Post Office coughs up R3 million with staff on brink of losing medical aid

The South African Post Office (Sapo) has paid over R3 million in overdue contributions to the Medipos medical scheme on behalf of employees who are members of Solidarity.

The payment follows the trade union taking Sapo to court and obtaining an urgent court application for a settlement order to prevent its members from losing their medical aid benefits.

“That amount was settled in the last week and members’ medical aid benefits remain in effect,” Solidarity said.

While its members would continue to have medical aid cover, Solidarity said it would return to court on Friday, 23 September 2022, to ensure other Post Office employees would also retain their medical aid benefits.

Its latest action follows its previous court win in which it obtained a ruling ordering Sapo to pay approximately R600 million in overdue contributions to employees’ medical schemes.

That came after Sapo deducted members’ contributions from their salaries but did not pay the full amounts to Medipos.

The medical aid had threatened to cut off employee benefits on 1 October 2021. After Solidarity’s brought legal action, they reached a settlement according to which Sapo was supposed to make certain minimum monthly payments to Medipos.

However, Solidarity’s head of legal affairs, Anton van der Bijl, told MyBroadband the Post Office had only made the repayments for a few months and then stopped.

News24 recently reported that Medipos was again planning to suspend Sapo employees’ benefits by end-September 2022 if the Post Office did not make its outstanding payments.

Dirk Hermann and Anton van der Bijl
Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann (left) and Solidarity head of legal affairs Anton van der Bijl

Van der Bijl said hundreds of other people could lose their medical aid benefits if Sapo did not pay the minimum payments in terms of last year’s court order.

He said the fact that Sapo had to be brought before a court to comply with its agreements was a burning shame.

“It is extremely worrying that Solidarity must approach the court every year to ensure that Sapo takes care of its employees,” said Van der Bijl.

Van der Bijl said Sapo was ignoring its statutory obligations and that its non-payment was jeopardising the lives of members suffering from life-threatening diseases, such as cancer.

“South African state institutions and corruption are synonymous with each other, but here people’s lives are threatened through the abusing of taxes,” he stated.

“Those in charge of enterprises in the public sector are disregarding their employees’ rights and lives while they run these institutions into the ground.”

The Post Office is amid a deep financial crisis and has been forced to close numerous branches after being unable to pay rent or utilities.

It has not only been defaulting on employees’ medical aid payments but has also failed to pay hundreds of millions in pension fund contributions and employee income tax.

The troubled parastatal recently asked National Treasury for a R2.4-billion bailout.

Van der Bijl said that Solidarity would continue to ensure that its members in the public sector would have their lives protected and not be left to mismanagement.

“Medipos cannot survive only on Solidarity members’ contributions and the continuous non-payment from the Post Office is of huge concern for the continued existence of Medipos,” he said.

MyBroadband asked Sapo for feedback on why it had seemingly not abided by the payment agreement reached in October 2021, but it did not immediately respond to our queries.

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Post Office coughs up R3 million with staff on brink of losing medical aid