More than 13 000 customers have been affected by “saboteurs” targeting Telkom’s network, the telecommunications operator said on Sunday. The attacks come as a strike involving members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) enters its fourth week.
The company said that a total of 85 street distribution cabinets have been damaged in the past five days. Many of these cabinets have either been fully repaired or are partially repaired, it said.
“In areas where the work is still underway, the technicians are bringing streets back online as they complete the repairs. Our teams will continue to work around the clock until the service to all the affected customers is restored,” said spokeswoman Jacqui O’Sullivan.
“While less than 870 CWU members were on strike on Friday, this thuggish behaviour has now had a significant impact on many residential and business customers.” O’Sullivan added. The CWU last week denied it was involved in sabotage of Telkom facilities.
On Friday, Telkom brought a contempt of court application against eight CWU members who allegedly defied an urgent interdict issued by the labour court in the company’s favour.
The interdict prohibits the CWU and its members from blockading Telkom entrances and exits, intimidating working employees and damaging any of Telkom’s facilities and equipment.
“Telkom is seeking prosecution of those CWU members who defied the court order,” said O’Sullivan.
She said that last week, a CWU protester threw a brick at the car window of a non-striking employee as they were leaving a Telkom facility in Randburg. The protester was arrested.
On Thursday in the Western Cape, a number of non-striking technicians were sent threatening text messages in an attempt to get them to join the strike, she said.
“These incidents are examples of ongoing acts of intimidation by the CWU and the spike in sabotage is related to this industrial action. These are not random acts of vandalism or incidents of cable theft. These people know where to go and what to do to wreak maximum damage. This is in-house,” said O’Sullivan in a statement.
She said Telkom is strictly applying a “no work, no pay” rule to all striking employees.
“Those who have been striking consistently since 1 August have been informed they will not be paid on the 25th of this month as a manual verification to check whether they actually worked any days in August is required. We will pay any days owing to them for August by 7 September 2016 in line with the requirements of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.”
O’Sullivan said Telkom and the CWU are due to meet tomorrow.
Last week, Telkom announced a R500 000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of anyone deliberately damaging its network infrastructure.
“This reward is available to any person either within Telkom or a member of the public with relevant information. Telkom has asked that any person with information related to these crimes contact the Telkom crime reporting line on 0800 124 000.”
She said that earlier this year, Telkom secured an important legal victory in the form of a significant sentence for a copper cable thief.
The Boksburg magistrates court sentenced Paul Mathonsi (alias Sambol Sambane Nyalunga) to 106 years in jail for his role in a copper cable theft syndicate.
“The Criminal Matters Amendment Act was introduced in May this year and allows for harsher sentencing and bail conditions for people who are found to have purposefully damaged infrastructure,” O’Sullivan said.
“Copper cable theft and the damage to infrastructure is costing Telkom, along with many other companies, millions of rand each year in repairs, lost working hours and lost customers. We are encouraged that the magistrate recognised this impact by handing down such a heavy sentence.” — © 2016 NewsCentral Media