Union vows to shut down Post Office over wages, unpaid benefits

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  • The Communication Workers Union plans to shut down the South African Post Office's branches over wages and unpaid medical aid contributions.
  • The union's demonstrations will include marches to the National Treasury, the Department of Communications, and Parliament.
  • CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said the union is ignored, it will consider a possible strike. 
  • For more financial news, go to the News24 Business front page.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) says it will look to shut down South African Post Office (SAPO) branches around the country on Thursday and Friday as workers demand a 15% wage increase and solutions to the ongoing medical aid contributions crisis.

SAPO has been failing to keep up with employees' medical aid contributions to its medical aid provider, Medipos, with the most recent conflict arising earlier this month

On Thursday, the union plans to march from the Union Buildings to the Department of Communications and the National Treasury in Pretoria. In the Western Cape, the CWU will also march to Parliament with their demands, which include a 15% salary increase and an end to the medical aid contributions crisis.

There will also be mass picket events at Post Office branches in all nine provinces around the country. The union said pickets and demonstrations will continue into Friday and escalate to "phase two" which will include looking into the possibility of a strike if SAPO management does not heed its demands.

READ | Post Office doesn't have enough money to pay medical aid - again

CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said Cosatu and the South African Communist Party would support the mobilisation. He said talks with ANC structures for their support were ongoing.

"Post Office workers in a period of over five years only got one salary increase. All their statutory benefits have been cut. Medical aid has not been paid and members leaving the system are finding themselves thousands of rands in debt for unpaid medical aid contributions," said Tshabalala.

 

Tshabalala told News24 that SAPO employees have had to deal with great financial uncertainty including the specter of possible retrenchments while Post Office management continued to struggle to honour the most basic commitments to workers.

"Workers have lost and on top of that, they are not getting a salary increase. One of the demands is that there must be a 15% salary increase and benefits. We are also going to the department over their failure to make sure that the Post Office gets back on its feet," Tshabalala said.

READ | Post Office vows to consult as 40% of jobs at stake in retrenchments plans

Tshabalala said the CWU demands a new accountable board to lead SAPO. He said the union also took issue with the separation of Postbank from the Post Office, which he says will have dire financial consequences for Sapo.

Tshabalala said the union would be marching to the Department of Communications, the National Treasury, and Parliament. He said the state played a role in undermining the Post Office and that the union demanded that it change tack. News24 reached out to SAPO for comment, which was not received at the time of publication.

A SAPO spokesperson previously told News24 that the entity had been struggling to pay medical aid contributions for November because of its financial troubles, but that it was communicating openly with staff and working towards a solution. 

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