Postal services in South Africa risk being disrupted later this week as a union says nationwide strike action is going ahead.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) last week threatened to strike on 5-6 May to demand higher annual pay rises for South African Post Office staff.
The CWU is also calling for the conversion of casual Post Office workers to permanent employees.
“It’s happening and we’re having a press conference in the morning (Thursday, 5 May),” CWU president Clyde Mervin said by phone on Wednesday morning.
Mervin said the strike will be “nationwide” while marches against the Post Office are expected to happen on Friday.
During the last week, discussions between the Post Office and the CWU to try and avert the strike have not taken place, Mervin said.
But Mervin said the Post Office board want to have a meeting with CWU on Wednesday. “They’ve just called us but we’re waiting for a confirmation,” Mervin said.
Meanwhile, the company said it has received notice of a planned stay-away on 5-6 May but that it doesn’t expect postal services to be disrupted.
“Our contingency plans to deal with service interruptions are being activated and we do not expect a substantial impact on delivery standards,” said CEO Mark Barnes in a statement.
“We do not expect service at Post Office outlets to be affected either,” Barnes said.
He said he’s also “communicated with all our employees regarding labour issues”.
Last week, he said that the planned CWU strike risks impacting the company’s capital raising efforts.
After recording a 2015 loss of R1,5bn, the Post Office has this year raised R1,8bn from the likes of banks to help with its turnaround.
The company has a target of raising R2,7bn in capital in addition to the R650m cash injection it received from government earlier this year.
“The Post Office has started recovering in terms of service standards and is in the process of making financial improvements as well,” Barnes said in his statement on Wednesday.
“The company needs funding to address the concerns of its employees, so a strike at this time — which will jeopardise current funding arrangements — will not help to address workers’ issues,” Barnes added.
The Post Office is also continuing to engage with all trade unions on matters that affect employees, Barnes said.