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South African Post Office dismisses 588 workers for strike action

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

The South African Post Office has dismissed 588 workers after a wildcat strike caused delays in the mail service.

Strike action has been ongoing since 14th February, but although the disruption was declared illegal on 19th February, and despite talks with union officials, industrial action continued to affect the Witspos Mail Centre in Johannesburg and the Tshwane Mail Centre in Pretoria.

The strike appears to be in protest at a “scam” in which the workers were duped by colleagues into paying for a lawsuit against the Post Office.

Volunteers from the company’s administrative ranks joined mail sorting staff to process large quantities of mail at weekends, but backlogs built up nevertheless.

On Monday, the Post Office issued a final threat of dismissal, then on Tuesday confirmed it had issued letters of dismissal to the workers remaining on strike.

The company said there was no longer any other solution.

Chief executive Christopher Hlekane said: “The circumstances have truly compelled us to embark on this route, as we considered the sustainability of the business.

“It is vital to always consider our customers as being at the centre of everything we do and the illegal strike has impacted our services to them.”

The South African Post Office said it would be hiring temporary staff to replace those being dismissed, suggesting that the backlog of mail would take about 15 days to clear, with the Gauteng area worst affected.

“The main centre in Tshwane is operating at almost 100%, but the centre in Witspos in the south of Johannesburg is still struggling,” said Hlekane.

Source: Post&Parcel/SAPO

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