As security guards contracted to protect Metrorail stations and railway lines enter their third week of an illegal strike, some companies are hiring new guards to replace those that have downed tools.
Chippa Security Company and Supreme Security are two of the seven companies contracted by Metrorail who have said they are hiring new guards in order fulfil their contracts.
An official at Chippa Security Company who spoke anonymously as he is not supposed to speak to the media, said the company sought to fulfil their Metrorail contract to avoid financial penalties.
“We had to come up with a plan,” he said, “striking guards did not follow procedure, they do not have a right to strike for a third party.”
However, he said company officials were upset with the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) as they had initially supported the strike but have since distanced themselves from the matter.
The security guard strike began on November 29 after news that Metrorail in the Western Cape would not renew the companies’ contracts and employ guards directly.
Numerous incidents of arson on trains and at stations, as well as theft of cables and equipment, have occurred since the start of the strike, with Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) Group CEO Lucky Montana stating that he believed it was the work of striking guards.
On Friday last week 14 people believed to be striking security guards were arrested after being locked in a train a Kapteinsklip station after allegedly intimidating four guards who were not participating in the strike. They were due to appear in court today (Tues).
A number of striking security guards meeting at the Phillipi station yesterday (Monday) backed claims that SATAWU initially supported the strike.
Striker Nokhwezi Ntlontlo, said SATAWU started the strike.
“They led us to the strike now they’re distancing themselves. They’re supposed to represent us.”
Ntlontlo said they would not allow newly hired guards to work.
“No one is going to work on the railway lines, unless Metrorail hires us.”
The guards also denied accusations of arson and vandalism.
“We don’t have anything to do with vandalism. Criminals know there is no security, now they’re taking advantage of the situation,” said striking guard Lindile Thole.
South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) Western Cape Chairperson Andile Nomlali denied ever having supported the strike.
“As SATAWU we were never part of the strike. We are the one’s who’ve been begging them to stop the illegal strike and go back to work, but they refused. We never told them to strike.” said Nomlali.
However Contracted security company Comwezi’s company secretary Elton Rochert said he had a document from SATAWU supporting the strike. However, he would not produce it as evidence. — Nombulelo Damba