Telkom blamed for insincere offer

Trade unions in a wage dispute with Telkom on Monday accused it of making a revised offer in bad faith, after it emerged that the phone company had decided to renege on its revised offer due to the one-day strike.

Telkom human resources chief Charlotte Mokoena on Friday announced that the telecoms group had made a revised offer to its employees—who were due to go on strike this week—“on condition that employees do not engage in industrial action”, she said.

Thousands of workers belonging to the Communications Workers Union (CWU) and Solidarity are already staging a march from the Union Buildings to Telkom head offices in downtown Pretoria where they are expected to hand over a memorandum to company CEO Papi Molotsane demanding a 7,5% to 8,5% increment as well as a moratorium on retrenchments.

The employer on the other hand is offering a 6,25% wage hike and one- year moratorium on forceful retrenchments despite the fact that Telkom’s workforce declined by more than 3 000 to 25 500 last year, mainly due to voluntary retrenchments and natural attrition.

Furthermore, workers want human resources managers George Nkadimeng and Roy Sewmarian to resign with immediate effect because their presence has, according to the unions, prolonged the wage dispute.

Solidarity spokesperson Dirk Hermann said the group should prepare for a longer sustained campaign, and not just a one-day strike, if it

reneged on the revised offer or failed to improve it.

Telkom was not able to say if it would consider re-instating the revised offer or even improving it. Turning to retrenchments, the company said it did not have any targets.

“I hope they don’t withdraw the revised offer. If they do, that would mean that they were not sincere when they made it in the first

place, it would mean that they are negotiating in bad faith,” Hermann added.

“There was no bad faith negotiations from Telkom’s side and we remain open to negotiations,” Mokoena responded.

CWU spokesperson Mfanafuthi Sithebe accused the company of lying while Hermann said Telkom’s attitude was that workers should take the offer in its entirety or leave it—a situation that left no room for further talks.

The unions lamented the fact that the gain-sharing scheme, especially for low-paid employees, was not linked to profits that the company was making.

Mokoena’s office was not able to say how many workers had not reported for duty on Monday but noted that the strike had had minimal impact so far due to contingency plans put in place by the company.
- I-Net Bridge

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