The strike by South African Post Office workers over wages entered a second week on Friday. Post offices in Pietermaritzburg were closed.
Workers are demanding a 12% increase. “Currently the employer has offered 6.5%,” said the provincial secretary of the Communication Workers Union, Thami Mzileni.
Mzileni said on Friday morning workers received a court interdict to return to work. He said the minister for Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele also tried to intervene.
“Previously the employer gave the workers 6%. That percentage was refused by the workers. On Thursday the employer gave us the 6.5%. The employer has agreed on back paying the workers from 1 April,” said Mzileni.
He said also at issue were workers who were not employed permanently. “We want all these workers to be employed. It’s up to the workers to decide whether they accept the offer. If they refuse we are forced to continue with the strike,” said Mzileni.
While workers protested, some social grant beneficiaries waited outside the Langalibalele post office. One of them was gogo Lina Mbelu. She said she had come to register her new SASSA card. She had tried at all three post offices in town.
“The whole of this week has been stressful. We are coming from far places. We understand that they are fighting for their rights. But what about us? I’m too old to be travelling up and down. I have asked them when we are supposed to come back? They told us maybe on Wednesday,” said Mbelu.
Nomusa Chiya said she had come to sort out her pin code for her card. “It’s the third day I’m at this post office … On Tuesday they were working but I could not get inside because of the long queue … I can’t withdraw money … I don’t know when this will be sorted out,” said Chiya.
Post office employee Zandile Mhlongo said of the inconvenienced beneficiaries: “We feel their pain but there is nothing we can do. Some of the issues being raised will help them. The post office needs to fix their system. We are struggling with the systems in the post office. There is too much work, but the systems are not fixed. They go offline if not down in most cases. As the workers we have to deal with that.”