Maputo — The Mozambican Post Office (Correios de Mocambique) owes more than 50 million meticais (around 787,000 US dollars) to its workforce, the company's chairperson, Valdemar Jessen, said at a Maputo press conference on Friday.
He was speaking two days after 50 Post Office workers staged a brief strike in Maputo, in protest about delays in receiving their March wages.
But the financial crisis in this public company is much deeper than a few days of wage arrears. The workers had also complained about non-payment of holiday allowances and of the 2017 and 2018 new year bonuses (equivalent to an extra month's wages).
Jessen said the company had been facing serious financial problems for a long time, but matters became much worse when its transport subsidiary, Postbus, found it impossible to run services in the central provinces in mid-March, because of the impact of cyclone Idai. Jessen said this was the cause for the delay in paying the March wages.
The management believes that the only solution to the company's problems is to cut the workforce drastically and embark on privatisation.
Jessen said the management intends to reduce the workforce from 650 to 362, through redundancies and early retirement. The money needed for redundancy pay and retirement pensions (about two million dollars) will be raised by selling off five Post Office buildings.
Jessen added that the company will also bring in private shareholders: it intends to sell almost half its shares.
He did not see why there should be any objection to this, since there is no longer a state monopoly on postal services. Indeed, today over 40 Mozambican and foreign private companies are offering postal services, and the Post Office needed an overhaul in order to compete with them.
He said the government has already accepted the Post Office restructuring plan, and analysis of the proposed sale of shares in the company will begin next month. This work will involve the Bank of Mozambique and the Ministry of Economy and Finance.