Telkom has failed to reach agreement with any of the three labour unions it recognises over its latest restructuring plans, setting the scene for further acrimony.
Telkom’s three unions – Solidarity, the South African Communications Union and the Communication Workers Union – have declared a formal dispute with the company over the restructuring plans, which would reduce the size of Telkom’s workforce by many thousands of people.
In a statement on Friday, Telkom said it has had several engagements with organised labour following a meeting ijn the company’s restructuring forum of 9 June, where management shared plans for a “deep functional separation” of Telkom’s main operating businesses.
Telkom’s wholesale business unit, which includes its field-service workforce, is set to be most heavily affected by the latest round of restructuring. As many as 7 800 Telkom employees are impacted by management’s latest plan to reduce costs and downsize the business to be better able to cope in a competitive telecommunications industry.
“Telkom has sought to collaborate with unions through the setting up of working groups, to explore additional potential options to mitigate the expected staff impact within the Telkom Wholesale business and other affected areas,” the company said in its statement.
“As a result of the restructuring, Telkom has approached organised labour with options for voluntary severance packages (VSPs) and voluntary early retirement packages (VERPs). Telkom is also intending to outsource some skills to other companies, thereby avoiding job losses,” it said.
It also intends making use of a R100m enterprise and supplier development fund to establish businesses with outgoing Telkom staff, who would then be “well placed to contract their services back to both Telkom, as well as other companies”.
But the unions appear to be having none of it. “Organised labour has declined to accept the offer of opening VSPs and VERPs across the impacted areas of the business,” Telkom said. “For this reason, engagements have been halted and Telkom will be approaching the Centre for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to facilitate further engagements.
“The progression to the CCMA implies a formal, facilitated consultation process in accordance with the Labour Relations Act. As a consequence, Telkom will be proceeding with the issuing of section 189 notices for the areas affected by the Telkom 2.0 turnaround programme,” it said.
“We had hoped to further interrogate the options we have put on the table, to mitigate the impact these changes will have on many of our people. But with discussions stalled, we believe the involvement of the CCMA is the correct and necessary next step,” it added. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media