godfrey Selematsela said.
“Considering the nature of the Section 77 certificate, all workers across the provinces can take part in this protest march without fear of victimisation by employers as long as they have a copy of the certificate on their persons on the day of the march.”
Selematsela said Fedusa and Untu wanted to believe in the Ramaphosa dream as eloquently articulated during the second State of the Nation address on 20 June, but that the nightmare their members endured daily on trains plagued by violence blurred the vision of bullet trains and world class cities.
The Fedusa president said the shutdown would take place on 26 July in a national day of protest action against extremely poor and dangerous Metrorail passenger trains services.
He said these factors violated health and safety provisions, perpetually late trains and the deliberate acts of arson, as well as the high rate of accidents that traumatised employees, and their families.
He said the rail service was also burdened with disciplinary action as a result of poor services that leave commuters helpless and frustrated daily.
“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,” Selematsela said.
Fedusa and Untu said they wanted 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 to take immediate remedial action.
This includes replacing old, broken or stolen infrastructure and equipment such as railway tracks, signalling equipment and unsafe and outdated train sets and to bring back a well resourced railway police.
– African News Agency (ANA)