The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Friday slammed what it alleged was “shocking abuses”being imposed upon the 14 000 hard-working SA Post Office (Sapo) employees.
It said the pending retrenchments of 6 000 postal workers came on the back of management failing to pay workers their back pay and denying them access to their medical aid services by failing to transfer their contributions to their scheme despite deducting them.
In December the Business Rescue Plan to restructure financially troubled Sapo was approved and will see the reduction of the branch network to about 600 branches that will be staffed by about 5 000 employees in the country.
The Joint Business Rescue Practitioners of Sapo are Anoosh Rooplal and Juanito Damons.
Rooplal and Damons were appointed after Sapo was placed under business rescue in July. The developed business rescue plan was adopted by Sapo creditors on December 7.
Cosatu said in a statement on Friday, “Forcing workers to take devastating 40% salary cuts while the management oversees the staggering mismanagement and systematic destruction of the once well-respected Post Office is nothing short of scandalous.
“This says something in a nation, which has seen no shortage of callous and incompetent CEOs,” it added.
“Management has not only presided over decaying and collapsing infrastructure but has continuously sought to destroy any possibility of the Post Office’s revival by closing branches and thus drastically reducing its footprint across the nation and its customer base.
“We agree with Cosatu’s Affiliate, the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU), that the Post Office should have been compensated after the separation of the Post Bank from the Post Office,” it said.
Cosatu called on the government to work with the union to find an amicable solution and take seriously the issues that were raised with regards to the workers’ working conditions.
“The government needs to take the issue of rebuilding state capacity more seriously if the economy and the nation are to recover from the period of state capture, corruption and political vandalism. Allowing political principals to sleepwalk through life while their portfolios implode is a recipe for implosion,” it added.
Cosatu said it was critical that Parliament moved with speed to pass the Post Office Amendment Bill and that the government table the Postbank Amendment Bill at Parliament.
“These two laws are critical to repivoting the Post Office and Post Bank if they are to be able to grow and thrive,” it said.
The government must recapitalise Sapo and Postbank to give them a fair chance and the necessary liquidity to compete in their sectors, the union said.
Cosatu also called on the government at all levels from national, provincial to local, from state-owned enterprises to entities to play its role in using the Sapo and Postbank as their preferred service providers.
“This is important if these institutions are to have a fighting chance of stabilising and succeeding,” it said.
Cosatu said it would continue to work with CWU to implement and defend collective bargaining as well as demand better wages and improved working conditions for workers.
IOL reported in December that according to the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grant beneficiaries would no longer be able to collect their grants from the Post Office and Postbank.
Physical cash payment points (CPPs) will be phased out, according to the organisations.
The phasing out will take place from January 2024 with an eye on completing the process by March 2024, it reported/
Meanwhile, the Cape Times reported in December that Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele said that the R3.8 billion required for the implementation of the Sapo rescue plan would be expedited.
At the time he explained that when the R3.8bn was received for the business rescue process, they would pay 2 000 creditors, including statutory bodies such as the SA Revenue Service and medical aid schemes as well as the employee salaries.
He told MPs that they would engage the union on retrenchments to ensure they were done responsibly.
“What we did highlight is that if this goes beyond March and there is undue delay, this can increase the risk to the rescue plan we have on the table.”