The Communication Workers Union (CWU) says it is wary of news that KT Corp (formerly Korea Telecom), is in talks with Telkom about acquiring 20% of the company’s equity and is unimpressed that it wasn’t consulted about the discussions.
“We are always sceptical about this kind of transaction, particularly because we don’t think this sort of deal is right at the moment,” says CWU general secretary Gallant Roberts. “We don’t think Telkom should ever have sold any of its shares [in the first place].”
Telkom has promised it will not cut jobs and that its “corporate strategy” will remain unchanged if the deal were to go ahead. But many analysts have suggested Telkom needs to cut its existing workforce substantially to remain competitive in an increasingly contested telecommunications market.
Roberts says the CWU has made it “very clear” to Telkom that it is “dismayed and dissatisfied” that news of the talks with KT were first published in the media and that the union wasn’t consulted beforehand.
He says the CWU demanded an explanation from Telkom and was told the company had been “in the process of informing all important stakeholders” and was also “shocked” that the information reached the media “so early in the process”. Business Day newspaper first revealed that the two companies were in discussions earlier this week.
“Telkom was going to inform us at the appropriate time,” Roberts says. He says the company has assured the CWU that “there is no deal as yet” and the union has told Telkom that “labour has to play an important role in any negotiations”.
As Telkom is a listed company, it is important to remember that there are “other shareholders and interests at play”, he adds. The CWU has requested further information so that it can conduct its own research so it is “sufficiently empowered to comment on the issue”.
He says the CWU, along with other unions, will meet with Telkom on 7 November to discuss the matter further. “The purpose of the meeting is to shed more light on the issue and ask how we can make sure all other role players are on board for the discussions”. — Craig Wilson, TechCentral
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