United National Transport Union (Untu) members and the Gautrain operator, Bombela Operating Company (BOC), met for the first time yesterday since the Gautrain strike started last Monday.
The negotiations between the two parties are being facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
“The Untu team is convening in one conference location while the Bombela management team is in another conference area,” said Untu spokesperson Sonja Carstens.
Untu and Gautrain have both said the negotiations were still in the early phase and that there was no update on when the strike was expected to end.
“I think both parties are eager to bring the strike to an end, because it’s day seven. And it is to the detriment of our members if the strike continues,” she added.
Meanwhile Gautrain com- muters are being forced to use alternative transport.
One commuter, Nkopane Sebako, said the strike was a blessing and a curse for him. “I have to wake up earlier, but I’m still arriving at work at the same time as I did when I used the Gautrain, sometimes later.
“I’m spending half the money that I use for the Gautrain now that I’m travelling by taxi. I spend R450 a month on the Gautrain, and with the taxi it’s costing me R220,” he said.
Another commuter said that because the Sandton station was still operating during peak time, she hadn’t experienced a difference in services: “That route hasn't changed much; it’s always been available.”
On Friday, the CCMA offered its assistance to resolve the wage dispute. Both parties welcomed the offer, as Untu workers were then in their fifth day of no work, no pay, while the Gautrain’s services were limited. The union has rejected the BOC offer of an 8.5% increase and all benefits.