File picture: Bongani Shilulbane/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) has been blamed for train security personnel's unhappiness in the workplace, as guards say they have been paid late for months.

Chuma Security Service chief executive Sithethi Ngcwangu said yesterdayhe was finally able to pay his 400 employees their salaries for July on Monday.

Continuous alleged late payments by Prasa meant talks of strike action loomed, Ngcwangu said.

According to Ngcwangu, Prasa was supposed to pay R3.2 million a month for the service on the 15th of each month.

But payments, when they did eventually come through, were on random days, Ngcwangu said.

In the past, Ngcwangu had had to use his VAT to pay employees their salaries, he said.

“We send our invoices on time each month. I have 400 employees who have families to feed,” he said.

In 2016, the Western Cape High Court ordered Prasa to pay the R7.3m it owed to two companies for security services.

That was after the sheriff of the court attached seven Prasa coaches in lieu of the R2.4m it had owed Chuma Security in a separate matter.

Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani said yesterday that payments were managed internally between its finance department and service providers.

She did not elaborate on requests for comment on Chuma Security not being paid on time.

“Prasa is cognisant of its financial responsibilities.

“The issue of payments is a priority in the business as is the consistent effort to meet its obligations,” she said.

“Prasa is unable to account for employees in a private entity who bid for contracts, and deems this the responsibility of the respective organisation,” Zenani said.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) represents Chuma Security’s staff.

Numsa provincial secretary Vuyo Lufele said yesterday that they supported Chuma in what he said was a struggle to get Prasa to pay on time.

Lufele said that in total Prasa owed Chuma Security about R29m.

“We are aware that Prasa is making late payments, and has a backlog.

‘‘Two years ago there was an agreement that employees would get a 7% increase a year but that has not happened either,” Lufele said.

He added that Chuma Security was currently in business rescue.

“It is a crisis. Prasa might want to terminate the contract, but they can’t do so until they have paid the R29m,” he said.

Cape Times