Telkom has reorganised its operations which has led to the possibility of large-scale job losses estimated to affect more than 6000 employees. Photo: Lalinka Mahote/African News Agency (ANA)
Telkom has reorganised its operations which has led to the possibility of large-scale job losses estimated to affect more than 6000 employees. Photo: Lalinka Mahote/African News Agency (ANA)

Telkom is acting in bad faith, labour unions claim in urgent court bid

By Sizwe Dlamini Time of article published Feb 19, 2020

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CAPE TOWN – The SA Communication Union (Sacu) and the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) have filed an urgent application in the Labour Court to compel Telkom to properly carry out consultations, before embarking on retrenchments.

In their court papers, the unions accused Telkom of consulting directly with Sacu and CWU members on voluntary severance packages (VSPs) and voluntary early retirement packages (VERPs), deviating from an agreement that such consultation would be with the unions.

“This is an urgent application In terms of section 189A (13) of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) and seeks to compel Telkom to properly consult with the applicants in respect of VSPs and VERPs, which Telkom is unilaterally offering employees in terms of a notice issued on February 13,” read the court papers.

Telkom has reorganised its operations which has led to the possibility of large-scale job losses estimated to affect more than 6000 employees, according to the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa).

Fedusa accused Telkom of practising “extreme bad faith in negotiations and blatant underhandedness” with organised labour alliance partners during talks last week mediated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), aimed at finding an alternative to the retrenchments.

Fedusa called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to join in the calls for the sacking of Telkom’s board and executives.

Fedusa said through the CCMA-mediated talks it became clear to Sacu and the CWU, among other labour formations, that Telkom’s leadership had no desire to find an alternative to retrenchments, and instead wished to remove staff and further “cannibalise” the company to inflate their bonuses.

“The awarding of over R100 million in bonuses Just one month before engaging in massive retrenchments is largely the clearest sign that these retrenchment discussions are not taking place in good faith. The chief executive alone was rewarded with a R23m bonus,” said Fedusa.

Telkom head of communications Mooketsi Mocumi said the company had provided all unions involved in the current section 189 CCMA-facilitated consultations with enough information in support of the business rationale for change, which had been consulted on in a face-to-face consultation meeting with the unions.

“The unions asked for information relating to salaries/benefits of directors, prescribed officers etc, and the company provided that information over and above it being public.

“The company disputes the allegations that it is applying intimidating tactics because there is no place for that, as the process is facilitated by the CCMA and parties voluntarily agree to meet on their own without the CCMA facilitator and there are future dates set for further consultation meetings,” said Mocumi.

The Information Communications and Technology Union (ICTU) said management claimed - without showing evidence for their argument - that technological advancement was the reason for customer and revenue decline. The union called for the board to be disbanded.

The ICTU also slammed the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which has an 11.6percent stake for its silence on the proposed retrenchments at Telkom. In a letter to the PIC chairperson, the ICTU’s acting general secretary Ntobeko ka Zondo said with the country’s high unemployment rate, the Telkom issue should be considered an anomaly of gigantic proportions.

“A company which seeks to retrench employees on frivolous arguments should be challenged, particularly by its shareholders including the PIC,” he said.

BUSINESS REPORT

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