29/08/07 A generic of a Post Office, Sauer and Main streets JHB CBD. Photo: Leon Nicholas

More than two thirds of nearly 7 000 postmen in South Africa are employed on fixed-term contracts which stipulate they are responsible for themselves should they incur injury while on the job.

The focus on the employment practices of the SA Post Office follows an attack on a postman by three dogs in a Newcastle suburb earlier in February. Mandla Kunene, 42, spent some time in intensive care at a private hospital, and witnesses said he was lucky to survive. The post office was hesitant to pay for medical bills, but later agreed to pay, citing Kunene’s long service as a reason.

Johan Kruger, the national spokesman for the post office, said the post office had 6 914 postmen nationally - but just 2 604 were registered as full-time employees.

The remaining 4 310 postmen were employed on yearly contracts, were paid per hour in rural areas and in urban areas were paid according to mail delivered.

Only the 2 604 full-time employees were given medical benefits, a 13th cheque, pension fund and funeral cover benefits. The contracted 4 310 postmen only received leave days as benefits and were not covered under the risk management division of the post office – which recognised only full-time employees.

“In the case of the man who was mauled by dogs in KwaZulu-Natal we just felt that we needed to pay his medical costs as a sign of good gesture for the man because he has worked with us for 10 years. It is not stipulated in the contract that we should do this, but we did,” said Kruger.

Postmen required a matric certificate, although Kruger said some of the full-timers had been given the jobs when they did not have matric and used the internal training department to help them acquire matric. He said those without matric who were hired were given at least three years to obtain their matric certificate.

The Business Day newspaper reported last week that the post office had banned all labour brokers and signed 7 911 fixed-term one-year contracts with each worker. This was heard at a communications portfolio committee meeting in Parliament.

Post office chief executive Chris Hlekane

was quoted as saying: “As at January 31, 2013, a total of 7 911 people had been appointed on 12-month contracts”. Kruger said the Post Office employed 16 000 workers nationally. - Daily News