Ramaphosa must deploy soldiers to ensure our safety – Prasa workers

Unionised workers at Prasa are demanding that president Cyril Ramaphosa deploy the National Defence Force to ensure a safer worker environment, as well as a safe and reliable train service for commuters.

The United National Transport Union (UNTU) on Thursday issued a statement laying out its plans for the protest marches in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town on Friday. Workers will meet at 10:00 and the official marches are expected to begin from 11:00, Deputy General secretary Sonja Carstens told Fin24 by phone.

The strike is likely to result in long delays in train services in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria specifically.

Workers will hand over a memorandum of demands to different government officials in cities. Workers in Pretoria will be marching to the Union Buildings where they will hand over the memorandum, Carstens said.

"The memorandum is addressed to Cyril Ramaphosa, he is the only one who can bring immediate relief," Carstens said.

Transport Minister Fikila Mbalula at a briefing this week announced plans to have highly armed security guards at train stations. UNTU has commended this but regards this as a long-term solution. What is needed in the short term is for the South African National Defence Force to be deployed, and for the SA Police Service to do their jobs, Carstens said.

"Whatever promises government is making, we are not feeling the effect on the ground level," she added.

Untu, which is an affiliate of the Federation of Unions of South African, has also accused Prasa management of trying to intimidate its members to prevent them from striking.

No intimidation

In its own statement Prasa said that employees who are not participating in the mass action "have not been intimidated" by management and that they took their own independent decisions to work.

Prasa has assured that Metrorail services will continue to operate, however they will be limited as per commuter services provided on weekends. Prasa has also warned that passengers should expect longer waiting times due to the limited service.

Unionised workers at Prasa will embark on a nationwide strike from 10:00 for a safer working environment and for safe and reliable train services to be provided for commuters.