File Picture: Lalinka Mahote/African News Agency (ANA)
File Picture: Lalinka Mahote/African News Agency (ANA)

Unions threaten to take legal action to stop Telkom's 3000 retrenchments

By Dineo Faku Time of article published Feb 11, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Telkom's troubles are likely to deepen as the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and the South African Workers Union (Sacu) threaten to either take legal action or down tools against the company in a bid to prevent the retrenchment of 3000 employees.

Telkom is scheduled to meet organised labour representatives tomorrow on the imminent job cuts as part of the 60-day consultation process facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration following a previous meeting held last Thursday and Friday.

Telkom, which is 40percent state-owned, said last month that it intended to axe 3000 of its workers as it grapples with increasing debt and a decline in the fixed-voice market in a tight economy.

In a formal notice issued to organised labour, Telkom said the depressed economy, regulatory uncertainty and a tough competitive environment had taken a toll on its business.

In a memo to members, Keith Aimes, the national organiser for Sacu, said that the alliance between Sacu and the CWU was of the view that Telkom’s rationale made during the previous meeting for the retrenchment was weak.

“None of the presentations made on the rationale for the retrenchment makes a clear-cut indication that the company needs to retrench the amount of staff they intend to,” said Aimes.

Aimes said that the alliance was considering either embarking on an industrial action or referring the matter to the Labour Court if Telkom did not provide sound reasons for the imminent retrenchments.

Organised labour involved in the talks include an alliance between the CWU and Sacu, while the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), trade union Solidarity and the Information Communications and Technology Union were working together to fight the retrenchments.

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi said that Telkom had been unable to justify why it was retrenching 3000 out of 9000 staff during consultations last week.

“Telkom management has cited stiff competition as a drawback, but we are not convinced how trimming the workforce will address that issue.

“Management failed to substantiate the reasons why Telkom is losing so much revenue when it is operating on both fixed line and mobile data whereas its competitors are focusing only on mobile data,” adding that the parastatal’s management had failed to address how Telkom intended to attract new customers and increase revenue.

“We remain unconvinced that the cutting of so many jobs will improve Telkom’s core issues.

In a response to BR, Telkom last night said it is not aware of any pending court proceedings and the Company has not been served with any court papers.

“The Company is also not aware of any planned strike action nor has the Company been served with any notice by any of the unions to commence with strike action , the notice being the legal pre-requisite for a protected strike action.”it said.

It confirmed that the consultative meetings with labour were on today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday).


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