The Information Communication Technology Union (ICTU) will lead its members at MultiChoice South Africa out on strike on Friday to protest job cuts at the pay-television operator.
The union said on Thursday that it plans to launch the “historic” strike action after MultiChoice allegedly threatened legal action against it.
“The strike action will begin tomorrow, 23 August, and is expected to inconvenience all 7.7 million customers (of MultiChoice South Africa)…,” the union said in a statement.
TechCentral reported in June that MultiChoice planned to enter into a “consultation process” with 2 194 employees in its call centre operation and walk-in centres as part of a “strategic realignment of its customer service delivery model”.
MultiChoice said the “realignment” was in response to the “changing behaviour of its customers”, who were increasingly “moving away from traditional voice calls and visits to walk-in centres and adopting new self-service and digital technologies to engage with the company”.
“We must act decisively to align to the change in customer behaviour and competition from … services (like Netflix) because if we don’t reposition now, we run the risk of being completely misaligned and we put everyone’s jobs at risk,” CEO Calvo Mawela said at the time.
But the ICTU is not happy with the way talks have progressed.
“This strike comes at a time when MultiChoice South Africa has deployed a new integrated billing system on 21 August, which is experiencing failures. It is expected that the strike action will be adding fuel to the fire,” it said.
‘Gatvol with abuse’
The union has accused the company of “withholding proper evidence” to support its rationale for the job cuts.
“Section 189 of Labour Relations Act compels the employer to give reasons for its rationale for dismissals on an operational basis, which includes providing substantiated and/or prima facie evidence. In reporting back to workers, in the general meeting held yesterday (Wednesday), workers had voted for the strike and reflected that they are gatvol with abuse” from MultiChoice, it said.
The union said by allegedly failing to provide information about the layoffs, MultiChoice has “declared war with workers and the ICTU”. It described the company as “blatantly arrogant”.
“ICTU will not stand by … and allow workers to be retrenched under fictitious reasons simply because 4IR (the fourth Industrial Revolution) has arrived. What irritates workers most is that MultiChoice has secretly entered into a third-party agreement to service clients to perform current functions, yet they claim technological usage is the reason to retrench.”
A MultiChoice spokesman said the company is “disappointed at the call for a strike”.
“We remain committed to continue to consult with labour on the proposed restructure in our customer care division under the guidance of the CCMA-appointed commissioner in line with the Labour Relations Act. The threatened strike action is not only unprotected, it is also illegal. We call on all parties to act in a manner that will ensure the best outcome for impacted employees.” — © 2019 NewsCentral Media