The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU), which is leading a countrywide strike at Telkom and the South African Post Office (Sapo), is confident about breaking the deadlock with Sapo over wage increases at today’s talks.
“We are positive about reaching a settlement with Sapo, especially when one looks at the impact this is having on poor people who receive Sassa grants through the post office,” said CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala.
The talks will be facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
Last week’s picketing and work stoppage affected thousands of social grant beneficiaries who withdraw their grant payouts from the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).
Sapo has offered a 6% wage increase while CWU, joined by the Democratic Postal and Communications Union and the South African Customs Union, are demanding 12%.
Sapo sought the CCMA’s intervention in terms of section 150 (2) of the Labour Relations Act to assist the parties to resolve the wage dispute.
“Picketing and work stoppages will continue across the country until Tuesday, when we will be reporting back to our members on the outcome of the talks,” Tshabalala said.
Sapo spokesperson Bongani Diako said post office management had requested that trade unions suspend the industrial action until the parties met at the CCMA “to finalise the negotiations and reach agreement because of the impact this is having on the Sassa payments”.
“The organisation has put in considerable effort to foster cordial and frank relations with our labour partners and we intend to continue on this path for Sapo’s benefit and that of our employees,” said Diako.
Sapo has apologised to customers for service interruptions at most of its affected outlets. Mainly these occured in the large city centres.
Meanwhile, Telkom said the strike affected its Openserve subsidiary, with technicians unable to service certain areas due to the industrial action.
The company said it had “a negotiation framework that was agreed with the Communication Workers’ Union”.
While Telkom had offered employees a 3% increase, the CWU was demanding 12%.
The union has given Telkom until today to respond to its wage increase demand.