File picture: Independent Media
Johannesburg – The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) on Tuesday said they were in dire straits and had a R1.8 billion deficit that would be carried over to the next financial year, which could lead to not being able to pay current salaries.

The United National Transport Union (UNTU) spokesperson Sonja Carstens said they had no other option but to ask their members to embark on an indefinite strike, to the detriment of millions of commuters, after Prasa refused to increase their final wage offer of six percent.

“Prasa’s final offer is an insult to its employees. There has been no movement from Prasa management since the start of the salary negotiations in February, when the employer put a three percent salary increase on the table."

“Prasa is also not prepared to increase any of the allowances Labour demanded. These allowances have not been increased in years,” said general secretary of UNTU, Steve Harris.

UNTU said that a Commissioner at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) issued a certificate of non-resolution Tuesday afternoon, after Prasa management came back to the conciliation without a new mandate.

Prasa was given two weeks to get a new mandate amidst their Minister being fired and their board being dissolved.

According to Harris, Prasa employees had yet to feel the devastating effect of the country’s downgrade to junk status.

Prasa Management stayed within the guidelines, given in the budget, state owned enterprises by the former Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan. UNTU said they would now embark on a process of getting a mandate from their members in terms of the Constitution.