COSATU & CWU march in support of striking SABC & SAPO workers

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COSATU members demonstrate against cuts

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and its affiliate, the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) marched to the Treasury’s Head Office in Tshwane on Friday in support of striking workers at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and the South African Post Office (SAPO).

The CWU said in a statement: ‘It is a travesty that SABC employees, permanent and freelance did not have a wage increase for three years and a third of staff who were once permanent were sacked and forced to become freelancers.
‘COSATU and CWU are in solidarity with the workers at SAPO who have experienced horrendous abuses over many years.
‘These include repeated delays in paying their salaries, the non-payment of their deductions to third parties, e.g. medical and provident funds, to the pending sacking of 6,000 employees and the slashing of their remaining staff salaries by 40 per cent.
‘Workers at the SABC and SAPO have been abused for long enough. It’s time their rights were respected.’
Meanwhile, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has said that it opposes the private ownership of energy production and provision and that it will fight against cuts and privatisation.
SAFTU released on statement of Friday which said: ‘The newly passed bill amending the Electricity Regulation Act (ERA) sets the legal framework for the privatisation of energy provision as it seeks to change the energy generation market.
‘The consequence will be the partial or total liquidation of public ownership and dominance in electricity production.
‘The Electricity Regulation Amendment (ERA) will impact the energy sector significantly, aiming to overhaul existing frameworks.
‘This amendment proposes substantial changes the ERA aims to transition away from the dominance of the state-owned enterprise, Eskom, towards a more diversified energy landscape involving private entities.
‘In its submissions to the Presidential Climate Commission, Eskom presented a plan that shows by the end of 2035, about two-thirds of electricity produced in the country will be produced by the private sector, as opposed to approximately 90 per cent of electricity they are producing at the current moment.
‘SAFTU remains committed to a public pathway approach as a solution to the energy crisis now and in the future.
‘This entails fixing Eskom and using it to champion the building of new renewable capacity.’

  • 4,700 redundancy letters have been sent to workers of the South African Post Office (SAPO), and the Business Rescue Practitioners are looking to the government for more money to pay out retrenchment packages.

In a parliamentary question and answers session in March, the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Mondli Gungubele noted that 235 post offices are due to close across the country, with most of them situated in the Free State and North West – followed by North Gauteng, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga.
Along with this revelation, the minister confirmed that more retrenchments were underway as a result, although he couldn’t comment on the exact number.
However, following consultation processes with the CCMA, Business Day reported that the Business Rescue Practitioners (BRPs) had begun sending 4,700 retrenchment letters to staff who would lose their jobs.
This means roughly 42 per cent of the existing SAPO workforce is on the chopping block, with the Post Office being left with 6,383 staff – down from 11,083.
Despite this high number, it is notably less than the 7,000 jobs estimated to be at risk when the SAPO’s Business Rescue Plan was adopted in December 2023.
The Communications Workers Union (CWU) said the BRPs told them they were retrenching 5,148 workers – but this number dropped due to people who opted for voluntary severance retrenchments and natural attrition.
Most of the money needed to pay out the retrenchment packages over the next eight months will be sourced from the 2.4 billion rands bailout received last year.
However, business rescue practitioner Anoosh Rooplal said the conclusion of the redundancy payments was dependent on receiving the 3.8 billion rands bailout the SAPO asked for to fund its turnaround strategy to digitise SAPO to bring it up to speed with current technological developments in the postal environment.
This additional funding, however, was not granted by the National Treasury, and Rooplal noted the plan to rescue the business would be at risk without it.
During a parliamentary portfolio committee meeting, Deputy Communication Minister Mohlopi Mapulane stated that discussions between his department and the Treasury were ongoing to address the matter.
The SAPO has historically been bailed out with billions of rands. According to communications minister Mondli Gungubele, the public postal service received 10.3 billion rands between 2016 and 2024 – which effectively did nothing to turn the embattled SAPO around.

  • Gold miner Harmony Gold has concluded a landmark five-year wage agreement in respect of increases to wages and other conditions of service with its five labour unions, being the coalition which comprises the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), UASA; Solidarity; the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA).

The agreement is effective from July 1st, 2024, to June 30th, 2029.
Employees will receive a wage increase of 1,200 rands, 6.2 per cent (whichever is greater) in year one; 1 250 rands, 6.2 per cent or consumer price index (CPI) in year two; 1 300 rands, 6.2 per cent or CPI in year three; 1 450 rands, 6.35 per cent or CPI in year four; and 1,500 rands, 6.5 per cent or CPI in year five.
The current monthly living-out allowance will increase by 100 rands to 2,800 rands in year one, 100 rands to 2,900 rands in year two, 150 rands to 3,050 rands in year three, 150 rands to 3,200 rands in year four, 150 rands to 3,350 rands in year five.
‘The settlement was reached three months before the implementation date without having deadlocked or without having reached a dispute process. It has also been the first time that a five-year agreement has been reached in the gold sector.
Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said: ‘Furthermore, it is also the first time that the five mining unions, namely Solidarity, the NUM, UASA, Amcu and Numsa, negotiated jointly under the banner of an alliance – a victory for trade union unity and for every employee’.

  • The Provincial Executive Committee of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) in the Western Cape had a special meeting on Thursday, 4th April 2024 and has decided to launch a campaign against the implementation of Cost Containment measures as contained in the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) Circular 34 of 2023 and 8 of 2024.

SADTU said: ‘The circulars spell a staffing disaster for poor working class schools.
‘Classrooms will be left without teachers where there are educators acting in vacant Deputy Principal and Departmental Head positions as WCED will not be employing substitute teachers in their place, even though the substitute posts would be within the approved staff establishment of the school.
‘The schools will have to wait until the recruitment and selection processes are complete before the posts are filled
‘Schools will not be able to employ contract teachers to substitute educators who are on sick leave for longer than fifteen days.
‘Classrooms will be left without teachers when educators vacate their positions through natural attrition, or promotion as schools must now wait for the vacancy to be advertised and follow the recruitment process.
‘The WCED purports to be pro-poor, but the implementation of the two circulars indicates that the education of the poor learners, who suffered learning losses during the Covid-19 lockdown is not a priority.
‘The Department even has the audacity to advise schools to introduce the Temporary Revised Education Programme (TREP), wherein learners will not attend school daily but on certain days of the week.
‘This will further widen the gap between learners attending affluent schools and those from poor working-class backgrounds.’