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Post Office strike to affect Sassa beneficiaries still waiting for grants

Thousands of workers at the Post Office and Telkom have downed tools over wages, demanding a 12% salary increase across the board.

FILE: Pensioners queue outside of a supermarket in Mitchells Plain on the 1st of the month to collect their Sassa grants. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) beneficiaries who still have not received their social grants may face more delays with employees in the communications sector announcing a nationwide shutdown.

Thousands of workers at the Post Office (SAPO) and Telkom have downed tools over wages.

Several unions in the sector are involved in the industrial action including the Communication Workers Union (CWU), the Democratic Postal and Communications Union (Depacu) and the South African Postal and Allied Workers’ Union (Sapawu).

Grant beneficiaries have been left stranded over the past few days, unable to access their money due to a systems malfunction.

The CWU says it's decided to go the route of a nationwide industrial action because its members have been undermined.

The union's Aubrey Tshabalala said: “We are demanding a 12% salary increase across the board because we believe that our members, in terms of performance, have met those key performance areas.”

Tshabalala says the unions are aware this may put the livelihoods of the country's most vulnerable citizens at risk.

“We don’t want to put the already vulnerable and poor at the receiving end of this industrial action but, unfortunately, the employer did not respond like they are responding now.”

Sassa's payment system has been experiencing technical glitches this week after the agency introduced new payment cards.

SAPO OFFERS 6% WAGE OFFER TO UNIONS

The Post Office says it's unfortunate that it's employees have decided to go on a national shutdown putting the payment of social grants at risk.

The Post Office's group chief operating officer Lindiwe Kwele says the company has put 6% on the table and it believes this is a decent offer.

“Under the extreme liquidity challenges within SAPO, the commissioner also reiterated the nature of the grant payments which is an essential service.”

Kwele says some Post Offices around the country have been forced to shut down due to acts of intimidation.

“For the safety of our beneficiaries and our employees, in the meantime, we are saying until the interdict is finalised, we are urging our beneficiaries to use other platforms.”

The Post Office has urged grant beneficiaries to make use of retail merchants and ATM's while it works to resolve the wage dispute.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)

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