Zuma unfazed by Telkom retrenchments: union

Telkom says the government, including President Jacob Zuma, has been aware of the company’s plans to retrench about 7 ,800 employees for some time, and it has voiced no objections against it.

This is according to the trade union Solidarity.

The telco is 39.76% owned by government, while the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has a 13.25% stake in the company.

Solidarity and two other trade unions on Friday declared a dispute with Telkom regarding its restructuring process.

Solidarity said it believes that Telkom is not following the letter and spirit of its restructuring forum.

Telkom announced earlier this month that it plans to cut 4,400 jobs through voluntary severance packages or voluntary early retirement packages.

It also confirmed that 3,400 employees will be transferred to outsourced companies.

“The process is not transparent and employees are forced to take uninformed decisions about their future. We believe it is nothing less that bullying tactics,” said Marius Croucamp, head of the Communications Industry in Solidarity.

Croucamp said that Telkom was also attempting to force workers to accept the process by arguing that the government was not opposed to its plans to retrench thousands of workers.

“The president has been informed about the restructuring process even long before the employees or trade unions were made aware of it. Unlike the government, we have Telkom employees’ best interests at heart and we shall do everything in our power to stop this process,” he said.

Telkom takes formal action

Telkom, meanwhile, has acknowledged the official dispute between itself and the unions, saying that the latter groups

“Despite a number of meetings since 9 June, Telkom and the Communication Workers Union, Solidarity and South Africa Communications Union have been unable to reach agreement on a process to progress this critical next step in Telkom’s multi-year turnaround programme,” Telkom said in an email to employees.

“Organised labour have declined to accept the offer of opening VSPs and VERPs across the impacted areas of the business.”

“For this reason, engagements have been halted and Telkom will be approaching the Centre for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to facilitate further engagements.”

The progression to the CCMA implies a formal, facilitated consultation process in accordance with the Labour Relations Act.  As a consequence, Telkom will be proceeding with the issuing of a Section 189 notices for the areas affected by the Telkom 2.0 turnaround programme, it said.

“Telkom is disappointed that all the parties involved have not been able to make meaningful progress with the discussions. We had hoped to further interrogate the options we have put on the table to mitigate the impact these changes will have on many of our people, but with discussions stalled, we believe the involvement of the CCMA is the correct and necessary next step.”

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Zuma unfazed by Telkom retrenchments: union