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Post Office workers begin two-day strike

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Thousands of workers at the cash-strapped South African Post Office (SAPO) will embark on a two-day strike on Thursday and Friday over unresolved labour matters and salary demands.

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) – a Cosatu affiliate – said they are demanding a 15-percent salary increase and the conversion of temporary workers to permanent staff.

The union said no agreements were signed with the employer in 2013 and 2014, while disputes dating back to 2015 remain unresolved.

SAPO chief executive officer Mark Barnes said contingency plans were in place to minimise service disruptions.

“Our contingency plans to deal with service interruptions are being activated and we do not expect a substantial impact on delivery standards. We do not expect service at Post Office outlets to be affected either,” Barnes said in a statement.

He said the state-owned company was recovering from its financial woes and that the strike would not help resolve problems at the Post Office.

“I have communicated with all our employees regarding labour issues. The Post Office has started recovering in terms of service standards and is in the process of making financial improvements as well,” said Barnes.

Barnes, who was appointed last year to help rescue the struggling state enterprise, told Parliament in April that SAPO needed R3.5 billion in funding to help it emerge from its current financial dire straits.

About R1 billion of this money would be needed to settle overdue accounts with creditors, some of whom have not been paid for a year.

A previous strike and poor financial performance crippled the Post Office in 2014, rendering SAPO technically insolvent. The Post Office could not even pay staff salaries in full.

“The company needs funding to address the concerns of its employees, so a strike at this time, which will jeopardise current funding arrangements, will not help to address workers’ issues. We will continue to engage all trade unions on matters that affect employees,” said Barnes.

[Source: ANA]
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