The decision to suspend talks about a possible merger between cellphone giants MTN and India’s Bharti Airtel was welcomed by trade union Solidarity.
In a statement on Thursday, Solidarity said it had been concerned about the job security of MTN employees if the merger had gone ahead.
The union added that its members would only agree to large mergers if job security was guaranteed. According to the union, last month it sent a letter to MTN’s CEO Phuthuma Nhleko demanding from the company an assurance that the planned merger with Bharti Airtel would not lead to job losses.
“Up until the suspension of talks MTN had not, however, yet given such assurance to Solidarity,” the union said. “With many company mergers it has happened that employees were promised job security, just to be put through a retrenchment process later due to the duplication of functions in the new company,” Solidarity spokesman Jaco Kleynhans said.
He added that Solidarity was not opposed to mergers as such, but job security always had to remain the first priority. “Mergers can often have extremely positive consequences for the long-term sustainability of a company and lead to new opportunities for growth, but its effect on employees can never be ignored.”
Solidarity is concerned about the level of government influence
in negotiations such as these, Kleynhans said. “Tthough government can give its input during the negotiations, any meddling that influences or even hampers business interests is cause for concern, he added. — Sapa