Telecommunications and postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele on Friday asked the South African Post Office and unions to call on workers to end their strike.
He was engaged in “serious discussions” with all Post Office stakeholders, he said in a statement.
“All the stakeholders have noted the negative impact of the ongoing industrial action, the financial state of the post office, and the violence and intimidation. The management and the unions are currently jointly engaging workers to appeal to them to get back to work and explain all the processes that are being undertaken to address all the issues the workers have raised.”
Cwele said he was encouraged by the progress made so far.
“We are committed to serving South Africans. We assure all South Africans that we will continue to engage all stakeholders and work tirelessly to bring an end to the industrial action in order to restore the service delivery,” he said.
The nearly two-month-long strike concerns the conversion of casual workers to permanent staff.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said on Friday it was surprised by Cwele’s call.
“The CWU is surprised by the minister’s … call to CWU to suspend the strike that has been going on in the Post Office … because as CWU we have not called for any strike,” it said.
“We were further taken aback by the initiative of the company and other groupings under the auspices of the department of telecommunications and postal services to call off the strike and agreed on the proposal made by the company without consultation with the workers.”
It said this approach had worsened the “crisis” in the Post Office.
It was the CWU’s view that the workers “must give us a mandate” on whether the deal of converting them to permanent employees in stages and a salary increase were “worth considering or not”, it said. — Sapa