Trade union the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on October 2 issued a notice to strike at the Bombela Operating Company (BOC) − the management and operating company for the Gautrain.
The union said its members would, as of the morning of October 5, go on an indefinite strike at Gautrain until the union’s demands are met.
“Numsa has done all it can to find an amicable resolution to the wage dispute. We have been negotiating with the BOC since March and the engagements were temporarily suspended during the hard lockdown. The parties resumed negotiations again around June.
"The CCMA issued a nonresolution certificate allowing union members to go on strike. Despite the fact that the union has been issued with a certificate to strike since August 27, we still proposed a meeting with the BOC management to try and resolve the impasse, but unfortunately this was turned down by BOC management,” Numsa said.
The union claimed that the BOC management had issued an ultimatum that they would implement a 4% wage increase for its members, effective October 1, despite the parties not having signed an agreement.
The union informed that this was the catalyst for the strike.
“At the heart of the issue is the fact that the management is imposing this increase and refuses to negotiate with us to find a middle ground. Our proposal to management was for an 8% increase, the same as last year, and we are willing to compromise.
"This is because we want to cushion the lowest paid worker who is getting approximately R8 500 per month, but this was rejected outright by management without due consideration. BOC management have hard-lined and they refuse to engage at all,” Numsa said.
Numsa averred that its members voted “overwhelmingly” for the strike.
Speaking to Engineering News, the BOC indicated that in terms of the Labour Relations Act, for workers to embark on a legal strike, 50%+1 of the members are required to vote in favour of a strike.
“As per the numbers provided by Numsa itself, it is clear that this was not the case. We therefore call on Numsa and workers to respect the outcome of the ballot in which workers voted,” BOC said.
“We repeat our call to BOC to sit down around the table and negotiate with us in order to find a resolution while there is still time. We remain open to engagement,” Numsa said.