President Jacob Zuma has been aware of Telkom’s plans to let go of as many as 7 800 employees for some time and has voiced no objections to the company’s plans, trade union Solidarity said on Friday.
Solidarity is one of three labour unions recognised by Telkom. All three unions on Friday declared a formal dispute with the company over its latest round of restructuring, which is likely to have a significant impact on Telkom’s wholesale division, especially its field services unit.
“Solidarity and two other trade unions today declared a dispute with Telkom regarding its restructuring process. Solidarity believes that Telkom is not following the letter and spirit of its restructuring forum,” Solidarity said in a statement.
“The process is not transparent and employees are forced to take uninformed decisions about their futures. We believe it is nothing less that bullying tactics,” said Solidarity’s Marius Croucamp in the statement.
He said Telkom is attempting to force workers to accept the process by arguing that the government was not opposed to its plans to retrench thousands of workers.
“The president has been informed about the restructuring process even long before the employees or trade unions were made aware of it. Unlike the government, we have Telkom employees’ best interests at heart and we shall do everything in our power to stop this process,” Croucamp said.
Solidarity said that no labour contingent had been afforded the opportunity to present any counterproposals to Telkom’s proposed restructuring.
Earlier on Friday, Telkom said the unions had declined to accept the offer of opening voluntary severance and early retirement packages across affected areas of the business.
“For this reason, engagements have been halted and Telkom will be approaching the Centre for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to facilitate further engagements,” it said.
“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 … turnaround programme.
“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