An employee of Cell C, who was a member of Solidarity, committed suicide on Tuesday after he had received a notice informing him that he could be retrenched, Solidarity said in a statement.

“Solidarity has already contacted the employer and demanded that the retrenchment process be halted and that the company consult with all trade unions representing members who could be affected by the planned retrenchment process,” the union added.

“In the meantime, the employer must make counselling available to its employees who are traumatised as a result of the planned retrenchments and the death of a colleague,” Solidarity said.

According to media reports, Cell C is planning to lay off approximately 150 of its total workforce of 1 288 as part of a restructuring programme aimed at improving the company’s efficiency.

Marius Croucamp, a Solidarity spokesperson, said Cell C did not make any attempt to consult with the trade union over the planned retrenchments, as required in terms of section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.

“Trade unions play a crucial role in retrenchments. Solidarity follows a set plan of action in terms of which certain guidelines and methods are applied to minimise the effects of retrenchments and possibilities are explored to avert retrenchments,” said Croucamp.

Moreover, the trade union always insists that employers meet the fixed payout period of retrenchment packages, offer support with regard to unemployment insurance payouts, and make counselling available to employees.

In addition, retrenched employees should have the first option to apply for vacancies if any should become available.

“Cell C apparently acted hastily in starting to consult with employees over the planned retrenchments and failed to take the emotional impact a retrenchment notice has on employees into consideration. The company’s actions have probably already led to the unnecessary death of an employee,” said Croucamp. - Staff reporter