Telkom has signalled its intention to fight an urgent application brought by trade unions at the labour court, in which they are seeking an interdict against planned restructuring and retrenchments at the telecommunications operator.
Solidarity, along with the Communication Workers Union and the South African Communication Union, brought the application in an attempt to interdict a consultation meeting scheduled for 8 July, Telkom said on Thursday.
“The company believes that there is no merit in the urgent application launched by the three unions and is in the process of preparing opposing papers,” it said.
“Telkom is confident that it has to date followed a fair process, including engaging the three unions and sharing information with them, prior to issuing a section 189 notice,” Telkom added.
“The company is of the view that the section 189 consultation process, which is to be facilitated by CCMA commissioners commencing on 8 July, should be allowed to go ahead and address the important challenges that the company needs to address.”
On Wednesday, Solidarity claimed that Telkom is disregarding an agreement on restructuring processes it concluded with trade unions in 2008.
“Under this agreement, Telkom must meet with trade unions and reach agreement with them before the company may start a restructuring process,” Solidarity said.
It said this agreement states that should a dispute arise at Telkom’s restructuring forum, such a dispute must first be resolved before a restructuring process may start.
“Although trade unions on 19 June declared a dispute with Telkom over the planned retrenchments, Telkom carried on with the process, and on 22 June issued a section 189 retrenchment notice to trade unions. According to this notice, as many as 4 400 people could be retrenched.”
Solidarity deputy head Johan Kruger said the union has warned Telkom in writing to withdraw the notice but said it has refused to do so.
“Through the urgent application, Solidarity wants to compel Telkom to withdraw the notice and to stop the retrenchment process,” Kruger said in the statement.
“We are also applying that the dispute and process first be finalised by means of the restructuring forum. In addition, we are requesting that Telkom discontinue the use of affirmative action as selection criterion during the process.”
He claimed that the operator is “deliberately trying to undermine trade unions and is trying to hamper their ability to lessen the impact of retrenchments on their members”.
“Telkom is simply carrying on to steamroller the process without heeding input from trade unions or employees. Although one or two meetings on the restructuring process have been held, those meetings were essentially a superficial attempt from Telkom to share information.”
The unions’ urgent application will be heard by the labour court on 7 July. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media