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Court bid to safeguard Prasa employees

The United National Transport Union (UNTU) is very disappointed in the decision of Joe Maswanganyi, the new Minister of Transport, to oppose the Unions application against the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) in the High Court of the Western Cape, for a court order to ensure a safe working environment for our members.

Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU, says it is clear that the Minister merely opposed this crucial court application to show his muscle without attempting to familiarize himself with the extend of the crisis UNTU members working for Prasa are faced with every day.

UNTU had to sight the Minister as the Custodian of the state-owned enterprise as a Respondent in the matter, but did not ask the Court to grant an order against him.

“The Ministers decision to oppose will simply further delay the hearing of this matter which is not only in the interest of Prasa employees, but in the interest of all commuters relying on trains to get them to work and back home daily.

“UNTU realises that with every new Minister comes a broom that would like to sweep clear, but in the current circumstances with trains being vandalised and torched in all the main cities in the country weekly, this Minister should realize the seriousness and the urgency of the pending application. UNTU does not want to see more of our members die or be harmed,” says Harris.

UNTU approached the Court last month for a court order to force Prasa to fulfil its obligation in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Labour Relations Act and the Constitution and to improve safety on the notorious Central Line between Cape Town and Langa in the Western Cape.

The Union asked the Court to direct Prasa to establish an armed mobile reaction unit reaction unit whose members would be stationed at Netreg, Mitchells Plain and Chris Hani stations. UNTU also ask the Court to order Prasa to establish a joint task team comprised of the Union, other representative unions and the police to develop a long-term strategy for commuter safety in Prasa.

Harris says if the Union succeed with this application on the Central Line where it has documented various incidents from July last year, it will have a strategic effect on Prasa to drastically improve the security at all its premises in the rest of the country.

UNTU appealed to Judge President John Hlophe to grant the hearing of this application an expedited court date.

The Minister must now compose his affidavit to indicate to the Court what his reasons for opposing the application is. Prasa has not yet indicated if it will oppose the application.