South Africa

Retrenched Post Office workers picket outside headquarters

Workers retrenched by the Post Office recently staged a picket outside its offices in Pretoria Central demanding severance packages they say they are owed.

Earlier this year, the Post Office announced that it would axe over 6 000 employees as they would be closing down various offices across the country due to its poor financial state.

The move would see only 600 Post Offices remaining from the 1 300 that operated pre-Covid-19.

On the morning of June 7, potholes and water leaks weren’t the only things plaguing Jeff Masemola Street as a handful of the retrenched workers picketed outside the headquarters demanding the state-owned entity pay them what they are owed.

Pretoria North resident, 53-year-old Yvette White who has been working for the Post Office for the past 12 years was one of the workers picketing. She was retrenched in April and says she has been struggling to get by ever since.

“How are we supposed to survive two months with one salary? What are they thinking?” White said.

“I have a daughter and mother who receive grants but how are we supposed to live on their grants? When they retrenched me they said ‘Don’t worry, everything is going to be okay’. It’s not okay. I want all my money paid up, every single red cent that they robbed from me from May 2020 up to January 2024, pension, UIF, everything,” White said.

White believes that mismanagement from government, business rescue practitioners (BRPs) and Post Office higher-ups are responsible for what she and fellow retrenched workers are going through.

Retrenched Post Office workers picketing outside the Post Office Headquarters.

Another retrenched Post Office worker, Thabang Nkwana says that since they were retrenched in March, they have yet to receive their UIF and pension fund from Sanlam.

“We’ve never heard from them. They don’t communicate with us when we ask, they don’t respond to us, they don’t engage with us. They retrenched us just like that and there’s no money, no information, nothing we received from our management,” Nkwana said.

Nkwana said while they’ve been out of work, debts have continued to mount and the workers and their families have been suffering dearly. Nkwana has been working for the Post Office since 2003 and became a permanent worker in 2012.

“Our life is hard, they are undermining us and not taking us seriously. Their retrenchment was not fair, we received these letters on Good Friday via email, while we were with our families. They did not prepare us for this,” Nkwana continued.

Acting Legal Head for the BRPs, Mukovhe Ravhura addressed the workers.

“Earlier today we received information that the workers would be arriving to deliver a memorandum. We have engaged with your leadership, I’m not sure if I need to clarify every issue one by one, but we gave a response and the door is actually open. We are always open to talking to employees if there are any issues of concern they want to attend to. We are trying to find meaningful and amicable solutions to the issues every employee is bringing to us,” Ravhura said.

Ravhura said they intend to ensure all retrenched workers receive their packages before the end of the month.

“A touch base has been issued clarifying that payment is coming. Whoever said payment isn’t coming is lying. You will start receiving your payments from next week,” Ravhura said.

Retrenched Post Office workers picketing outside the Post Office Headquarters.

One of the leaders among the group of retrenched workers, Tutu Mokwena said that they intend to put the Post Office and BRPs to the sword should their demands not be met.

“Comrades, I want you to listen, because of the frustrations that we are going through every night, of not knowing what your kids are going to eat, when or how you are going to get your money … all of those have been given some clarity. They have now opened the door, we are no longer going to wait for the unions. If we have issues we are going to bring them directly to them,” Mokwena said.

Mokwena said the Post Office is rife with maladministration and corruption and plans on bringing the concerns of the workers to the management. Workers say that they were promised their money by the end of June and warn that should that not come to fruition, they will take further action.

“If we’re not paid at the end of June, there’s no Post Office that is going to function, we’ll shut them down nationally,” Mokwena warned.

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