Campaign against Telkom retrenchments

By on July 9, 2014

South African trade unions in the communication sector have reacted to Telkom’s announced retrenchment plans with outrage. Leading the campaign is trade union Solidarity that plans to lodge documents with the Labour Court in Johannesburg in a bid to stop Telkom’s use of race as a criterion during the process.

According to Johan Kruger, Deputy General Secretary of Solidarity, Telkom repeatedly made it clear during consultations with trade unions that it would use race as a selection criterion during the retrenchment process.

“Retrenchment is a no fault dismissal. In terms of legislation, race may not be used as a criterion during a retrenchment process. Solidarity has therefore embarked on an extensive campaign to put a stop to this unfair practice,” says Kruger.

“It is crucial that Solidarity take action on behalf of its members at Telkom and all other employers. We are prepared to take the matter all the way to the Constitutional Court if necessary. This type of practice is destructive and will simply give employers a way to improve their BEE grading during retrenchment processes,” according to Kruger.

Kruger says members of the public can, among other things, sign a petition to show their support for Solidarity’s campaign. The trade union plans on sending the signed petition to Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko. “We want to mobilise the public to let their voices be heard in protest against the unacceptable criterion,” adds Kruger.

Two other trade unions, the Communication Workers Union and the South African Communications Union, have also come out in opposition to the move by Telkom. “We are drawing up the papers so that we can refer the matter. We intend going to court on the issue of the company not consulting with us,” said Karriem Abrahams, South African Communications Union general secretary.

“[We have] noted with disgust the ill-informed and extremely insensitive intention to retrench close to 1 000 employees in managerial and specialist ranks beginning with 700 managers in the first phase,” reads the statement from the Communication Workers Union.

“In their own view, the rational for embarking on this desperate neo-liberal solution is firstly to do away with what they regard as a bloated management and secondly fierce competition in an environment where the company’s profit margins have declined whilst those of its competitors have been rising,” the statement concludes.

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