The Labour Court in Johannesburg has ratified a ‘settlement’ reached between trade union Solidarity and the SA Post Office (Sapo) and MEDiPOS in the ongoing medical aid contributions saga. This, notes Fin24, follows Solidarity’s urgent application in the Labour Court seeking an order compelling Sapo to pay medical aid contributions that are in arrears to the tune of more than R600m.
MEDiPOS said because Sapo failed to pay over the full contributions, it was relying on reserves to pay claims. The medical aid had warned in recent weeks that if the contributions of members were not paid, Sapo employees ran the risk of losing their medical aid benefits altogether. Solidarity said that it would not have been possible for Sapo employees to receive any further benefits from MEDiPOS from October.
“For months Sapo failed to pay the full member contributions to the fund on behalf its employees while the deductions still appeared on the employees' payslips.”
The urgent application was scheduled to be heard this past Tuesday. Solidarity said in exchange for the minimum payments, MEDiPOS would sustain the employees' medical cover provided that the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) approves the settlement agreement.
”The agreement further stipulates that if the CMS does not grant its permission for the implementation of the agreement, the application would again be placed on the Labour Court roll (to be heard) at the end of November,” said a statement.
“Not only did the Post Office violate its statutory and contractual obligations towards its employees, but it also posed a threat to the lives of its workers,” said Anton van der Bijl, head of legal matters at Solidarity. In a Pretoria News report, he added that some of their members suffered from serious chronic conditions such as cancer, and relied on their medical cover to access treatment and medication for those conditions.
Anna Erasmus, a member of Solidarity, said in court papers that in terms of the more than 16,000 postal workers’ conditions of employment, they must belong to one of the company’s medical aid schemes. Erasmus said while the Post Office is deducting a third from the salaries of its workers, it had failed for several months to pay this, along with its contribution, over to the medical aids. Solidarity last year issued several letters to the Post Office to address the issue.
The Post Office, in a letter to Solidarity earlier this year, maintained it would adhere to its constitutional obligations towards its workers. Erasmus said despite this undertaking, the problems persisted and some of the medical aids had been threatening to cancel the contracts of employees.
See more from MedicalBrief archives: