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Strike fatigue dims union’s fire

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Strike fatigue appeared to be setting in among SA Post Office (Sapo) workers as the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) lost its bid to convince them to strike this week.

The union was only supported by 227 workers out of 22 671 employees who participated in the vote at Sapo, according to the employer.

Meanwhile, the strike on Thursday and Friday only had a negligible effect on Sapo’s operations, with “business as usual” reported to have been the norm nationally, Sapo said.

“Less than 1% of Post Office employees are involved in the industrial action and less than 2% of our 2 500 points of presence are nationally affected,” Sapo added.

The week’s two-day strike symbolised the significant loss of steam compared with a devastating four-month strike at Sapo in 2014.

Johan Kruger, a Sapo spokesperson, said it had a total employees of 22 671, consisting of 16 046 permanent full-time staff and 6 625 employees with limited benefits.

However, a few of the workers marched in Cape Town this week to demand improvements in the state-owned entity and to make it clear they were “gatvol” with their working conditions.

Around 200 people, aligned with the CWU, took part in the march to the Grand Parade as part of a nationwide strike.

Provincial CWU chairperson Riedewaan Vermeuelen told News24 that staff had been waiting for salary increases for two years. Some had been casual workers for 22 years, without benefits.

In a memorandum handed to a provincial Sapo manager, workers said they wanted Sapo to be bailed out by the state and for government to reinstate its subsidy.

There was no noticeable industrial action reported in other provinces, Sapo said.

Mark Barnes, Sapo CEO, said: “Delivery standards are continuing to recover as ongoing efforts are made to resolve its difficult position. It is critical that all of us hold this balance and maintain stability, especially at this time when we are finalising our plans for raising funding,” he explained.

Sapo is looking for R2.7 billion in funding to try to turn around the lossmaking parastatal.

This is in addition to the injection of R650 million that came from National Treasury.

Barnes said that Sapo had received indications of interest from the banks regarding R1.8 billion in funding and the company was in discussions to try to secure the remaining R900 million it was seeking in funding.

Sapo has state guarantees of R4.4 billion, and government has helped the entity raise R1.3 billion against the issued guarantees to fund its operations and turnaround.

It reported a loss of R1.5 billion in the 2015 financial year after losses of R407 million in the 2014 year and a further loss of R337 million in 2013. It was looking at a loss of at least R1 billion for the year to March 2016. It last made a profit four years ago for the year to March 2012

[Source: City Press]
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