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2 May 2012
South African postal workers fighting for permanent contracts received a message of support from CWU general secretary Billy Hayes today.
An estimated 30 per cent of the South African workforce is employed on a casualised basis through "labour brokering" - a form of outsourcing widely practised in the country, which is similar to the "gangmaster" system that migrants to the UK have been the victims of.
Neighbouring Namibia banned the practice four years ago, but, despite the staunch opposition of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), including widespread strike action, labour brokering still flourishes in the former Apartheid state.
Following a two-month campaign of industrial action earlier this year, the CWU of South Africa won permanent contracts for some 300 of these workers.
But a new round of strikes has broken out over the remaining temporary workers - which union sources say numbers some 2,000 nationally - and for whom the union is demanding the same permanent employment rights.
As the current strikes entered its third week, Billy Hayes sent a message pledging the CWU's "full support" to our South African counterparts.
"We are fully supportive of the stand taken by the CWU South Africa and strongly condemn the behaviour of the South African Post Office in maintaining such a high number of workers in precarious employment," he insisted.
In a hard-hitting letter to South African Post Office boss Nick Buick, Billy wrote: "We have been informed that the Post Office uses workers hired through labour brokers continuously when employees are dismissed, resigned or deceased, not only in peak periods or for temporary absence.
"We urge you to convert the positions hired through labour brokers into permanent positions, and to ensure decent jobs with benefits and security for all workers in the South African Post Office."
Read his letter in full here: