Workers accuse PRASA of approaching wage negotiations in bad faith

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Workers at PRASA are accusing the organisation of approaching wage negotiations in bad faith.

Unions SATAWU and UNTU are demanding a 15% wage increase. The employer is offering 5%, citing the lack of funds.

However, the unionised workers have slammed what they call mismanagement amid reports of R50 million being spent annually at PRASA to keep senior managers at home.

Workers unions say their three-year wage agreement at PRASA lapsed in March 2023 and their 15 000 members have been left in limbo.

“The union is demanding 15% increase across the board. The agreement between us and the employer must be strictly a year. The union is also saying that the employer must also pay 70% towards the medical aid, we are also demanding that there won’t be any retrenchment during this period as well as R3 000 for housing allowance. When we met again in July, the employer came into the meeting very unprepared with nothing to offer, none whatsoever, that was disrespectful and an insult to us,” SATAWU’s Amanda Tshemese explains.

The employer has been accused of mismanagement following reports that more than 22 executives and senior managers at PRASA have been suspended for years with full pay at the tune of R59 million annually. The unions believe that their money can address their wage demands.

“The union has been very vocal over the past few years about maladministration and the alleged corruption at PRASA which has played a huge role in collapsing the entity, we have publicly raised our concerns about corruption charges that are dragging and millions being spent on those accused and sitting at home doing nothing. It’s a huge loss because those acting are also paid millions and the same management tells us they don’t have enough money to pay the workers, yet they are wasting millions,” Tshemese elaborates.

Labour unions say they want an explanation from PRASA as they believe the prolonged suspensions without a resolution are double jeopardy for the suspended workers.

“We will have to as a matter of urgency propose a meeting with PRASA management and board to give us an explanation. It’s an issue that has existed before but fell on deaf ears. The employees need to be represented and I will be pushing for a waiver as it’s justice delayed and denied even though they are earning a salary,” Dan Khumalo, UNTU Deputy General Secretary.

The unions say they are hopeful that the employer will approach the wage negotiations positively going forward with fresh talks expected in the coming month. PRASA says it was not in a position to comment on these issues at the moment.