The Road Accident Fund’s offices in Eco Park, Centurion.Picture: Etienne Creux

Johannesburg – The Road Accident Fund says the National Union of Metalworkers of SA’s claims over why its members are going on strike are “unreasonable and without merit”.

In a statement earlier on Thursday, the union said at least 1 500 of its members were going to down tools because the beleaguered entity is “in turmoil”.

In addition, the union argued the RAF, which is funded through a fuel levy, is in debt to the tune of R8.2 billion. “To make matters worse, for months is has been unable to fulfil its mandate and compensate accident victims,” the union claims.

Numsa also said it had a wage dispute with the fund.

“The RAF management is blocking NUMSA’s attempt to fight for a living wage. The lowest paid worker is forced to survive on R5 000 after deductions, whilst executives like Watson earn over R5 million per annum,” it alleges.

As such, workers will take to the streets to air their grievances and hand over a memorandum to the Department of Transport on Friday.

In response, RAF CEO Eugene Watson says its reasons for Thursday’s strike over salary scales are “are unreasonable and without merit”.

“Numsa’s demands are rooted in their insistence that the RAF adopt unverified, nebulous proposed salary scales, which the fund cannot accede to. Numsa, which represents just under 36 percent of the entire staff complement, is one of two unions operating within the RAF workplace.”

It says there are employees who do not belong to either union.

Watson adds Numsa’s argument is unsound because the RAF is insolvent and has severe cash constraints, yet endeavours to maintain an effective remuneration framework and remains an employer of choice.

Read also: Road Accident Fund staff strike over 'turmoil'

He also notes it has increased productivity, while trimming operational costs, and at the same time committing to remunerating employees fairly, effectively and in line with policy principles which are aimed at attracting and retaining employees.

Watson adds the RAF benchmarks salaries yearly and adjusts remuneration accordingly.

“One must remember the objective of the exercise is to ensure that remuneration for a particular job level remains on par with the market and best practice remuneration levels.”

Watson says, after the 2016 salary implementation, some staff lodged a grievance, which was referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, and its arguments were disputed. The RAF, he says, adjusts salaries yearly to, at least, be in line with inflation.

The dispute could not be resolved at the CCMA and a certificate on non-resolution was then issued by the CCMA.

Watson adds a “no work, no pay” principle will apply, while no overtime will be granted to employees who are on strike.

“The RAF will continue to engage NUMSA through the various mediation processes and no public engagements will be done regarding the matter until an agreement has been concluded.”

Numsa is set to take to the streets to air their grievances and hand over a memorandum to the Department of Transport on Friday.