The Gautrain
THERE will be no Gautrain train service at all this weekend, operator Bombela announced yesterday.

This comes as commuters faced the fifth day of inconvenience after employees affiliated to United National Transport Union (Untu) went on strike over pay and other employment benefits.

Bombela said they would be carrying out “daytime maintenance” at the weekend, with the result that the Gautrain would not be operating.

Gautrain spokesperson Kesagee Nayager said the maintenance work, scheduled for later, was brought forward because the train was operating a reduced service as a result of the strike.

A substitute bus service will be available.

Meanwhile striking workers - some of whom protested at the Centurion station yesterday morning - vowed to intensify the strike next week, and have called on commuters to support their demands.

On Monday, with no resolution in strike, it will be back to the contingency plan implemented at the end of this week.

A limited train and bus service will operate from 5.45am to 9am and 4pm to 7pm only. At other times, the station doors will be closed and there are no trains running.

On Thursday the train service was extended to Pretoria. Hatfield station remains closed, aside from the parking. Commuters have been advised to check online for updates.

Untu said they welcomed the invitation of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to try to resolve the Gautrain strike.

Employees were still negotiating their 10% basic salary increase demand, plus various allowance increases which equated to a 19.5% increase. Gautrain has offered 8.6% across the board, saying that in the current economic climate, this was generous.

Untu’s general secretary Steve Harris said Bombela misled the media with its "so-called calculations of the demand of Untu members" and was hell-bent not to disclose its financial statements, and the huge profits being paid to its French Concessionaire.

Nayager responded that Bombela Operating Company was a private company and, as such, had no obligation to make its financial statements public.

“Allegations that all company profits are paid to its foreign shareholder are also false. In fact, SPG, a 100% black-owned South African company has a 36.58% shareholding in the Bombela Operating Company. The company has both South African and foreigner shareholders, both of which have made significant direct investment in the Gautrain and therefore would expect a return on their investment, as all investors do," she said.