Telkom retrenchment saga heads to labour court

The Labour Court in Johannesburg will on Tuesday hear trade union Solidarity’s urgent application to obtain an interdict against Telkom’s planned job cuts.

Last month, the telecommunications company announced that it plans to cut 4 400 jobs through voluntary severance packages or voluntary early retirement packages.

Subsequently, the company entered into talks with unions.

But those talks fell through after unions such as Solidarity accused Telkom [JSE:TKG] of turning its back on previous agreements regarding retrenchments.

A dispute among unions was declared and Telkom roped in the the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to facilitate a section 189 consultation process on Wednesday, July 8. Section 189 is a part of labour law that deals with retrenchments.

“The trade union contends that Telkom is disregarding an agreement on restructuring processes it had concluded with trade unions in 2008,” said Solidarity in a statement on Monday.

“In terms of this agreement, Telkom has to meet with trade unions and an agreement has to be reached before a restructuring process may be embarked upon. The agreement also stipulates that should a dispute arise between parties within Telkom’s restructuring forum, such a dispute must first be resolved before a retrenchment process may be embarked upon.

“Although trade unions on 19 June declared a dispute with Telkom over the retrenchment process, Telkom on 22 June carried on to issue a section 189 retrenchment notice to trade unions. In terms of this notice as many as 4 400 persons could be retrenched,” said Solidarity.

Telkom has previously said it plans to oppose the interdict.

Meanwhile, Telkom is looking to cut jobs as its core voice business in particular comes under pressure. The company’s fixed-line voice usage revenue decreased 13.5% to R6.867bn for the year ended March 2015.


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Telkom retrenchment saga heads to labour court