Numsa vows to intensify RAF strike as talks fail

Cape Town - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said in a statement on Wednesday that it will intensify a strike at the Road Accident Fund (RAF) after talks to resolve an impasse between the two parties failed.

Numsa accused the RAF of wasting taxpayers' money on a mediation process at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and said it merely created "the illusion of negotiation, when in fact it has no interest in resolving the crisis".

Numsa is demanding that salary scales be adjusted, and claims that some workers are earning less for doing the same work as their colleagues on the same level.

"At least 60% of workers from the RAF are still on entry level salaries in terms of the salary scales and their salaries have not been adjusted in the last five years, whilst senior managers have had their incomes adjusted and increased at the expense of the majority," said the union.

The RAF however dismissed Numsa's assertions as "patently untrue", and listed several reasons why it is unable to accede to Numsa's demands.

READ: Numsa's RAF claims 'ludicrous', demands 'unreasonable'

"The salary scales were updated in 2013, 2014 and 2016," the fund's CEO Dr Eugene Watson explained in an earlier statement, which the RAF referred Fin24 to in response to a request for further comment on Wednesday.

"Employees whose remuneration was below the minimum were brought up to the entry level, ensuring that no employee earns below the minimum for each job grade," Watson said.

The union claims that the RAF suspended the bargaining council, which is a forum for workers to raise critical issues affecting them. "It will not engage workers in any formal structure and on any issue. By suspending the bargaining council they have effectively silenced any critical voices which can force them to be accountable."

This, said Numsa, is an infringement on its constitutional right to organise. It demanded the immediate reinstatement of the bargaining council, and that vacant positions be filled as this "has a material impact on RAF’s core function, which is to pay out claims for road accidents".

The RAF dismissed Numsa's claims that the RAF was in a shambles as "ludicrous" in a recent letter sent to Fin24. "If that was indeed the case, how does one then explain the fact that claim processing, which is the RAF's fundamental business, has improved over the years? Productivity has risen but unfortunately so has the fund's expenditure, resulting in the utilisation of all available cash.

"This has resulted in the financial challenges that the RAF is currently experiencing - it is this context that Numsa has conveniently chosen not to outline," said the RAF.

READ: Numsa wants public protector to investigate RAF

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