Johannesburg - Trade union Solidarity on Thursday warned Telkom not to use race in deciding which employees to retrench.

“Solidarity today gave Telkom a final warning to abandon the race criteria it uses for retrenchments,” the union's industry head Marius Croucamp said in a statement.

He said it was unlawful to do so.

“How can any employer penalise an employee based on his or her race in the decision-making process to retrench people? This criterion is simply built into the process to ensure that Telkom's BEE rating is promoted and to ensure that the ANC's ideology of absolute race representivity is achieved,” he said.

Solidarity was consulting its lawyers and preparing to take the matter to the labour court.

“This issue is of such importance to Solidarity that we will take it as far as the Constitutional Court. These practices will open a door for employers to achieve demographic representivity and BEE through retrenchment,” said Croucamp.

Telkom spokesman Pynee Chetty denied this and said the company would use various criteria during retrenchments.

“It is important to note that employment equity is only one of the criteria that will be applied to these processes.

“The other criteria include qualification and experience, best fit for the job. Last one in, first one out. That will be when more than one employee qualifies for a position,” he said.