Cell C has clarified its position regarding the suicide of one of its employees, following accusations from union Solidarity that the mobile operator’s retrenchment plans ‘probably led to the unnecessary death of an employee’.
Cell C announced on Wednesday (30 May), that it would embark on a process to retrench up to 150 of its 1,288 employees as it looks to streamline its business.
Solidarity said that 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.
However, Cell C moved to clarify its position.
“A general communication was sent to all staff on Friday, 25 May via email advising staff that Cell C was about to embark on this process, followed by an SMS alerting all staff to read the email.
“Affected employees were issued with formal notifications on Tuesday, 29 May inviting them to consult about possible retrenchment and alternatives to avoid or minimise job losses,” it said in a statement.
Cell C said that the employee who tragically passed away on Tuesday was not at work on Monday or Tuesday and was not given any notification of possible retrenchment.
“This is a very sad situation and our main concern is for the family of the deceased at this time. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment on the cause or circumstances around the death of the employee,” the group added.
Solidarity said it had already contacted the mobile operator to demand 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. “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,” spokesperson Marius Croucamp said.
He said that 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, it said.
“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,” Croucamp said.
Cell C said it has embarked on a process of consultation with respect to possible retrenchment.
Cell C said it has arranged counselling for those affected by the retrenchment process. In addition counselling has also been arranged for those colleagues and friends of the deceased.
“We acknowledge that there is freedom of association as provided by the Labour Relations Act however we have not been advised by any trade union of the identity of their members. In particular Solidarity has not provided this information to Cell C despite a request to do so.
“Cell C will fully comply with all of its legal obligations and will attempt to minimise job losses during this process,” the group said.