The jobs bloodbath gathered steam on Friday, with newly listed MultiChoice saying nearly 2 000 jobs were on the line at its call centre. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA) Archives.
JOHANNESBURG - The jobs bloodbath gathered steam on Friday, with newly listed MultiChoice saying nearly 2 000 jobs were on the line at its call centre as consumers switch to digital platforms. 

The move by the group provoked a strong reaction from the Information Communication and Technology Union (ICTU). Thabang Mothelo, a spokesperson for the ICTU, said Multichoice told 1 790 employees on Friday afternoon that they would be retrenched. 

“The union has not been officially informed, which makes the process unlawful. The union will seek urgent engagement with the employer to bring them up to speed,” Mothelo said. “The employer has timed Friday to make the announcement, which shows some cowardice of not dealing with the consequences of their actions.”

The listed digital satellite and pay-television company said most of the 2 194 affected employees were in the call and service centre. Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice’s group chief executive, said the company had created new roles for multi-skilled employees. “This has not been an easy decision to make, but in a business driven by advancing technologies, we must continue to drive efficiencies, yet be agile enough to adapt to evolving customer needs to ensure that we remain relevant, competitive and sustainable,” said Mawela.

“We have worked hard to minimise the impact of this business realignment on our people – those directly impacted by the process and their colleagues in the rest of the business. We are committed to the intent and the spirit of the section 189 process, and as MultiChoice leadership we will continue  to engage impacted employees across the country during the 60-day consultation period to ensure a reasonable conclusion.” 

The pay station becomes the latest company in the private sector to indicate its intention to slash jobs because of changing consumer behaviour. Early this year, Standard Bank said it would close 91 branches, with most of them closing by June, and that the closures would affect about 1 200 jobs. Embattled sugar producer Tongaat Hulett has also issued section 189 letters to employees. 

The move will affect 5 000 permanent and temporary employees across Tongaat Hulett’s operations in six Southern African Development Community countries. Companies in the mining, manufacturing and construction sectors have also been shedding thousands of workers.