South Africa’s High-Speed Train Workers End Two-Week Strike

Workers at South Africa’s high-speed train service that mainly caters for business commuters ended a two-week strike over pay on Monday after reaching a 12-month agreement with their employer, and promised to resume work by Tuesday.

A Gautrain arrives at O.R. Tambo International Airport outside of Johannesburg(REUTERS)

The Bombela Operating Company, which operates the rapid train and bus system in Gauteng province with services to the country’s main airport, the capital Pretoria and commercial hub Johannesburg, had reduced train operations due to the strike.

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) and the United National Transport Union (UNTU) said their members had agreed to an 8 percent wage increase across the board.

The UNTU, an affiliate of FEDUSA, represents about 90 percent of the workers at Bombela, in which construction company Murray & Roberts holds a 50 percent stake.

FEDUSA General Secretary Dennis George said the union and Bombela had agreed in talks facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, to lower the original demand of 10 percent by the workers due to inflation.

Some workers are expected to commence work this afternoon with the rest starting tomorrow, George said.

“We are in the process of finalizing the agreement as we were given a clear mandate to sign from the constituency after addressing them this morning,” UNTU General Secretary Steve Harris said, referring to the union’s members.

The workers began their strike on July 30, demanding a 10 percent increase in wages, while Bombela offered an 8.5 percent.[nL5N1UQ258]

The company and union however agreed to a lower wage agreement of 8 percent to accommodate other union demands, including a 900 rand ($63) housing allowance and a 50 percent contribution by Bombela to workers’ medical aid.


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