Telkom said that persistent illegal industrial action in the form of “go-slows” at its call centres escalated on the weekend, with incidents of staff intimidation and walk-outs reported.
The group said that it will proceed with the automatic transfer of staff from its call centre, supply chain and IT environments to new employers on 31 March.
It comes after unions failed to secure a majority consensus on an additional offer from the company, Telkom said in a statement on Monday (23 March).
“Our service levels have been under severe pressure for a number of weeks. We would like to apologise to all our customers for the poor service levels. We have brought additional staff into our already outsourced call centres and have increased our resourcing of the non-call centre customer options,” said Telkom spokesman, Jacqui O’Sullivan.
Telkom said its discussions with organised labour, regarding the Section 197 process, has been underway for five weeks.
Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act deals with the transfer of a business and the rights of employees affected by such a transaction.
SACU and Solidarity recently asked that Telkom make Voluntary Severance Packages (VSPs) and Voluntary Early Retirement Packages (VERPs) available to employees affected by Telkom’s current outsourcing initiative.
Unions also requested that Telkom move the transfer date out from 31 March to 30 April.
Telkom said it agreed to both requests. Written acceptance of the offer was required from the unions by Friday afternoon (20 March).
While Solidarity and the South African Communication Union (SACU) accepted Telkom’s offer ahead of the deadline, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) withheld the majority consent, which meant no agreement could be reached, the telco said.
“Solidarity and SACU engaged very aggressively for their members and we believe the variation agreement was a reasonable middle ground for all parties. However, a majority consent is required and without such an agreement in place, we will have to proceed with the automatic transfers as planned at the end of this month”, Telkom’s spokesperson said.
As part of its cost cutting measures, Telkom said that it is no longer viable to continue running 20 of its 95 Telkom Direct stores.
The group said that Section 189 consultations, related to the stores closures, would continue on Monday (23 March), facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.