Telecoms group MTN has sent out a Section 189 retrenchment notice to employees as it embarks on a new restructuring process in its business.
According to the notice, the company is repositioning itself in the market and shifting strategies to be a digital service provider – not just a telecommunications company.
To achieve this, it said, some positions within the company’s finance department are changing to align with the strategy. These changes will affect the jobs of 327 level 1 and level 2 employees in the department (8.6% of total employees).
The company said that no final decision has been taken on the process, as it will still engage with workers on the matter; however, it said that the process may ultimately result in the reduction of 136 employees (3.6% of total employees).
“Once the consultation process around the proposed structure is concluded, all impacted employees in the level 1/level 2 structure will have an opportunity to apply for new and/or available positions,” it said.
If there is a need to retrench as a last resort, the company said that it will look to early retirement and voluntary severance packages first, or find alternative positions for workers within the company.
It will also consider retrenched employees for preferential re-employment for a period of three months from the date of retrenchment.
Union Solidarity slammed MTN’s notice, calling the company ‘immoral’ for considering retrenchment while many workers are suffering under the current economic climate.
“MTN’s behaviour towards its employees is immoral, and in times when inflation and fuel prices are skyrocketing, and even people who are lucky enough to have a job are struggling to keep their heads above water, the company is playing with people’s lives,” it said.
The union pointed to the company posting over R14 billion in profit in the last financial year and exceeding all of its targets – yet still insisting on cutting its workforce.
“To dismiss such a significant number of your labour force despite billions in profits that even exceeded the company’s own expectations paints a glaring picture of South African society and the role large companies like MTN play in it,” the union said.
Solidarity said it would challenge the retrenchments.
Responding to Solidarity, MTN told MyBroadband that it was disappointing that the union chose to adopt “an untrue and purposefully alarmist narrative”.
“Our people are the backbone of our business and, in this current tough economic climate, retrenchments will remain a very last resort,” it said.
The group added that it is creating more than 450 new jobs in the digital, technology, financial technology, wholesale, and enterprise spaces.
“The reshaping of certain departments is requiring some employees to apply for revised or new roles,” it said.
MTN said the Section 189 communication serves to legally inform employees that a transformation process is underway that may have an impact on some roles.
However, it stressed that those affected will be able to apply for these new roles opening up in the company.