Telkom has lost nearly 10,000 workers over the past 10 years

Solidarity has warned of a skills shortage at listed telecommunications firm, Telkom, amid its latest round of retrenchments.

The trade union said that Telkom is undergoing restructuring, affecting thousands of employees for the tenth consecutive year. During that period, the company has seen its workforce shrink from 23,245 to 13,895.

Telkom offered voluntary severance packages (VSP’s) and voluntary early retirement packages (VERP’s) for a large portion of its workforce in March.

“Once again, the VSP and VERP offer is subject to management discretion. We will not allow the loss of critical skills,” Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko told staff in a note last month.

According to Solidarity deputy general secretary, Marius Croucamp, as many as 1,200 skilled workers are set to leave the company.

“Telkom’s rash approval of voluntary severance packages and early retirement packages will lead to a massive skills shortage in the company,” Croucamp said, noting a letter from Telkom which stated that it approved the applications of 1,189 employees for voluntary severance packages.

Between 18 and 31 March, a total of 1,629 employees applied for voluntary severance packages, with 73% or 1,189 approved by the telco, Solidarity said.

“We maintain that Telkom is abusing the fact that its employees are currently vulnerable and feeling uncertain about their future at the company. The result will be the loss of thousands of highly skilled employees with years of experience in the industry. In addition, the company’s service delivery levels will suffer,” Croucamp said.

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Telkom has lost nearly 10,000 workers over the past 10 years