Telkom has failed to reach an agreement with trade unions Solidarity and the South African Communications Union (Sacu) in a long-running wage dispute. Discussions reached deadlock on Friday, making it increasingly likely that Telkom will face industrial action.
The wage dispute, which began in March, centres on Telkom’s decision to implement a new remuneration structure in the hopes of reducing pay disparities within the company.
Friday’s discussion follows a cooling-off period called for by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation & Arbitration (CCMA) after the parties failed to reach agreement last week.
Solidarity and Sacu argue that wage negotiations are not the time to introduce new remuneration models and that the proposed model will leave many of its members out of pocket in years to come because many of them will not see increases in two or three years’ time if it’s accepted.
Solidarity spokesman Marius Croucamp says Telkom’s offer is not linked to inflation and that although 60% of workers will receive an increase this year, if the new model is adopted only 40% will get a pay rise next year and only 30% in 2015.
Consequently, Croucamp says Solidarity and Sacu have rejected the offer. He says Telkom remains “inflexible” and that Friday’s discussions were “more of the same of what we’ve already heard”.
The unions will now talk to their members about what they want to do next. They are continuing to “dissect Telkom’s offer”. Croucamp adds that wage talks involving Telkom “tend to have a protracted nature”.
Sacu president Michael Hare tells TechCentral that Friday’s discussions were “more of the same”, but possibly “even more fruitless” than previous discussions. “Telkom is being very inflexible,” Hare says. “They only want to discuss their new salary model.”
The unions, he says, are still “open to engagement in an attempt to avoid a full-blown strike” and he hopes Telkom will “come to the party”.
“We can meet each other halfway, it’s not impossible. But Telkom needs to be more flexible,” Hare adds.
The unions will now call on the CCMA to issue a certificate of non-resolution, otherwise known as a strike certificate. Hare says Sacu will then formulate a strike strategy and may embark on go-slows and picketing to encourage Telkom to negotiate better terms.
Hare says it’s also important that the company engages more with its employees. “Telkom has left it to us to explain the new model to our members. We want them to come clean with their own employees about why they’re pushing for the new model, and they haven’t done that yet.” — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media