Cape Town - Cosatu Western Cape intends to go ahead with the strike it has slated for June 24 due to a “breakdown in communications” with Metrorail about fare increases from July 1.
Metrorail has said the fare increase would ensure improvements to services by the end of nexty month.
Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the aim of the strike was to pressure Metrorail to improve services and not increase fares until improvements had been made.
“Metrorail claims that the troubles in the system in the Western Cape will be resolved by the end of July 2014. Clearly an increase in fares can be considered only after the issues draining workers’ income have been resolved in Metrorail.
“For Cosatu, an improved Metrorail service would reduce the necessity of workers using additional funds when trains were cancelled or delayed, and worse, workers are short-paid due to late-coming.”
Metrorail would gain R3 million from the increase just for next month – a “small amount for Metrorail but huge for ordinary workers”.
Cosatu members and non-members would stay away from work on June 24 and would determine if additional days were necessary.
Ehrenreich said the date had been referred to the National Economic Development and Labour Council for authorisation to ensure the strike was protected for Cosatu members and non-members.
Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker said the increase, of about 5.6 percent, would go ahead as planned.
He also took issue with some of Cosatu’s statements.
For example, Walker said, Metrorail management’s increases had been in line with inflation and not “huge” as Cosatu suggested.
“Metrorail has always been open about its need to increase its revenue through ticket sales.
“As a business, the collected revenue is ploughed back into further improvements to the service.”
Walker said the costs of energy, personnel, maintenance material, and safety critical and statutory compliance accounted for the bulk of the region’s expenses.
All of these costs had increased.
“The fare increase will support the region’s most immediate goal of introducing visible and short-term improvements, many of which are under way.”
Station upgrades and depot modernisation were being undertaken in preparation for the first batch of new trains, according to Walker.
These were being implemented alongside the established service.
In the Western Cape, 14 stations had been improved, with four more in progress and plans for further upgrades, including Salt River depot.
“There are no short cuts to building such a modern system,” said Walker.
Cosatu has also called on Transport Minister Dipuo Peters to assist with the “crisis” of train efficiency in Cape Town.