Picture: Leon Nicholas.

Johannesburg - Telkom, Africa’s biggest fixed-line operator, plans to reduce its costs by 5 billion rand by 2019 as it seeks discussions with labour unions about cutting staff.

“The desired cost reduction includes inflation and is across the entire business in every aspect that lends itself to cost containment,” the company said in an e-mailed response to questions today.

Telkom said it aims for annual savings of 1 billion rand per year.

The phone company has scheduled a meeting with labour unions later this month, according to Marius Croucamp, a spokesman for Solidarity, which represents about 3,000 employees at the Pretoria, South Africa-based company.

“Our job at the moment is to keep our members calm and to make sure information is shared,” Croucamp said by phone today.

Telkom, which has had five chief executive officers since 2007, is struggling to revive revenue among consumers in a region that’s skipping fixed-line technology in favour of smartphone devices.

The company may fire as many as 1,000 managers and cut almost a third of its 21,000-strong workforce, chief executive Sipho Maseko told Bloomberg in December. - Bloomberg News