National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) rejects with contempt attempts by Road Accident Fund management to scapegoat the union for the section 189A process which is underway at the RAF. We have noted the communication issued by RAF management, Ian Barriel the Acting Corporate Support Officer, and the RAF CEO Collins Letsoalo where they falsely claim that NUMSA initiated section 189 at the company. That is not true at all. The management of RAF attempted to get the union to rubber stamp their strategy to guillotine workers and cut over 400 jobs through a dodgy restructuring process, which was outside of the CCMA process.
RAF management are lying when they claim that they put measures in place to ‘mitigate the effects of section 189’. RAF management began contemplating restructuring as early as 2020 when they contracted PWC and since then, discussions have been taking place behind the scenes to restructure the company. They began to implement this strategy around June 2022.
The facts are that RAF management had already taken a decision to retrench at least 472 employees when it declared that some positions would be redundant because of the implementation of the new, untested Integrated Claims Management System, (ICMS). NUMSA is against any job losses and we made that clear to them from the beginning. However, RAF executives set up what they termed “Information Sharing Sessions” within the Central Bargaining Committee (the CBC is a forum where we negotiate matters of mutual interest) in order to consult the union on this process. RAF was attempting to get the union to rubber stamp an unlawful process. The problem with the CBC is that it only has power to negotiate collective bargaining issues whereas restructuring is a totally different process and it should be externally managed by CCMA to ensure the interests of all parties, particularly employees, are protected. We exposed them and confronted them for attempting to retrench via the backdoor, without following proper processes as recognized by CCMA and the Labour Relations Act. Already the RAF management was targeting individuals outside the bargaining unit to accept their Voluntary Severance Packages. This is why we had to intervene to ensure that workers’ rights would not be undermined in the process.
They were attempting to justify job losses because they want to introduce an automated system that some have speculated may cost RAF almost R1 billion, with no guarantee that that the system will work as efficiently, or even deliver the same outcomes as workers. NUMSA demanded that RAF must follow the law when it implements restructuring, and this should not be misinterpreted as a sign that NUMSA supports retrenchments, we do not! But we will not sit back and allow RAF management to dismiss workers through a dodgy process.
The retrenchments at RAF is another example of how the ANC government continues to fail the working class. The purpose of SOE’s is that they enable government to create jobs, but under this administration of Cyril Ramaphosa we have seen massive job cuts which will only deepen poverty and unemployment. In our view rather than RAF management focusing on retrenching workers, they should put their focus onto where it is required, such as the rising increase of claims caused by many factors, including the state of our roads and rail in the country due to ailing infrastructure. Secondly the corruption taking place through lawyers and medical practitioners which continues to rip off RAF at the cost of tax payers also requires urgent intervention. RAF management should be working with government to ensure that it properly coordinates the rehabilitation of road and rail infrastructure between RAF, Transnet, PRASA and SANRAL. RAF should actually be doing everything possible to improve its service to the public, and it should be working hard to retain jobs and retain skills, but instead, it busy misleading workers and thus lowering morale.
In our view there is no justification for RAF to retrench workers because the people who will suffer the most are the poor who will be unable to afford medical insurance when they have accidents. In particular, those who live in far flung areas, including those based in the former homelands. NUMSA is also opposed to the closure of RAF offices in coastal areas, including North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
We condemn RAF management for their blatant lies and for continuously misleading workers with their internal communiques. RAF management is proving that we cannot and should not trust them, which is why we demanded that the restructuring process be managed by the CCMA.
In the meantime, we are preparing for the first day of the section 189 consultation with the CCMA which will be on the 10th of October 2022.
The struggle continues!
Issued by Irvin Jim
NUMSA General Secretary
For more information, please contact:
NUMSA National Spokesperson
NUMSA Head Office number: 0116891700
NUMSA Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NumsaSocial
NUMSA Twitter account: @Numsa_Media
NUMSA Website: https://numsa.org.za/