Telkom plans to retrench 4 000 temporary and contract workers “unfairly”, according to trade union Solidarity. “Employees’ contracts expire in March and April 2010, but contracts have ended abruptly,” said Solidarity’s spokeman Jaco Kleynhans in a statement.
The trade union has urged Telkom to halt the retrenchments. “Telkom failed to follow the correct process of retrenchment as contained in the Labour Relations Act.
“Though, by right, a complete Section 189 retrenchment process, including a consultation process with the relevant trade unions, should have been followed, Telkom did not follow this procedure at all.
“Employees were simply informed that the termination of their services would be brought forward, with the process now being carried through,” said Kleynhans.
Solidarity on Thursday attended a consultation meeting with other trade unions at Telkom’s head office. “The process is still extremely unfair,” he said.
Telkom’s spokeman Pynee Chetty said the company was resolving the matter and would continue to engage organised labour. “Telkom is confident that a favourable resolution will bereached.”
Solidarity meanwhile claimed that the retrenchments could possibly be the company’s first drastic step in cutting staff costs.
“With the release of its annual report earlier this week, the company made it clear that an ‘aggressive’ programme for reducing labour capitalisation would have to be followed in order to cut Telkom’s expenses,” said Kleynhans.
However, in an interview with TechCentral on Wednesday, Telkom group CEO Reuben September promised that Telkom would adhere to an agreement with unions not to retrench any staff before March 2011.
“We intend to honour the two-year moratorium with organised labour which expires in March 2011,” September said. “Short of an economic calamity, which will always influence us going back to the table, we want to honour this.”
He added that Telkom was “sensitive to having our employee base stable given the upcoming Fifa World Cup”.
“I’m not prepared simply to reduce headcount and the work is still there and then customers are not served properly,” he said. — TechCentral and Sapa