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Cape Town - The Western Cape government has brokered a last-minute round of talks in a bid to avert a passenger rail strike in the province on Tuesday.
Provincial transport ministry spokesperson Solly Malatsi said on Monday afternoon the department had offered to facilitate talks between Metrorail and the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union.
Metrorail were prepared to take part, he said.
The union's Western Cape secretary, Evan Abrahamse, told Sapa Satawu was also happy to talk, and had proposed the meeting start at 20:00.
"I'm pretty sure there will be efforts for us to get together to resolve the issue, but whether we will resolve it is another matter," he said.
Abrahamse said the strike was called over the issue of end-of-year bonuses for some 800 to 900 workers who, after years of being on fixed-term contracts, were made permanent during the course of last year.
Satawu had proposed that they get a pro-rata bonus, not a full bonus.
Metrorail had initially responded with an offer of a bonus based on six months' service, but did not honour it, and had since withdrawn the offer.
A dispute resolution process had not resolved the matter.
Abrahamse said Satawu expected to get "full support" from its Western Cape members - who included train drivers - for the strike.
Earlier on Monday Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said in a statement that management would "continue to engage" with union members to dissuade them from striking.
Should the strike go ahead, contingency plans would be activated.
"Not all employees participate in the action and past experience has shown that a reasonable service can be offered utilising non-unionised and other union employees," she said.
"Every effort will be made to provide trains for commuters."
Commuters with weekly or monthly tickets could use them on Golden Arrow buses after peak hours.
Referring to the cause of the dispute, Scott said no bonuses would be paid from the 2009/2010 budget.
A task team comprising management and labour representatives was exploring "more sustainable methods of incentivising employees".
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:http://www.news24.com/Content/SouthAfrica/News/1059/8226587d0fa14ba3a168b3d8c41412c0/29-03-2010-08-10/Last_ditch_rail_strike_talks strikes | transport | cape town | satawu | metrorail