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Time to get tough with the Post Office

26 February 2014, 12:22
The recent Constitutional Court ruling on a case involving default payments on a car and the notifications sent from the bank underline just what a serious problem the falling apart South African Post Office is. The case saw the Court find that the bank did all that was required of them in sending two notifications of arrears via registered mail, even though the account holder did not get them.

That SA law states clearly that notification by mail needs to be addressed to allow for electronic correspondence to be included as a requirement is an obvious point, but in the mean time the law relies on the postal service.

2013 saw Post Office staff on strike for at least 3 months of the year, possibly even more. At present in 2014 the strikes continue, meaning no mail is being delivered. Yes, sure, there's a nice plus on that for the E-Toll protestors in regards of invoices not being sent, but on that note let me remind you of the law - that SANRAL sent them is sufficient, that they are not delivered does not void the legality or obligation.

Post Office strikes tend not to be as fashionable, trendy or as eye catching for the news as ones at mines, yet they still cause damage. Many of you will recall, no doubt, that wonderful time which saw theft by Post Office staff being at such a high level that for a while Amazon and other online stores simply refused to ship to South Africa anymore. That blacklisting is likely to return, as who knows how many more parcels now are not being delivered, leading to claims against those who shipped the items.

A reliable postal system, even in this day and age of electronic communication, is a vital, essential part of the infrastructure of any country. Not everyone communicates electronically, and not every item can be sent electronically.

Why exactly lengthy, destabilizing strikes are tolerated by the Post Office remains beyond me. Are there more pressing, serious issues in South Africa? Of course, but does that mean we all just shake our heads and say it is "one of those things" about it?

Letters sent between Australia and England via airmail take about 5 days to arrive. Letters sent over a month ago from both of those countries, to a PO Box in South Africa, have yet to arrive. They are letters of no value, so presumably they were not stolen - just not delivered, that's all.

I don't understand how strike after strike at the Post Office can be allowed. The service is as essential and as relied upon as much as telephones and cellphones - if they all went on strike and phones didn't work for three months I suspect it would have people up in arms demanding it be resolved. The same should be true of the postal system. If the staff are all that unhappy and refuse to work, some sort of intervention is required for this essential service. Take the workers protesting, tell them to get to work or get rid of them. I suspect there are a number of people out there who would be delighted and thrilled to get the opportunity to work in the service.

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