South African Post Office Retrenchment Crisis Looms

What Does the Future Hold for Nearly 5,000 Post Office Employees Facing Retrenchment?

South African Post Office Retrenchment Crisis Looms

Nearly 5,000 employees of the South African Post Office face possible retrenchment. This follows the decision by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and a Single Adjudication Committee, which rejected the Post Office’s application for Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) funding. The funding request, initiated by the Joint Business Rescue Practitioners along with relevant labour unions, aimed to secure financial support for the Post Office’s bargaining unit staff.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that the Adjudication Committee had decided against the relief application.

“As was noted in the application agreement, the withdrawal of the termination letters was conditional on the success of the TERS application and if not successful, as is the case now, the bargaining unit category of employees would revert to the current position and so be retrenched,”

explained Anoosh Rooplal, a Joint Business Rescue Practitioner.

Implications of the Failed Funding Attempt

The refusal of the TERS application spells uncertainty for 4,889 members of the bargaining unit staff. Rooplal expressed his disappointment over the failure of the application, which had been seen as a potential means to temporarily alleviate financial distress for the employees by funding their upskilling and re-training for potential job placements while they continued to earn a salary.

The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies had also proposed to assist in finding placement positions for staff following their upskilling. Rooplal emphasized that the funding was expected to support the employees as the Post Office endeavored to stabilize financially and sought growth opportunities.

“We tried our very best and acted in good faith, together with the unions, to make a final attempt to apply for TERS relief funding, to limit the impact on possible retrenchments and provide a temporary relief for the bargaining unit,”

Rooplal said, reflecting on the efforts made to secure the grant.

Rooplal further acknowledged the emotional and practical impact the failed application has had on the staff and their families.

“We are conscious of the turmoil that this application and subsequent rejection will and has caused the bargaining unit staff members and their families and for that we are deeply sorry,”

he added, expressing regret over the situation.

The practitioners had held hope that, had the application succeeded, it would have resulted in a more favorable situation for the affected employees and their families, even if only for a brief period.

How Many Jobs Have Been Lost in South Africa Over the Last Five Years?

Over the last five years, South Africa has experienced significant job losses, particularly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the onset of the pandemic during the strict lockdown periods, it was estimated that around 2.2 million people lost their jobs, dramatically affecting sectors like the informal and domestic work sectors​ (StatsSA)​. A broader look at the impact over recent years suggests that as many as three million South Africans may have lost their jobs due to the pandemic’s economic fallout​ (Business & Human Rights Resource Centre)​.

The situation has led to a marked increase in unemployment rates and underemployment, with the most vulnerable groups being hit the hardest. These job losses have had profound implications on the economy and individual livelihoods, slowing down recovery and increasing the challenges in the labor market.

What do you think?


Written by Bobby Boucher


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