The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has urged the Bombela Operations Company (BOC), which manages the Gautrain, to return to the negotiating table.
Numsa says its members feel that BOC is driving them towards a strike, noting that BOC is refusing to negotiate yearly wages in a meaningful manner.
“We are in the middle of wage negotiations where, as a union, we have to table the proposals which our members have made. However, BOC has made it clear that it is only prepared to make an offer of a 4% increase and that this is non-negotiable.
"As Numsa, we have compromised on our demands and even gone as far as proposing that last year’s agreement should be extended to this year, where workers secured an 8% increase.
"This is because we want to cushion the lowest paid worker who is getting approximately R8 500 a month, but this was rejected outright by management without due consideration,” the union states.
The organisation notes that talks were cut short and that BOC declared a dispute against the union.
Numsa says it then took the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) which issued Numsa a certificate to strike on the August 27.
Numsa says BOC is refusing to engage or negotiate further and that it intends to implement the 4% increase as of the October 1.
“By insisting on proceeding without negotiation, they are violating our right to consultation and meaningful engagement. Our members are not unreasonable and we remain open to talks, but unfortunately the BOC are provoking us into strike action,” Numsa avers.
“The management of Gautrain has backed us into a corner and we are left with no alternative but to withdraw our labour. We call on them to see the light and to come back to the negotiating table, so that we can find one another. We have made it very clear that we are willing to find compromises, but that can only happen if employers recognise and respect the rights of employees at the same time,” Numsa says.
Speaking to Engineering News Online, BOC said that since early August, when wage negotiations started with Numsa, the company had been committed to reaching an agreement in this regard.
"The initial demand by Numsa tallied to an increase of approximately 30% and their subsequent, revised demand equates to an increase of approximately 26%. The offer tabled by the company is 4.1%. When wage negotiations deadlocked, the matter was referred to the CCMA for conciliation in terms of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) and Numsa unfortunately failed to attend the conciliation at the CCMA. In Numsa’s absence, the CCMA issued the company with a certificate of non-resolution on the August 27," BOC said.
It noted that Numsa subsequently presented the latest offer to workers and a ballot was held on Friday, September 25. Only 124 of the 260 NUMSA members voted in favour of a strike and as such a majority vote of 50%+1 as per the Labour Relations Act was not achieved to support a strike, indicated the company.
BOC call on NUMSA and workers to respect the outcome of the ballot and to remain within the provisions of the Labour Relations Act.