Strikers refuse to budge

CLEAR MESSAGE: Striking workers besiege Parliament in Cape town yesterday to hand over a memorandum to Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele to break the deadlock between employers and employees to bring an end to strike. Pic: ANNA MAJAVU. 18/05/2010. © Sowetan.
CLEAR MESSAGE: Striking workers besiege Parliament in Cape town yesterday to hand over a memorandum to Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele to break the deadlock between employers and employees to bring an end to strike. Pic: ANNA MAJAVU. 18/05/2010. © Sowetan.

THOUSANDS of workers marched to Parliament in Cape Town yesterday as employers and the unions continued negotiations at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

THOUSANDS of workers marched to Parliament in Cape Town yesterday as employers and the unions continued negotiations at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) second deputy president Robert Mashego told Sowetan that while the unions were prepared to drop their demand from a 15percent increase to 10percent, Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) bosses had not budged on the demand for "double digit hikes to medical aid and housing allowances".

"We are ready to take anything double digit, not only 15percent," Mashego said.

Metrorail workers have been on strike since Monday, while Transnet workers have been on strike for 10 days.

Two million train commuters have had to find alternative transport as a result of the strike. In Johannesburg, commuters continued to flood the Rea Vaya bus service and taxis.

The long queues continued yesterday in and around Soweto as commuters waited for taxis and buses.

Prasa's acting CEO Tumisang Kgaboesele said the new offer of 8percent meant the company would do away with some allowances.

About 1000 workers besieged Parliament in order to hand over a memorandum to Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele asking him to force Transnet and Prasa bosses to agree to their demands.

But Ndebele, who was in Parliament accounting to MPs about transport readiness for the World Cup, did not come out to receive the memorandum.

Instead he sent deputy director-general Mawethu Vilana, a former Cosatu researcher, who reminded the crowd that he came "from the ranks".

Vilana said the government took the strike very seriously and that Deputy Transport Minister Jeremy Cronin and Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Enoch Godongwana were "involved" in trying to find a resolution.

But unimpressed workers chanted at Vilana: "Sign! sign! sign!"

United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu) provincial secretary Chris de Vos slammed Prasa for "misleading" the public about their offer of an 8percent pay increase.

Prasa has offered workers a 5percent increase with an extra 3percent in exchange for doing away with night shift allowances.

"The 8percent is misleading. The actual offer is 5percent. Prasa is stealing the money from those workers who work at night and dividing it among all the workers," De Vos said.

Talks between Transnet and the unions were expected to continue today at the CCMA.

X