Cape Town - Metalworker union Numsa said in a statement it intends to ask the public protector to investigate whether the Road Accident Fund (RAF) is guilty of violating the Protection of Personal Information Act, for its alleged failure to protect the privacy and confidentiality of South African citizens.
In a statement issued on March 18, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim reacted to an earlier statement issued by the RAF, in which the organisation called the union’s comments that the fund is in disarray “ludicrous”.
Phumelela Dhlomo, the RAF’s chief marketing officer, said in a letter to Fin24 that if the fund is “in shambles”, as Numsa suggests, its claim processing – its fundamental business – would not have improved over the years.
‘RAF is in turmoil’ - Numsa
On Friday, Numsa workers took to the streets to air their grievances about the RAF and handed over a memorandum of demands to the Department of Transport. Numsa claimed at least 1 500 of workers at RAF branches countrywide were on strike, as the fund is “in turmoil”.
Numsa also accused the RAF of blocking the union’s attempt to fight for a living wage, saying the lowest paid workers are forced to survive on R5 000 after deductions, while executives such as RAF CEO Eugene Watson earn over R5m per year.
In a lengthy response on Thursday, the RAF said about 800 of the 2 600 RAF workers are members of Numsa. The workers who went on strike on Friday represented a “smaller subset” of these employees, according the RAF.
“Their demands are rooted in their insistence that the RAF adopt unverified, nebulous proposed salary scales, which the fund cannot accede to. The RAF cannot agree to arbitrarily determined salary scales or demands.”
The RAF furthermore said it has a “progressive remuneration and reward policy and framework” that supports and rewards a performance-orientated culture.
“We have updated salary scales with set the limits based on a representative market sample.”
According to the RAF, Numsa has “yet to enter into formal bargaining with the fund and “picketed for the adoption of salary scales they determined arbitrarily – essentially demanding a raise, over and above all other benefits employees of the fund enjoy and before conclusion of salary increases for 2017”.
It called Numsa’s reasons for going on strike “unreasonable and without merit”.
‘Citizens’ privacy at risk’
In its statement issued on Saturday, responding to the RAF’s earlier utterances, Numsa alleges that computers are attached and removed by sheriffs of the court at the headquarters of the RAF (such as the RAF’s bank account in February and the removal and sale of RAF assets).
This puts the privacy and confidentiality of “millions of citizens at risk”, Numsa said.
In previous reports, Watson conceded the attachment of the RAF’s bank account and assets was as a result of a number of legal firms whose actions had disrupted the RAF’s cash management plan and payment of victims of motor vehicle accidents.
Numsa’s Jim said the RAF has a legal duty to act responsibly and protect the claimants’ personal medical history.
The union further said the RAF has a nerve to describe its demands for a living wage as being “unreasonable”. It further alleged that the RAF “arbitrarily suspended the bargaining council without consulting workers”.
Numsa’s demands ‘premature’
Responding to Numsa’s latest allegations, the RAF’s Watson repeated its previous statement, including that the fund “is and has been insolvent for three decades” and has faced serious cash constraints for three years.
“All RAF services are in place and operate continuously,” he pointed out in an emailed response to Fin24's questions.
He also reiterated that Numsa wants the adoption of arbitrarily determined salary scales and is demanding a raise before the conclusion of salary increases for the year.
“The RAF cannot agree to arbitrarily determined salary scales or demands,” Watson said.Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter: Fin24’s top stories