Solidarity hauls Post Office to court over R600m unpaid medical aid funds
Share this article:
Pretoria - Labour union Solidarity will bring an urgent court application against the South African Post Office next week for allegedly failing to pay contributions amounting to about R600 million to employees’ medical aid funds.
The Labour Court will be asked to urgently order that the cash-strapped State entity immediately pay the outstanding medical contributions.
“Not only does the post office violate its statutory and contractual obligations towards its employees, but it also poses a threat to the lives of its workers through this failure,” said Anton van der Bijl, head of legal matters at Solidarity.
He added that some of their members were suffering from serious chronic conditions such as cancer, and relied on their medical cover to access treatment and medication for those conditions.
“If the post office does not pay these overdue contributions, the employees will lose access to such treatment,” he said.
Van der Bijl said it was a pity that they had to go to court time and again to force state institutions to do the right thing. “We will protect the interests of our members and will do everything in our power to prevent them from becoming the victims of mismanagement by the state,” he said.
Anna Ersamus, a member of Solidarity, said in court papers that in terms of the more than 16 000 postal workers’ conditions of employment, they must belong to one of the company’s medical aid schemes.
Erasmus said while the post office is deducting a third from the salaries of its workers, it failed for several months now to pay this, together with its contribution, over to the medical aids.
Solidarity last year issued several letters to the post office to address the issue. While the post office denied that it deducted the medical aid contributions from employees’ salaries, the entity did admit that Covid-19 brought it “to its knees”.
Solidarity, however, did attach some of its members’ salaries to the court papers as proof that its portion of the medical aid contributions were being deducted.
The post office, in a letter to Solidarity earlier, maintained it would adhere to its constitutional obligations towards its workers.
Erasmus said despite this undertaking, the problems still persisted and some of the medial aids were now threatening to cancel the contracts of employees.
She stated that those who urgently need their medication, especially chronic mediation, would suffer irreparable harm if they were to lose membership of their medical aids.
She said they had no choice but to urgently turn to the court for assistance.
The post office has not yet filed its papers.