Trade union Solidarity has won a four-year protracted dispute against state-owned Telkom whereby the telecoms firm must pay 1 175 employees R5 million. Photo: Lalinka Mahote/African News Agency (ANA)
Trade union Solidarity has won a four-year protracted dispute against state-owned Telkom whereby the telecoms firm must pay 1 175 employees R5 million. Photo: Lalinka Mahote/African News Agency (ANA)

Telkom loses four-year wage battle

By Dineo Faku Time of article published Jul 20, 2021

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TRADE union Solidarity has won a four-year protracted dispute against state-owned Telkom whereby the telecoms firm must pay 1 175 employees R5 million.

Telkom said yesterday that it had has received the The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration ruling in relation to an arbitration process. The outstanding amounts would be paid to them in next month’s payroll.

“In light of the fact that this matter has been in dispute for a protracted length of time, and in the spirit of goodwill and progress on the matter, we have decided to honour the ruling,” it said.

Trade union Solidarity said on Monday that it had entered into an agreement with Telkom in 2016, under which the parties had agreed on a 6 percent salary increase that would take effect in April 2017.

Solidarity co-ordinator for the communication industry Linda Senekal said the union had contended that Telkom, however, did not keep to the agreement and did not abide by its provisions. As a result, more than 1 000 employees had been disadvantaged unfairly.

“Telkom decided unilaterally to calculate the 6 percent increase on the 50th percentile of each individual’s functional area and not on the total package of each individual employee as per the agreement,” Senekal said. Solidarity explained that this matter has dragged on since 2017 as Telkom took the first arbitration award given in Solidarity’s favour on revision. The matter was taken on revision to the Labour Court, which in turn again referred the matter to arbitration.

After several tough arbitration sessions ,which took place between February 2020 and May 2021, Solidarity again won the case.

“What makes this such a huge victory is the fact that a major institution such as Telkom can, from now on, be taken to task not to treat agreements casually. Solidarity signed the agreement based on the mandates it had received from its members and would not have accepted an agreement that was not in the best interests of the employees and members,” Senekal said.

“Our main victory lies in the fact that we can now admonish Telkom to do the right thing in future, adhering to agreements and to not simply amend agreements and policies unilaterally at the expense of employees.”

Senekal said that under the award, Telkom must pay employees according to the provisions of the agreement as agreed upon in 2016, which meant that the 6 percent salary increase must be granted based on the individual’s total package. Where applicable, employees must be remunerated retrospectively from April 1 in terms of the 2016 agreement.

“Amid these incredibly challenging times where employees all too often had to bite the bullet due to lockdowns and the pandemic, it is encouraging to know that when Telkom salaries are paid at the end of this month, those employees who are eligible for it will be able to jointly put an extra R4.6 million into their pockets. We are absolutely delighted with this,” Senekal said.

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BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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