Pri­vati­sa­tion of Post Of­fice ‘not the an­swer’ HIS­TORY OF POST OF­FICE CEOS

CityPress - - Business - MAMELLO MA­SOTE mamello.ma­sote@city­press.co.za

The pri­vati­sa­tion of the cri­sis-hit Post Of­fice does not ap­pear to be an op­tion.

Both the depart­ment of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and postal ser­vices, and majority union the Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Work­ers’ Union (CWU) ap­pear to be in agree­ment about this.

“The SA Post Of­fice reaches even the most ru­ral ar­eas. This foot­print could be used to ex­tend gov­ern­ment ser­vices to South Africans,” said Siya Qoza, spokesper­son for the depart­ment.

“It is also an in­sti­tu­tion that can be used to ex­tend ac­cess to ICT and fi­nan­cial ser­vices, es­pe­cially to the poor.”

Pres­i­dent of the CWU Clyde Mervin said the union was against pri­vati­sa­tion.

But he ap­peared to be­lieve the gov­ern­ment was plan­ning to pri­va­tise. He said the union was “read­ing be­tween the lines” of the medium-term bud­get speech given on Wed­nes­day by Fi­nance Min­is­ter Nh­lanhla Nene. The union would be or­gan­is­ing a march to the min­istry in protest this week, he said.

The postal strike is now en­ter­ing its ninth week. It started after a dis­pute about the process of con­vert­ing work­ers from ca­sual to per­ma­nent em­ploy­ment.

Mervin said the Post Of­fice had given a pro­posal to work­ers and they were sub­mit­ting a coun­ter­pro­posal. He would not di­vulge de­tails of ei­ther.

“Once the company agrees to our pro­posal, then work­ers will have no prob­lem re­turn­ing to work,” he said.

Post Of­fice em­ploy­ees have been in­volved in var­i­ous un­pro­tected strikes since Jan­uary.

The Post Of­fice’s flex­i­ble labour strat­egy to con­vert 7 945 ca­sual work­ers into per­ma­nent em­ploy­ees was adopted last year. Work­ers are said to be frus­trated at the slow rate of the process. The strike has also turned vi­o­lent, and on Mon­day the Belle Om­bre and At­teridgeville post of­fices in Pre­to­ria were closed for re­pairs – and a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion launched – after both were petrol-bombed.

Ac­cord­ing to the Post Of­fice, the dam­age was mi­nor and re­stricted mainly to scorch marks on floor tiles. No em­ploy­ees were in­jured.

“End­ing the vi­o­lence and in­tim­i­da­tion of this in­dus­trial ac­tion, and the work­ers’ get­ting back to work, will cer­tainly ame­lio­rate the sit­u­a­tion in the short term. This will also en­able the Post Of­fice to start de­liv­er­ing ser­vices again,” said Qoza.

He said the Post Of­fice had in­formed the min­istry that no party had de­clared a dis­pute, mean­ing the in­dus­trial ac­tion was un­pro­tected and il­le­gal.

The long-over­due fi­nan­cial state­ments have still not been pub­lished as the Post Of­fice is in dis­pute with the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral about some of its num­bers.

City Press un­der­stands that Min­is­ter Siyabonga Cwele and the man­age­ment of the Post Of­fice will ap­pear be­fore Par­lia­ment on Oc­to­ber 31.

On the fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion at the Post Of­fice, Mervin said the or­gan­i­sa­tion could not plead poverty and then give man­age­ment a 26% salary in­crease.

A for­mer Post Of­fice em­ployee who asked not to be named said he had worked at the or­gan­i­sa­tion for almost three years in a man­age­rial po­si­tion, but had been dis­missed for try­ing to flag bla­tantly cor­rupt deal­ings and waste­ful ex­pen­di­ture.

He said he was there when the Post Of­fice moved premises from a build­ing it owned to one it had to rent in Pre­to­ria.

“They spent so much money on rental and on the move. And so much had to be fixed – and more money was spent on that.”

He also said there was much du­pli­ca­tion of work.

“An em­ployee would do some­thing, and then the same work would be out­sourced to some­one else, usu­ally to an out­side con­trac­tor who was re­lated some­how to some­one inside the or­gan­i­sa­tion,” said the em­ployee.

“And there are so many em­ploy­ees on paid spe­cial leave. So they are be­ing paid and they are not do­ing any work,” he said. “And so the money-wast­ing con­tin­ues.”

He said he was placed on spe­cial leave after he was sus­pected of ac­cess­ing in­ter­nal files to re­port an ir­reg­u­lar con­tract.

“Cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als are ben­e­fit­ing from keep­ing the Post Of­fice in this state. As long as that keeps hap­pen­ing, noth­ing will change over there,” he said.

Cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als are ben­e­fit­ing from keep­ing the Post Of­fice in this state ... Noth­ing will change over there

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