Questions over equal pay for equal work at RAF


Johannesburg – There is no equal pay for equal work at the Road Accident Fund (RAF), labour unions say.

The National Union of Metal Workers (Numsa) and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) have both queried the salary scales of employees at the RAF.

The grading of jobs and salary scales were among the issues raised by Numsa, when it handed over a memorandum to the Department of Transport during a march on March 17. The march was held to raise awareness of the problems at the RAF.

“Some of the issues raised by workers in terms of salary scales is that people doing the same work are earning different incomes,” said Numsa national spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi.

Deloitte had conducted an investigation into the discrepancies of salary levels. The findings were released in a report which has not been made public for employees to access.

Mike Comber, reputation and risk leader at Deloitte, confirmed to Fin24 that the firm conducted a market benchmarking exercise for the RAF in November 2015. However, Comber could not comment further on the findings and recommendations as they are confidential.

Fin24 is of the understanding that there are two grading systems in place at the RAF. Employees on the Paterson system earn more than employees on the Task grading system, even if they are doing the same job.

A source known to Fin24 explained that this introduced a pay gap between workers doing the same job. The source also expressed concerns over the RAF not being transparent about whether salaries match market rates.

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The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union says it will consider the Road Accident Fund’s new salary increase offer.

Hlubi told Fin24 that the findings of the Deloitte report show “how to bridge the gap” and how to deal with the “imbalance” between the highest paid and the lowest paid workers.  

“The fact of the matter is, in terms of transparency, the RAF is a state agency. It has a duty to disclose,” said Hlubi. She added that the trade union has the right to see the report and to see which recommendations have to be implemented. “The management is blatantly refusing to divulge that information.”

There is a “definite” problem with the salary scales. However, workers have no way of being involved in a process to address the issue, she said. This is because the RAF had suspended the bargaining council in the organisation, doing away with a platform necessary for employees to engage with managers on salary issues formally.

“That is why workers are in a situation where they are forced to go on strike because they want the issue to be resolved.

“They want proper transparency and communication on these issues,” she said.

Numsa plans to participate in negotiations with the RAF, which will be facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Godfrey Qobeka, the RAF national sector coordinator at Satawu, said the union believes people must be remunerated the same value for the same work.

A dispute was declared with the CCMA in January. In March the senior commissioner had referred the complaint to the labour court, said Qobeka.

RAF’s response

In an emailed response to Fin24, the RAF said it respects the “integrity” of collective bargaining but does not bargain publicly.

Regarding allegations on salary scales, the RAF referred Fin24 to its previous statement where it responded to criticisms from Numsa.

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

The fund emphasised that although it was facing severe cash constraints, it maintains an “effective remuneration framework”. The fund also conducts an annual salary benchmark.  

“This was undertaken for 2013, and the adjustments were effected, same for 2014,” said chief executive officer Dr Eugene Watson.

“In 2015 after conducting the exercise with respected remuneration experts, it was established that we are on par and in line with the market and therefore there was no need to adjust the salary scales,” he added.

However, findings for 2016 showed that the RAF was “slightly out of sync” with the market. The RAF then adjusted scales on September 1. Over 1 000 employees were adjusted to the minimum level, he explained.

Watson said allegations that the RAF has not updated salary scales in three years are untrue. “The salary scales were updated in 2013, 2014 and 2016.” He reiterated that employees whose remuneration levels were below the minimum were brought up to entry level.

“It should be noted that in all those years, from 2013, the RAF has increased all employee salaries in the bargaining unit with cost-of-living (inflation-based) adjustments.”

Regarding the implementation of salary scales, Watson said: “The RAF has not been unfair in any the implementation of those salary scales and has treated all employees fairly.”

There will be a salary increase in the financial year starting in April 2017, said Watson. “Salary scale reviews do not obligate salary adjustments for employees,” he added. “Salary adjustments have taken place in line with all other remuneration policy frameworks and the RAF has invited the unions to discuss salary increases for the 2017 financial year.”

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