We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Postal workers thrown medical aid lifeline

11th-hour agreement in labour court ensures thousands won't lose cover

29 September 2021 - 11:19
The SA Post Office has reached an agreement on how to start paying Medipos the R602m it owes the medical aid scheme. File photo.
The SA Post Office has reached an agreement on how to start paying Medipos the R602m it owes the medical aid scheme. File photo.
Image: SA Post Office/Twitter

An 11th hour agreement has been reached between the SA Post Office (Sapo) and its medical aid scheme Medipos, ensuring thousands of postal workers do not lose their medical aid cover.

In a letter to employees earlier this month, Medipos, which provides medical aid cover to 15,000 postal workers and pensioners, threatened to withdraw its services by Thursday over a R602m debt owed to it by Sapo.

Earlier this month, the scheme’s principal officer Thabisiwe Mlotshwa wrote to postal workers and said Sapo had failed to pay over members’ contributions for the past 15 months and the scheme’s reserves had been used to pay claims and expenses.

She told employees that if arrears were not received by September 30, on October 1 “your membership will be suspended with immediate effect.

“This means you will have no cover for medical expenses.”

The threat was averted on Tuesday when an agreement was reached in the Johannesburg labour court between Sapo and Medipos.

The Solidarity union, which represents thousands of postal workers, had taken the two to court to stop Medipos withdrawing cover.  

Judge Edwin Tlhotlalemaje ordered that from October to November Sapo had to pay R20m a month for contributions that were in arrears, with the repayments increasing to R43m between December and March 2022, and R50m between April and December next year.

“Medipos will not suspend the membership of members employed by Sapo and will continue to pay all lawful claims of its members submitted to it and approved by it up [until] December 31 2022 subject to payments being made as per this order.”

He said should Sapo fail to honour the agreement, Medipos “is entitled to suspend the payment of claims submitted to it by its members who are employees of Sapo or suspend the membership of members”.

Solidarity spokesperson Morné Malan welcomed the agreement and said a major disaster had, for now, been averted.

“It is a sustainable medium-term solution, although in the long term it will need to be revived.”