The Communication Workers' Union has promised to fight the proposed offer of voluntary packages to Telkom workers.
"Even if Telkom can use a different concept or wording like 'voluntary severance packages' or 'early retirement', it means retrenchment, which as Communication Workers' Union [CWU] we will find it difficult to agree with the company's intention," CWU president Cecil Mokgantsho said on Wednesday.
"As CWU we will never allow any form of retrenchment of our members. Even if the company can threaten or bully our members, we will fight the company until the last drop of our blood."
On Monday, Telkom announced it would offer voluntary severance and early retirement packages to thousands of its employees. The move was "aimed at enabling the company to achieve its business objectives, [and] secure its sustainability and commercial viability by balancing its workforce in line with its strategic imperatives".
Telkom has a workforce of around 21 000 employees.
It said the move followed consultation with all parties, including recognised unions – CWU, the South African Communication Union and Solidarity.
The decision to apply for a package was at the sole discretion of every employee, Telkom said. After the packages window period closed, Telkom might embark on retrenchments if the process had not achieved the desired result.
"Future retrenchment processes and severance packages will be done in accordance with the Labour Relations Act," Telkom said.
Despite Telkom's statement saying unions had been consulted, Mokgantsho claimed the decision to offer severance packages had been taken without consulting the CWU.
Mokgantsho claimed the company was "forcing" workers to take voluntary packages and early retirement. Telkom rejected this, saying the process was voluntary. – Sapa