Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Johannesburg - Gautrain users have been urged to use alternative transport as only the Centurion, Sandton and Park stations will be open as its employees embark on a wage strike on Monday.

Members of the United National Transport Union (Untu) working for the Bombela Operating Company (BOC), the operator of Gautrain, were due to start their protected strike on Monday morning.

They were due to gather outside the Midrand train depot. Untu is said to represent over 90% of BOC employees.

More than 40 000 people use the Gautrain daily, and BOC spokesperson Kesagee Nayage said a contingency plan had been developed.

“The reduced service will consist of a peak period train service between 5.45am and 9am and 4pm and 7pm, between Centurion and Sandton, every 12 minutes, and between Sandton and Park stations every 20 minutes,” Nayage said. “No train service will be available during the off-peak period, and only Centurion, Sandton and Park stations will be open.”

Gautrain buses will service only Centurion, Sandton and Park stations for the peak periods and follow the usual bus routes.

To accommodate airport and Rhodesfield passengers, Gautrain will operate a bus service between Sandton and Rhodesfield stations and a bus or midi-bus service between Rhodesfield and OR Tambo stations. This service will operate from 5.45am to 7pm. A fixed fare of R21 per bus trip will apply for this service.

Ticket offices at all stations will be closed and passengers are encouraged to use the ticket vending machines or to load value on the Gautrain website or mobile app.

“Passengers with monthly or weekly train products that are affected will be refunded for lost trips, and details will be provided later,” Nayage said.

Wage negotiations between Gautrain and Untu have reached a deadlocked. The union said attempts to resolve the dispute were “fruitless as the employer refuses to disclose its financial statements”.

The employees are demanding a 10% salary increase, R1600 for a housing allowance, R800 for transport or staff card usage for office workers, night-shift allowance to be increased by 10% and R20000 for all employees as a bonus incentive.

BOC has offered an 8.5% increase in salaries and all benefits. Untu has rejected this offer.

Gautrain commuter Kayleen Morgan said she uses the Gautrain every day to travel from Park station to Sandton and back.

“A lot of people use the Gautrain in the morning, especially to Sandton, so it is going to impact a lot of people,” she said, adding that she would commute to work by taxi today.

The Star