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NUMSA will embark on a strike at the Road Accident Fund because of the continuous mismanagement of the entity by the CEO Collins Letsoalo

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has served the Road Accident Fund with a 48 hour notice to strike. We are mobilizing our members for a shutdown of all RAF offices on Thursday the 14th of March and on that day, we will march to the offices of the National Department of Transport in Pretoria to hand over a memorandum of demands, to the minister of Transport to Sindisiwe Chikunga listing all the problems at the organization. We are demanding that RAF CEO Collins Letsoalo must be removed because of the disastrous state of the entity. RAF is a public entity whose core function is to compensate victims of road accidents.
Mr. Letsoalo behaves as if he is untouchable which is why the RAF is in shambles. There is a complete failure to regulate his behaviour, and it seems even the board of the RAF is helpless in the face of his gross incompetence. NUMSA is demanding that Collins Letsoalo must be fired for the disastrous state of the RAF.
The issues which have triggered the threat of a strike are as follows:

  1. RAF is outsourcing its critical operations to private companies. The RAF decided to embark on outsourcing its call centre operation conducted by RAF employees despite the uncertainties surrounding their job security. RAF threatens to retrench its employees while giving those permanent positions to companies affiliated to the ANC Government. RAF permanently closed its internal Call Centre and decided to outsource it to a company called Alteram which is a company that benefits hugely from government tenders. The tender awarded to Alteram for the call centre services costs the RAF more than 200 million Rands for a period of 13 months. NUMSA has always argued that the money spent on the outsourced Call Centre could be reserved for saving jobs, and improving the claims process. The employees who were employed in the internal Call Centre of RAF are now redundant and they will be retrenched by RAF.
  2. RAF is in violation of the POPI Act because personal information is in the hands of a third party. The RAF is being grossly mismanaged by Letsoalo who behaves like a law unto himself. Even now, the failure by the RAF to pay out claimants on time means that the assets of the institution are routinely attached by sheriffs of the court, so that they can be sold in order to pay monies owed. As a result, desks, chairs and office equipment is attached. Workers sit on boxes or on the floor when doing their work, because there are no desks or chairs. As recently as two weeks ago, a sheriff of the court attached items at the RAF offices in East London. They attached the server of the RAF which contains all the personal information of the claimants including their names, addresses2and ID numbers, as well as other personal information. Chairs and desks were also taken. The personal information of individuals is now in the hands of a third party. This is a gross violation of the POPI Act section 19(1) (a) which states that RAF has the responsibility to secure the integrity and confidentiality of all the personal information in its possession. The Act is clear that RAF has a responsibility to take all appropriate, reasonable, technical and organisational measures to prevent, “unlawful access to, or processing of personal information”. Section 20 (b) of the POPI Act speaks about how the holder of personal information, (RAF), has a duty to treat the information confidential and not to disclose it. RAF is clearly in violation of the POPI Act because it has failed to secure the personal information of claimants, and now, that information is in the hands of an unknown third party, and there are no safeguards in place to protect that information from being unlawfully distributed. If that information is sold to unscrupulous people for fraudulent purposes, the RAF and specifically, Mr. Collins Letsoalo, must take full responsibility.
  3. SCOPA is seemingly unable to act against Collins Letsoalo. NUMSA made detailed submissions to parliaments SCOPA about the mismanagement of RAF. We must also state that Mr. Letsoalo is so arrogant that he even blocked parliament’s oversight committee, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) from entering the RAF premises at the Menlyn offices last year when MP’s went to the workplace to conduct inspections. The members of SCOPA had to call the police to force the management of RAF to give them access. Mr. Letsoalo also locked out the NUMSA Health and Safety official Mr. Victor Radebe and prevented him from accessing the workplace in order to do inspections of the working conditions. There have been no consequences for this CEO who is so arrogant, that he can openly defy members of parliament, and even officials of a recognized trade union.
  4. At least 200 Claims Handlers remain on suspension since 2022 when they were accused of fraud by the management, and there has been no disciplinary action against them. Collins Letsoalo claimed the Claims Handlers were colluding with the panel of attorneys which used to act for RAF, and so he suspended them. He also terminated the panel of attorneys. Since then, there has been no disciplinary process for these workers, and seemingly, there is no investigation either. They remain in limbo, and are sitting at home. We have to state that not a single NUMSA member has been suspended or dismissed for fraud and corruption. There are 11 employees who were suspended on other charges and these relate to massive backlogs caused by the covid-19 hard lockdown, and this created massive backlogs. This is a blatant abuse of the disciplinary process. If Letsoalo has evidence of corruption he must produce it, otherwise, these suspensions must be lifted immediately, so that our members can get back to work.
  5. There is an unbearable backlog of unprocessed RAF claims caused by the lack of Claims Handlers. Part of the reason that RAF is unable to process claims on time is because they do not have enough Claims Handlers, therefore, if they are not taking action against these suspended workers, then they must be immediately re-instated. This has led to an unbearable backlog left to be processed by the few Claims Handlers remaining at the RAF. Each Claims Handler has about 2000 claims on their profiles. They handle about 7 trials a day, which is virtually impossible to manage.
    The amount of default judgements issued against RAF has immensely increased the organization’s expenditure on legal costs, resulting in wasteful expenditure. As a result of the removal of the panel of attorneys, the RAF is unable to meaningfully settle matters in court, and they are unable to pay Claimants on time. This results in a pile of unpaid court orders left unattended.
    The Mpumalanga Judge President, Justice Francis Legodi, issued a scathing judgment in February of 2023 against Mr. Letsoalo. The judgement, states that the CEO of RAF, must personally pay for the legal costs in two RAF matters because the fund did not do its work. NUMSA supports this judgment because it clearly illustrates the challenges brought about by the CEO’s lack of foresight. Previously when summons were served on the RAF, the system automatically appointed a panel attorney to defend the action. However, after the termination of the panel of attorneys, default judgements are a daily challenge and Attorneys are now demanding favourable settlements. This has resulted in claims for, example, whiplashes, being settled for more than R 6 million when they could have been settled for far less had the matter been defended by a panel attorney.
  6. The RAF is continuing to implement restructuring of the organisation, and it is doing so after it abandoned the formal, lawful restructuring which was under the auspices of CCMA, in February 2023. The RAF is implementing restructuring of the organisation through a process called ‘Culture Fit Assessment”. Workers are being placed in new positions with new responsibilities. The manner that this process is being rolled out is likely to lead to many of them being declared redundant, and then, eventually they will be retrenched. We are demanding that the restructuring must stop immediately. If RAF wants to restructure it must follow a proper process in terms of the Labour Relations Act 189(A) which means there must be consultation with the union. RAF has not proven any existing need for the said system, and they have failed to also demonstrate why the current employees are no longer needed. There must be a rationale for the restructuring. The RAF intends to retrench workers because they have procured an automated system which costs more than 900 million Rands. The system is aimed at replacing employees (Claims Handlers and Claims Admin Assistants). RAF confirmed that the SOE does not have a problem of paying worker salaries, however, it simply wants to retrench employees to automate the assessment of claims. It is disheartening, but not surprising, that the ANC led government has resorted to worsening the already terrible unemployment levels of South Africa. The country’s unemployment rate has risen to 32.1, and more than 40% of the population has given up looking for work. The ANC government continues to demonstrate that it does not care at all about the plight of the poor and unemployed. It cares only about enriching its friends who are beneficiaries of these tenders that add no value to the lives of the public.

Mr. Letsoalo is single-handedly destroying the RAF and he believes that no one will hold him accountable for his shocking behaviour. Judging from the behaviour of government, and its lacklustre response to this crisis, it seems he may be right. This is why NUMSA has resorted to strike action in order to compel the state to intervene and remove him.

NUMSA is calling on all RAF workers, whether you are organized or unorganized to down tools on Thursday in support of their demands. The struggle is led by workers themselves, and they are the only ones who have the power to give the employer a bloody nose, by withdrawing their labour. Letsoalo has made workers suffer because he is a bully. Bullies can only be defeated if they are overthrown!
We call on them to ignore his threats of dismissal and disciplinary action for going on strike. The strike certificate means that when you strike, there is nothing he can do. There is no action he can take against you, because the right to strike is protected in the constitution!

Aluta continua!
The struggle continues!

Issued by Irvin Jim
NUMSA General Secretary

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