The Communications Workers Union in the Free State observe the challenging times in which people of the world, the Republic of South Africa and Free Stater’s have been thrust in the eye of the coronavirus pandemic storm. In the process the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and gender based violence have been amplified. On 25 March 2020, our president, Honarouble Cyril Ramaphosa declared a lock-down in line with Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 in defence of the country and its people. Only companies performing essential services could operate under strict measures intended to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The South African Post Office is one such entity which had to be operational to ensure grant beneficiaries get paid without any hindrances. This was to happen under strict and controlled measures which included, deep cleaning and sanitization of the workplaces, screening of employees before resumption of their duties to pay grants, provision of masks, gloves, face screens, sanitizers and the observance of the social distancing practice. While SAPO provided PPE’s to its employees, it failed spectacularly to deep clean and sanitise its workplaces, it did not even screen its employees.
We have noted with shock the positive testing of one of its employees towards the end of March 2020 at its regional offices in Bloemfontein and are more concerned that the building from which the employee was operating was never deep clean in accordance with the usual procedures applicable under covid-19. Essential service employees resumed their duties since 29 April and have been subjected to work places which are not deep cleaned. Having engaged the regional management on numerous occasion in various pandemic meetings, the union is not satisfied with the progress made and has decided to report SAPO to the Labour Department for further investigations across its branches in the Free State. The failure of SAPO to properly clean and sanitize its workplaces is a serious risk to its employees and by extension to members of the public and SASSA beneficiaries.
Given the above cited developments regarding SAPO’s non-compliances to regulations, CWU in Free State in compelled to give SAPO three working days to fully comply across the province otherwise the union has no option but to advised its members to refrain from risking their lives by providing their duties in non-compliant workplaces. We don’t want SAPO to be the contributor of coronavirus outbreak in the province because our communities receive postal and related services from SAPO and unsafe SAPO is a potential risk to all Free Stater’s.
We further call on the Department of Labour in the province to fast-track investigations so that a comprehensive final report can be released while SAPO is given an opportunity to adhere before the next round of SASSA payments can start.
Issued by the office of the Provincial Secretary
CWU Provincial Secretary