Race will be one of the factors considered by Telkom during its controversial restructuring process, the trade union Solidarity said on Monday (23 June).
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.
Solidarity said in a statement on Monday that Telkom indicated in a section 189 notice to trade unions that employment equity will be one of the selection criteria during the restructuring process.
“If Telkom proceeds with this, it will mean that white employees will bear the brunt of the telecommunication giant’s retrenchment process,” it said.
Solidarity said it warned Telkom in a letter to withdraw the section 189 notice. “We believe that the application of affirmative action targets as selection criteria during retrenchment processes is contrary to the Employment Equity Act. Based on this, we requested Telkom to withdraw the notice,” said spokesperson, Marius Croucamp.
Telkom had wanted to use employment equity as selection criteria during a restructuring process in 2014, the union said, noting that the listed operator eventually backed down from the process.
Solidarity, along with two other trade unions, declared a dispute with Telkom on Friday, accusing the telco of failing to properly consult with trade unions and employees in accordance with its own restructuring forum.
“We believe the section 189 notice is premature and that Telkom should first provide for dispute resolution before the process can continue. In addition, the use of race as a selection criteria is not in the best interests of the company and it also contravenes the principles of Telkom’s restructuring forum,” Croucamp said.
Croucamp said it was worrying that Telkom wanted to enforce such a comprehensive process that would irrevocably change the lives of thousands of people without sufficient consultation.
“Our members do not have enough information to be able to take the necessary decisions. This process simply has to be halted until proper consultations with trade unions have taken place and all the information have been made available,” he said.
The trade union has threatened possible further legal action against Telkom if the company does not take heed of it’s objections.
Telkom is 39.76% owned by government, while the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has a 13.25% stake in the company.