Two unions accept Post Office deal

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Johannesburg - As each day passes, South Africans are getting more and more frustrated with the non-functioning Post Office. Employees at the Post Office have been on a wage strike for more than a month.

JOHANNESBURG - A wage agreement has been reached with two of three recognised unions at the SA Post Office (Sapo), it said on Friday.

The agreement would be effective from December 1, said Simo Lushaba, head of the intervention team appointed by Telecommunications and Postal Minister Siyabonga Cwele and Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

The agreement would be implemented immediately, subject to cash flow.

"The SA Postal and Allied Workers&39; Union (Sapawu) and the Democratic Postal and Communications Union (Depacu)... have agreed to an increase of 6.5 percent for the bargaining unit," he said.

Sapawu and Depacu represented 61 percent of employees at bargaining level.

Part of the agreement involved converting part-time and casual employees to full-time employees from December 1, with full benefits becoming effective on April 1, 2015. The full conversion would be completed within 24 months.

"However, following concerted and single-minded efforts by all relevant stakeholders... the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents 39 percent of the employees in the bargaining unit, has stuck to the demand of a 7.5 percent increase," said Lushaba.

The CWU wanted the increase implemented immediately and backdated to April 2014. It further wanted backdated portions to be paid for January, February and March 2015.

"They have rejected all the conditions which are inextricably linked to the financial position in which the SA Post Office finds itself," Lushaba said.

"The post office cannot afford these demands and [the] ability to meet even the agreed increases depends on 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," Lushaba said.

Cwele and Nene&39;s intervention allowed Sapo to become a 21st century service provider, he said.

"We urge all the remaining employees to return to work immediately so as to proceed with the task of rebuilding the SA Post Office," Lushaba said.

"Failure to heed this call will result in the implementation of the HR dismissal procedures with effect from Monday, November 24."

The major mail sorting centres in Gauteng hardest hit by the strike, Witpos and Tshwane Mail, were 100 percent staffed and operational.

The Polokwane and Welkom mail sorting centres had also resumed operations.

However, the Germiston and OR Tambo mail centre were not yet back to full capacity.