Telkom said that a union-led strike outside its Centurion offices in Gauteng turned ugly on Monday with employees being “aggressively intimidated” and “threatened with violence”.
Jacqui O’Sullivan, Telkom communication and PR executive, said that the Communication Workers Union (CWU) chose to turn a protected strike into an illegal blockade of Telkom campuses and some yards.
“We are currently working with the [police] to secure access to Telkom Park. Our staff have been aggressively intimidated,” O’Sullivan said.
“CWU members have not allowed staff to enter the campus and some yards. They have physically shoved our people and have threatened them with violence,” O’Sullivan said.
“I was personally a recipient of this attempt at intimidation,” she said.
CWU said it launched a full-blown nationwide strike against Telkom last Thursday. The union said that almost 4 000 of its members joined the strike.
However, Telkom has disputed this figure saying that only 100 striking workers were outside the Telkom campus in Centurion on Monday. Meanwhile, on Friday, 453 people were on strike across the country, according to Telkom.
CWU president Clyde Mervin said that he was not aware of any cases of intimidation.
“We are in the midst of a total shutdown with Telkom. We will also march to the various stakeholders and leadership of Telkom,” Mervin said.
The dispute between Telkom and the union stems from a failure between both parties to reach an agreement this year over a “performance pays” incentive and annual salary increases.
Telkom inked an agreement with the South African Communications Union and Solidarity in the first week of June 2016 that promised no new forced retrenchments over a two-year period.
The deal further included that 2016 bonuses would be paid out in full and that workers would receive a guaranteed increase of 6% on their salaries on 1 April 2017.
“The CWU leadership told Telkom’s leadership that they would be signing the agreement, pending the resolution of one ‘legacy’ issue,” O’Sullivan said.
“In fact, on the day, Clyde Mervin … and I both did a radio interview in which he spoke first where he confirmed that they were looking to signing the agreement, pending the resolution of that one issue,” O’Sullivan said.