May 29, 2020
The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) is disturbed by the controversial developments at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). On 26 May 2020, SATAWU agreed to a meeting with the Administrator, Mr Bongisizwe Mpondo, scheduled for 29 May 2020. The purpose of the meeting was to address pending matters ranging from the question of voluntary severance packages, employee overtimes and the presentation of a turnaround strategy/plan as previously agreed on by parties. We were astonished to learn that the meeting was reduced to an announcement of five executives which are:
The undermining of labour and unilateral decision making by Mr Mpondo has proven his contempt for open negotiations and consultation. His actions continue to disregard the interests of the working class. Just recently, PRASA announced its inability to pay staff salaries hence the rationale behind the proposal for voluntary severance packages. The current manifestations have exposed Mr Mpondo’s intentions to sacrifice the livelihood of ordinary workers in order to supplement the salaries of five executives.
The timing of the appointments is perplexing, on one hand, but raises a multiplicity of suspicions, on the other. Firstly, the announcement of the executives took place after the Minister of Transport opened the nomination process for the PRASA Board of Control. Secondly, this announcement has taken place three days before the deadline/closure of the nomination process. Thirdly, it is our view that the board has the responsibility to manage the day to day affairs of the state-owned enterprise (SOE). Fourthly, the board is empowered to make recommendations to the Minister to fill vacancies. The order of events suggests two possibilities: (1). Mr Mpondo rushed to employ his allies for the purpose of weakening the incoming board or (2), to create a soft landing for himself after his one-year contract lapses.
We acknowledge that the appointment of executives was inevitable. Our discontent centres on the need to sacrifice ordinary workers in order to supplement the salaries of the executives in question. Mr Mpondo deliberately failed to prioritise all executives previously appointed to act in those positions. He overstepped his boundaries by undermining PRASA’s human resource development and talent management policies furthermore, gambling with the future and lives of ordinary members.
SATAWU is concerned about Mr Mpondo’s capabilities to reorganise and steer the rail agency towards a qualitatively different path. Six months after his appointment, labour is yet to receive or engage the turnaround strategy/plan. SATAWU hopes that the newly appointed executives will assist him realising and/or completing this objective. All conservative proposals such as voluntary severance packages should be contained in the recommendation section of the document. The incoming board with the assistance of labour will enhance the draft proposal before accepting it as a turnaround strategy.
Finally, the union will not participate in any forms of engagement with Mr Mpondo. We will, however, partake in constructive engagements with the newly appointed executives and the incoming board. It is envisaged that parties will at that interval in time respect consultative principles necessary for transforming the rail agency. In the immediate, we demand that Mr Mpondo withdraw all reactionary plans aimed at compromising ordinary workers. The Failure to heed this call will leave us no option but to advance countervailing action aimed at safeguarding the interests of our members.
Issue by: Comrade Jack Mazibuko (SATAWU General Secretary): (082) 660-4793
: Comrade Anele Kiet (SATAWU Deputy General Secretary): (073) 684-1912
: Comrade Lubabalo Tinzi (SATAWU Passenger Rail Coordinator): (082) 473-2626