Post office yields to critical union demands

Unions and representatives from the state-owned entity met on Monday to resolve the wage dispute in talks facilitated by telecommunications and postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele. (David Harrison/M&G)

Unions and representatives from the state-owned entity met on Monday to resolve the wage dispute in talks facilitated by telecommunications and postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele. (David Harrison/M&G)

As the South African Post Office strike is now well into its second week, union leaders are confident wage talks are nearing their conclusion.

Thousands of workers affiliated with the Communication Workers Union, the South African Customs Union and the Democratic Postal and Communications Union (Depacu) downed tools on July 6 to demand higher wages.

Unions and representatives from the state-owned entity met on Monday to resolve the wage dispute in talks facilitated by telecommunications and postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele.

Though previous negotiations involving the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration ended in a deadlock, Monday’s talks, Depacu general secretary Levy Zwane said, yielded fruitful resolutions on demands that have become sticking points during the negotiations.

READ MORE: Post office wage talks deadlocked

Prior to the talks, the Post Office had offered a 6% wage increase while the unions demanded 12%. According to the unions, workers have not received a wage increase since 2017.

Zwane said the unions lowered their demand from 10% to 8.5% during the course of negotiations, while Sapo’s offer now stands at 6.5%.

Though Depacu had a number of demands, the union had streamlined their proposal to attend to two critical demands: the wage increase and that permanent part-time employees, who work four and a half hours a day, be made fully permanent and have their hours raised, Zwane said.

The state-owned entity attended to these demands on Monday, resolving to convert 500 of these permanent part-time employees to permanent workers — a proposal Zwane called a “big win” for the unions.

Sapo had also offered to raise the hours of permanent part-timers from 25 hours to 27.5 hours per week, Zwane said.

Unions will now present this new package to its members for further consultation.

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Sarah Smit

Sarah Smit

Sarah Smit both subs and writes for the Mail & Guardian. She joined the M&G after completing her master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Cape Town. She is interested in the literature of the contemporary black diaspora and its intersection with queer aesthetics of solidarity. Her recent work considers the connections between South African literary history and literature from the rest of the Continent. Read more from Sarah Smit

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