Settlement Reached Between SA Post Office, Two Unions

The South African Post Office (Sapo) says it has reached an agreement with two of the three labour unions whose members embarked on a protracted strike over wages.

“The South African Postal Workers Union (Sapwu) and the Democratic Postal and Communications Union (Depacu), which collectively represent 50% of the employees in the bargaining unit, have agreed to an increase of 6.5% for the bargaining unit, effective 1 December 2014,” said Dr Simo Lushaba, leader of the Intervention Team on Friday.

The agreement will be effective immediately, subject to a positive cash flow.

Forming part of the agreement is the process of conversion of part-time and casual employees into full-time employment commencing on 1 December 2014. These employees will have full benefits from 1 April 2015.

Lushaba said the full conversion will be completed within 24 months.

He said despite concerted efforts by all stakeholders, including the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has stuck to their demand of a 7.5% increase, implemented with immediate effect and backdated to April 2014.

CWU, which represents 39% of the employees in the bargaining unit, has also demanded that the backdated portions be paid across the months of January, February and March 2015.

According to Lushaba, the union has rejected all the conditions which are inextricably linked to the financial position in which the SA post office finds itself.

The post office cannot afford these demands and the ability to meet even the agreed increases depends on the restoration of stable operations, recovery and turnaround of operations.

“We believe that it will be irresponsible for the leadership of the organisation to accede to demands (made by the CWU) owing to our current financial position. Given our current cash flow scenario, it is absolutely impossible to agree on any guarantees, hence the conditions around our agreement with the other unions,” said Lushaba.

The Minister’s recent intervention at Sapo was an opportunity to turn the corner and become a 21st-century service provider which constantly evolves with the ever-changing aspirations of its customers.

“We urge all the remaining employees to return to work immediately so as to proceed with the task of rebuilding the SA post office. Failure to heed this call will result in the implementation of the HR dismissal procedures with effect from Monday, 24 November 2014,” said Dr Lushaba.

He commended the employees that continue to heed the call to return to work, adding that their continued loyalty to the future of the South African post office is the vital cog for the revival of the organisation.

“I will be remiss if I do not thank Sapwu and Depacu for having put a high premium on the interest of the SA post office and its customers.”

He said most employees continued to return to work on a daily basis. As of Thursday, 673 employees which represent only 4% of the employees who belong to the bargaining unit, had not reported for duty.

The major mail sorting centres in Gauteng that were hardest hit by the four-month-long strike – Witspos and Tshwane Mail – are presently 100% staffed and operational.

The Polokwane and Welkom mail sorting centres that have also been impacted by the strike have also resumed operations.

However, the Germiston and the Johannesburg International (OR Tambo) mail centre are not as yet back to full capacity even though mail has begun to flow from these centres, said Lushaba.


photo credit: Debarshi Ray via photopin cc