‘Disgusted’ union to meet minister as Post Office cuts staff

Workers at the cash-strapped South African Post Office are up in arms after the state-owned enterprise delivered retrenchment letters to about 5,000 workers.

The Communications Workers Union (CWU) told Sunday World it was planning to meet with Communication Minister Mondli Gungubele. On the agenda at the Thursday meeting will be the large-scale retrenchments.

Pension funds and UIF concerns

The union also questioned whether the retrenched workers would receive their pension funds and unemployment insurance fund.

CWU’s national bargaining coordinator, Nathan Bouwers, said the post office has in recent years been deducting UIF and pension fund. These were deducted from the workers, but it  failed to forward this money to the UIF and pension administrators.

“Because of this, we can’t apply for money from the UIF for workers to be retrained. Or for the money to go to the post office to sustain workers on a minimum basis through Ters,” said Bouwers.

600 branches face closure

The restructuring could result in the closure of 600 post office branches.

He said according to the law, for every 10,000 people, there needs to be one Post Office branch.

Bouwers said Mitchells Plain in the Western Cape used to have 10 post office branches that served over 1.2 million people.

“There is no longer even one post office in Mitchells Plain.”

He said this meant that low income communities would no longer be able to send of receive letters and packages via mail.

Disgusted by government

“As CWU, we are disgusted with this government, we are disgusted with this portfolio committee. We are disgusted with this minister and parliament. That parliament is useless to workers, they are not the workers’ parliament. They are serving the interests of capital and certain forces … Not serving the interests of the working class and the low-income earners. They are useless, the entire parliament.

“We’ve called on the president to intervene. That Cyril Ramaphosa is quiet and we are disgusted by his silence.”

He said they tried to complain about the corruption that was draining the post offices of cash. But the parliamentary portfolio committee did not act.

The post office was placed under provisional liquidation in February 2023. This came after a legal challenge by a creditor who was owed rent.

Provisional liquidation

When the liquidators stepped down, the company was placed under provisional liquidation in July last year. The company was owing R4.5-billion to creditors.

According to Bouwers, the business rescue plan, among other things, included the retrenchment of 6,000 employees.

The unions went to the CCMA to oppose the retrenchment process. After a series of deliberations, the business rescue practitioners told us they were retrenching, 5148 workers.

Bouwers argued the number decreased due to people who opted for voluntary severance retrenchments and natural attrition. Also those who were fired following internal disciplinary processes.

The South African Postal Workers Union secretary-general David Mangena said the workers were served with termination letters. They were given a one-month notice period.

He said unions were opposed to the retrenchment process. He said the workers would be paid their severance pay over a period of three months.

Visit SW YouTube Channel for our video content

Latest News