The Communication Workers Union (CWU) says it has suspended a strike against Telkom.
Hundreds of Telkom workers have been on strike for over a month as they demand an 11% salary increase, six months’ maternity leave, gain-sharing and bridging the “apartheid wage gap”.
But as allegations of intimidation have dogged the strike, the union at its special national executive committee meeting this week decided to halt its labour action, at least temporarily.
CWU’s secretary general, Aubrey Tshabalala, said the decision to suspend the strike came after the union and Telkom started to meet half way on some demands.
“The conclusion was that we must call off the strike because our members believe that there’s lots that still needs to be clarified, but they said in light of this we must suspend an indefinite strike, not calling it off,” Tshabalala said by phone on Friday.
“We have not waived our right, because once you call it off you can’t go back. We are suspending it [the strike],” he said.
Meanwhile, Telkom’s group executive for communications, Jacqui O’Sullivan, said the union had “formally communicated” on Friday morning about the strike suspension.
“This is in response to the full and final settlement Telkom put to the union on Wednesday this week,” O’Sullivan said.
However, O’Sullivan said that their are still issues that both parties need to address.
In particular, Telkom wants the CWU to join other unions in a “collaborative partnership agreement” that ensures the company halts retrenchments over the next two years.
As part of the agreement, Telkom this year implemented a R700m “performance pays” programme to give employees, who meet their targets, 6% more pay than last year.
The CWU, though, is disputing this agreement as the union has previously called for a three-year moratorium on retrenchments and outsourcing.
“Of course, we welcome the suspension of the strike, but also note the union has not yet agreed to the collaborative partnership agreement — the agreement which [the South African Communications Union]and Solidarity signed in June this year,” O’Sullivan said.
“The agreement is critical in changing the way we incentivise and reward performance in the company.
“We want to be able to reward employees for better productivity and better customer service and we will do this through the partnership agreement.
“So while we welcome the suspension of the strike, we will continue with our implementation of the collaborative partnership agreement, for all employees,” said O’Sullivan.