Post Office: No Ters relief, thousands laid off

Henry

The South African Post Office’s (Sapo) attempt to use the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s (WVF) temporary employee relief benefits to pay its employees a monthly salary has failed.

A total of 4,889 employees from Sapo’s bargaining unit will now be laid off.

Sapo’s business rescue practitioners and relevant trade unions recently submitted a joint application to the entitlement committee, under the auspices of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, to try to prevent redundancies.

In this application, they requested to use the WVF’s temporary employee relief benefits, better known as Ters benefits, to pay salaries to the staff of the Post Office’s bargaining unit while they undergo further training.

However, the eligibility committee was not to be found for it.

Anoosh Rooplal, joint business rescue practitioner, says they are disappointed.

Rooplal says the funding would be used to further train staff for possible job placements while still earning a salary. The Department of Communications and Digital Technology even offered to help look for placements for staff after this further training.

According to Rooplal, the financing could keep employees on their feet while the Post Office gradually stabilizes and grows.

“We did our utmost and acted in good faith, together with the unions, to make a last ditch effort to apply to the Ters relief fund to limit the impact on possible layoffs and provide temporary relief for the bargaining unit .

“We are aware of the turmoil this application and subsequent rejection has caused to the staff members of the bargaining unit and their families and for that we are sincerely sorry,” says Rooplal.

Sapo was put into business rescue in July last year. At the time, Rooplal and Juanito Martin Damons were jointly designated as interim business rescue practitioners.

The Post Office would also receive another R2.4 billion that the government earmarked as part of a so-called turnaround plan. However, provisional liquidators had already indicated at the time that it would not be enough to save the Post Office.

The government has already provided the Post Office with more than R7.3 billion in bailouts between 2016 and 2019.