Costs of violent post office strike hit R4.3m ... and counting

2015-03-17 12:36

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The four-month-long South African Post Office strike did not only lead to the arrest and conviction of 14 employees and 180 others who were given final written warnings, but the violence led to damages claims of R4.3 million in to vandalised buildings and damaged vehicles.

Responding to written questions from members of Parliament, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele said that 235 incidents were reported during the illegal strike.

He added that the R4.3 million damages claim was a conservative estimate because more claims were being assessed by the South African Special Risk Insurance Association.

So far, 34 cases of malicious damage to equipment and 97 properties would cost nearly R1.4 million, and 60 claims for malicious damage to vehicles amounted to nearly R3 million.

He said the properties and vehicles damaged during the violent strike were spread across the country.

“The cost of the damage as indicated only relate to claims that have been confirmed by an assessor and also accepted by the South African Special Risk Insurance Association. The association has accepted but not settled all the claims.

“This therefore does not reflect the final cost of all damages. The final cost of all damages will only be confirmed once all claims are finalised – that is the claim is lodged, assessed, cost confirmed and approved,” said Cwele.

Disciplinary hearings for the 14 employees – who were convicted and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment or a R6000 fine by the Pretoria Magistrates’ Court – were still pending. Meanwhile, 180 employees who were found guilty of violence during the strike have been handed final written warnings for their part in disrupting operations at Cape Mail on January 15.

While the department is still counting the cost of the strike, unions representing workers have, in the past few weeks, threatened to down tools and embark on a go-slow over back pay and the reinstatement of 588 workers to their jobs.

The Communication Workers Union, which ended its four-month-long strike in November, had threatened that the looming strike would make the previous mass action look like a “Sunday school picnic”.

The union has also accused the administrator, Dr Simo Lushaba, who was appointed to get the ailing postal service back on track, of failing to accede to their demands and are demanding that the government remove him.

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