Employees go hungry as Autopax fails to pay September salaries

Prasa subsidiary has on numerous occasions paid wages late

06 October 2021 - 17:16
By Mpho Koka AND Mpho Koka
TransLux is one of the bus liners operated by Autopax. The company was unable to pay staff their salaries.
Image: Supplied via South Africa Travel Online TransLux is one of the bus liners operated by Autopax. The company was unable to pay staff their salaries.

Palesa* has not been able to drive to work for the past two weeks after her employer failed to pay her September salary on time.

The employee, who lives in Pretoria East with her husband and six-year-old child, is one of many workers at Autopax, a subsidiary of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), who were not paid  their salaries for September.

On Tuesday, 50 employees protested outside the offices of Prasa in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, demanding they be paid their salaries.

This is not the first time Autopax employees have not been paid on time. In May, their salaries were not paid on time and their April salaries were paid three days after payday because of "cash flow problems".

“This is really affecting us badly. I have not been able to go to work and our employer is not reaching out to us and explain what is causing the delay with the payment of our salaries,” said Palesa.

She said she was worried about the looming additional bank charges due to all the missed bank debit orders due to her not receiving her salary.

“We have not paid our Vodacom Internet connection and my child has not been able to do his school work. Now it is the school holiday break and my son, who is in grade R, cannot attend his online classes and download the homework assignments he has to do. When they return next week he will be left behind,” said Palesa.

“The grocery that we still have is from the previous month’s salary and it will only last us till the end of this week. I don’t know how we are going to survive afterwards. This is frustrating and depressing. I am close to breaking down and going into depression.”.

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Another employee, who spoke to Sowetan on condition of anonymity, said she has not had electricity since last week Friday because of not being paid her salary.

“I am currently in a house where I cannot watch TV because my DStv has been disconnected. I am eating bread because I cannot cook. I don’t even have enough water left because I couldn’t buy water. I have to go to my neighbours and ask for water for the toilet and making a bottle of milk for my child,” she said.

SA Transport and Allied Workers Union shop steward Moshe Molefe said Autopax had failed on numerous occasions to pay workers their salaries on time.

“We have had this problem since 2019. The future of this company is uncertain. We are not sure if we will be paid our salaries on time and how this non-payment of salaries will be addressed,” said Molefe.

Autopax had not responded to Sowetan’s request for comment at the time of publishing. 

Prasa spokesperson Bane Ndlovu said the employees had not been paid as a result of cash flow difficulties experienced by Autopax. “The Autopax shareholder and board of control has been engaging with the department of transport to assist with urgent funding to resolve the matter. Discussions are underway as we speak.”

* Not her real name