South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) is set to meet the executive of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) tomorrow, 19 November, to continue discussions regarding the termination of security contracts.
SATAWU officials met with the board of control of Prasa on 12 November following the decision to terminate more than 20 security contracts on 31 October. When the termination was announced, the board explained the companies had been irregularly appointed, and that going forward Prasa’s internal Protection Services, assisted by police, would be responsible for securing its staff, assets and commuters.
Discussing the issue during the meeting, SATAWU officials were very clear that although we support the termination of irregular contracts in principle, we are not convinced the decision is in the best interest of our members or the organisation. For instance, incidents of cable theft are on the increase; last Thursday Prasa workers at Braamfontein station were threatened by a mob of commuters who were angered by the lack of trains to transport them; train drivers have also reported feeling exposed as the visibility of security personnel has diminished. Meanwhile, Prasa’s Benrose yard was vandalised on 9 November and on Saturday, police arrived to find all the doors along with the ceiling stolen overnight.
SATAWU is of the view that Prasa must move quickly to employ an effective and efficient security plan to ensure the situation does not deteriorate further. Tomorrow’s meeting will come up with concrete proposals to address the unfolding situation including urging Prasa to ensure security officers, who have been protecting its assets as well as lives of staff and commuters, are absorbed by the new companies who be lawfully appointed to provide security services.