The United National Transport Union (UNTU) has noted the state-owned enterprises’ (SOEs) slow response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the operational level.
In a statement on Wednesday, 18 March 2020, the United National Transport Union noted the slow response to COVID-19 from SOEs such as Transnet and Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa). The entities are yet to issue statements on their plans to protect staff at operational levels, depots and those who serve the public in general.
“The United National Transport Union received complaints from members nationwide, that their respective employers neglected to supply them with masks, hand sanitizers, fever testers or even toilet rolls in accordance with Section 8 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act,” the statement read.
UNTU’s general secretary, Steve Harris, noted that right after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on Sunday, 15 March 2020, his guidelines were implemented in the corporate offices of Prasa and Transnet. In response to this, UNTU members at operational levels are questioning what steps the SOEs are taking to prevent the spread of the virus in places like train control offices, mess rooms, on trains and in kitchens. During his address, President Ramaphosa appealed for limited travelling. However, Metrorail employees continue to operate overcrowded trains.
According to Harris, UNTU has asked Prasa to allow employees of the suspended Mainline Passenger Services (MLPS) to stay home, but are still awaiting a response. The Railway Safety Regulatory had prohibited MLPS from offering its services a month ago. UNTU has urged its members to address unresolved work issues with their elected UNTU trade union representatives.