Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Cape Town - Workers at SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) will down tools after they refused to be part of the government wage offer signed by Cosatu-affiliated unions. The workers action comes amid confusion over the takeover of the payout by the Post Office from Cash Paymaster Services, whose contract ends in September.

Public Service Association (PSA) general manager Ivan Fredericks said the union’s more than 230000 members have been mobilised to participate in the union’s national day of rage on Monday in support of their salary demands. “The signing of the agreement has now resulted in the cancellation of these marches, but the strike action planned for Sassa will, however, still proceed as planned.” The three-year wage deal was presented at the Public Service Co-ordinating and Bargaining Council (PSCBC), but only about 40% of employees represented at the bargaining council had signed the deal.

The unions who have signed include two big Cosatu affiliated public-sector unions; the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) and the SA Democratic Teachers Unions (Sadtu) and the National Health and Allied Workers Union.

Tony Ehrenreich, Cosatu Western Cape secretary said: “We are not joining the strike. We believe that in the current circumstances, the proposed offer is suitable, but more can be done. What is of great importance to us now, is the lower band workers who will get the biggest increases.

“We support PSA’s right to strike, but this is really a PR exercise.” Meanwhile, following a visit to the Athlone Sassa pay point, the Standing Committee on Community Development, expressed its concerns over the failed communication of the impending changes. Provincial DA spokesperson on community development Lorraine Botha said at the unannounced oversight visit, last Tuesday, to the Belthorn Community Hall in Athlone, the committee noted with concern that not all beneficiaries present, were aware of the impending changes with regards to the new Post Bank cards and other developments happening at Sassa.

She said she would be inviting Sassa to the Standing Committee to explain how it planned to address the various challenges.

“Communication cannot only happen on the agency’s website, but is should also be in local community newspapers and on radio stations.” At the oversight visit, Botha said of the more than 150 beneficiaries less than ten people were assisted. She said only four staff members were present.

Sassa and the SA Post Offices (Sapo) operated the past weekend in a bid to ensure that the new cards are issued by deadline. Sapo spokesperson Martie Gilchrist said the cards were already in effect.

She urged beneficiaries to bring along their old Sassa card and their ID document to their local Sassa offices for the card swop.

Cape Argus