Post office strike hits charities hard

Johannesburg - The ongoing postal strike could cost charities millions in donations, the South African Institute of Fundraising said on Saturday.

"The postal strike action over the past six months could mean a loss of R55m to non-profit organisations delivering essential social services across the country," said SAIF president Ann Brown in a statement.

"Many organisations also highlighted the ongoing security problems with the postal services; theft, lost pieces of mail and delayed deliveries."

Children's cancer charity CHOC had to cancel its August appeal mail campaign, where it normally raised millions of rands in support, due to the strike.

The Leprosy Mission had to cancel a September/Spring appeal - resulting in a loss of donations of R300 000 - and was also unsure if its Christmas appeal, which usually results in half a million rand in donations, would be delivered.

The mission's director Peter Laubscher said: "[The strike] also severely impacts on the dispatch of medication to dependent patients."

READ: Sapo moves to end strike as businesses suffer

SOS Children's Villages SA's fund-raising manager Yvonne Stiglingh said it was estimated that they had lost out on around R600 000 from their most recent mailing due to the strike.

Girls and Boys Town marketing officer Teboho Nkoana said that their August appeal letters, posted to more than 30 000 donors, had only now begun arriving at their destinations.

"People do not respond to outdated mails; this exercise has been a waste of postage, paper and time."

The Salvation Army received no response to its August newsletter, an initiative that normally generates around R700 000, resulting in a reduction of services.

A number of other charities, including hospice organisations, the Salesian mission that cares for homeless children, and the SA Federation for Mental Health, had experienced similar problems and loss of income.

Last week, the SA Post Office's (Sapo) board voluntarily resigned.

Telecommunications and Postal Minister Siyabonga Cwele said last Friday in a statement the board volunteered to resign to allow him to implement an intervention aimed at resolving issues at Sapo.

The strike has worsened the financial situation at the post office, which faces a R400m shortfall as mail volumes continue to decline.

Unions are demanding an 8% increase and the permanent employment of all casual workers.

Earlier this month, MPs were told the cash-strapped Sapo was on the brink of collapse.

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