Major blow for Post Office employees as application for relief funding fails

File photo of a Post Office. Photo: Oupa Mokoena/Independent Newspapers

File photo of a Post Office. Photo: Oupa Mokoena/Independent Newspapers

Published May 2, 2024


SA POST Office (Sapo) employees, with 4889 jobs facing the axe amid retrenchments, have been dealt a major blow after the Joint Business Rescue Practitioners (BRPs) announced in a statement on Tuesday that the TERS application was unsuccessful.

Labour union Cosatu said yesterday (Wednesday) that it planned to engage the Ministers for Communications and Labour and the Unemployment Fund to review the decision to not grant workers of the Sapo Temporary Employer, Employees Relief Scheme (TERS) funding.

Cosatu acting spokesperson Matthew Parks too said that Cosatu was deeply disappointed that the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) had turned down the proposed UIF TERS relief for the Sapo.

“We cannot afford to see any worker lose their job,” he said.

The BRPs said the ruling, issued to the BRPs from the CCMA commissioner, followed a joint application by the Business Rescue team and relevant labour unions – the South African Postal Workers Union, South African Federation of Trade Unions and the Communications Workers’ Union – to the single adjudication committee to seek TERS relief funding for the Post Office’s bargaining unit staff.

Joint Business Rescue Practitioner Anoosh Rooplal said: “We are very disappointed with the unsuccessful application, as we were hopeful that the TERS funding would provide a temporary relief to the bargaining unit staff members, as the funding would have effectively been used to upskill and retrain staff for possible job placements while still earning a salary.

“The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies had also offered to assist with finding placement positions for staff after their upskilling.”

Rooplal said the funding could have assisted employees while the business was stabilising and in due course growing. In time, potential positions could have been made available to affected staff at the Post Office.

The BRPs said: “As was noted in the application agreement, the withdrawal of the termination letters was conditional on the success of the TERS application and if not successful, as is the case now, the bargaining unit category of employees would revert to the current position and so be retrenched. This retrenchment impacts 4889 employees of the bargaining unit staff members.”

The BRPs said they had tried their very best and acted in good faith, together with the unions, to make a final attempt to apply for TERS relief funding, to limit the impact on possible retrenchments and provide a temporary relief for the bargaining unit.

They further said: “We are conscious of the turmoil that this application and subsequent rejection will and has caused the bargaining unit staff members and their families and for that we are deeply sorry.”

“Should the application have been successful, we believe that the outcome for the affected employees may have led to a better outcome for them and their families, even if it was only for a short period,” Rooplal said.

If the TERS relief had been successful, the bargaining unit employees would have had 75% of their salaries paid by the TERS relief and 25% of their salaries paid by the Post Office by Sapo for the amount of time that TERS agreed but no longer than 12 months.


– The Business Rescue Plan was accepted on December 7, 2023.

– The approach in the Business Rescue Plan was to rationalise costs which are currently unsustainable and to assist in restructuring the Sapo into an efficient and future-proofed business. This as the Post Offices’ costs have consistently exceeded 200% of its revenue since 2022. Employee costs accounted for 150% of revenue, with inadequate investment into IT systems, fleet management, mail processing centres, depots and the branch network.