Trade union Solidarity has asked for a moratorium on retrenchments at Telkom, which has notified unions that up to 3000 workers could face the axe. Picture: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

Durban - Trade union Solidarity has asked for a moratorium on retrenchments at Telkom, which has notified unions that up to 3000 workers could face the axe.  

Retrenchments were necessary when the sustainability of a company was at issue, said the union, but this retrenchment round would in fact threaten the company’s financial sustainability.

“A company cannot pay its executive team more than R100 million and then get rid of 3 000 of its workforce. That is reckless and, given the labour market retrenched workers have to face, it is merciless. In the previous financial year Telkom’s CEO, Sipho Maseko, alone took home a full R23 million,” said Dr Dirk Hermann, Solidarity CEO, on Thursday. 

The union had written to Telkom requesting that an aggressive retraining programme be implemented during a moratorium, said Hermann, so workers could be equipped with new skills to help the company grow in the fast-changing information environment. 

"Telkom workers must move forward with the company from fixed line services to mobile services."

Hermann said the fact that Telkom wanted to retrench up to 3 000 people served as confirmation that it had failed dismally to retrain its people so that it could grow even faster in its growth areas such as mobile services.

“When a company fails to train its workforce for new challenges, it should not retrench the workers; it should get rid of the top management,” said Hermann.

Telkom’s workforce shrunk by 2 176, or 12,5%,  in the previous financial year, due to voluntary severance packages. 

Hermann said large-scale staff reductions at a company could easily lead to poor service delivery. 

“A further 3 000 jobs being cut are too many. If staff numbers need to be reduced further, it can be done by means of voluntary processes and natural staff turnover."

The information technology environment was highly competitive and skilled workers were scarce, he said. The uncertainty Telkom was creating would merely result in the best workers leaving first. 

“The message sent out by Telkom should rather be that loyal employees are appreciated. A moratorium on forced retrenchments will provide the security that Telkom employees now need.” 

African News Agency (ANA)