Telkom pushes ahead with ‘voluntary’ retrenchments

Telkom says that it will side-step unions and offer its employees voluntary severance and early retirement packages directly.

It follows a deadlock in negotiations with the Communication Workers Union (CWU) this week, the telco said.

As part of its ongoing restructuring strategy, it was previously reported about 1,236 temporary and contract Telkom employees would be affected by a Section 197 process at the company.

The Section 197 process relates to the outsourcing of services at Telkom.

During negotiations, Telkom said it offered all unions the opportunity to access Voluntary Severance Packages (VSP) and Voluntary Early Retirement Packages (VERP) for their affected members.

The telecoms firm said it also offered to extend the transfer date for exiting employees from 31 March, to 30 April.

While SACU and Solidarity accepted the offer, the CWU declined, Telkom said. “As CWU had withheld their majority consensus, the offer was withdrawn from all unions,” it said.

Telkom, said it has spent the past two weeks engaging with the CWU to try and secure and “equitable outcome” for employees affected by the Section 197 process.

“In the face of this deadlock, Telkom is exercising its right as the employer, to approach its affected employees directly,” the group said.

“While Telkom respects the right of our people to choose to be affiliated to a union, we also know that union members are firstly Telkom employees,” said Telkom spokesman, Jacqui O’Sullivan.

“Our affected employees have made it very clear that they want the option of a VSP or VERP in making their final decision. This has repeatedly been communicated by many of the affected employees to their Telkom line managers.”

Telkom said that all members of the CWU whom are affected by the current Section 197 process are now eligible to apply for a VSP or VERP.

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Telkom pushes ahead with ‘voluntary’ retrenchments