GEORGE NEWS - Employees of Transnet have been reporting for duty every morning at George Station for the past few weeks, but they cannot work. They stand around in the shade of some trees till mid-morning before going home without having done a thing.
On the other side of the station, a group of former Transnet contract workers also pitch up every morning. Speaking on behalf of the contract workers on Tuesday, Andile Zondeka said they want the Transnet employees' jobs.
He says Transnet brought in general workers from Port Elizabeth and Willowmore while the contract workers are locals and jobless since their contracts ended in September last year.
"We have worked for Transnet for about 10 years. We can do the work they are doing as general workers," said Zondeka. Their work used to involve replacing railway sleepers. He alleged that three relatives of a Transnet manager had been appointed, which they deemed unfair.
The George Herald reported last week on threats made against the Power Van operator and Transport Museum, and the obstruction of the railway between George and Great Brak River. Transnet said the former contract workers were suspected of blocking the line, but Zondeka denied this.
This week, Transnet head of communications Mike Asefovitz said that at the end of November last year, the Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) depot in George experienced "disturbances by a group of disgruntled ex-contract workers demanding full-time employment".
"These were intensified with daily visits, and in response TFR Security was activated and the police were called for support. These protestors sit outside the gates and not TFR property, ostensibly to intimidate our employees. Because our employees are part of the community, we have to treat this situation in a delicate manner, so as not to endanger their lives.
"With the threat extended to the employees after hours, they were advised to register these threats at the nearest police station so that with a case number TFR could approach the Police Provincial Joint Operations to intervene. Unfortunately no such case has been reported."
He said the TFR had engaged the group of ex-contract workers and other local stakeholders with a view to solving the problem.
"We have encouraged the contract workers to apply for the positions that will be advertised from February 2020."
He said there is security at the Transnet premises 24/7 and Transnet has deployed a crime prevention team on a full-time basis inside the infrastructure depot. Security is also patrolling the line from George to Great Brak for any obstructions.
"TFR cannot and will not allow the situation of intimidation and sabotage to continue. We will convene another meeting with stakeholders where we will indicate that, should the situation not change, we will apply the necessary remedial actions at our disposal," said Asefovitz.
The Transnet employees at the station did not want to speak to the newspaper.
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