Only 1% of Post office workers on strike

File picture: Henk Kruger

File picture: Henk Kruger

Published May 5, 2016


Johannesburg – Less than one percent of staff stayed away from work on the first day of a strike by members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), the SA Post Office said on Thursday.

CEO Mark Barnes said it was “business as usual” as the first day of the strike had had a minimum impact on operations nationwide.

“Less than one percent of Post Office employees are involved in the industrial action and less than two percent of our 2,500 points of presence are affected nationally. There is no noticeable industrial action reported in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape,” he said.

All post office branches nationally were fully operational, except for four outlets in Gauteng where some have been closed as a cautionary safety measure.

The closed outlets are the West Rand’s Carltonville main branch, Oberholzer, Kliptown in Soweto, and Benoni in Ekurhuleni.

Said Barnes: “Operations at the Witspos mail centre are also normal. Operations are normal in the Western Cape and only 73 employees from various centres are taking part in the industrial action. In the Free State, centres are also fully operational and all outlets are opened, with only 16 mail sorting employees taking part in the industrial action.”

Workers embarked on a two-day strike on Thursday and Friday over unresolved labour matters and demands for salary increments.

On Thursday, CWU secretary Aubrey Tshabalala told reporters in Johannesburg that the union was mandated by workers to embark on a full-blown strike, but opted for two days only to cushion the impact on company operations.

“We mention this because we want you to understand that this trade union movement has explored all avenues to find an amicable solution. This was done to minimise the impact of the strike in the company. The CWU opted to engage with management of SAPO through various platforms, further to engage with the minister of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services,” he said.

He said the Treasury was reluctant to inject funds into the state-owned company.

“This confirms our fears that the Treasury serves interests of the Private Sector. We have no doubt in our minds that hyenas are waiting on the sidelines to see the Post Office collapsing in order for them to feed on its carcass through privatisation of this state-owned enterprise.”

Workers will intensify the strike on Friday and march in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. They will march to the legislature in KwaZulu-Natal to hand over a meorandum of grievances. In Gauteng, workers will march to the Johannesburg Central Police station to open a case against those implicated in Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on SAPO.

The march will then head to ANC headquaters, Luthuli House “since the ANC failed workers by not responding to our memorandum handed over on the 14th of April 2016,” said Tshabalala.

Madonsela’s report, released in February and titled “Postponed Delivery” found that the procurement processes in the leasing of SAPO’s R161 million headquaters in Centurion were flawed and tainted by corruption. The report fingered the state-owned company’s top management.

The workers demanded a 15 percent salary increase and the conversion of temporary workers to permanent staff. The union said no agreements were signed with the employer in 2013 and 2014, while disputes dating back to 2015 remain unresolved.

Barnes, who was appointed last year to help rescue the struggling state enterprise, told Parliament in April that SAPO needed R3.5 billion in funding to help the post office emerge from its current financial dire straits.

About one billion rand of this money would be needed to settle overdue accounts with creditors, some who have not been paid for a year.

A previous strike and poor financial performance crippled the post office in 2014, rendering it technically insolvent. The Post Office could not even pay staff salaries in full.

African News Agency

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