Concerns are again being raised over Telkom’s decision to switch management of its field-services fleet of vehicles from Debis Fleet Management to Bidvest after the latter was not able to procure sufficient vehicles in time to take over the contract at the end of June.
Bidvest has not managed to acquire sufficient vehicles in time for the contract changeover, but Telkom has played down worries that this could affect service delivery and maintenance of its customers’ telephone lines.
A source, who asked to remain anonymous, said Bidvest is short 3 000 vehicles, out of a total of 5 000, and is using vehicle hire firms in an effort to address the shortfall.
The vehicles are used by Telkom’s field technicians across South Africa.
Telkom on Wednesday confirmed there was a shortage of vehicles, and blamed the scale of the operational change of service providers.
“A changeover of service providers of this magnitude … requires a large number of new, purpose-built vehicles to be available from the manufacturers,” said Telkom spokesman Sinah Phochana.
Telkom terminated its contract with Debis (also known as Daimler Fleet Management) on 31 March.
The termination made provision for a “lead-out/lead-in” phase from 1 April to 30 June. During this period, Bidvest had to ramp up its fleet management services to Telkom, while Debis had to ramp down its services, Phochana explains.
“Telkom obtained a high court order on 24 April forcing Debis to comply with its contractual undertakings to provide the full suite of lead-out services, including the provision of vehicles to Telkom until midnight on 30 June,” she said.
Phochana said Bidvest is utilising a number of “short-term rental vehicles” while the remainder of the new vehicles it needs are registered and delivered to Telkom.
“Most of the new vehicles have been delivered. By the end of July, the complete new fleet will be in operation. Telkom and Bidvest are working closely together on this handover, and neither party expects there to be significant or material operational issues.”
Meanwhile, according to TechCentral’s source, Debis has filed legal papers at the labour court in Johannesburg over a refusal by Bidvest to take on some 50 former employees who had been transferred from Telkom to Debis under a section 197 labour process.
Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act is designed to protect employees when a business, as a going concern, is transferred from one entity to another.
“The Debis fleet management contract expired through the effluxion of time, and a new contract has been awarded to Bidvest,” said Phochana. “Since there is no transfer of a business, as a going concern, from Debis to Bidvest, no clients were transferred from Debis to Bidvest and there has been no takeover of assets and/or resources by Bidvest from Debis, so section 197 is not applicable. This is simply a case where Debis lost a client and Bidvest gained a client.”
Phochana confirmed that Debis is taking the matter to the labour court and that the case will be heard later this month. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media
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