Amid concerns from members of the public on the crippling postal workers strike, the Department of Telecommunications says it has had positive engagements with both the South African Post Office (SAPO) and Communications Workers Union (CWU).
Employees of the SAPO are currently in the middle of a ten week long strike, in which they have demanded a pay rise of 15%. They also called for thousands of casual workers currently employed by the Post Office, to be offered permanent jobs. The current strike is the latest of five to have rocked the SAPO since the start of the year, which has severely hampered service delivery.
Department spokesperson, Siyabulela Qoza, said they had met with all respective sides on the issue, with the aim of bringing about a long lasting solution to the concerns of the employees.
“Almost every other month there is another strike, so we don’t want to just solve this one strike. We want to allow the post office to operate with minimal disruptions for a long period of time,” he said.
The strike has had a notable impact on postal operations throughout the country, with some regions experiencing little to no service delivery. Qoza said it was imperative that resolutions be found to the issue, so that operations at the post office could return to normal as quickly as possible. He noted that Minister Hlengiwe Buhle Mkhize had already called on employees to return to work.
Amongst the major issues has been the reported dismissal of 473 casual workers involved in the strike, who were eventually rehired by the Post Office. Qoza suggested this was due to an internal issue within the SAPO, who had originally run a programme of employing individuals through labour brokers, before resolving to employ the directly.
“In the process of doing that, a number of things didn’t go according to plan. So a lot of what happened then is now coming back to haunt the Post Office, and indeed South Africa at this stage,” he said.
He said the department was hopeful that services could soon return back to normal, and that the minister was continuously engaging the respective parties.
SAPO has submitted a proposal to employees consisting of a 6% wage increase, and a R1500 once-off payment to return to work. Furthermore, they have also resolved to annually convert 1300 casual employees’ into permanent staff, over the duration of the next three to four years.
The CWU are expected to respond to the proposal on Monday. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)