Johannesburg - The South African Post Office has averted a potential fresh strike at the 11th hour, after the Labour Court in Joburg granted the parastatal an interim interdict against the Communication Workers Union (CWU).

The court declared the union’s certificate of non-resolution invalid and said it needed more time to consider the submission. The certificate was granted by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Last week, the CWU served the Post Office with a certificate indicating its intention to go on a go-slow in the lead-up to a fully fledged strike. The court judgment has offered the Post Office much-needed relief.

The parastatal said on Monday that the ruling would grant the Administration Technical Intervention Team, appointed by Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele, an opportunity to carry out its work in an attempt to stabilise and turn the Post Office around.

“The Labour Court verdict is a positive development as it affords the SA Post Office an opportunity to continue providing uninterrupted services to its customers. The judgment affords the administration team an opportunity to continue unhindered with its efforts to introduce measures that will turn the Post Office around, a task which is intrinsically tied to the national agenda,” said Post Office administrator Simo Lushaba.

Relations between Lushaba, his team and the CWU are frosty. The union has said the administrator lacks transparency. Among issues raised is that R20 million from the Post Office’s coffers had been spent on administrators and consultants while they were “aloof and out of touch with reality”.

However, the Post Office has denied the allegation, saying the administrator had already taken it upon himself to explain this to employees.

The hostility has led to a collapse of communication between labour and the parastatal. Disputes are constantly referred to the CCMA, where they break down and result in the issuing of non-resolution certificates.

Lushaba has vowed that his team will continue to amicably engage trade unions on all outstanding labour issues.

The CWU and the administrator agree on one point, though, and that is the dire state of the Post Office.

“The current state of the SA Post Office’s operations and its financial position demonstrate the grim realities of fractious relations.

“We have learnt our lessons and are busy correcting this for the benefit of both our employees and customers,” said Lushaba.

The union says it will continue to host mass meetings to inform members about the recent developments.

Among the CWU’s demands is that the Post Office should convert casual workers to permanent positions, that workers receive a 15 percent pay rise and that reinstated employees receive a positive adjustment to their salaries.

The union’s president, Clyde Mervin, said the CWU had lost faith in the Post Office’s ability to resolve its challenges, and asked the government to step in again.

Parties will return to court on April 24 for the final ruling on the matter.

The Star