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Solidarity hits out at MTN’s planned retrenchments

According to Solidarity, MTN's management is acting callously and immorally by announcing retrenchments while the company’s financial figures are indicating such a huge success. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg.

According to Solidarity, MTN's management is acting callously and immorally by announcing retrenchments while the company’s financial figures are indicating such a huge success. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg.

Published Aug 5, 2022

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South African multinational mobile telecommunications company, MTN, has come under fire for plans to start a retrenchment process.

MTN's notification came after this company reported a profit of around R14 billion in the latest financial year and exceeded all its targets.

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According to Solidarity, MTN's management is acting callously and immorally by announcing retrenchments while the company’s financial figures are indicating such a huge success.

“MTN’s behaviour towards its employees is immoral, and in times when inflation and fuel prices are skyrocketing, and even people who are lucky enough to have a job are struggling to keep their heads above water, the company is playing with people’s lives. To dismiss such a significant number of your labour force despite billions in profits that even exceeded the company’s own expectations paints a glaring picture of South African society and the role large companies like MTN play in it,” said Linda Senekal, network coordinator for Solidarity.

Telkom take over

Solidarity in a statement on Friday said it further believes it is difficult to see these retrenchments through a lens other than one coloured by MTN’s intended takeover of Telkom.

The two companies confirmed in July that they are in early talks of MTN taking over Telkom.

Both companies said the discussions were about MTN acquiring the entire issued share capital of partially state-owned telecommunications provider, Telkom, in return for shares or a combination of cash and shares in MTN.

If the deal goes through, this means MTN will have to buy out the government as it holds a 40% stake in Telkom, while the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) owns a further 14% of Telkom’s equity.

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“What MTN is trying to do with its employees is actually illegal. If MTN foresees that there will be a duplication of roles if it were to buy Telkom, then it must deal with it in terms of the prescribed section 197 process. MTN cannot hide behind the appearance of a normal retrenchment process,” Senekal said.

“The lives of employees and their dependents are at stake, but MTN’s management does not comprehend this.”

Solidarity also emphasised its continuous support for its members who are part of the MTN workforce, and in terms of labour legislation they will enjoy the organisation’s full support.

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“There is no chance that our members at MTN will be left to their fate when even employed South Africans are becoming impoverished on a daily basis. It will be fatal for these employees if MTN’s retrenchments continue unchallenged. MTN should know better, and it should adhere to existing regulations while considering the well-being of its employees. MTN must not disregard this and try to cover it up by telling its employees that a meaningful consensus will be reached while the retrenchment process has already been set in motion,” Senekal concluded.

*Business Report has reached out to the MTN group for further details on the planned retrenchment process. This article will be updated once MTN responds.

Click here to read MTN’s response to Solidarity: MTN says retrenchment process is a part of transformative journey

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