Occupation of PRASA offices saves jobs
A Victory Against Outsourcing at PRASA
Lebogang Phanyeko Johannesburg WASP
PRASA the state owned rail passenger entity has been reported as involved in massive corruption and looting of state own resources through patronage by corrupt elements of the ANC. They award themselves tenders for self-enrichment whist workers are exploited by companies who are rendering cleaning and security services.
On 31 August 2017 #OutsourcingMustFall Joburg region workers were in a state of a limbo, not knowing their state of employment after they were issued with letters at the beginning of August by the service provider – Supercare cleaning services – terminating their contracts.
Workers went through a frustrating situation especially after their hopes were raised in previous months after a series of meetings between PRASA management and elected worker representatives. #OMF wrote to PRASA management for intervention since they are the employers of all services providers (outsourced companies), however PRASA decided to keep silent and not reply to us.
Workers were left with no option but to embark on action. The decision was taken to #Occupy PRASA’s offices in Braamfontein, Joburg, demanding the migration of all workers to the new service providers appointed by PRASA to take over contracts in September.
However the occupation was not only about Supercare cleaning services but also Mbita cleaning services that terminated workers’ contracts in the previous months after losing its contract.
Workers assembled numbers in the early hours of the morning at Jourbet Park, central Joburg. Workers started discussing strategy and tactics for the day’s action. Some workers were not confident to attempt an occupation. But in democratic and robust engagements, other workers warned that if there was not immediate action today, tomorrow the incoming service providers would bring a new workforce putting workers in a far weaker position to continue to fight for their jobs. Through debate workers were able agree to an amicable and disciplined way forward for the day’s action.
The occupation was indeed a success. Prasa management agreed to migrate/ reinstate all workers from Supercare cleaning services to the newly appointed service providers starting on the 1 September. They also they agreed with #OMF to write a new ‘service level’ agreement between the service providers and themselves giving guidelines of employment, including penalties that can be imposed if those guidelines are not met, e.g. protective clothing, adhering to basic conditions of employment etc. Further, Mbita cleaning service workers will be reinstated and placed with the new service provider in Johannesburg East covered by their own ‘service level’ agreement.
Today’s victory is a stepping stone in the struggle against outsourcing. If workers remain united, disciplined and continue to organise across all sectors, we can defeat outsourcing in all government departments.