Hundreds of postal workers represented by the Communication Workers Union protested in Johannesburg CBD Friday the 6th of May in the afternoon, demanding pay increases, cleaner working conditions, and a bailout for the Post Office. SAPO has been on the verge of collapse for quite some time. According to Mark Barnes, the new CEO of SAPO, the post office has asked for R3.4Billion to help pay overdue creditors, payment of overdrafts, past staff liabilities, voluntary service, and early retirement packages.
According to Barnes, the government gave SAPO R650 million, but that money was given to suppliers so operations weren’t shut down. The Post Office is still trying to gather the money they need. The government has offered a R2.7 billion guarantee, but protestors say a guarantee is not enough. Protestors say they want the Post Office to receive a cash bailout similar to SAA or Eskom.
For the past two years, postal workers in Johannesburg have not received a wage increase and it is impacting their families. A postal worker named Gugu Zulu, says “As members of the ANC, as a worker of the post office, I’m coming to Luthuli House to say crying out loud as a woman to say my kids are hungry. We are all hungry. You can’t work for two years without an increase. You can’t work two years and earn R4,000.” J.M. Malatji says he is having hard time putting his daughter through college. “I’ve got a child, my daughter is at the college, and I can’t afford her fees.”
The Communication Workers Union First Deputy President Sontaga Mantlhaga says they have asked the deputy president, a minister, and ANC officials asking for help financing the post office. They decided to protest when their requests were not met.
Protestors say if the government doesn’t help them, it will impact how they vote during the upcoming elections. Malatji says, “We are promising the ANC that if they do not bail out the post office, we will not vote for them. We are 22,000 workers in the post office, so they are going to lose 22,000 votes.”