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

Union warns of mass action over Telkom job losses

By SIVIWE FEKETHA Time of article published Jan 20, 2020

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Johannesburg - The Communication Workers Union has called on the ANC and the government to step in as Telkom plans to retrench more than 3000 workers.

Last week, Telkom sent out Section 189 notices to its employees as it announced it was planning to restructure its business.

In a statement, CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala dismissed the company’s claim that market conditions, regulatory uncertainty and the competitive environment had made it difficult for the company to thrive.

Tshabalala accused Telkom chief executive Sipho Maseko and another top executives of making personal fortunes for themselves while they sent workers packing.

“As the CWU we find the presentation by the company ridiculous and undermining not only workers, but the country at large. In 2016 the company presented almost the same reasons to cut over 2000 jobs and further outsourced thousands more jobs. The executives of Telkom rewarded themselves in 2018 with a total sum of R153.9 million for dismissing workers, and then claimed the company made profits,” Tshabalala said.

He said the company’s revenue had grown by more than 58% in the 2018/19 financial year through mobile services, while its subscriptions grew by more than 85% to 9.7 million subscribers.

“This was at a time when the company refused to reward workers with a decent salary increase. Instead, workers pocketed only 4% on average in a three-year cycle,” he said.

Tshabalala said the government had to account for its role in the decision by Telkom. “The CWU wants to know when the board took this decision, and who was present?” he asked.

The government currently holds a 40% stake at Telkom, and the CWU wants the ANC and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to use their influence to block the planned retrenchments.

Tshabalala accused the government of happily collecting dividends while workers were being fired from companies where the state had shares.

“We all know (these networks) have been at the forefront of retrenching workers in the past years. Does this mean we have a government that supports retrenchments? The CWU is calling for an urgent meeting with the ruling party and the minister (Mboweni) to resolve this,” he said.

The union threatened mass action if Telkom went ahead with its job cuts.

Spokesperson Mooketsi Mocumi said Telkom and various unions, including the CWU, would on Wednesday start the process of consultation on the company’s organisational review.

“In the process, facilitated by the CCMA, Telkom will present the factors necessitating the review of its organization,” Mocumi said.

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