The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) recently threatened the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) with a potential strike if a wage dispute is not resolved.

The dispute was referred by the United National Transport Union (UNTU).

Fedusa spokesperson Frank Nxumalo said: “Fedusa fully supports UNTU’s decision to refer the dispute to the CCMA for conciliation after the latter’s members rejected Prasa’s wage offer increase from three percent to 4.5 percent on condition that UNTU lowers its demands from 20 percent to 12 percent.”

Increases in medical aid, night shift, book off and standby allowances with effect from April 1 are also being demanded by the union.

While Nxumalo believes the Prasa strike could cripple its operations and bring rail passenger transport to a halt across the country, Fedusa general secretary, Dennis George said that millions of rand are being wasted daily on irregular and fruitless expenditure by Prasa management, which could be used to pay decent salaries and other benefits for UNTU members.

The union’s general secretary Steve Harris said the union’s members are angry, as over the past year, Prasa management has ignored the pleas of UNTU members.

The parastatal has also recently been under the spotlight after its acting CE Collins Letsoalo was let go. This was followed by the public dismantling of the parastatal’s board. The board was dissolved by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters on grounds of on-going governance challenges, with an inquiry to be launched to explore these challenges.

Harris weighed in on this and said that on another front, “Prasa is facing a tough legal battle after its former Board Chairman Popo Molefe filed court papers to oppose the dissolution of his board and the appointment of an interim one by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters”.