Pretoria - Waiting for your credit card to be delivered or end-of-month’s bills to arrive in the post? Well, you might have to wait a bit longer. The Pretoria News has been inundated with complaints by readers who have not received their mail or parcels as the Post Office’s casual employees have been on strike for the past two weeks.
The workers allege they have been working without contracts since 2012 and their pleas for contracts are ignored by top management. In 2012, casual Post Office employees embarked on a three-month strike, demanding permanent contracts and full-time employment. Last year, the strike resurfaced, again over demands for permanent contracts. And in February, another strike erupted.
Workers’ representative Thabo Maisale said management had over the years reneged on every agreement they had signed with workers’ representatives: “They have not honoured any memorandum of understanding agreed on.”
Maisale said workers had tried to remain patient but management refused to meet them halfway.
Jacquelina Maja, another task team member, said the team had been to labour offices in Pretoria this week to seek intervention but were referred to the CCMA.
Patrick Makimta, one of the striking workers, said they were not being taken seriously despite being on strike for the past two weeks.
Khulani Qoma, head of group communication and citizenship at the South African Post Office, confirmed the casual employees had been on strike for the past two weeks, resulting in customers experiencing service interruptions.
“Service at post offices in the Tshwane and East Rand have been interrupted as a result of illegal industrial action by casual workers.”
Qoma said processes were under way to keep operations going and to minimise the impact of the strike on customers. The workers were unhappy about the speed at which permanent positions are being created, he said. “The strike is unnecessary as we’ve already started converting 900 casual positions into permanent positions. This was part of the agreement we reached with the casual workers’ leadership.”
But in an about-turn, Christopher Hlekane, group chief executive of the Post Office, said in a statement issued by Qoma: “All efforts to resolve the industrial action - which included negotiations, ultimatums and a Labour Court interdict - came to naught. Therefore, the SA Post Office could not conceive of any other alternative but to dismiss the striking employees.”
People are feeling the effects of the strike as offices from Glenstantia, Lyttelton, Pretoria central (Church Street) and Menlyn Retail mall are reported to be closed.