Gautrain. Picture: KATHERINE MUICK-MERE
Gautrain. Picture: KATHERINE MUICK-MERE

The United National Transport Union (Untu) has threatened to intensify its wage strike against Gautrain.

More than 300 Gautrain employees have been on strike this week.

Untu spokesperson Steve Harrison said: "Management has not met with us; we are unfortunately continuing with the protest action until they engage us and address our demand."

The union appealed to commuters to boycott the train and stand in solidarity with them.

Bombela Operating Company spokesperson Kesagee Nayager said the company that operated the Gautrain was willing to engage workers but had not revised its initially proposed salary increase of 8.5%.

Nayager said on Thursday evening that Bombela was calling on the workers and union to reconsider its offer because it was very fair and generous.

Untu is demanding a 10% basic salary increase‚ a transport allowance of R800 or staff card usage for office workers‚ a housing allowance of R1‚600 and incentive bonuses of R20‚000 for all employees. They are also demanding a night shift allowance to be increased by 10%.

Nayager said the company would not be able to pay the 10% increase because business still needed to be sustained.

She said she was unsure when negotiations were likely to resume.

"If they can reconsider our offer‚ we would gladly return to the negotiation table‚" she said.

"When the latest shift knocks off at 11.15pm‚ there is no public transport available. For those who cannot afford to own a car‚ the only option is to sleep in the containers which are utilised as their rest rooms‚" Untu said in a statement.

Daily commuter Whitney Lion said she was badly affected by the strike and was inconvenienced as it was now difficult to get to work on time. Lion relies on the train to travel from Johannesburg Park Station to Sandton.

"It’s really an inconvenience because I must now rely on other people’s vehicles which is more expensive‚" said Lion.

Lion said she did‚ however‚ understand the workers’ frustrations and demands.

"Everything is skyrocketing lately‚ yet salaries do not increase‚ and that makes it difficult to survive‚" she said.