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

Johannesburg – The National Union of Metalworkers of SA claims at least 1 500 workers at the Road Accident Fund are on strike.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the union says this is because the beleaguered entity is “in turmoil”.

Earlier this year, the RAF announced it was unable to make any payouts to its claimants, service providers, stakeholders and caregivers when the sheriff of the court attached its bank accounts after several legal firms sued the fund for R11 million.

This issue was shortly resolved, and payments started happening again.

Late last year, the agency said internal and external investigations against lawyers, staff and claimants had saved it billions of rand in bogus claims.

On Thursday, Numsa claimed 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.

In February, just after Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan presented his Budget speech, the fund said the increase in the fuel levy was a “welcome albeit temporary relief to the organisation”.

Read also: RAF resumes payments to its claimants

CEO Eugene Watson said the higher amount – an extra 9c a litre – would make it possible for it continue delivering on its public mandate.

The additional amount equates to an extra R1.9 billion for the RAF, taking the total RAF annual fuel Levy to R34.9 billion.

Watson added: “Meanwhile, the RAF will continue managing its financial challenges in a constructive manner by engaging stakeholders, suppliers and claimants on how the additional funds will be further distributed fairly and equitably, while appealing for their support and cooperation.”

However, it now appears that Numsa has 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.