SA Post office on strike - who knew

2014-10-23 09:22

Imagine my surprise when I heard the South African post office was on strike. And to make it worse, they have downed tools for the last three months! I am appalled. How could I have missed this? The country must have come to a complete standstill while I was busy on Facebook. The wheels must have come off, mere anarchy has loosed on our world - things must have fallen apart.

So I phoned my mom. She is normally very up to date on these matters, and told her what I had just read somewhere on the Internet. “Nonsense” said she, “We would have known.” And then there was a pause. A long pause (which is unusual as she normally pauses just long enough to take a breath). “But now that I think of it, I haven’t seen a E-toll account” (which she likes to hide from my father, given that there is a “gantry” between her home and Caesar’s Casino).  “Maybe its true.”

And indeed it is. The South African Post Office has been on strike for nearly three months, and I am not sure anyone has noticed. Can you imagine this sort of thing happening in the U.K. Prime Ministers would be asked to resign, people would have shaken their unshakeable heads. Old men and ladies (and young ones even) would take to the streets waving their placards demanding that this be dealt with forthwith.  It would be viewed, as a sign that society as it was known, had come to an end. Heads would role, but not in an Isis sort of way. But not to overstate the obvious, that is because they actually have a postal service.

So I remember the days when we would mail invitations to an event. I recall so clearly, at age 12, rushing to post box daily to see who would had sent a “Reply Card” and would be coming to my bar mitzvah (it turned out I didn’t really know anyone attending , but that’s for another time). And then we got concerned that the invitations would be damaged or not arrive on time and then we got concerned they would never make it at all, and then we stopped using this medium for anything important – for anything that mattered. So now we either hand deliver or we email. And doctors email, and the City of Johannesburg emails and just about everyone does. Because it’s efficient and because we have been trained to do so. And I am not sure, aside from those E-Toll people, who actually supports the post office.

And it’s not because we don’t want to. It is simply because they have made themselves irrelevant. Like blacksmiths and telex operators, I wonder if there is a future in postal mail and I wonder if the strike is even worth resolving. What if we turned post offices into schools and practiced reading those letters no one thinks that they will ever receive. Postman people can become fitness trainers (they must have some level of physical prowess) and if you really need something you can go to Postnet. Not that I even have ever understood that dubious relationship. Do we even have stamps? The last one I can think of was a 2c one with a picture of a protea. But now proteas are cricketers and I have no idea who it is that we lick and stick.

I know that there was talk that Amazon wouldn’t send parcels to South Africa due to high levels of theft at the post office. And whereas I cant confirm if this is true, I know that I was recently unable to complete a transaction on a book as they would not deliver to our neck of the scary woods.

It seems to me that the SA Post Office has maneuvered itself into redundancy. I have no understanding regarding the level of demand from an employee perspective, but I do know that given the non existent level of service, the lack of delivery and the fact they have very little support, that we should open their doors long enough for them to deliver me that eBay parcel I am waiting for from China (USD2.99 plus delivery) and then shut them straight down one again. It’s the least we can do.

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