The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) will be going out on strike on the 6th December 2011 against Metrorail and the declining service standards on the trains.

COSATU has finalised plans for the protest action which will be held on the 6th December 2011 between 13h30 – 15h30 at Metro rail offices on the Foreshore.

All COSATU members and supporters will be coming to raise their concerns about the declining public transport system from the Cape Flats and Southern Suburbs.

The workers directly from Metrorail and Golden Arrow will not participate in the strike as they have to transport other workers to and from the protest, because both companies and workers stand to gain from an improved transport system.

Arrangements will be made at company level for workers to participate in the protest.

This means that in some instances workers will work in the time lost and in other instances companies will contribute to make up lost wages.

The protest will focus on both Metro Rail and the City of Cape Town’s inability to provide proper transport.

The detail demands and process that have unfolded are listed below:

1. Having split starting times for workers, to spread the peak over a longer period in the morning.

Each workplace will work out a roster to get their staff to travel at different times, reduced ticket cost will serve as an incentive for later trips.

2. Having school kids take different trains at later times, to spread the peak and encourage this by lower priced tickets.

The train sets that were cut from weekends and late nights will be reinstated to provide a 24 hour service to commuters.

3. Having buses take commuters out of the system where there is presently chronic overcrowding and transporting them directly to Industrial centres.

Metro rail buses can be used for these purposes. The city and province must be brought into this discussion so the required permits can be fast tracked.

4. The communities must report any instances of cable theft that leads to stopping the service immediately and we will jointly promote a toll free number.

5. To get greater buy in from commuters. The pilot that is running in Cape Town where senior citizens get free train rides every 2nd Tuesday of the month will be extended to once a week on a Tuesday. This applies only to off peak trains.

6. The station platforms will be expanded in the southern suburbs line so train sets with 14 carriages can work this route, as this will dramatically reduce the overcrowding.

7. The union will define more flexible working hours with the company to improve the service levels, which may include the employment of additional staff. This would also support the PRASA 90 day programme.

8. The number of sets that are away for repairs at contractors will be fast tracked by extended working hours over the December break, to get the repairs concluded before the New Year.

9. The building of a new line that stretches from Strand to Muizenberg, linking all the lines, will give commuters much greater flexibility and will reduce the number of commuters travelling in the same direction at the same times.

It will also link historically divided communities, whilst bringing greater efficiencies to the system.

Meanwhile, COSATU, at its recent Central Executive Committee, declared that it will launch a campaign against the open road tolling system.

COSATU North West, in making sure that this resolution is realised wants to highlight the fact that the North West province hosts the most expensive toll gate in the country, costing R69.00 per single trip for light motor vehicles and much more for trucks and other heavy vehicles.

This toll gate is acting as a barrier between the people of Swartruggens and Groot Marico and Zeerust, as the people in those areas cannot travel freely to go and visit their families who are situated on the other side of the toll gate.

What is mostly worrying is that the road itself is not in good condition. Several sections of the road have pot holes.

This expensive toll gate has forced a number of motorists to use an alternative route though Pella which was not planned to carry such traffic volumes and has exposed the citizens in those area to accidents and we have lost many lives in the same road, most recently in August 2011.

As COSATU North West we are engaging in a campaign from December 2011 into the 2012 to make sure that this toll gate is removed and our people can travel freely.

The campaign will be part of our national and provincial programme against the capitalist agenda of making profit from the poor, wanting to be rich from the poor.

COSATU calls on the communities and all affected people and companies to come together and fight against this daylight robbery of our poor people of this country including the poor workers.

COSATU also calls on the national department of transport to intervene in this matter and do a full investigation on who are the real beneficiaries of the toll gates in the NW, in particular the Swartruggens one.

• The month long strike by members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) at Xstrata smelters in Rustenburg ended last Friday after reaching an agreement that a joint task team would investigate wage disparities and address these with immediate effect once their investigation is complete.

The strike commenced on October 24, 2011 after negotiations which began in September 2011 deadlocked.

Workers’ demands include a 10 per cent wage increase across the board with the intention to close the existing wage disparities between Rustenburg plants and Lion Tubatse plant, a housing allowance of R3500 and a reduction of the number of grades from 8 to 5.

Announcing acceptance of ‘Xstrata’s revised offer’, the union said: ‘The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) representing the 4000 resolute, militant, resolute and agitated workers at Xstrata Alloys in Rusternburg, North-West, has been on a prolonged and protected strike action for full five-weeks fighting for a Living Wage and improved conditions of employment.

‘The strike action has been taking place amidst high levels of intimidation, bullying, provocation, torture and endless assaults of our members by our men and women in blue uniforms, the South African Police Services (SAPS), acting recklessly under the instruction of the ruling Xstrata oligarchy.

‘During the peaceful and legitimate struggle for a Living Wage and improved conditions of employment our members were wrongfully arrested and impromptu charges were formulated by SAPS together with a senior Xstrata Executive member.

‘These acts of police reminded us of the dastardly days of the apartheid era, whereby apartheid police will be used by Capitalist bosses in their failed endeavour to bash or liquidate the trade union movement in our country.

‘This agenda we are prepared to fight against with the same vigour and mass power we defeated the apartheid security forces and its unelected and illegitimate regime.’

NUMSA concluded: ‘We are pleased to announce to our members and the general public that last night, Thursday 24 November 2011, we finally reached a settlement agreement informed by unity in action and successfully pushed the company to accept in principle and commit on a process of harmonisation of wages and conditions of workers in all respective plants belonging to Xstrata Alloys.’