7 August 2020
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has appealed the exclusion of organized labour from the new Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) Board that has been appointed by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula in flagrant violation of a standing resolution concluded three years ago where it was agreed that both FEDUSA, as the mother body of the United National Transport Union (UNTU) – the biggest railway industry in the country – and COSATU will be represented in any new RSR Board.
Specifically, FEDUSA is appealing – in terms of Section 8 (5)(b)(iv) of the Rail Safety Regulation Act – against the exclusion and for the reappointment of its own candidate, Chris de Vos, who has served the previous Board with distinction for a single term; a veteran of the railway industry with an experience spanning more than 35 years as a Senior Railways Manager and former General Secretary of UTATU (the United Transport and Allied Trade Union) – the forerunner of UNTU.
In terms of the Act, the RSR is mandated to oversee the safety of railway operations by closely monitoring the state and technological condition of railway safety infrastructure such as automatic signals, the strict compliance with safety regulations by operators such as Metrorail, train drivers training, passenger safety and the condition of rolling stock such as locomotives and railway wagons.
In the recent past the RSR hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory in terms of enforcing rail safety and efficiency as seen by the tragic fatalities on the Gauteng – Free State route, the Johannesburg – Soweto route, the Johannesburg – Germiston route as result of hand signaling that has largely replaced dysfunctional automatic signals; dangerous overcrowding in the Central Line in Cape Town and train delays on a daily basis that has seen frustrated commuters torch trains, costing the state millions of rands in damages. The COVID-19 pandemic has now descended on railway operations with a vengeance, grounding all train movement.
The mind boggles when the Minster of Transport in his infinite wisdom sees it fit to exclude labour – the very people who are directly affected by all these tragic events in South Africa’s railway operations – from his appointment of the new Board.
FEDUSA demands that the decision must be reviewed immediately, as the very notion is both insulting and unjustifiable in light of the crucial role that Labour plays in this important economic sector. We refuse to watch in idle as our members are at the coalface
For interviews please contact:
Ms Riefdah Ajam
FEDUSA General Secretary
079 696 2626
Mr. Steve Harris
UNTU General Secretary
082 566 5516
FEDUSA Media and Research Officer
072 637 8096