Strike may leave Gauteng rail commuters stranded

RAIL commuters in Johannesburg and Pretoria might be left without transport for the rest of the week if a roster agreement is not reached between the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union and Metrorail.

Train drivers who are Satawu members downed tools on Sunday after the company allegedly changed their shift rosters without following proper consultation channels.

Satawu national sector coordinator for passenger rail Lubabalo Tinzi said according to an agreement between the union and Metrorail "if the employer wants to tamper with the roster system of train drivers there must be consultation and new designs should be done with the workers' input".

He said the union would be looking into the issue of workers who were fired as a result of the strike action and said as far as Satawu was concerned this was a protected strike action.

This strike action comes three months after members of the United Transport and Allied Trade Union embarked on a crippling strike against Metrorail in Cape Town over wage demands.

Metrorail spokesperson Sibusiso Ngomane said services in Johannesburg were operating at 80percent capacity with Pretoria suffering more disruptions.

Ngomane called the restructuring "imperative" and denied it would result in job losses or lower pay.

He confirmed that 196 Metrorail workers had been fired as a result of not reporting to their posts. - Additional reporting by I-Net bridge