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SOE job cuts gather pace, unions balk

Public Servants Association calls for urgent talks on plans to reduce the state wage bill.
The Post Office is yet another state-managed company running at losses and says it plans to pay voluntary severance packages to about 776 employees as part of a phased reorganisation. Image: Supplied

The South African Post Office will pay voluntary severance packages to about 776 employees at the end of November, as part of a phased reorganisation, company executives told parliament on Tuesday. A day earlier, cash-strapped South African Airways announced plans to cut 944 jobs.

Read: SAA on collision course with trade unions in a fight for survival

Labour unions have argued that their members shouldn’t have to contend with the fallout of years of mismanagement and alleged graft at state companies. With 29% of the workforce unemployed, those who do lose their jobs face an uphill battle to find new ones.

The Public Servants Association, which represents more than 240 000 state workers, this week called for urgent talks on the plan to reduce the state wage bill. The Congress of South African Trade Unions, the nation’s biggest labour group, called the SAA plan “a reckless announcement.”

Read: Talks with labour hinder pace of cutting public sector wage bill

The ruling African National Congress and its coalition partners, Cosatu and the South African Communist Party, expressed opposition to retrenchments and privatization in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Read: SOEs’ results proof of massive problems

Strike plans

The two biggest unions at Eskom, the debt-stricken state power utility, last week threatened to stage demonstrations and strikes to protest against plans to split the company into three units. The National Union of Mineworkers and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa are concerned there may be job losses and want the company and government to start formal negotiations with them.

A team of about 100 people is working on restructuring Eskom, with the first phase due to be completed by the end of March, and negotiations with the unions over possible job losses are making progress, according to Kgathatso Tlhakudi, acting director-general of the Department of Public Enterprises.

“Naturally the unions want to safeguard their members’ jobs, but they are also realising that if Eskom is not fixed then all the jobs would be lost,” he said in an interview in Cape Town.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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Maybe if the Trade Unions are so concerned about job losses, that they should pay the salaries of these potential retrenched persons themselves and not always rely on the tax payer to bail the SoE’s out

I recently visited CDG airport in Paris. Forget about online check-in, that’s old news now. These days baggage tagging and weighing are all done automatically. Nobody is working behind the counters anymore. The machine age is coming and the bloated, arrogant workforce is on its way out. Stuff you Trade Unions!

Never forget that the workforce that you say “Stuff you Trade Unions” to are the very people who keep this economy running. They buy from the stores, they buy cellphones, airtime, data, clothes, alcohol, they buy insurance, they pay DSTV, they buy cars, they have bonded houses, they take kids to school, they throw birtday parties, they braai over the weekends, they fill up their cars with petrol and diesel, etc,etc… do you want me to go on?… if you continue to think like that then simply say “stuff the economy, stuff the country”. Baffoons like Mr Mboweni and the likes of SanraL, AARTO architects and many others do not understand what the people in a country need in order to prosper but you can say what you say these jobs can’t be shedded we have lost enough jobs in this country.

@Boombang You are being overly dramatic now, just like the unions. If SAA wants to retrench 10% of its workforce so that 90% can retain their jobs, that 90% will still be part of the economy. But the unions want everything their way and are not willing to see the bigger picture. They need to put straight. We can’t have a situation where the people living in 2045 are still repaying the debt of the government of 2019 because they lived beyond their means.

The will always be debt, since the beginning of time. There has always been debt.

@Boombang Agreed but there is a HUGE difference between debt that is manageable and debt that has spiralled out of control like 150% of GDP. In the latter case, the interest cost simply absorbs the lion’s share of the state’s budget and there is no money left for schools, road, hospitals, social grants etc.

Well they need to run it like a business. If it does not make money sell it or let it go bust.

The problem here is the Government shareholder keeps bailing them out.

That is Pravin Gordhan. Best fire him now and get a sensible person to fix it.

I specifically used the word sensible to indicate clearly that this person can not come from the ANC.

Mmmmm, hoe kan jy sê dank vir pravin af? Hierdie ou was stoksiel alleen vir n lang tyd vir zuma teë gestaan toe laasgenoemde nog president was. Alleen. Mentoor en Jonas het van die kant af geraas gemaak. Verder was dit donker nag stilte. Jou geheue is regtig moertoe. Naas Madiba is pravin seker suid afrikaner nr 1 wat betref iemand wat iets reg wil doen. Di druk waaronder hy op n stadium was vir 4jaar sal jou knak voor ontbyt man. Sies man.


Pravin “Promises” Gordhan making a fool of everyone who believes the nonsense he says.

Do you honestly think the Cyril and the ANC would have him there if he was going to do anything that goes against the unions or the ANC?

What did he do last year when Eskom said they will implement a 0% salary increase?

First he promised that he will back Eskom and there will be no increase.
Then, surprise surprise, he negotiated a 7.5% increases for 2018 and 7% for 2019 and 2020 with Numsa & NUM behind Eskom’s back.

How do people still fall for all this BS after 25 years? Actions speak louder than words and needless to say the ANC will keep saying one thing and doing another.

Let’s see what happens at SAA this afternoon after 2pm…any bets? Haha

At least 80% to 90% of SOE’s need to sold/privatised and the excess land they own can go to the landless. The Post Office, SABC, SAA, etc, etc must be included in this.

If not then any salary adjustments / downsizing must start at the top.

The Post Office hardly has a reason to still exist.

Exactly. If they strike and sink nobody would notice as the PO has been replaced by email and courier services trough their own ANC stupidity and arrogance. Same with Telkom. It is payback time for all the years of treating the customers like rubbish.Goodbye. You are the weakest links.

🙂 someone has to try and deliver a few aarto notices.

Agree with TryingToRetire. SAPO must live on. The DTI queues are worse than anywhere else. We can’t let them get worse.

Where would I get my car licence then?

I disagree. The reason the GPO is in such a mess is because they are not customer focused and have become a wealth consuming sump for ANC cadres who don’t or cannot do their job. The function of delivering parcels and letters still exists. In Australia the PO was privatised and most local branches are run as a family business- sink or swim! And they swim, of course. Apart from sending parcels and letters you can apply for your car license, registration, get a passport, to say nothing of the online shop, mobile phones, airtime (any of five operators), buy forex travel insurance and many more.

More unemployment looms while Ramaphosa continues to promise more jobs and foreign investment.

Years of zuma corruption aren’t going to be rectified in 3 years. Give CR n break. For goodness sake

With the right leadership, a willing political leadership and less corrupt leadership these things can be fixed in a day…


You say the Zuma corruption is not going to be rectified in 3 years?

I agree with you there, but I would go further and say the country won’t get fixed in 10 years, maybe 20 or even 30 years.

The ANC (and EFF) look towards Zimbabwe and they do not see the destruction and poverty created by Robert and the Zanu-PF over decades, only that the land was taken back from the colonialists.

Zim got rid of Robert, yet the Zanu-PF is still in charge and things haven’t started to turn around. SA got rid of Zuma, but the ANC is still in power and nothing is pointing towards a change.

I don’t want to make predictions, but what is stopping us from following in Zimbabwe’s footsteps? Will we be where Zim is today, in 15-25 years? Guess only time will tell…

On the positive side this is a good sign, although in practical terms a drop in the ocean and merely window dressing.

776 employees at the Post Office plus 944 at SAA compared to the total SOE workforce of > 240 000, this equates to paltry 0.7%

Squirrel is merely putting lipstick on a pig and hoping Moody’s falls for it.

There are a vested interest for union by virtue of union fee’s that the employee pay, the unions survival are at stake, hence this loose cannon behavior…i mean do we want the mother of all strikes at SAA etc, YES we do, this means the loose money slower….

The day the union top officials income get declared, this feeding frenzy by union will be an eye opener.

BTW, retrenchments of SOE in news is good news…imo a signals of being at bottom of economic cycle….

The public service wage bill is nothing but an enhanced and glorified extension of the social grant. A lot of money spent without any returns.
Labour Unions = Zero reciprocity.

How about wage CUTS then? All this in all likelihood is too little too late…

No worries !!! Squirrel said that there are 500 000 jobs coming soon !!!!

I can’t wait to see these jobs being created! From magic moon dust I presume?

Hey post office, my mom has been waiting for 3 weeks now for her wool to arrive from the UK.

Too little too late, whether they retrench or they keep going with these bloated SoE’s – the righting is on the wall the end is near.

No amount of fiscal-bailout will reverse the damage done. So the trade unions they can go on strike but that will not help.

Its either you retrench as of yesterday, run this things as lean as possible or sit an wait for the Armageddon

Examples of our “postal service”.
Letter posted 29th October (date stamp on envelop) from Pacaltsdorp (George, Western Cape). Arrived seven days later at my address, Fernridge (George). Distance approximately 8 km.
Xmas card posted by airmail on 14th December 2018 (date stamp on envelop) from England. Arrived at my address, i.e. George, on 4th March, 2019.
On Tuesday, 12th November, visited local post office to collect registered item. There are 8 counter stations with only two manned. The queue was approximately 15 persons. Waiting time about 25 minutes.
Conclusion: Close It Down.

I wouldn’t give details of number of counters open as this will be used as justification to employ more people (and not less) in government run entities.

where were the unions while Zuma was renting SA out to the highest bidder ? they face becoming redundant as they try and demand the unreasonable after the age of reason died while Zuma was ‘hard at work’

End of comments.





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