Solidarity has asked the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to intervene in its wage dispute with Telkom, the union said on Wednesday.
“Trade unions earlier referred a dispute to the CCMA on the grounds that Telkom did not negotiate in good faith,” Solidarity spokesman Marius Croucamp said in a statement. “It is also clear that Telkom is trying to delay the negotiations,” he said. “It is in the national interest to see to it that the wage dispute is settled as soon as possible.”
Comment from Telkom could not be immediately obtained.
Solidarity said wage negotiations with Telkom started in May, and that three rounds of talks had failed to yield results.
Solidarity spokeswoman Ilze Nieuwoudt said the negotiations should have started around February or March as the wage agreement was meant to take effect on 1 April.
Croucamp said Telkom had a large skills shortage and a strike would have “catastrophic consequences” on its ability to deliver services. The union represented the more skilled workers at Telkom such as engineers and artisans, he said.
Solidarity has demanded a 10% increase. Telkom has offered 5%, an increase on its initial offer of 4,5%. “The meagre wage offer is definitely not going to resolve the company’s skills crisis which it caused by awarding voluntary severance packages earlier this year,” according to Croucamp.
“A weak offer could worsen the skills shortage, as the remaining skilled employees may start looking for greener pastures,” he said. — Sapa