The United National Transport Union (UNTU) laid a formal complaint against the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) with Mr Thulas Nxesi, Minister of Employment and Labour, today for not adhering to Government regulations by providing employees with the necessary personal protective equipment.
Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU, says the Union decided to ask Nxesi to deploy inspectors from the Department of Labour, members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and officials of the Department of Trade and Industry to inspect PRASA depots immediately as a last resort.
“PRASA’s lack of compliance has been reported to Mr Bongisizwe Mpondo, Administrator of PRASA, numerous times who refers it to his acting managers who respond with more empty promises.
“UNTU reported this to Mr Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Transport to whom PRASA accounts, and to the Department of Transport on 9 April 2020, but to date received no response,” says Harris.
PRASA is failing UNTU members whose work has been declared essential services in terms of the Disaster Management Act by not providing them with PPE’s to combat the spreading of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic in the following aspects:
• All Protection Services Depots would have been sanitized before or at the beginning of the lockdown on 26 March 2020. This have not been done to date.
• PRASA employees whose work have been declared essential services, would have been issued with gloves, masks and sanitizers accordingly. The employees sometimes must work for 3-5 days with only one mask, no sanitizer has been issued per Motor Vehicle used for members to clean frequently although they must search vagrants found in the PRASA environment. This ongoing practise is not in line with Governments regulations and are compromising and exposing PRASA employees and their loved once’s to the danger of contracting the virus.
• The motor vehicles PRASA employees must use as the transport mode to move colleagues from different places to work, vice versa, is not adhering to the regulations of social distancing and required PPE as set of by Government. Between 4 to 5 workers travel in a vehicle, no masks, and at times no sanitizer. The vehicles are not sanitized after such trips or daily and/or never have been sanitized at all ever since this pandemic started.
• PRASA depots cleaners have been stopped/withdrawn for whatever reason(s) which made the situation even more severe.
Harris says Nxesi stated during a press conference on 31 March 2020 that his department received numerous complaints from workers who are being forced by employers to work without PPE’s, that it was investigated and that he was about to start naming and shaming those employers.
“In the case of PRASA it has no excuse. PRASA is a state owned-enterprise (SOE) task with the obligation to set an example to other employers like the rest of Government is doing,” says Harris.
For more information phone Harris on 082 566 5516.
Issued on behalf of UNTU by Sonja Carstens, Deputy -General Secretary: Media, Liaison and Communication. For UNTU press releases phone 082 463 6806 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org