CWU threatens to strike at SA Post Office
A NATIONWIDE strike looms over the SA Post Office after the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) issued an ultimatum last week to be recognised by the state entity.
Thabo Mogalane, the CWU deputy general secretary, said the union could launch the industrial action “within the next two weeks. We just need one week to mobilise workers.”
Mogalane said the countrywide strike would affect postal delivery and services such as transport and the post office’s financial services. The union also said the post office’s decision to stop wage negotiations on September 7 was illegal.
The CWU wants the post office to double its proposed salary increase of 6 percent to 12 percent.
The union and rival SA Postal Workers Union (Sapwu) currently cannot negotiate on behalf of their members after a recent membership verification by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) found representation of both groups to be below the threshold. The CWU threshold in its recognition agreement is 50 percent plus one member and the Sapwu threshold is 40 percent.
The post office said: “The company will continue to engage both unions for new recognition agreements.”
In April, the post office issued 90 days’ written notice to terminate the recognition agreements of both unions, before the outcome of the CCMA study. The CWU claimed the company had aimed to sabotage its labour force by issuing the notice before and not after the verification process, and that it had conspired with Sapwu and transferred CWU members’ names without their knowledge to the Sapwu list.
Mogalane said the union would submit 1 000 membership forms on Friday, bringing to 8 088 its membership and increasing its representation in the SA Post Office to 51 percent.
David Mangena, the Sapwu general secretary, said his members would not strike as the employer had met Sapwu requests to suspend wage talks and recognition agreements of both unions until both could get sufficient representation.
Asked about Sapwu possibly poaching CWU membership he said: “It goes both ways. The terrain is contested. We cannot sabotage them. They are victim of their situation.”
If CWU members do down tools, it will be the second time this year that the Cosatu-affiliated union has called a strike.
In April, its members went on a three-month strike while demanding the permanent employment of casual workers.
For the year to March 2011, the post office’s profit before tax declined 37.84 percent to R235 million.