Still 'no reason' for Telkom job cuts

Three trade unions at Telkom maintained on Tuesday that there is no reason for job cuts at the telecommunications monopoly.

The Solidarity trade union’s negotiator Danie de Wet told reporters in Johannesburg the unions signed an agreement with Telkom on Monday so they can have some control over the retrenchment process.

“We are still of the opinion that Telkom has no rationale for the retrenchments. There is no reason,” he said.

Monday’s agreement gives Solidarity, the Communication Workers’ Union and the South African Communications Union insight into the process of offering voluntary retrenchments.

South African Communications Union spokesperson Jannie Volschenk said Telkom will cut 7 000 jobs over the next five years.

The company wants to axe 1 381 workers this year.

Volschenk said since 1999 Telkom has cut 30 000 jobs.

“There are now 31 642 people employed at Telkom. They want to bring that down to 24 000.”

He said the unions will monitor how Telkom applied its selection criteria of gender, race and skills when it selected workers to be retrenched.

“We will see if they apply it fairly or not.
If not, we might take them to court.”

According to the agreement, Telkom will now offer enhanced voluntary severance packages and voluntary early-retirement packages to all affected employees from September 15 to 27. Workers whose packages are approved will leave Telkom on September 30.

Once these employees have left, Telkom will re-examine the figures to see how many workers it still has to axe.

These workers will have the opportunity of moving to an agency that will retrain them and find new jobs within Telkom for them. However, if after 10 months the workers still have no jobs, they will be compulsorily retrenched.

Workers will also be allowed to swap their packages with others who would prefer to leave but were not affected by the retrenchment process.

The unions will investigate the possibility of replacing temporary or contract workers with employees placed in the agency for career opportunities.

A forum, including representatives from the three unions, will have access to all package applications received, approved or rejected.

Telkom is also obliged to inform unions of possible redeployment opportunities for workers.—Sapa