Numsa workers go on strike at Road Accident Fund

JOHANNESBURG – At least 1,500 workers at Road Accident Fund (RAF) branches countrywide have gone on strike because the RAF is in turmoil, the National Union of Metalworkers Union of SA said on Thursday.

This comes after the Sheriffs of the Court attached the RAF bank account earlier this year because it was in debt for R8,2-billion, which obstructed payments worth about R550-million to various stakeholders.

The RAF bank account attachment was later lifted and payments to claimants, service providers, stakeholders and caregivers resumed.

READ: Minister apologises for road accident payments delay

Numsa general secretary, Irvin Jim, said in a statement that RAF management was blocking the union’s attempt to fight for a living wage.

Jim said the lowest paid worker was forced to survive on R5,000 after deductions, while chief executive Eugene Watson earned an annual salary of over R5-million.

“Our workers use their expertise every day to service the poor. Their legal and healthcare expertise ensures that the most vulnerable sectors of our society, receive their compensation from the fund,” Jim said.

“But workers are unable to do their work properly, if they are poorly paid, and if the management of the RAF is in shambles.”

But Watson, in a statement, said Numsa’s reasons for going on strike on Thursday over the implementation of “salary scales” were unreasonable and without merit.

Watson said Numsa believed that the RAF should pay employees “back pay” for the fact that the RAF did not update its salary scale in 2015, a demand that the RAF rejected as unreasonable because salary scale reviews did not obligate salary adjustments for employees.

“Numsa’s demands are rooted in their insistence that the RAF adopt unverified, nebulous proposed salary scales, which the fund cannot accede to,” Watson said.

“Furthermore, it should be remembered that there will be a salary increase in the financial year starting in April 2017. While being presented with these facts, Numsa remained adamant that the RAF should implement their unsubstantiated salary scale."

RAF spokesperson Thandeka Ngwenya told ANA it was business as usual at the RAF on Thursday, disputing Numsa’s assertion that workers had brought the fund’s operations to a standstill.

Ngwenya said the RAF had 2,800 employees and less than 150 nationally were picketing on Thursday.

“Numsa’s membership at the RAF comprises of less than 1,000 members and the average salary is R350,000. Numsa also does not have any bargaining rights,” Ngwenya said.

However, Numsa said its members would take to the streets to air their grievances and hand over a memorandum of demands in a legally protected strike to the Department of Transport in Pretoria on Friday.

Watson said a “no work, no pay” principle would apply while no overtime would be granted to employees who go on strike.

African News Agency

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