“We are carrying a burden for the Passenger Rail Association of South Africa (Prasa) even in our private lives,” a ticket collector has told GroundUp.
Bathandwa, based in Cape Town, did not want his real name used because he fears victimisation. He supports his wife and five children.
He participated in the countrywide protests organised by the United National Transport Union (Untu) and its umbrella organisation, the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) in July.
Untu deputy general secretary Sonja Carstens said their members nationwide were working in unsafe working conditions in direct contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
“Despite our national protest marches on 26 July 2019, nothing has been done to improve this. There is also no visible improvement nationwide to the unfortunate fate of the millions of commuters, the poorest of the poor, who have no alternative mode of transport but to use trains,” said Carstens.
Bathandwa said: “Angry customers ask why we want to verify their tickets when there is no service. At the same time, if we don’t verify tickets we would be sent for disciplinary hearing.”
He says he has been working as a ticket checker on the Central Line for 17 years. He painted a picture of a dysfunctional organisation. He said telephone lines don’t work so they cannot reach the Cape Town office. He said he has been robbed at gunpoint several times. Management, he said, does not visit the affected employees after such incidents.
He said he has a university qualification but he hasn’t been advanced beyond ticket collector.
Spokesperson for Metrorail Riana Scott said that Prasa had a clear human capital management policy compliant with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) and union representation, which affords employees avenues to direct their concerns.
“I suggest the employee follow due process supported by facts to get his or her issues resolved, failing which they have all the normal legal recourse available to them,” she said.